Organic Gardening

Organic Can – The Encouraging Truth

It’s interesting that even many people who want organic and grow organic think that organic can’t feed the world.

That statement is made so many times by big agri-business because it’s in the best interest of their profits to have that statement believed by the vast majority.

And if any statement is repeated enough, people come to believe it whether it’s a lie or not. And then when the majority holds that belief — the next well known statement is — the majority can’t be wrong. (In spite of the fact that a good percentage of the time they are.)

I happened across the most uplifting article the other day by Barry Estabrook, former contributing editor at Gourmet magazine. Mr. Estabrook’s enlightening piece of journalism was inspired by an article written by Steve Kopperud who is a registered lobbyist for organizations representing a host of pharmaceutical and food processing corporations.

Knowing that about Mr. Kopperud, it comes as no surprise that his article “dismissed well-thought-out concerns about today’s dysfunctional food production system with the old saw that organic farming can’t save the world.”

In Mr. Estabrook’s rebuttal to Mr. Kopperud, he goes on to say agribusiness advocates like Kopperud “persist in repeating this as an irrefutable fact, even as one scientific study after another concludes the exact opposite: not only that organic can indeed feed nine billion human beings but that it is the only hope we have of doing so.” (emphasis mine throughout)

He goes on to cite proof that refutes Kopperud’s other statement about there not being enough land to feed nine billion people. One proof was in the form of a 2010 study from the American National Research Council written by professors from seven US universities.  It was found that “organic farming, grass-fed livestock husbandry, and the production of meat and crops on the same farm will be needed (if we are) to sustain food production in this country.”

He goes on to site a Rodale Institute study that is backed with citations of more than 50 scientific studies that provide “a concise argument for why a return to organic principles is necessary to stave off world hunger.” 

The conclusion of that study is that “farming must move away from using unsustainable, increasingly unaffordable, petroleum-based fertilizers and pesticides and turn to organic, regenerative farming systems that sustain and improve the health of the world population, our soil, and our environment.”

I thought Mr. Estabrook ended his piece beautifully when he replied to  Mr. Kopperud’s statement about finding the “food Movement” dangerous because it misinformed and misdirected people —.” Estabrook wrote:

  • “The real danger is when an untruth is repeated so often that people accept it as fact.
  • “Given that the current food production system, which is really a 75-year-old experiment, leaves nearly one billion of the world’s seven billion humans seriously undernourished today, the onus (responsibility) should be on the advocates of agribusiness to prove their model can feed a future population of nine billion — not the other way around.”

Well put — wouldn’t you agree? And if you want to read more good stuff and more proof, scroll down and read the more-than-20 comments and rebuttals by some knowledgeable folks at the end of Mr. Kopperud’s article.
Organic gardening is easy, effective, efficient and a lot healthier.
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  • Thank, Theresa. An interesting book on this subject is Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. He visits a farm where they actually follow the organic model, and he shows how it works in real life. In his previous book, The Botany of Desire, he investigates organic versus non-organic potato farms.

  • Michael Pollan and his book Ominivore’s Dilemma is the one Kopperud “downed” in his article. So glad that Barry Estabrook wrote that great rebuttal.

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