As a follow up to my ‘greenwashing’ post–I thought I’d post a link to a really great conversation yesterday on the Diane Rhem show on NPR. I always listen to the show when in the field and yesterday’s topic was particularity exciting: Organic Food Standards. The discussion focuses on larger agri-business and their attempt to bank on the organic trend by making larger industrial farms that sometimes follow organic rules or at least push the limits on minimum standards.
I think the part of the discussion on the true spirit of organic production is particularly interesting. The whole topic was spurred by an article published in the NY Times by Elizabeth Rosenthal describing ‘organic’ production at the expense of the environment (‘Organic Agriculture May Be Outgrowing Its Ideals) During the Rehm show discussion Rosenthal hits on the core reason demand for organics is growing exponentially–people want to support small family farms that grow food sustainably in a way that is also healthy to eat (without chemicals) and pays farmers and farm workers a living wage. Agri-business has used their marketing prowess to develop slogans and images that portray this ideal but in reality what you get is very much conventional but perhaps with different sprays and a bit more space per chicken to move around.
This is a big problem as more people want to eat well and support a positive model. I think the solution is not so simple and requires more work on the part of the citizens or ‘consumers’ and it requires: 1. knowing what local farms are around and their general practices, 2. knowing whats in season, 3. paying more for all of this while spending more time cooking.
Oh, and we also need a lot more people farming this way to meet demand…