A friend of ours sent along a link (Hi Chris!) to a video that I’m going to share with everyone eventually. However in poking around the site, there are multiple videos that are really good. They are produced and published by PBS and are short, artistic, and well done. I thought I’d share the ones I like here in various posts, and maybe give a little insight from our perspective.
This is something we get questioned about from time to time by potential customers. When they are asking about our products, they will ask if we are Organic. Note that’s organic with a capital O. My answer is we call ourselves “beyond organic” because the Organic label has been corrupted by the process and the money, as most any government program will be. There has been much controversy over that standards and you can see some of it here and here. It was interesting that when I was in New York city last year, all the restaurants that I visited had their items labeled as Organic but none that I saw mentioned the farm that the food came from. Here in NC it’s common to see the farm name beside your steak choice. To me it was a contrast between big city and small city. To consumers in NY, being certified was the standard and how they chose to place their trust in their food system. To consumers here in our area, being from a local farm is the standard. I know there are exceptions to all I’ve said, but it was the impression I had when I visited.
Another point about this video I thought was interesting was the farmer in Alabama saying that they didn’t get help going Organic and that their local advisors weren’t informed and encouraged them to just go conventional. While I’ve had that experience with some people in our farming system, I’ve always felt that there was plenty of assistance in NC for anyone who wanted to go Organic. Maybe I’m connected with more people who are on that bandwagon, I don’t know, but I see grants and assistance offered often for converting to Organic.
The farmer referenced three reasons why farmers in the South don’t go Organic. From my perspective, the third one was the most pertinent. Farmer’s tend to be a rather independent lot. There isn’t a lot of trust for the federal government in the South and the idea of having Federal inspectors come to your farm routinely to audit your practices just doesn’t sit well with this set of factors. I know it was the first thing that put me off when I initially looked at Organic certification. However I’m perfectly happy to have our friends at the Soil and Water district come by. Heck they stop by now to work and I’m not even here. They are from the government but it’s our local government and these people live and work here. There is a different level of trust with them. I’m not championing an idea here, it was just interesting to me that Southern farmers as a group don’t tend to certify Organic compared to West coast or probably Northern farmers.