April 22nd, 1970 was the day the Earth took center stage as twenty million souls took to the streets in defense of the natural world. The rally cry was for clean air, water and soil, a society that protected the wondrously biodiverse planet we call home. Forty-seven years later, the earth is a cleaner albeit hotter orb and organic farmers play a crucial role in protecting the planet’s future. Continue reading
Growing up in the Midwest isn’t as idyllic as it used to be. The family farm has been eclipsed by sprawling thousand-fold acre parcels of corn and soybeans. Typically managed by one solitary man, he spends his spring and early summer days planting genetically engineered seeds and spraying herbicides. Monitors in the tractor map soil temperature and crop conditions, surveying the contours of green expanse and helping the farmer make timely decisions about which herbicides to spray and when. Continue reading
My father grew up in Iowa during the depression. Times were dire, and he witnessed much hardship and suffering. Getting enough to eat was never an issue for his family but seeing others go hungry left its psychological mark. After returning from WWII, he witnessed the Industrial Agricultural Complex taking hold in earnest, and the availability of cheap food became a patriotic goal. Generations were raised thinking cheap food was a bonus. It is proving difficult to shake that philosophy out of our food values. Continue reading
I can smell it; spring is just around the corner. While some areas of the country are still under winter’s frigid grip, elongated English cucumbers are flourishing in shade houses near the Mexican border. Tantalizing heirloom tomatoes, curvaceous eggplant and thick zucchini are growing in various mediums of soil and soil-less technologies. They fill our winter plate. Innovative farmers have figured out how to maintain vigorous populations of microbes using natural fertilizers to cultivate food in containers and other soil-less conditions (sweepingly named Bioponics). For the time being, they can market their produce as certified organic if they follow the organic regulations. All this could change in 2017.
While the “to soil or not to soil” debate rages on, does the organic community not have bigger fish to fry? Continue reading
It’s been just a few weeks since our political world took a turn into uncharted seas. We had been progressing along swimmingly, making progress on the likes of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, local organic food hubs and vibrant conservation programs. We had the luxury of squabbling over the recommendations of the NOSB wrangling over every nuance of organic production. We took the National Organic Program for granted as an institutional “holy maceral” that would carry us someday into regulatory utopia.
All of that came to an abrupt halt last November when the new political tide rolled in. These uncharted waters are like nothing we have navigated before, and the good food movement should take heed and consider rowing with a united stroke if we are to remain afloat. Continue reading