On behalf of the Weston A. Price Foundation I attended a congressional briefing organized by the Center for Healthand the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School called “The Importance of Organic Agriculture in the U.S.in Coming Years.” The briefing was held on October 30, 2007 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington,D.C.
The Center convened a panel of “experts” on organic farming and the certifying thereof. The intent of the meetingwas for the “experts” to offer suggestions to a room full of policymakers on how to legislate the spread of organicagriculture in the U.S.
The panel comprised a diverse group: one senator, one doctor, two professors and one farmer. Less diverse,though, were their ideas, which included more funding for the National Organic Program research budget, more fundingfor the staffers that run the NOP, more funding for USDA certifiers and the subsidizing of organic grain production.Sounds to me like the same rhetoric that has followed the trail of industrial agriculture for the last 50 years only minus the chemicals.
Kathleen Merrigan, PhD, director of the Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program at Tufts University, called for stiffer, vaster regulatory agencies and more money for organic agriculture research in universities. Because, as one panelist compliantly stated, “where goes university research, there goes agriculture.” And this statement precisely characterizes the general mindset of the panel—agricultural information is only credible if the research behind it has been heavily funded by taxpayer dollars. How about the priceless knowledge rooted in age-old wisdom that is passed along among farmers generation upon generation, farmers who actually make a living off of the land? As the panel would have it, this wisdom cannot be verified as accurate until it gets filtered through an academic bureaucracy orreceives a stamp of government approval, which in this case would be a USDA Organic seal.
One gentleman on the panel, a soil scientist by profession, noted that cultivation of grains, oilseeds, and legume crops occupies 80 percent of the farmed land in the world. Translation: the production of ethanol, high-fructose corn syrup, canola oil, and soybean sludge takes up 80 percent of the world’s agricultural land base. The panel’s solution: certify these non-food, commodity products organic and raise another generation of children—if we have another generation of children—on soft drinks, soymilk and vegetable oil spreads with an organic stamp of approval.
Another lecture focused on organic apple production in Washington State and how it compared to conventional apple production. The presenter said that we needed more breeders and researchers to continue conducting experimental research projects to prove to the conventional academic community that “organic can compete.” All this talk about breeders, researchers, staffers and certifying agents, but not one mention of farmers.
And not one mention of livestock either. Imagine an entire briefing —three hours of discussion on the future of organic farming—and not one mention of animals on farms. The one saving grace to our nation’s petro-chemical fertilizer addiction and the only bit of commentary they received was a reference to the 2006 U.N. Report claiming that ruminant livestock belching methane is the leading cause of global warming. Al Gore and his vegan following are leading us down the path of ecological and nutritional destruction with this politically correct charade, and the entire panel had bought into it.
Those of us who have educated ourselves about the wisdom and teachings of Weston A. Price know that if “health” were the ultimate goal of a briefing such as this, we would be discussing ways in which to increase the nutrient density of our food, not regulate it more tightly. And if the state of the “global environment” were of significant concern, then we’d be asking ourselves how to get ruminants back onto the vast tracts of land that we’ve removed them from—land that has been pillaged by plows and chemicals. Instead we have our panel of “experts” conjuring up ways to more tightly certify the “organicness” of the soybean.
This is not progress. But this is what we’ll get when we rely on the policymakers that meet for brainstorming sessions within the confines of the beltway—a reverence for government funding and the accumulation of facts at the expense of time–honored wisdom.
Let’s head for greener pastures—where the animals are—and leave the “experts” in the dust of their organic research plots.
About the Author
Matthew Rales obtained his BA in Environmental Studies in 2006 from Middlebury College in Vermont. He recently completed an apprenticeship at Joel Salatin’s grass-based Polyface Farm and is continuing to pursue a career in grassfarming at Polyface. He will also be serving as a farm tour guide, teaching people about the combined benefit to human health and the environment of raising nutrient-dense animal foods.