Friday, November 27, 2009

Can giant agribusinesses shrink while true organic farms grow?

That's a line from Maira Kalman's Thanksgiving piece in the New York Times. The title is "Back to the Land," and there's a lot in it about democracy, food and the democracy of food.

Here's another great line:
Can the elitism of a farmers' market shift so that the organic farms can be subsidized and that prices are reasonable for all people? That would be a democracy of healthy eating.
Don't miss her photos and missive here. It is the second-most emailed story on on the Friday evening after Thanksgiving.


Spec said...

Very interesting little piece. I found it a little pretentious. It is very easy for the 'elite' to pine for what has gone. I am not espousing from some proletariat soapbox, I would actually consider myself one of the elite, both from an educational and(hopefully soon) an economic standpoint but I can smell Thoreau-esque romanticizing when it walks by (slowly it seems here across the country both ways). And by the way, Cicero came from a very wealthy family....

I love the idea of the farm classrooms. Would this be considered Home Economics? Education is key but so is economics. The quote cited in the original blog is probably the most important of the whole piece. Healthy, organic food is extremely important but also extremely expensive and if I am a single mother of two and I can buy a bunch of small carrots for $5 or a case of mac & cheese that will feed the family for a week...the choice is a simple one.

Anonymous said...

The answer is no because it is basically illegal to do small scale farming in the US at this time.

It is now illegal to sell organic goods that were grown on uncomposed manure, where composting bust be done in a composting oven, a piece of equipment that costs more than any small scale operation can afford.

When you buy at the farmers market currently, most farmers are committing federal crimes to sell to you because they are violating the reporting requirements that now require forms to be filled out and reports filed documenting the exact route taken by every produce truck, where it came from, what fertilizer it was given, and who it was sold to. See CFA Title 21 Chapter I Subchapter A Part 1 Subpart J - Establishment, Maintenance, and Availability of Records.

For an overview of the situation, see Virginia permaculture farmer Joel Salatin's book "Everything I want to do is Illegal", about the criminalization of small scale organic farming.