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Why does organic or sustainable food production get the bad rep for being expensive?

Posted Friday, March 27, 2009, at 7:07 PM

One of the benefits of organic/sustainable gardening and even farming, in my humble opinion, is the availability of inexpensive inputs to feed and care for the soil and resulting plants.

How can that be with the higher prices being charged in the grocery stores? As with most food, the profit is not in the growing but in the handling and marketing. Most farmers today are just making a living or doing it with the addition of jobs off the farm.

Why do they do it? They love the land, nature, lifestyle and producing healthy food. I could go on and on about all we owe to these folks, but that is not what this blog is about.

Surprisingly to me, it is in support of a United Nations study about the value of organic/sustainable methods to poor, and emerging countries, specifically Africa. http://www.unep.ch/etb/publications/insi...

It is a big report but if you just read the executive summary you will get the main points. What it basically says is that organic/sustainable methods are best suited to nations who do not have a lot of wealth to pay for expensive man-made inputs. They even throw in the value for more developed countries as well.

They give a number of good reasons without placing emphasis on the safety aspects that we talk a lot about here in the U.S. There are many practical, economical, common sense reasons.

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Agri-business doesn't want competition. Anyone with half sense knows that it is better to feed the earth from which we are fed. But, that doesn't fit into the scheme of huge mechanized farming. I wish we would realize that the bottom line is not as important as being good stewards of the land. Besides, our great-great grandchildren might want to be able to enjoy wholesome nutritious foods from well tended plots. Alas, we have allowed our nation to come under the influence of huge corporate entities with more concern for profits at any cost than responsible stewardship!

-- Posted by dmcg on Sat, Mar 28, 2009, at 1:29 AM

Well said!

I am glad you brought in the word corporate because that is how I define a difference in mentality between farmers.

A farmer who owns and works their farm, can not really be compared to a corporation that is run by business suits & lawyers. Their thought patterns, motivations and concerns are very different.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Mar 28, 2009, at 7:54 AM

Organic gardening is one way of providing your own food. If you want to get truly organic foods, grow your own. I do not trust the labels in the stores that say "organic". The only thing you can be sure of is that it will cost you more. Are there any farmers left in this county?

-- Posted by Chef Boy R.D. on Sat, Mar 28, 2009, at 4:58 PM

Yes there are farmers, http://www.picktnproducts.org/food/index... but if you are looking for organic vegetable farmers, it would be good to talk with the grower a little to determine their interpretation of organic.

There used to be a $5,000 per year threshold before you had to certify organic, I will check that to see if it is still valid. If anyone knows for sure, speak up.

I visited with one farmer at a farmer's market in another county and his idea of organic was that he used the same insecticide that he used on his tobacco. That did not tell me anything and he did not talk the talk, so I would bet it was not an organic product.

Anyone growing naturally, who is planning to sell or share their crop this year, write to me and I will try to spread the word.

-- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Mar 28, 2009, at 5:32 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.