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(Fwd) "The decision to farm organically... Eliot Coleman

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  • Rex Teague
    Somewhat related to Souscayrous why fukuoka question, the Greek derivation of the word authentic speaks to me. Cheerio... Rex ... Date sent: Sun, 10
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 11, 2002
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      Somewhat related to Souscayrous' "why fukuoka" question, the
      Greek derivation of the word 'authentic' speaks to me.

      Cheerio... Rex

      ------- Forwarded message follows -------
      Date sent: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 23:45:24 -0500
      To: bdnow@...
      From: Allan Balliett <igg@...>
      Subject: "The decision to farm organically was a statement of
      faith in the wisdom of the natural world." Eliot Coleman
      Send reply to: bdnow@...

      from december january 2002 Mother Earth News

      ViewPoint: Beyond Organic

      by Eliot Coleman

      New ideas, especially those that directly challenge an established
      orthodoxy, follow a familiar path. First, the orthodoxy says the new
      idea is rubbish. Then the orthodoxy attempts to minimize the new
      idea's increasing appeal. Finally, when the new idea proves
      unstoppable, the orthodoxy tries to claim the idea as its own. This is
      precisely the path organic food production has followed.

      First, organic pioneers were ridiculed. Then, as evidence of the
      benefits of organic farming became more obvious to more people,
      mainstream chemical agriculture actively condemned organic ideas as
      not feasible. Now that the food-buying public has become
      enthusiastic about organically grown foods, the food industry wants
      to take over. Toward that end the U.S. Department of Agriculture-
      controlled national definition of "organic" is tailored to meet the
      marketing needs of organizations that have no connection to the
      agricultural integrity organic once represented. We now need to ask
      whether we want to be content with an "organic" food option that
      places the marketing concerns of corporate America ahead of
      nutrition, flavor and social benefits to consumers.

      When I started as an organic grower 35 years ago, organic was a
      way of thinking rather than a "profit center." The decision to farm
      organically was a statement of faith in the wisdom of the natural
      world, to the quality of the crops and livestock, and to the nutritional
      benefits of properly cultivated food. it was obvious that good farming
      and exceptional food only resulted from the care and nurturing
      practiced by the good farmer.

      The initial development of organic farming during the first half of the
      20th century arose from the gut feelings of farmers who were trying
      to reconcile the biological truths they saw in their own fields with the
      chemical dogma the agricultural science-of-the-moment was
      teaching, The farmers came to very different conclusions from those
      of the academic agronomists. The farmers worked on developing
      agricultural practices that harmonized with the direction in which their
      "unscientific" conclusions were leading them. Their goals were to
      grow the most nutritious food possible, while protecting the soil for
      future generations.

      The development and refinement of those biologically based
      agricultural practices continues today. It's what makes this farming
      adventure so compelling Each year I hope to do things better than I
      did last year because I will know Nature's systems better. But my
      delight in the intricacies of the natural world-my adventure into an
      ever deeper appreciation of the soil-plant-animal nutrition cycle and
      how to optimize it-is not acceptable to the homogenized mentality of
      mass marketing. The food giants that are taking over "organic" want
      a simplistic list of ingredients so they can do organic-by-the-numbers.
      They are derisive about what they label "belief systems," and they
      are loath to acknowledge that more farmer commitment is involved
      in producing real food than any number of approved inputs can

      The transition of "organic" from small farm to big time is now upon
      us. Although getting tome chemicals out of agriculture is an
      improvement we can all applaud, it only removes the negatives. The
      positive focus, enhancing the biological quality of the food produced,
      is nowhere to be seen. The new standards are based on what not to
      do rather than what to do. They will be administered through the
      USDA, whose director said recently, "Organic food does not mean it
      is superior, safer or more healthy than conventional food." Well, I still
      agree with the old-time organic pioneers. I believe that properly
      grown food is superior, safer and healthier. I also believe national
      certification bureaucracies are only necessary when food is grown by
      strangers in far away places rather than by neighbors you know. I
      further believe good, fresh food, grown locally by committed
      growers, is the very best to be found.

      In my opinion, "organic" is now dead as a meaningful synonym for
      the highest quality food. Responsible growers need to identify not
      only that our food is grown to higher, more considered standards,
      but also that it is much fresher because it is grown right where it is
      sold. Therefore, we have come up with a new term, one we define to
      mean locally grown and unprocessed, in addition to exceptional
      quality. (See below.) it's a term we hope will be used, as "organic"
      was used when we began, by those local growers who accept that if
      you care first about the quality of what you produce, a market will
      always be there, We now sell our produce as "Authentic Food." We
      invite other serious growers to join us.
      Authentic Food - Beyond Organic
      A Seal of Quality from a farm near you

      The label "organic" has lost the fluidity it used to hold for the growers
      more concerned with quality than the bottom line, and consumers
      more concerned with nutrition than a static set of standards for
      labeling. 'Authentic" is meant to be the flexible term "organic" once
      was. It identifies fresh foods produced by local growers who want to
      focus on what they are doing, instead of what they aren't doing. (The
      word authentic derives from the Greek authentes: one who does
      things for him or herself.) The standards for a term like this shouldn't
      be set in stone, but here is what I would like for growers to focus on:

      -All foods are produced by the growers who sell them.

      -Fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs and meat products are
      produced within a 50-mile radius of their place of their final sale.

      -The seed and storage crops (grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, etc.) are
      produced within a 300-mile radius of their final sale.

      -Only traditional processed foods such as cheese, wine, bread and
      lactofermented products may claim, "Made with authentic

      -The growers' fields, barns and greenhouses are open for inspection at
      any time, so customers, themselves, can be the certifiers of their

      -All agricultural practices used on farms selling under the
      "authentic" label are chosen to produce foods of the highest
      nutritional quality.

      -Soils are nourished, as in the natural world, with farm-derived
      organic matter and mineral particles from ground rock.

      -Green manures and cover crops are included within broadly based
      crop rotations to maintain biological diversity.

      -A "plant positive" rather than "pest negative" philosophy is
      followed, focusing on correcting the cause of problems rather than
      treating symptoms.

      -Livestock are raised outdoors on grass-based pasture systems to
      the fullest extent possible.

      -The goal is vigorous, healthy crops and livestock endowed with their
      inherent powers of vitality and resistance.

      "Authentic" growers are committed to supplying food that is fresh,
      ripe, clean, safe and nourishing. "Authentic" farms are genetically
      modified organism-free zones. I encourage all small growers who
      believe in exceptional food and use local markets to use the word
      "authentic" to mean "beyond organic."

      With a definition that stresses local, seller-grown and fresh, there
      is little likelihood that large-scale marketers can appropriate this

      -- Eliot Coleman

      ------- End of forwarded message -------
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