Support Dedicated Organic Farmers
Through the years, as organic farmers have worked with the world of nature, they have developed harmonious farming practices that are outstandingly productive. The general level of expertise today among the best organic growers allows them to equal chemical agriculture in yield while far surpassing it in quality. Coincidentally, they discovered that this approach to farming could save not only their soil, but the family farm itself. It is this original organic goal, and not the modern labeling requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which I believe can save the family farm. To better convey this idea, I like to borrow a phrase from the ecology movement and refer to “deep“ organic farming.
Deep-organic farmers, after rejecting agricultural chemicals, look for better ways to farm. Inspired by the elegance of nature’s systems, they try to mimic the patterns of the natural world’s soil-plant economy. They use freely available natural soil foods such as deep-rooting legumes, green manures and composts to correct the causes of an infertile soil by establishing a vigorous soil life. They acknowledge that the underlying cause of pest problems (insects and diseases) is plant stress; they know they can avoid pest problems by managing soil tilth, nutrient balance, organic matter content, water drainage, air flow, crop rotations, varietal selection and other factors to reduce plant stress.
Deep-organic farmers free themselves from the need to purchase fertilizers and pest-control products from the industrial supply network — the commercial network that normally puts profits in the pockets of middlemen and puts family farms on the auction block. The goal of deep-organic farming is to grow the most nutritious food possible and to respect the primacy of a healthy planet. Needless to say, the industrial agricultural establishment sees this approach as a threat to the status quo since it is not an easy system for outsiders to quantify, to control and to profit from.
So what is the future? If you want to eat really good food, support your local deep-organic farmers. Committed growers are engaged in a quest to grow better food because they understand that Real Food makes an enormous contribution to human well-being.
Reprinted from The Rake, Sept. 2004.