Organic: What the Label Doesn't Say

As everything these days sells better when labelled organic, I wondered what is so new about it to make it either hip or hype? Reading this will help your health and your purse.


Let’s start out with a definition of organic farming I found on the Internet. It said for organic: An ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. (The Organic Foods Production Act) Sounds pretty brainy.

Let’s take these uppity words down to English common sense language. To do this, let’s step back into the 17th century. At that time the CEO of an ecological production management system was called a farmer, his ecological production activity farming, and his management system common sense. Biodiversity meant planting, growing, and raising everything on his own to feed family and retainers, then sell off surplus products at market. Biological cycles were yearly crop rotations. And soil biological activity was called letting a field lie fallow for a season. All in all, our scientific organic producer would have been called a good farmer. Today, common sense needs legislation and a taxpayer funded supervising body with expensive self-appointed experts; that is new.

You might want to ask me why I stepped back to the 17th century and not any other. I chose that time as it is before the great errors were committed: Industrialization and the advent of my special friends, the chemical and pharmaceutical industries including a criminal racket called Monsanto. The only positive aspect I find in the situation today is that humankind really is able to learn from its own faults, even if it takes more than 200 years. Not calling a good farmer a good farmer is probably just part of the ever encroaching political correctness crowd.

Does this mean the good farmer of today produces the same high quality as our CEO in 1650? No. But it’s not really the farmer’s fault, or mostly not. If his fields about the M25 or Route 66, he may preach organic with an angel’s voice, he will still be bringing in polluted crops. The organic fields on this side of the motorway get as much pollution from the motorway as the non-organic fields on the other side. Conclusion: Don’t believe just everything they tell you about organic crops. With this, I don’t want to say that the organic food will be no better, because it gets the same pollution from outside sources, but it’s not heaven sent either.

Secondary problems not under the present farmers control are pesticides, insecticides, mycocides, and hormones used by his predecessors. These artificial products, rightly shunned by the good farmer, are not biodegradable. They stay in the soil, in the trees, and in the bushes for ages and continue polluting his crop and his livestock for generations. Again, his products certainly are better than if he continued using toxic waste, but a far cry from perfect. Short of taking out all plants and digging up the soil five meters down, there is nothing to be done about that.

This could lead you to the conclusion that growing your own organic food might be best. For several reasons you are right: Doing it yourself, you know what you did and that it is up to the standards you expect of organic foods. It also means that you live more healthily with all the exercise you get. As you get your food directly from the garden without lying around in warehouses for weeks, it will contain more vitamins and essential trace elements. Having it grown yourself, it will also taste better.

Now, before you rush out to start your own organic garden, you should do your homework. I am not talking about books on gardening, though that certainly will be helpful, too. I am talking of the history of your garden. You should spend some time to find out what was there, either directly or in the neighborhood, before you moved in. If your next door neighbor was Duracell producing batteries in the fifties, chances are that your organic growth might come up mighty toxic. The same holds true if your land was used by a mining company in the 18th century. Subject one therefore is local history, the gardening comes later.

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