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Clarifying Our Misconceptions Regarding Organics

Clarifying Our Misconceptions Regarding Organics

Banishment from the Garden of Eden does not mean we have to toil in synthetic pesticides.  Some individuals doubt the benefits of organic food and resist farmers’ markets.  “How do I present organic pork without disparaging non-organic pork?”, asked House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoma.

These knee-jerk reactions seem to originate from a deep appreciation and respect for the business and corporate world.  The very utterance of the word “organic” is heard as “I hate food corporations”.  Many Baby Boomers also have a negative reaction, this is the generation that came of age when domesticity, Americana, and working with your hands was pummeled by Arlie Russell Hochschild, Margaret Sanger, and Gloria Steinem.

The resistance to organics and local farms is a peculiar one, as organics and farmers’ markets are identified with small business, appreciation for domesticity, and timeless ideas.  Many Baby Boomers, families with both parents working outside the home, and others have relied upon fast, canned, boxed, and frozen food.  This has caused them to be disconnected from the origins of food, sustainable living, and the gift of sustenance.  All while the health of produce has declined over time.  The creation and use of synthetic fertilizers lead to farming without rotating crops.  Synthetic fertilizers without rotating crops further degraded soil.  Over time these farming practices decreased the amount of microbes, worms, and rich compost.  This degradation of soil affects the nutrition of crops. (M. Pritts, C. Heidenreich, L. McDermott, and J. Miller)

The use of synthetic fertilizers means we must stand in front of large food production plants and protest them. That means we must regulate what fast food restaurants can sell.  That means we must bash parents and guardians that rely heavily and solely on non-organics.  No, actually the militant food police are no better.

We do not need to bash anyone or regulate the sizes of soda pop sold at fast food restaurants.  We do have to know that parent aspirations and modeling are two of the strongest factors on children.  This imprint on children often sets into place a generational cycle of eating habits.

Yes, industrial food production has provided food at lower costs.  Yes, corporate and fast food production has provided many jobs.  Those two facts do no give reason to brush aside the possible need for improvement in our diets.  This is not a demand, this is not a command, this is a shedding of light.  We humans have a challenging time changing our minds and habits, liberating ourselves is a process.  It can take months to develop a new eating habit.  Some people will and some will not.

The next question is where to go from here.  History sheds sun on the subject.  Early man was nomadic, followed animal herds, and searched for natural crops.  During the Mesolithic Era (10,000 to 5,000 B.C.) people invented better and better tools for hunting and fishing.  Those in Egypt and Asia learned how to grow wheat and barely crops.   Here we see the origins of agriculture and the domestication of animals.  Mesopotamia, “The Fertile Crescent”, was a region in Southwest Asia.  Some historians speculate this was the home of the Garden of Eden.  People living in this area learned to control the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which provided water for more crops and livestock.  The human population grew across the world and by 1000 A.D. horses and plows were utilized for more food production.

As we see people up until this point were still connected to the land and food.  Most people were farmers or peasants and had a working knowledge of food.  Now we do no have to return to being peasants.  The history of early agriculture merely underscores food knowledge is essential to life.  In 1492, Christopher Columbus was the first of the Europeans to explore the Americas.  (Columbus was an experienced sailor.  His trouble, as with other explorers at the time, was his use of an incomplete map of the world designed by Ptolemy).  Columbus' explorations opened up a time period of great trade between the Old World and New World.  The Americas provided beans, cacao, maize, peanuts, pineapples, potatoes, pumpkins, squash, tobacco, tomatoes, and turkeys to Europe.  The Europeans provided bananas, cattle, chickens, citrus, coffee beans, grapes, horses, onions, peaches, pigs, rice, sugarcane, and wheat to the Americas.

The availability of more food was a blessing and essential to survival, population growth, and variety in diets.  In the 1800s machinery was invented to increase food production and this equipment made farming a bit more easy.  At this point in history most people were still farmers or came from a family of farmers.  Again, that does not mean today we need to become peasants, farmers, or Amish.  As we get to the 1900s synthetic fertilizers were developed, many family farms closed, both parents entered the work force, domestic skills were lost, and industrial food production became the norm.

 Banished from the Garden on Eden does not mean man must abandon the totality of human knowledge and experience in order to escape hard work and toiling.  That is the fundamental issue.  If someone does not want to be a peasant, a farmer, or housewife, he or she does not have to eat synthetic pesticides, eat canned food with mega sodium, fast food, and frozen dinners with a long list of ingredients.  If someone is pro-business, that does not mean organic food is not for them and only for hippies and elitist lefties.

Our misconceptions must be clarified before moving forward.  There is a diversity of individuals buying and eating organics.  Politics and food choices do not necessarily align.  According to the Organic Trade Association, “[a]s the availability of organic has become more mainstream and the offerings of organic more varied, there’s more diversity in those choosing organic.  There no longer is a typical organic consumer.  Organic is meeting the needs of a wide and multi-faceted culture, and the faces of organic-buying families now mirror the demographics of the U.S. population in terms of ethnic background.”

Short-sighted views have consequences.  As we study the past we are in awe of great achievements and struggles.  We also laugh and scratch our heads and some of the actions man has taken or was allowed to get away with for far too long.  In 10,000 A.D. how will this time in human history be judged?  What will be said of our food choices?  How much land will be polluted by synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers?  Will there be any family farms?  Eating organic foods, those grown without synthetic pesticides artificial fertilizers, and radiation is a better choice.

Organic farmings, more sustainable living, can be accomplished through natural fertilizers (manure or compost), birds, rotating crops, and feeding livestock with what they would naturally graze upon is all part of the process.  Growing a backyard garden and modeling a good food appreciation to your children is doable.  Maintaining a healthy connection to food, domestic skills, Americana, and working with your hands is important cultural knowledge to keep alive.  What we value as sacred is profound.  This is how you actually liberate yourself; it is not by knee-jerk reactions, The Feminine Mystique, or by joining the Green Party.

For further information you way wish to visit the following sites.

United States Department of Agriculture:  responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food.

Local Harvest:  find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

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