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Organic gummy bears versus gummy bears
Dennis Wyatt

Organic gummy bears. Ponder those three words for a second. If you’ve jumped onto the organic food band wagon you might want to rethink what you’re doing.

I confess I’ve never eaten a gummy bear. That said apparently a lot of people do. It explains why Costco is selling a box of 65 0.8-ounce pouches of Black Forest Organic Gummy Bears.

Costco carries a lot of organic stuff these days. They sell more organic apples, as an example than apples per se. They are just paying heed to consumer demand. A lot of people are seriously into organic food believing it is healthier or more natural.

Aside from the concept of gummy bears that is anything but natural I’m assuming Black Forest developed an organic gummy bear not necessarily to cash in on the organic movement but to avoid suffering declining sales when more people are convinced by social media and/or marketing to cut back on processed food. It is why Campbell’s Soup, as an example, is struggling with declining sales.

The Black Forest website assures you their organic gummy bears are USDA certified organic candies “made with at least 95 percent organic ingredients.” You buy an organic apple and you assume it is 100 percent organic sans pesticides and chemical fertilizers. That, by the way, is truly an assumption as the word “organic” is used pretty loosely and means different things to different people.

The real question is does organic really matter compared to other things you can do to modify your diet?

Not slamming gummy bears but some people are shocked when they find out the gelatin used to make gummy bears is the collagen produced by boiling animal bones, animal skins and cartridge. It’s definitely organic. I know of one person that found out a year ago that gummy bears and one of her favorite desserts — Jell-O — was made from remnants of animals. She was mortified.

It surprised me that she had no idea what gelatin was or that the bars of soap she used were made from animal fat. I don’t think it was her age — she was 22 at the time. The problem is too many of us have become “drive by” converts to the latest trends without really delving into what we put into our mouths.

More power to disciples of the diet trend du jour as long as they don’t overreach onto my plate.

I’ve been a lacto-ovo vegetarian for 32 years and I avoid vegan restaurants like the plague. It’s not that the food isn’t good — it’s actually great in most cases. When I was dining in such places it seemed every other time someone at an adjoining table would start jabbering on about the virtues of how they were eating like a fervent born-again disciple. I never engaged in such chatter except once when I was forced to. Someone made a comment about the fact I was wearing a “real” leather jacket as in one made out of a cow’s hide. It was a polite exchange and when they asked what type of vegetarian I was, the stranger told me I had no business calling myself a vegetarian if I ate anything involving eggs and milk and certainly not if I would wear a leather jacket. Again, the guy was polite. The experience gave me my fill of being subjected to a modern-day Spanish Inquisition when I dine out.

For judgmental vegans reading this, I own five leather jackets. Now if cows were raised just to slaughter for their leather I doubt I would be wearing leather. But the leather is retrieved, so to speak, after the cow is killed for food. And I honestly don’t have a problem with anyone eating meat.

That last statement when I’ve been stupid enough to utter in conversations with a hardcore vegan has triggered marginally civil responses.

As for organic food, I don’t buy it — figuratively or literally. Besides the fact it is usually costlier, I personally believe the benefits are dubious at best.

It’s kind of like restaurants that brag about selling free range chicken as opposed to chicken raised under unnatural conditions. I’d like to see a blind taste test conducted by those that eat chicken to tell the difference in taste. I get that there are aversions to growth hormones and such but whether a chicken can roam to Timbuctoo and back as opposed to being in a contained area makes a difference I honestly don’t know especially since the assumption is that it will produce healthier and tastier meat. As for it being better for the chicken, the fact that it isn’t going to die of natural causes kind of negates concerns one may have about potential stress levels.

I have nothing against organic food nor do I know whether it is truly healthier. But I do know this: If we stuck with the “natural” way of producing fruits, vegetables, and meat they’d be a heck of a lot less food and what there is would be more expensive.

The latest United States Department of Agricultural stats shows the average American household spends less than 10 percent of its overall income on food. Compare that to 1930 when it was at 24.2 percent. The so-called “organic revolution” didn’t produce such results.

The shift to organic, depending on what food you are buying, according to some studies can be 20 to 100 percent more expensive. That said if you switched organic food for frozen food or even prepared meal boxes that are ready to cook, it’s probably cheaper.

That said if you can enjoy gummy bears guilt free because they are organic the more power to you.