question about organic food and shelf life...
I think I'm a victim of info overload when it comes to the debate about definitions of foodstuffs as organic, GM "free", natural, whole, etc. etc.
My local grocery store - Waitrose (in London) is selling own-label "Organic chocolate biscuits" with a use-by-date of May 2002. How can something described as "organic" - which I am assuming, possibly wrongly, has no chemical preservatives, not go stale or become in some way inedible, for another nine months or so?
These are more expensive than the "normal", non-organic equivalent chocolate biscuits, which, as an aside, have a use-by-date of December 2001 but obviously this could just be a function of the fact that they were produced/shelved at different times...
I must admit I forgot to look at the ingredients.
Some types of fats are more stable than others at room temperature and do not need preservatives...others would undergo decomposition, become rancid with toxic byproducts, and taste bad, too.
There are those who say that you should only eat food which can spoil, but eat it fresh. Food which has much of its nutrition removed, like white flour, keeps better than an unrefined food like whole wheat flour.
If it has no fat in it, it might have that shelf life. I would look out for a fat like hydrogenated anything, which may have been made from an organic oil, but is anything but natural.
Very good points on shelf life vs. health. You note that hydrogenation (the intentional production of a saturated fat) does increase the shelf life of products such as marjorine and peanut butter...the question remains as to whether this is done to "protect " the consumer or to increase the the product to market window of opportunity , a clear advantage to the seller.
Labling laws in the U.K. could be vastly different than those in the U.S. Most foods here (the states) are required to have a "sell by" date. There is little that governs that date though. Most producers of foodstuffs simply slap on an arbitrary date because they have too.
"Organic" does not necessarily imply there are no preservatives. For example, the juice of an organically grown lime or organically-produced vinegar are preservatives. Likewise, salt is a preservative. If you took an organic cucumber and canned it in organic vinegar, you'd get an organic pickle.