“I don’t want you just to sit down at the table. I don’t want you just to eat, and be content. I want you to walk out into the fields where the water is shining, and the rice has risen. I want you to stand there, far from the white tablecloth. I want you to fill your hands with the mud, like a blessing.” -Mary Oliver
Organic agriculture has recently gained a bad name in some circles but it deserves a fresh look. Organic is often criticized because many products available in the supermarket are from large organic corporations with single bottom line ethics. Industrial organic production and global shipping are unsustainable practices. With giant organic corporations the fundamental notions at the heart of organic are lost. As Michael Pollan pointed out many times in his 2007 publication Omnivore’s Dilemma organic is not the end-all-be-all of ecologically sound farming practices. In fact many small farmers are doing away with the label altogether opting instead for a better relationship with the customer. When buyers are also owners and farmhands, as in the Japanese Teikei and the US Community Shared Agriculture (CSA), the need for an organic or fair trade label goes away altogether.
The solution to getting back at the heart of organic is to start producing organic food on your own. Resources for small personal production are available from Garden Organic as well as from your local farmer. Find the organic farmer nearest you through Local Harvest, Serve Your Country Food. Show up and lend a hand, this is a great way to learn how to do the work in your own garden or greenhouse and to share the work of animal production. Small, local organic farmers need your help. They are struggling despite the relatively high market value of organic food the competition is fierce with industrial organic bringing market prices down.
For more resources and information linking you to local farmers check out the Eat Local Challenge.
Encourage young farmers. The average age of a farmer is increasing every day, meanwhile the responsibility of global production goes onto the shoulders of fewer and fewer of them. Young farmers are gathering their resources and networking around the world to make good food for local people (Crop Cooperative, Greenhorns and Freshman Farmer).