Two Mindsets, Two Visions of Sustainable Agriculture : LUSENET : Beyond the Sidewalks : One Thread

This is really about world-wide sustainability. I've been looking for this article for a long time. It was printed in Organic Gardening in 2000, but I must have been using the wrong search engine before, because I couldn't find it. It inspired me a great deal when I read it, and I wanted to share it with you. Here is the link and a snippet follows:

"I assume the world works by the laws of ecology and economics and human nature. Ecology says that monocultures breed pests; that chemicals upset soil ecosystems and kill off natural predators; that crops with pesticide in every cell will induce pest resistance; that animals and plants should be grown in close proximity so manure can go back to the soil; and that we haven't the slightest idea what the ecological or evolutionary consequences of genetic engineering will be.

Economics says you can never have a sustainable market if you produce something consumers fear and you hide critical information about how it was produced and what it contains. Because industrial agriculture has violated that law and lost the trust of consumers, the market for organic produce is growing in American and Europe by 20-30 percent per year, even with a price premium; it now totals over $9 billion.

Human nature says the more actual producers can own and shape and control land and inputs and seeds and knowledge, the more inventive, adaptive, and equitable agriculture will be."

-- Anonymous, July 04, 2001


Wait! That's the wrong article! Arrrghh! Oh well, it's worth reading too! Here's the correct article, about halfway down the page: link

Here are some other good ones, also by Donella Meadows:

Seve n reasons for rejecting a potato
A SLAPP in the face
Don't get into evolutionary races with small critters

-- Anonymous, July 04, 2001

Durn Joy you had me all worked up about world hunger then changed courses on me! Looks like good stuff and I'll check it out tomorrow. Hey your up late tonight!....Kirk

-- Anonymous, July 04, 2001

Nice reading Joy, thanks for posting.

-- Anonymous, July 04, 2001

Very interesting. Wish the mainstream would read this stuff too!

When we first got worked up about sustainable agriculture, we were just starting our market garden in WI. We went to the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference, which was great, but a real eye-opener. At that point we had no idea that "organic" and "sustainable" were two very different things. We left with the message that any large scale, non-diversified operation was unsustainable, whether organic or not. What bothered me the most were the miles and miles of plastic mulch, and the mortgageable, energy guzzling machinery that has become "essential" for efficiency.

We keep coming back to the reality that the only sustainable system is a network of individual homesteads, each producing only what the land can carry with no inputs and the local markets will support.

-- Anonymous, July 04, 2001

Ditto what David said (guess that's why we are married). I just got back from selling at the Farmers Market (guess he was playing on the internet), not a great day being a holiday and such. Interestingly a good friend who also sells there will be giving up their organic certification next year. With the new "federal" rules etc it is becoming too costly and difficult for the small grower. Of course they will still grow organic (as we do) but can't label as such. The whole thing is, in my mind, just a big marketing scam.

David and I have always grown organic but never been certified. For us the joy of the farmers market is knowing our customers and having them trust us when we say our food is safe. Joy I agree with your article except the last line. I think human nature is based on greed and profit. That is why grocery store produce is so cheap and you can get eggs for less than $1 a dozen! People who cared enough to understand how their food was raised would not support such a system. Sorry if I sound harsh ---Kim

-- Anonymous, July 04, 2001

Hey Kim: I was wondering, with the new FDA guidelines for the "ORGANIC" label, what ARE the costs for organic certification? I know the individual certification standards (those in effect before the FDA developed their own standards) are harder to meet than those of the FDA who caved to big agribiz concerns while writing up the new standards so does that mean in order to get certified "ORGANIC" you have to go thru FDA?

-- Anonymous, July 04, 2001

John -

You don't have to go through the Fed... Most states have standards that more than exceed Federal regs. Idaho is just now trying to get on the Fed bandwagon itself, and was told that we had to REDUCE the requirements on certain things!!

Certification can take three years depending on circumstances. If the farm was certified before you got it, and (this is the unfortunate part) you applied for certification, you can get it almost immediately. It could still apply in your case if you intend to certify acreage you haven't used since you bought.

Contact your state land-grant college for your County extension agent. They will have the info and forms.

In the meantime, you can get a certificate for the transition period. This allows you to state that you are in the program, but you still can't use the word 'organic' in your promotions or packaging. That has changed with the new law. It used to be that you could use the word, so long as you stated that you were not certified. Now you can't use the word at all - according to my ag agent.

I won't pay the $235+ for certification. I prefer to say something along the lines of 'grown naturally' or some such - and then advertise the incredibly stupid hoops (both physical and financial) you have to jump through to get certification. Since people are more than welcome to come see how I grow my produce, meat, etc, they generally are very accepting.

Besides... you should see the lists of chemicals you can use according to some of these states. Why not just eliminate all... 'chemicals', fees, inspections, testing, government, and the rest.

I prefer manure, egg shells and H2O as my chemicals, cash in my pocket from people who actually EAT what I produce, strangers coming to my place to learn and consume GOOD food - not feed it to microscopes and lab rats, and the government where they belong - as far away as I can keep them.

-- Anonymous, July 05, 2001

John, Sorry for the delay, I've been taking care of my dad the last few days. Sue gave a very complete answer, I've really nothing to add. We looked into organic certification and decided at our small scale, we liked to just develop a trust with our buyers. They know where our farm is, we tell them how we garden etc. For the meat we sell (lamb) we just tel them how we grow it, we deliver it to the butcher, they pay us a live weight price and pay the butcher a slaughter/butcher fee. IT seems to work for everyone and our price is better than the sell barns etc. (Whoops by better I mean we make more, enough to actually cover small scale meat production).


-- Anonymous, July 06, 2001

Joy, did you know that Donella Meadows passed away earlier this year? Here's a tribute to her with links to some of her articles and projects. Donella Meadows Tribute

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2001

Yes, Sherri, I did know, but thanks. I only "discovered" her in the last couple of years. I was very sad to hear that she died. Only in her 50's I think.

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2001

I did NOT know that she had died. I guess I'm living in a cave... :-(

Thanks for the links to some of her articles, Joy. I found much to agree with.

-- Anonymous, July 09, 2001

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