Organic: A Journalist's Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling


Product Details

Lyons Press
Publish Date
5.9 X 9.1 X 1.2 inches | 1.14 pounds

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About the Author

Peter Laufer, PhD, is the author of more than a dozen books that deal with social and political issues--from borders and identity to human relationships with other animals--including The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists; The Elusive State of Jefferson: A Journey through the 51st State; Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq; Wetback Nation: The Case for Opening the Mexican-American Border; and Slow News: A Manifesto for the Critical News Consumer. He is the James Wallace Chair in Journalism at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. More about his books, documentary films, and broadcasts, which have won the George Polk, Robert F. Kennedy, Edward R. Murrow, and other awards, can be found at


It's a testament to Laufer's skill as a writer and reporter that he can make an interesting and edifying book out of idle musings on the origins of some organic walnuts and black beans he bought at Trader Joe's and a local health food store. The question of whether the walnuts from Kazakhstan or the beans grown in Bolivia came to Laufer's table in Oregon without a boost from pesticides and chemical fertilizers becomes an examination of the $27 billion organic food business. His investigative zeal is spurred by the 'obsessive secrecy' of Trader Joe's PR response to his inquiries about the identity of the Kazakh farmer whose spoiled walnuts got him thinking about the compromises that 'make every package of food certified organic suspect.'--Publishers Weekly
"A lively, highly informative exposΓ©" -Kirkus Reviews"Ever wonder if that 'organic' sticker on your produce is legit? Peter Laufer did the work to find out, and the answers are equal parts fascinating and disturbing." --Bill McKibben, author of Wandering Home"It's tempting to stick your head in the sand on this topic, but Laufer is right--where there's money there's (unfortunately) corruption. His international quest to trace the origin of his organic food is both intriguing and enlightening."--Lisa Leake, author of 100 Days of Real Food Praise for The Dangerous World of Butterflies: "Absorbing and far-reaching...." --NPR Science Desk"Compelling. . . . Laufer delivers an absorbing science lesson for fans of the colorful bugs." --Publishers Weekly"Like The Orchid Thief, The Dangerous World of Butterflies takes us deep into the dark heart of obsessed collectors and the passionate activism ... Laufer, a veteran reporter on cultural and political borders, understands how these worlds cross and collide. His book is a Venn diagram of the beautiful and bizarre." --Los Angeles Times"[Laufer's] book is charming and his attention to detail, combined with a real gift for describing these fascinating characters...made me want to read everything else he has written." --Washington Post