>>What seems to be generally missing from this whole debate and from the
>>certification process itself, is the understanding that "organic" growing
>>describes an ethic, a process, not a commodity. It's not just what
>>farmer chooses to use or not use, it's a holistic approach to managing the
>>soil ecosystem for maximum environmental health and human sustainability.
>>Unfortunately, this ethos can't be properly commodified and codified to
>>the capitalist drive, so it has to be deconstructed and reassembled to fit
>>into an ultimately unsustainable, very "unorganic" model.
>The problematic within what you say above is that organic "ought" to mean
>what you say but "is" a system characterized by a list of 'No-nos and
>do-dos'; for certification purposes it can hardly be anything else.
>I learned organics from the pages of Organic Gardening magazine while
>Rodale was the editor. Anyone wanting to trace my steps could do worse than
>to go through old issues from 1970-88, or thereabouts. If you do, you will
>find a beautifully written, soft, open style and tons of very practical
>advice on growing with nature. The Rodale presentation of materials is
>'cafeteria-style'...Make Compost in 14 Days is a neat little pamphlet that
>illustrates the point. Yeah, there's the hot pile hurry up method in there,
>but also mulching, vermicomposting, trenching and other methods. No-till
>rototillers side by side, each vying for your attention and approval.
>In the Rodale big books on composting, you find all sorts of ideas, from
>Biodynamics to Ruth Stout to Sam Ogden.
>>IMO, to turn a sustainable holistic approach to ecosystem stewardship into
>>packaged good palatable to the dumbed-down consumer goes against
>>"organic" means. What we need is not more regulations and marketing, but
>>rather a food revolution that emphasizes the earth, local communities,
>>families, and personal responsibility at the expense of globalism,
>>agribusiness, bureaucracy, and blind consumerism.
>I said at the beginning of Loyd's comments on this that the only sure way
>buy organic is to know the farmer and his/her methods; even better, to *be*
>That said, would the world be a better place if everyone, or a sizable
>percentage of farmers, changed from chemical methods to a 'close enough for
>government work' organic standard?
>If I can buy organic fairtraded coffee with confidence it really is both?
>Organic rice from Arkansas? (Mine is OCIA certified...)
>Organic wheat from Manitoba (ditto as per rice...)
>Maybe for health and environmental reasons there should not be
>trade of food. Some of the early victims of globalization include the
>American Indian and the American Chestnut...(the Oceanic Moat Quarantine
>The only way to fuel a food revolution is by feeding it. Grow the food.
>it to the people. Win over the masses! (Food for People, Not for Profit,
>the slogan of the University of Maryland Food Collective, aka the Food
>where I hung out in my callow college days...:-)
>>There will never be a substitute for growing your own or buying directly
>>a local family farmer you know and trust who just picked your food that
>>We could all benefit from a lot more of that in the U.S. However, it won't
>>come from regulation, only from education.
>The key is not to put regulation before education. The problem as I see it
>is the determination of USDA bureaucrats to impose a Sauron System of
>Organics, if you'll allow me to wax Tolkienesque, here:" One Ring to rule
>them all, and in the Darkness bind them."
>Instead of doing the right thing and imposing a minimum standard, while
>allowing other standards to assert that they went further if they chose,
>they have opted for a one standard system, with fee structure to be
>determined which may prove onerous to small farmers. If USDA-Organic
>swallows up all other certifications, or doubles the cost of certification
>to small farmers, it will obliterate the network of organic trade which is
>n the process of growing up, and replace it with pseudo-organic agribiz,
>which will then co-opt and water down the standards further.
>When I had the farm and was starting out, I debated a bit with a farmer who
>had a piece of land which had never been treated with pesticides of any
>kind. He felt letting farmers call themselves organic after three years of
>'conversion' was wrong; he claimed chemically sensitive people told him
>could only eat food from his and a few other farms like it, but were badly
>effected by 'nouveau-organic' crops....(Almost as badly as with the
>Purely as a matter of human intelligence, I oppose any bureacratic power
>that prevents me from distinguishing good from better and better from best.
>If, as very smart people like Will Brinton seem to feel, the USDA rules
>would have shut down the Demeter label, for example, then I feel honor
>to oppose them.
>It would undoubtedly be better for the long term sustainability of the
>if we can convert the world's agriculture to an organic standard. It would
>be ideal and excellent if we could permaculture the planet appropriately
>starting tomorrow with all gubmints and peoples united and excited...
>In the meantime we are between Heaven and Hell, as it were. Just as we
>just stand still here, daunted by the distance before us, neither should we
>take a half-step forward and then nail our shoes to the floor. That is what
>I'm afraid the USDA's standard will do.
>>We will be known by the tracks we leave behind... óDakota proverb
>When you can walk across the rice paper and leave no trace.....you will
>As long as we don't grow all our own and know all our farmers, I support a
>minimum standards approach that leaves in place existing
>certifications...let consumers choose between them... in fact the
>competition between standards could be an excellent vehicle to educate
>people...I also favor nominal registration fees for small producers,
>subsidies for organic conversion, and agressive efforts to make
>agriculture less erosive of the carrying capacity of the planet.
>Nobody anywhere on earth does not have a body burden of synthetic
>arguably people in certain high drift areas may carry a higher burden and
>their land have more chemicals than others, even though they adhere to an
>organic standard above that of the others.
>For some people this distinction may be more important; like the chemically
>sensitive or those with a predeliction for certain illnesses. For them
>chemical analysis may be the only standard possible, other than T&E (trial
>and error). (The three T&Es: trial and error, time and effort, thanatos and
>eros...but I digress)
>Organic standards are process standards, not performance standards.
>analysis might save some people, but in the long run it the proof of the
>pudding is in the eating; the consumer's sense of quality is the ultimate
>performance standard. We all eat our food one bite or swallow at a time;
>this fact lends itself to the tendency to consider food as a commodity...
>Only the person who needs to sell product to people unknown needs the
>certification process; but that's a whole lot of farmers. Those unknown
>consumers also need to know that the certification process serves them by
>guaranteeing avoidance of forbidden materials. Every one using the word
>'organic' in marketing their crops should meet those standards; then the
>word will mean something. It can't be stretched into meaning everything.
>Frank--seems to be rambling a bit so will stop now...:-) (I sometimes feel
>overstretched myself trying to wrap my head around all this...:-)
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with "unsubscribe sanet-mg".
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command