Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm Organic Revisited

                In early August, I posted an entry titled “I’m Organic”, and I asserted at that time that I was quite skeptical about the intention behind multiple mailings and e-mails sent to me regarding an attempt to unify the organic movement. The group behind the “I’m Organic” campaign was the Organic Trade Association. And after only a month and a half, the results are in, so to speak.
                To jump quickly to what is behind almost all of the insanity that has enslaved, and I mean ENSLAVED, our representative democracy is BIG INDUSTRY. Our sources of energy are predominately petroleum based… why? Because of powerful BIG OIL corporations. We are in the midst of a government shutdown… why? Because BIG INSURANCE corporations and BIG PHARMACEUTICAL corporations do not want United States citizens to be allowed affordable healthcare. The majority of food offered to our citizens have been covertly turned into poisons… why? Because BIG AGRICULTURE corporations have a vested interest in producing… poison… rather than health. And ALL of that idiocy is the result of decades of unchecked greed. Money!
                It occurred to me earlier that a lot of my whimsical humor has been lacking in my recent Tales of Idyllia, and while my intention is to add more humor, the daily reality that is thrust upon us otherwise well-meaning United States citizens has become absolutely absurd! Witnessing the current government shutdown merely reflects how our representative democracy is a façade at best, and a complete failure in its current ability to reign in the power of MONEY! All of this can change of course, but as the climate continues to change rapidly, health ailments escalate… at much younger ages, etc., etc., etc., it is difficult to laugh oneself beyond the grim, that is VERY GRIM situation that has developed.
                The previous statement was merely an aside. And now… on to the glorious tale of the Organic Trade Association’s recent push…
                My  suspicions have come to fruition. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is a very large vehicle of BIG AGRICULTURE attempting to control the term “organic” for their means.  The e-mails and mailings with the title “I’m Organic”, all pretty pictures aside, were to entice us actual “in the dirt” organic farmers to add our e-mails to their list so that they could persuade congress into thinking that the organic community as a whole is on their side. The Organic Trade Association has devised a “check off” situation that they have decreed will better help organics in the future…
                These are evil entities! The struggle to maintain integrity in organic farming has been extremely difficult over the years due to the pressure of BIG AGRICULTURE to change and cheapen the rules, and this is ONE of the latest attempts to minimalize that ongoing integrity. Organic farming is quite simple to define and relay as long as it is honest. There will be no chemical form of anything in vegetable production, no hormones, etc., in animal rearing, and nothing synthetic in any processed organic foods. It was the Organic Trade Association Rider passed by Congress that has allowed some synthetic ingredients in processed organic foods, such as carrageenan.
                So, just what is this “check-off” program the OTA has put forth? From their own website page: “Why a research and promotion check-off program? In order to distinguish organic in the market place, grow demand, and help the consumer understand all that organic delivers, requires collective resources and coordination beyond those currently available to the industry are required. Increased demand for organic products supports U.S. organic agriculture and rural communities.” It goes on to stress that there is often “confusion” over the difference between organic and products labeled “natural”. The check-off program would create an ad campaign to promote organic in a similar manner of the ad campaigns for the “Incredible, Edible, Egg” and “Got Milk?” Under this ad campaign, more research will be collected on the health benefits of organics. The page closes with “Check-off programs are fair because everyone pays in. Not the few funding the many.” And “The OTA board adopted as a ‘Bold Step’ or strategic objective, that OTA facilitate an industry decision on an organic Research and Promotion Program.”
                Sounds great does it not? But let’s look into this a little, shall we? First off, this check-off program has been quite sneaky in its formulation. All of the “I’m Organic” mailings and e-mails were attempts to get organic farmers to add their names to the OTA e-mail list, which they used to try to push the program through congress with the assertion that all the names listed were in agreement. In my last entry on “I’m Organic”, I expressed that I suspected something of that nature was afoot. Such dubious undertakings are never underestimated by me. It is an immediate and LARGE red flag. Any time someone or something attempts to “manipulate the vote”, if you will, bad things are behind such an attempt, especially if it has to do with something based on integrity, such as organic farming. After taking into account that the OTA was behind the “Rider” that allowed some synthetic ingredients in processed organic food, a VERY, VERY LARGE RED FLAG has appeared.
                Nonetheless, such organization of organic and advertising, research, etc., does sound like a good thing… if that is what it is truly about. To continue this analysis on face value, I read into some critiques on the Check-Off Program. Most of the arguments I read stated that facts do not bear out the supposed success behind the “Got Milk?” and the “Incredible, Edible, Egg” ad campaigns. The reality of the situation is that the farmers do not benefit, only the higher ups, the advertisers, the marketers, etc. Essentially, the program would require organic farmers to pay yet another fee that ultimately will not benefit them. As anyone who farms, that is, farms with their hands in the dirt, knows, paying another fee is not one we can afford.
                As for the statement, “Check-off programs are fair because everyone pays in. Not the few funding the many.” That is a RED FLAG beyond what is acceptable. Talk about a 1% comment, only that comment originates from BIG AGRICULTURE. How belittling! To suggest that the organic farmer should help pay for BIG AGRICULTURE’s benefit! Egads! Yet they are not dealing with the general public. We are organic farmers, that is, realists, and not people easily swindled by greed and corruption.
                One further thing that struck me about the Check-Off Program was the insistence that such a campaign was necessary to promote organic. Nonsense. And this raises yet another RED FLAG, but allow me to explain. The organic movement started out by word of mouth, spread through communities through farmer’s markets and CSAs. It started out very slowly but has continued to steadily grow every year. Documentaries such as “Food, Inc.” and books such as “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollen have presented plenty of reason why eating organic is extremely important. More and more of these documentaries and books are released every year… and that information is spread by word of mouth and social media. The fact of the matter is that the organic “community” continues to grow… and rapidly. And that is why BIG AGRICULTURE through the OTA wants to have the say in the matter… only they do not understand what “community” means. It is a foreign concept to them. Whereas “community” is concerned with public health in general, BIG AGRICULTURE is concerned with MONEY.
                In conclusion, I do not support the Check-Off Program and will continue to farm organically with my community approach. And I will repeat from the earlier posting, I’m organic, I’m just not convinced they are.


  1. Totally agree with your RED flag approach to these corporate front groups.

  2. Thanks Tom, for such a wealth of information. I am sharing this info.