organic farming has sold out & lost its way

organic farming has sold out & lost its wayfrom julian rose: The dreams of the early organic pioneers have been subsumed into a rush for global supply chains, strict regulations and fast-selling brands.

Back in 1975, when I first started converting my farm to organic agriculture, there were no standards for production and no rule book. Just a few people committed to weaning their land off agrichemicals, improving soil fertility and supporting good animal health through regular crop rotations and through the sensible applications of farm yard manure. It was about taking a caring attitude to the overall welfare of our farms and trying to engender a wide bio-diversity of species within the farmland habitat.

We were not overly concerned about financial profit, but were interested in making an adequate return on our investments and in the quality, flavour and freshness of the foods we produced. We were perhaps more mindful than most of the words of Soil Association founder, Eve Balfour, that ‘organic’ food should be mostly unrefined and distributed and consumed locally, in its optimum condition…

What ‘organic food’ and its localised market was in those days bears little resemblance to ‘the industry’ that it is today: an industry that is heavily and centrally policed, has a compendium of regulations and is ‘big business’ on a global scale. In fact, much of the ‘organic’ produce shipped in from around the world and across the UK today carries no sense of connection with its geography or its farmers. It is as anonymous as the majority of conventional chemically produced foods, as dull in flavour and as lacking in nutritional vitality. What’s more it belongs in the category of ‘high food miles’ heavy ecological footprint produce, exceeding the 3,000 kilometre average shopping basket once identified as the UK norm. Due to the need to carry a lot of information, it is also responsible for an excessive level of packaging – most of which is non biodegradeable…

The organic food and farming movement can only help reverse this Orwellian scenario, and contribute to a better future, by revisiting its roots and ceasing to chase the chimera of big-time branded salvation.

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