Over at the Sustainable Food Laboratory blog [they're asking]http://blog.sustainablefoodlab.org/?p=31 1 “How long, one wonders, before the term organic is rendered meaningless and doesn’t do anyone — farmers, food companies, or consumers — any good?”. Why? Because the USDA’s new guidelines for organic ingredients contains many non-organic items, such as the intestines of non-organic animals as sausage casings. Hey, at least they are real sausage casings, not plastic.

And a couple of days ago the Mars corporation announced that it would abandon using whey, a by-product of cheesemaking, in its chocolates and substitute rennet, an enzyme derived from the stomachs of slaughtered calves. Anyway, crazed vegetarians were soon up in arms and Mars reversed its “principled” decision.

What few people, and fewer reporters, seemed to grasp is that Mars was positioning itself as non-GM. Whey, an ingredient in chocolate, is a by-product of the cheese industry. The cheese industry uses a coagulant to separate curds from whey. That coagulant most often used to be rennet, an enzyme derived from calves’ stomachs. Today the cheese industry uses the coyly-named non-animal rennet, which is rennet derived from genetically engineered bacteria. In announcing that it was going back to the genuine article, rennet derived from cows, Mars might have been trying to distance itself from GM-rennet and the whey it produces. Or it might have found a cheaper source of whey in some benighted country where the consumers don’t care about that sort of thing.

My point? Vegetarians, caught between the devil and the deep-blue sea, want to gobble Mars bars (and “vegetarian” cheese) even though they depend on GM products and even though the entire dairy industry these days is an affront to animal welfare.

Terms like the increasingly debased “organic” and the equally vapid “suitable for vegetarians” exist because the industry needs to cover its tracks and blow smoke in the eyes of consumers who are keeping themselves in a state of ignorant bliss.


  1. 2022-05-22: At least, they were asking that back in 2007. I'm delightfully aware now that the Sustainable Food Lab cannot even sustain its own online productions, let alone a food system. 

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