- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 31, 2007

The planet has reached a kind of cultural-culinary impasse, which may cause a disruption in the space-time continuum, or at least the breadbox.

Organic Oreos.

Yes, one of the junkiest of junk foods is now available in organic form. Why, Oreo cookies are now green, sustainable, renewable, pesticide-free, dolphin-safe, whole-grain, free-range, certified, natural, Earth-friendly. They leave no carbon footprint, emit no greenhouse gases and could possibly win the Al Gore stamp of approval.

It’s hard to tell.

“Organic” has come to mean many things.

Once the word was associated with ethereal hippies who favored barnyard granola matted together with honey the color of motor oil, evil-looking seeds and big, hard hunks of granular matter. The hippies had to use a ball-peen hammer to crush the stuff, but hey, man, it was organic. Yeah. Cool. “Organic” was riddled with hazy associations with Haight-Ashbury, Max Yasgur’s farm, dancing around in wheat fields at midnight and communal dinners composed of hummus and Yoo-hoos.

Organic, man.

Of course, all those hippies grew old, traded their Yoo-hoos for martinis and became “granola conservatives,” according to Rod Dreher, author of “Crunchy Cons.” But that’s a different story altogether.

We must get back to those organic Oreos.

The new package is emblazoned with the motto “Made with organic flour and sugar.” A cursory check of the ingredients reveals that, yes, there is organic wheat flour, organic evaporated cane sugar, organic brown rice syrup, organic cornstarch and organic vanilla, plus sea salt, palm oil and something called “expeller-expressed oleic safflower oil.”

But the old Oreo aura remains. A three-cookie serving still contains 7 grams of fat and 160 calories. But 160 organic calories. Maybe Nabisco should call them Organeos.

The phenomenon of organic Oreos is causing an identity crisis among those who take their organics seriously.

“Is this the beginning of the end of organics?” environmental writer Lloyd Alter asked last month in TreeHugger, a New York-based online journal.

Mr. Alter was referring to the Oreos.

“I know that we want to move organics into the mainstream and get it away from the brown rice and tofu image it had for so long,” Mr. Alter opined. “Seeing Oreo and organic on the same box just seems so wrong. Am I nuts?”

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