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Posts Tagged ‘farming’

– let your cows free!

Another reason to drink organic milk: A British report finds that “milk from cows which graze outside on grass and clover contains more antioxidants and vitamins than that from conventional dairy farms,” the UK Independent tell us today.

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“This year, 39 percent of people with backyards told the Garden Writers Association they planned to grow vegetables,” the Christian Science Monitor tells us.

Recent spikes in gas and food prices this spring are turning many in the USA to home-food production, it seems.

We welcome that, of course. We’ve been excited about the whole ‘eat your lawn’ trend for a while now.

The struggles we’re having with our own EarthQuaker garden (much of the plum tree just collapsed thanks to heat and too many plums), also have us looking forward to the renewed appreciation all this home farming should bring the people who do it professionally.

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It’s always worthwhile having one’s most deeply-held convictions challenged. That must have been the thinking behind the UK Independent’s decision to publish today an article arguing against organic food.

“The great organic myths: Why organic foods are an indulgence the world can’t afford,” is by ‘environmental expert’ Rob Johnston.

Among the ‘myths’ Johnston lists are that organic farming is good for the environment, that it is pesticide free and produces healthier food than conventional farming.

Judging from the general tenor of the many comments that the piece has already received, not too many Independent readers were persuaded by Dr. Johnston’s logic.

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You’d think that as we reap the environmental, health and political consequences of industrial farming techniques that consume vast quantities of fossil fuels, degrade soils and leave us with poor diets, organic produce would become ever more popular.

But two recent New York Times stories reveal a counter-intuitive, but important, reality: that as the problems associated with industrial farming get worse, organic food can easily become an even harder sell than before.

We weren’t alone in surmising that a rise in the price of conventionally farmed foods (mostly caused by a rise in the price of oil and the ethanol boondoggle) might benefit organic farmers, since that price rise ought to make organics more competitive as an alternative.

But the price pressure on conventional foods has driven up the price of organics, too, the New York Times tells us.

Partly it’s a matter of supply out-running demand, in which case we might expect market forces to come into play and bring new organic suppliers into the market. That happened in the last decade, after all, with organic farming enjoying a worldwide boom while conventional farmers received rock-bottom prices for their crops.

But now that conventional crops are commanding record prices, farmers have lost a major incentive to go organic.

The impact on consumers is powerful, too. High prices for conventionally farmed foods may drive people to organics, but they might equally lower our collective resistance to genetically modified foods — foods that are almost always classed as non-organic — the Times reports today.

Pioneer organic consumers never bought organic because it was cheap. They saw themselves as foregoing their present financial comfort for the sake of our long term global benefit. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll be needing to call on that altruism — and call on it from a great many more people — for a good while to come.

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