I think that this string has covered some very important ground. When you finally get to mineralization and humus management you have arrived at the core of the issue as far as most of us are concerned. If any of you that want to talk about what organic is or isnĘt havenĘt figured it out yet: When Bart says something you would be well advised not only to listen but to study what he has said.
I am pleased to see that OFRF and Joan Gussow agree along with the OTA that soil culture and environmental impact should be at the core of what organic is. Unfortunately the marketers are still out there selling organic food as healthier, safer, purer food and saying little if any thing about what those core values are. Actions speak much louder than words.
The problem, that I predicted in 1991, and manifested full blown in January thru March of 1998 is that the *average organic consumer* has not been educated very well. That *average consumer,* or at least 280,000 of them, generally use the words healthier, safer and purer when they speak of what organic means to them.
So what was the organic industry/community doing between 1991 and 1998? Attending meeting after meeting finding every conceivable nit they could pick about the details of an impossibly detailed standard. Their consumers on the other hand were left to the marketers who took the easy way and propagated the *healthier, safer, and purer* perception.
What of the producers? Well except for the small cadre of serious and technically competent growers, who have been to silent, they have gone about their business not meeting even the sketchy and confusing standards that exist in the industry. Why are the serious growers quiet? Managing an adequately designed *organic* agro-ecosystem is about five full time jobs.
So now you ask of the standards setters in the organic community/industry those holy guardians of the ethics and morals of us all? I will only share with you an observation that I first made in late °92 or early °93 as I was analyzing my task at that time. I was convinced that if I put together the best team of 50 red-tape specialist from here inside the belt-way that I could not create a bureaucracy more convoluted, confusing, confused, entangled in minutiae, and down right oppressive than the organic industry/community had created and burdened themselves with. Not only does this observation hold today, its even worse.
As has been said there is not enough data to justify the nutrition aspect of a health claim. If you persist in trying to play the residue card (as some have suggested here) then the conventional commodities producers that can do the required testing much cheaper than you can will simply state that their commodity or commodities meet the same residue standards as the organic commodities do and you lost that bluff and you fold, to late! I still canĘt figure out where the amalgam for the moniker of purer food comes from. I get this cartoon image of the convergence of the health and safety delusion merging with some notion that organic food is grown by spiritually advanced beings on small plots of land using no technology higher than a pointy stick and manure from contented and coddled livestock.
Where does this go from here? I think that the writing is already on the wall. The commodity groups and the brand names will carry the day with green labels that are well financed, well researched and will be the growth sector. I think that these labels will stress sustainability and environmental impact with reduced use of pesticides and use of reduced risk pesticides applied in a bio-intensive IPM system as a side bar. The organic trade, true to form, will entangle themselves in a market and an intellectual cul-de-sac where they will grow old, happy to pursue one unsurmountable circular argument after another and never have to make a substantive decision or reveal the true nature of the organic myth to their consumers.
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