Somewhat related to Souscayrous' "why fukuoka" question, the
Greek derivation of the word 'authentic' speaks to me.
------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 23:45:24 -0500
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
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
-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
-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 -------