Monday, February 9, 2009

Alan's Soapbox - A bit more about "Organics"

How ever the organic gardening movement started, and what ever its beliefs were at that time don't really matter now. Organics has become what the USDA and the Marketing gurus have made it. As it is now it is pretty irrelevant. Substituting "organic" NPK for synthetic NPK doesn't change much. Neither does the current round of "organic" pesticides and herbicides. There is nothing in the mandated practices about nourishing the land, feeding the soil, finding balance.

For example - If I lived in a different state I would be running a micro scale organic grade A goat dairy. (I'm not doing that here because this is not a raw milk state and the equipment costs to be a pasteurized dairy are prohibitive, not to mention the fact that I don't support mandatory pasteurization ... but that is a rant for an other day.) This past winter we had a lot of sickness in our goat herd. After losing several animals and ending up with everyone else extremely sick, we finally discovered the cause. The goats were infested with liver fluke from the overly wet pastures. Remedy? A prescription for a fairly toxic wormer. At this point, if I were a certified "organic" dairy I would have to choose between curing my animals and losing my certification or letting nature sort it out and keeping my certification. I opted to go with the non-organic solution. For me it is a one time thing, done with my eyes open. I know how to prevent the problem in the future in ways that wont damage my animals or my land, and that would fit the "organic" standards, but if I don't cure these animals, they will die. I know that there will be toxins in my goats, and I know how to help them get rid of those toxins. I know the wormer will damage populations of worms and microbes in my soil, and I know how to help those populations recover. So for me, in this instance, on my little farm conventional is better than organic. Alive and recovering from some toxins is better than naturally dead. The line is fuzzy, and the only way to live is eyes open, consciously doing what is best for your land, animals and local systems. The toxins I used once are here on my land for me to deal with. I know it and know how to take steps to fix the problem. But I'm not organic any more.

2 comments: said...

Another great post Alan. It is great to see such candid talk about the facts facing you in your particular situation. It definitely helps aspiring farmers like ourselves think about the best practices we will adopt when we a farm of our own.

dND said...

I'm getting there too :-D I've come to the conclusion I can't be fully 'organic' so I'm leaning more to my own version of permaculture, trying to minimise the 'bad' things and bring the soil back to self healing as much as possible.

As for the animals... I know you've read my blog. I think the weather last year had a lot to do with it and I was hoping that liver fluke would show up on the last post mortem I had done but no it was totally clear! However it did show that the wormers have done their job so it wasn't the parasites that killed the last alpaca


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