Brooklyn Law Review


The organic food market in the United States has grown from a niche subset into an integral component of American food consumption. The current laws regulating the organic industry, including the recently adopted Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) final rule, do not align with the average consumer’s understanding as they navigate the many options in grocery stores. This note analyzes the history and evolution of the organic food market in the United States, the process by which food producers become organic certified, and the pitfalls of the current system, which relies on definitions crafted by politicians, not scientists, and allows many producers to slip through the regulatory cracks while still profiting from labels that confuse consumers into thinking the product is organic. This note is also one of the first to unpack the shortcomings of the new SOE rule, and proposes solutions that put American consumers first. Although there are various benefits to the organic food market, including health, environmental, and ethical benefits, this note also points out the fallacies, concerns, and discrepancies within the organic sector. While Americans wait for necessary reforms, the US Department of Agriculture, which largely controls the organic food market, should collaborate with institutional leaders and organic advocacy groups to educate consumers about organic farming methods and quality. This note also provides health-conscious shoppers with ways to save money by shopping organic selectively, rather than entirely. Americans should be able to trust the organic food system and have confidence in the government to uphold the integrity of the organic seal, and it is up to the government to make these necessary changes.