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Fraud and weak USDA oversight chip away at integrity of organic food industry | #phishing | #scams | #hacking | #aihp


Trey Wharton of Sioux Falls has made numerous sacrifices in his life in order to maintain a healthful lifestyle centered around a vegan diet and consistent consumption of organic foods.

To afford organic products that are sometimes double or triple the cost of conventionally grown foods, Wharton works two jobs, doesn’t take vacations and drives a dented SUV.

“I’m investing in this vessel,” Wharton said, pointing at himself, “rather than in that vessel,” he added, motioning toward his 2011 Honda. “I pay more and sacrifice to invest my money in the foods I want.”

Wharton, 31, acknowledges that he is forced to trust the organic industry to uphold its promise that the foods are minimally processed, are grown without chemicals or additives, and are truly more healthful than non-organics.

“I don’t have a place in that system, so I have to trust them,” Wharton said.

Like other consumers who buy organic, Wharton sometimes wonders and worries if he’s actually getting what he believes he is buying. He is well aware of a few high-profile cases of organic food fraud — including a recent multimillion-dollar fake organic grain scam in South Dakota — in which unscrupulous producers made millions of dollars by illegally selling conventional grains packaged and sold as organic.

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