Organic and/or beyond…?

Something that I have been thinking about since we left Glen Valley is about the connotations of the ‘organic’ label. A conversation that we had at Glen Valley touched on the idea of ‘beyond organic’ to represent truly sustainable food production – using closed loop system techniques, or progressive ways of dealing with waste, energy requirements, etc. I’m not sure that I agree with embarking upon another labelling system that may confuse consumers, and place new demands on growers, but I do agree with the general concerns re: ‘organic’. As we cycled through Seattle we passed superstores selling mostly or wholly organic produce that rival Wal-mart in size and scope. Something makes me feel uncomfortable with this. I think it’s tied up with the local food agenda for me. The best food often comes direct from the grower (in terms of taste, health and psychological satisfaction) and hypermarkets remove that link entirely. Of course, it’s not always possible or desirable to buy from the grower – but these monstrous shops (organic or otherwise) are certainly not helping to educate people about healthy consumption habits or allowing small growers access to a marketplace for their goods at a fair price. They are also, somewhat ironically given their vastness, taking away choices by largely homogenising products regardless of season or geography. What’s more, the sort of organic produce they sell may not come from farms run along sustainable principles – which is something people often automatically expect when they see the ‘organic’ label. Maybe ‘beyond organic’ isn’t such a bad idea afterall…

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One Response to Organic and/or beyond…?

  1. Charlotte says:

    Slightly weird to comment on my own post, but just to say that Andrew Kimbrell wrote an excellent article in Resurgence (Mar/Apr 2010) about this issue – http://www.resurgence.org/magazine/issue259-seeds-of-change-the-future-of-food.html

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