Having been one of the early inspirers of the now evolved organic farming movement in the US, what is your feeling about the state of the sustainable food movement today?
“Organic” is as “organic” does. The word has often been too negatively defined: a list of things not to do. And it has always been too useful as a label, attachable to farms too industrial or too big or too simply structured, or (more and more) to products made or sold by corporations. “Sustainable” is better, but who in the US has sustained much of anything for very long? So let’s call it the “local food movement,” even though “local” is a term easy to abuse, mainly by stretching.
I think one can be honestly encouraged by this movement. It has come along at a rate certainly surprising to me. It has been genuinely instructive to a significant number of producers and consumers. It appears to be soundly based on good agricultural practices and on the preferences of informed consumers. And it is preserving the health of some land.
The problem is that the land so far under the influence of this movement is still pitifully small. A vast acreage in this country is still planted in annual monocultures that involve obviously unsustainable toxicity, erosion, damage to nature and human communities, and the destruction of husbandry – all as acceptable “production costs.” This way of production-by-destruction is apparently of little interest to conservationists, environmentalists, politicians, intellectuals, professors, journalists, or “the public.”
Why do you think that, especially in the last 10 years, we’ve seen such a blossoming of interest in organic and sustainable foods and a renaissance of craft foods?
Some people still have enough independent use of their minds to know, from good evidence, that industrial food production or “agribusiness” has failed – has failed conspicuously and flagrantly – to meet its responsibilities to the land, to the land communities, to the primary producers, and to consumers.
Read it all at Earth Island Journal