Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shock, Horror, the other side still misses the point!

So I checked out "The Other Side" blog today, not so much because I give a shit about anything they have to peddle or mutter on about but because I sometimes become curious about the thought process behind their propagandizing of their pro-GMO Stance (note: this does not apply to Anastasia, who I tend to find fair).

And what do you know, first post at the top of the page just called to me, lit the coals and stoked the fire.....again. As always, any asshole slanted coverage of Organic or Sustainable farming can almost always be attributed to this same short sighted, simple minded, over achiever of totally useless goals who wrote the article in reference.

The article itself addresses a supplier of Organically certified fertilizers who defrauded consumers by using "cheaper" synthetics to fortify his mixes, all in all, I agree, the guy is obviously an asshole giving a bad name to more scrutinizing and trustworthy organic suppliers, that said, the author of the article, instead of taking time to report about the incident and make commentary based on the flaws of actual USDA organic certification instead decided to take the time to speak from the wrong end about how "organic" can't feed the world.

Two points of contention exist within the article, at least from my mindset, first and foremost, his flawed understanding of soil sciences, nitrogen demand, and sustainability.

The second, that most and or many of us believe certification and buying in of nutrients is or should be an option in the first place.

I'll tackle the nutrient cycle/availability issue first and I'm completely sure this will piss off not only chemical/GMO advocates, but also those who think certification is a viable option. From the perspective presented in the article it would seem that once again those engaged in more sustainable and localized agriculture are getting the short end of the stick from this site , as always the support for big ag is evident in the blog and the enemy is made out to be certified organic farmers and producers of supplies, those of us who don't fit neatly into the preconceived side get no input/output whatsoever.

The author of the article presents an uninformed statement that there is not enough manure in the world to feed the world "organically" (I'm taking this to mean sustainably as well) and then in the next paragraph says there is not enough nitrogen in the "natural" world (hmmmm, one in the same much?)

This is a huge misconception, first of all, chemical nitrogen is very limited as it is mined from a dwindling supply as well as extracted from petrol chemicals, both sources of which are dwindling leading to a rising price and a slump in demand both due to price as well as the awakening and education of the public to the dangers of unsustainable farming and where it will/would lead us if we continue to follow the path laid down by the so called "green" revolution.

Meanwhile sustainable cycles of raising either animals for meat which are in turn fed by food grown on the farm which is in turn fed by the composted manure of the animals as well as the use of cover crops and local waste streams to return carbon, nutrients, and humus to the ground is a completely and utterly fascinating sustainable model that big ag can and will never hope to duplicate but one which humanity has relied on for nigh 10,000 years. To boot there is tons of archaeological evidence to support the theory that human population has been incredibly dense but sustainable in many locations across the globe in the same time frame comparable to modern population densities.

Granted, using such methods in an attempt for one farm to cultivate a few thousand acres isn't going to happen, however when we are speaking in terms of sustainable agriculture which realizes the flaws in both plans of action presented by big ag and USDA managed organic, and as such we realize that current civilization is not and will not be sustainable over the next 20 years so variables including methods of farming, size of farms, and who is farming will change, shrinking down to only local, small scale farming at some point within the next 20 years if not incredibly sooner out of necessity.

It seems that he is supposing that all farmers interested in and pursuing sustainable farming practices are buying in some if not all of their nutrients which is a complete supposition on his part and incredibly ignorant as many of us are producing 90-100% of our own nutrient and soil building needs while filling the gaps with excesses from other local farms using long term time tested methods like thermophilic composting and cold composting as well as vermiculture, terra pretta, and the food chain cycle of raising farm animals.

It is unfortunate to me that he can't see the Forrest for the trees, believing that big ag has all the answers and that nutrients from mining and drilling operations is in any way sustainable or capable of continually supplying the nutrient needs of modern agriculture, it's a shame he has a pedestal from which to proclaim his ignorance to the world when instead he could be spending his time drawing pretty pictures for his moms refrigerator with crayons.

This is without mentioning breeding work that his been done using traditional methods to improve nitrogen efficiency in many if not most crops by amateur plant breeders across the globe with a great deal of success, but I suppose he believes the current system of using GMO to "improve" plants while propagandizing the reduced use of fertilizers and pesticides while the opposite often proves to be true is "The Way Of The Future." Right, try on a different hat and see if it doesn't improve the blood flow to that tiny brain.

The second point of contention centers on his next assumption that most if not all suppliers of organic supplies or organic farmers in general must be even less trustworthy. This makes the assumption once again that all interested in sustainable farming must be or should be certified to be even recognized as part of the conversation in question.

I and others have tackled the issue of organic certification in the past and it would be a moot point to say that certification is not necessary as any single one of my customers can attest to the power and reliability of a tour on our farm or any other farm in question over any piece of paper "certifying" anything. On top of all of this I will add that buying in nutrients in any large amount while considering yourself organic and or thinking you are part of a sustainable farming movement is tantamount to not knowing how to or refusing to save seeds, it's unsustainable, doesn't make any sense and I will once again reiterate that it makes you part of the problem facing the future.

Relying on certification by the USDA for any product you grow or consume is tantamount to trusting the Japanese government to tell you the truth about the current nuclear situation there.

That said implying that other organic producers are somehow now not to be trusted is the move of someone concerned with ego and not facts. There is a word for that, in fact a phrase I use quite often amongst my friends; "Quit being dick!"

1 comment:

Foothill Farm said...

Dear Alan,
Have you read "An Essay on the Principle of Population" by Thomas Malthus 1798?

His father believed that scientific progress in agriculture and industry would inevitably lead humanity forward to a golden age. Thomas believed that the benefits of scientific progress would be eaten up by a growing population.

He posited that whenever agriculture increases the food supply, the human population expands. The checks on human growth are war, famine, disease or moral restraint, vice and misery.

I'm a renegade organic other words, I wouldn't think of becoming certified. I work at soil fertility, choose the right plants, plant at the right time, conserve water, and watch inputs like Ebenezer Scrooge watches his pennies.

I stopped believing in government rhetoric about the same time I gave up the Easter Bunny. Not a day goes by when I don't get on my soap box and lecture about knowing where you food supply comes from. I don't trust mine to Wal Mart, Safeway, Target, or Fedco. None of these folks are farmers. You can't go see the farm or look at how the eggs are raised. Hmmm...suspicious that. I buy my meat from BlackTail Mountain Ranch. I make my own bread. We eat our own produce, year round. Sure sometimes it's canned, but even in California I can't grow tomatoes in the winter.

The carrying capacity of my small farm is 20 families. That's 20 families of 4 folks each. If the family is 5 folks, they still get the same size basket. Unless I can figure out how to grow vertically on the side of the barn, this is it at rush hour.

I think Malthus was on to something. We have to stop thinking that we can feed everyone. We can't. We never have. We have a choice, we have to control our population. I'm tired of vice, misery, war, disease and I sure don't want to live through a famine. Maybe it's time to apply moral restraint. Just a thought.

P.S. The seeds are coming along very well.