I recently ran across this article in The Independent: The great organic myths: Why organic foods are an indulgence the world can’t afford. The article lists seven “myths” about organic food, and proceeds to debunk each:
- Myth one: Organic farming is good for the environment
- Myth two: Organic farming is more sustainable
- Myth three: Organic farming doesn’t use pesticides
- Myth four: Pesticide levels in conventional food are dangerous
- Myth five: Organic food is healthier
- Myth six: Organic food contains more nutrients
- Myth seven: The demand for organic food is booming
I can’t find the quote right now, but in his book “Sowing Seeds in the Desert” Masanobu Fukuoka says that organic farming is just conventional farming with a different set of chemicals. This is obviously true if you look at the way large organic farms operate.
The problem with food production today has nothing to do with the method, organic or conventional. The problem is that we have fewer farmers per capita than ever before in human history. Today a tiny number of “farmers” (if you can call them that) control a majority of the food that is produced on increasingly consolidated and huge-scale factory-like operations. What we eat today is more of a commercial product than it is food. This situation is economically unfair, environmentally unsustainable, and politically dangerous.
The key to feeding the world in the coming generations is not “Organic” or any such label or remix of farming techniques. It is for more people to take responsibility for their own food; for more farmers to grow food for their local communities; for consumers to get to know their farmers and participate in their own food. We need people to reconnect with their food. We need food production to be as widely distributed as possible – the opposite of what we have today.
So I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with Organic food per se, or that, as the article’s headline dramatically states “the world can’t afford” organic food. The world CAN afford GOOD food. Everyone has a right to eat, and everyone should have access to good food. That’s why we do what we do. That’s why I want to be a farmer, because I love food and I love people, and I love to see people enjoy food that I’ve made especially for them.