Monthly Archives: September 2012

Conventional vs. Organic? Oh Come On, We Are Better Than This

It has been a slow trot towards cooler weather here on the farm and we’ve been wearing the art of the simple life on our brows and mud stained knees.  Our fall transplants have finally made their homes in the mucky, marsh soil and seeds are germinating in sporadic dotted rows.  Many of the summer time crops are coming to an end as the Okra expands and lengthens, shadowing the landscape around it with trunks as much as 4 and 5 inches thick.  In order to harvest from these Okra trees, we must bend the plant and take several steps to the side to reach the pods at the very top before releasing this dangerous catapult back into the air.  Sugar cane swishes this way and that in the sea breezes and our newest batch of noodle beans has begun to set their colorful, spaghetti like fruits.  Cucumbers, Summer Squash, Bush Beans, Flowers, and Field Peas are making a triumphant second go at it as delicious fall crops like Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Radishes, Beets, Carrots, Chois, Lettuce, Turnips, Scallions, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Mustards, Collards, and a list of other delicious items we have been nostalgic for since the summer heat sizzled the Spring time crops away return in abundance.  It is still hot here on the farm, though we’ve experienced the occasional crisp morning and a few days that appeared to wander together into the lower temperatures as a reminder of what is to come.  We’ve been savoring the first tastes of Fall greens and our meal times are transforming from the exotic, delicate colors of Summer back once again to the deep, earth tones of cool weather and hardy crops.

I believe I was sitting at the kitchen table in my parent’s house in Pennsylvania on a short visit the day some news reporter with sculpted hair, a low neckline, and chicklet teeth boasted the claim, “Is Organic Food worth the extra cash?  A new study on Conventional versus Organic products may surprise you….”  She went on, of course, to very shallowly explain that this study conducted by the expert researchers working under the banner of  Annals of Internal Medicine discovered that the nutrient densities of Conventionally grown produce were as substantial as those found in Organically grown foods after doing a two-year study and focusing on a few indicators of health in human beings.  Following that viewing, the news story seemed to pop up everywhere in my life, every mainstream journalist with a soap box to stand on was spreading the controversy wildly, taking aim at Organic Agriculture as if it had tricked everyone,  as if one study completed by a few individuals was enough to overthrow the guilt associated with not giving a damn about anything but the couple bucks we figured we’d save from buying our summer squash from mexico.  The news story became a blanket we could throw over our shoulders, sheltering us once again from having to concern ourselves with the annoying task of stewarding our planet and taking extra measures to care for our bodies.

The worst part of the whole controversy wasn’t necessarily the argument itself.  Plenty of passionate, informed rebuttals exploded from the individuals who had educated themselves on the issues associated with the study.  Besides, in all honesty, making the assumption that pouring toxic chemicals over food you are going to consume and replacing the natural soil nutrient cycling, replicated in any ecosystem on planet Earth, with crude, concentrated elixirs of the most necessary nutrients is better than food grown utilizing natural forces with a focus on generating a holistic product born from a living soil is to make an assumption that commerce means more than health, life, and the planet on which we live.  Ever since our ancestors landed on the shores of North America, our nation has had access to an abundance of natural resources.  This gift errupted into a party that we’ve been having ever since, the richness of this beautiful nation providing for the economic, industrial, and societal growth we now hold so dear today.  We have come to love our comforts, our products, our way of life and to think that any of that has to change brings us remorse.  It isn’t necessarily all our fault, industry in America has produced enough money to control what we can and cannot do, what we can and cannot believe and this goes straight to our inability to contradict the motives of the products we now rely on.  We have been labeled unpatriotic when questioning the growth of industry into the last uncontaminated realms of our world and to help us cope with losing our voices, we’ve been handed computers that fit into our pockets and a constant stream of media to replace the need to use our minds.

So I say to the argument, Conventional versus Organic? Oh come on, we are better than this.  We are better than this and I have seen it.  The State of Georgia has a history of utilizing production methods that haven’t always had the land or its people in mind.  Though Georgia has, from time to time, held onto close minded nuances in the agricultural spectrum, life in the South is starting to bloom.  Farmers Markets have exploded and succeeded in all of the major cities from Atlanta to Savannah.  Beautiful, spirited people have dedicated their lives to farming sustainably in the South, preserving the best of the Southern heritage through the incredible foodways this agricultural state has maintained throughout the years.  Chefs, Farmers Market Managers, Farmers, Customers, Creatives, Food Purveyors, and enlightened souls from the Northern Mountains all the way down to the Swampy Deep South have all played a major role in dispelling the concept that Organic food is a luxury saved for the rich.  Organic food is a necessity designed for us all.  The impacts of growing food with thought to the health of the consumer and the health of the environment go far beyond any two-year study conducted by researchers with their own story to tell.  The sustainable food movement is created, supported, and endorsed by so many because it simply makes sense.  It makes sense to feed your children the best quality food available, it makes sense to protect the natural world where everything we need to survive is derived from, it makes sense to localize the economy and support most those whom you consider neighbors and friends.

We are better than this argument, better than this delusion and so many incredible individuals in Georgia are proving this everyday.  Under our uniting banner of Georgia Organics, we can continue to make the difference that is needed.  We can continue to bring healthy foods into the lives of fellow Georgians rich and poor, and through this act of compassion and love for our neighborhoods, families, and friends, we all will move closer towards a better future.  The biggest problem with the study was that it addressed the concerns of Organic versus Conventional products on a person to person basis.  The study did not take into account how Organic, sustainable methods provide for the preservation of our natural spaces, the preservation of our precious foodways, and the preservation of our communities founded on the fundamental morals of truth, beauty, and love.