With so much people discovering the importance of consuming safe and healthy produce, the consumer demand for “organic” food has skyrocketed. Just in the US, the sale of organic food annually have increased by 20% and the demand is significantly surpassing the domestic supply, which forces grocers and food sellers to turn internationally in to keep the businesses stocked.

The majority of the organic imports are grown in the EU, where the organic standards are lower than in the US. But, a great amount of such “organic” products come from China, whose standards for quality and safety of the food are notoriously poor. A great deal of this “organic” produce cultivated in China is so unsafe, that farmers who cultivate it won’t consume it themselves. But isn’t that the point of opting organic food to begin with?

It turned out that a great deal of the food labelled as “organic” was never really grown to be organic, but as a way to overcome China’s bad reputation for low-quality produce. Personnel from the US customs personnel often rejects whole shipments of food coming from China because of the addition of unsavory and dangerous additives, mislabeling, presence of drug residues or the bad hygiene of the food.

In an attempt to get evade these massive food rejections, some food exporters from China started labeling their produce as “organic,” particularly the produce that looks unusual or dirty. Additionally, the “organic” label in China means nothing because the scheming between the manufacturers with the government caused uncontrolled mislabeling and the Chinese government doesn’t have system for determining whether something is organic or not.

Even if the “organically cultivated” food from China was really organic, the quality of the used water for the food production intended for export is so polluted that a person could become ill just by handling the water. The majority of industrial-scale agriculture in China is along the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, both of which are highly contaminated. That’s because thousands of factories are located along the same rivers, so they add chemical waste in the same water that is used to water the food supply in the country. In one such case, a plant for chemical fertilizers added excessive quantities of ammonia in the river Fu, which is a tributary of the river Yangtze, that approximately 100 tons of dead fish had to be eliminated. But, the contaminated river proceeded to be used for agricultural and industrial purposes.

Also, other heavy metals and chemicals were found in unsafe and very high concentrations in the rivers, and in the food irrigated with the water. Perchlorate, which is a precursor to the rocket fuel, was discovered in the sewages in China and in the rice, milk and bottled water. It was found throughout the whole water supply so it contaminated all “organic” food. Perchlorate is disrupts the endocrine system and it’s highly toxic.

It can lead to improper metabolism regulation, thyroid issues and developmental difficulties in infants and children. Is this really organic or healthy? Of course not. Fortunately, some types of Chinese “organic” products are more likely to be polluted than others. Chicken, fish, apples, mushrooms, rice, green peas, garlic and black pepper were the most polluted foods coming from China and should be avoided at all costs.

As usual, the only way to be sure that the food you consume is free of additives and chemicals is to cultivate it yourself. Vegetable gardens can be placed even in the smallest spaces, are very attractive, help local the insects and they can provide you with tasty food that is totally safe.