When I was a young lass growing up in Iowa, the way we thought about food was different than it is today. We lived “in town” and had a prolific backyard garden. It was lined with rows of exuberant Rhubarb and fences of sturdy pole beans. The swing under the Concord grape arbor was where we “took the shade” and shucked sweet green peas from their tender pods. Every summer we trekked out to “The Farm” where the extended family on my grandmother’s side had inhabited vast sections of verdant farmland for decades. No chemicals, no cages, no mono cropping existed, but instead a fully integrated non-chemical Eden where food grew and people flourished. Organic production takes us back to that place while showing us our future path to sustainably feed the planet.
Organic is a way of farming that mimics the way my ancestors used to farm. I remember apple, peach and cherry trees sprinkled around the main house. A gargantuan red barn where the piglets were born and the cows would come home each night. Chickens clucked and scratched about the place as my father and uncles helped bring in and bale the hay. Sure they grew corn but they also cultivated oats, alfalfa and a little wheat. Feed for the livestock was produced right there and the manure they produced went back to nourish the fields.
From this working, living cornucopia our food was produced. We canned peaches, made applesauce and baked cherry “kuchen” or cake. Aromatic loaves of whole grain bread cooled on the windowsill while some of the once fluttery hens roasted in the oven. Freshly sliced tomatoes and cucumbers from the nearby garden were sprinkled with salt and put in great bowls beside homemade sauerkraut. Simple organically grown food, raised humanely, and deliciously served with love.
If you haven’t already watched the video above it pretty much sums up what organic is all about. It’s a way of agricultural production that codifies farming in harmony with the soil, water, flora and fauna. It is diverse and ecologically sound. It gives back as much or more than it takes, leaving the land in better condition than before. It’s the way we used to farm and the path forward to feeding our planet hand in hand with saving it.
Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. Organic farming has a real ecological effect on the environment as well as health benefits to those who eat it.
- The food or product has been produced by USDA approved methods
- These approved methods are in written regulations that are governed by a department of the USDA named the National Organic Program “NOP”
- Organic certification agencies inspect and verify that organic farmers, ranchers, distributors, processors, and traders are complying with the USDA organic regulations
- Every organic farm, packing facility, processor, and distributor involved between the farm and market is inspected to verify compliance with the USDA organic regulations
- Synthetic fertilizers, conventional pesticides: fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering (GMOs) may not be used
- Livestock must eat organic feed and may not be treated with hormones or antibiotics
- The process protects ecological balance and biodiversity
So it seems the organic farming is like the much older farms of my youth, yet more sophisticated. Since time out of mind successful agriculture has indeed been organic.
It’s clear that Old McDonalds version has to go! We must unlearn the noxious methods the past 75 years have wrought. We must stop spewing toxic chemicals on our countryside, in our waters and on our food. We must start respecting the soil as the living organism that sustains us. We must allow animals that give us meat, eggs and milk to live as they were intended. Agriculture doesn’t have to be a toxic proposition bereft with animal suffering and ecological degradation. Organic gives us a viable healthy alternative. It is time for Only Organic.