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Is it organic? Or just socialism?

By Mischa Popoff
web posted November 1, 2010

In case you think everyone in the organic industry feels the same way, think again. In researching my book, Is it Organic? The Inside Story of the Organic Industry, I learned with absolute certainly what I had strongly suspected during my five years as an organic inspector: that organic farmers do not, I repeat do not, agree with the urban activists who run their industry.

For starters, organic farmers want their farms tested instead of being forced to fill out reams and reams of paperwork. They know there's no better way than with a test to prove their land is pure and that their crops are more nutritious. You can fill out all the forms you want but it won't make you green.

Organic farmers also know paying exorbitant fees won't make you green. A test for over 200 prohibited toxins costs one-tenth of what an organic farmer is currently forced to pay to have his annual application for certification processed. He then pays to sit through a mind-numbing three-hour "inspection" of his paperwork at his farm. Oh sure, the inspector will have a look around the farm to make sure there's no malfeasance, but since there are no surprise inspections it's not like he's going to find anything, now is he?

When it comes time to sell the crop, the organic farmer must then pay yet more fees to his certifier for the "privilege" of having each crop he sells, each shipment in fact, deemed organic. Yeah… organic farmers don't appreciate that one bit.

Besides paperwork and high fees (which by the time an organic crop reaches the store shelf are as high as 20 percent of the original farm-gate price!) organic farmers also don't believe there should be less technology on the farm. It's the people who've never worked a day on a farm who want to do away with things like tractors and modern science. As I explain in my book,

No one laments that it takes only one worker to do the logging, mining, automobile assembly or construction work that used to require a couple hundred workers or more, and no one believes for a second that the products of those industries would be better in any way if they were produced less efficiently using old fashion methods; they'd just cost a hell of a lot more. Can you imagine the cost of a house built without power tools? But the romantic allure surrounding food production leads urban activists to seek, and if necessary impose, an outmoded paradigm while they themselves lead comfortable lives benefiting from inexpensive transportation, housing, energy and communications along with all the other trappings of modern civilization. (p. 22)

Yeah… organic farmers hate it when someone in the city tells them how they should run their farms.

Most consumers of organic food aren't aware that the organic farming movement began in England as a Christian movement. Maybe that explains why so many honest, hard-working organic farmers in Canada identify as conservatives. Right up until 1997 the organic industry actually had a sound scientific basis, subject to free-market rules with no government interference. But you'll never hear about that from the pro-organic media, or about the key role Presidents H.W. and G.W. Bush played, along with Bill Clinton, in vaulting organics from hippie movement to multi-billion-dollar industry.

You'll also never hear how over 85 percent of the certified "organic" food sold in Canada is imported from places like China, Mexico and Brazil. That's right: hard-working Canadian farmers fill a measly 15 percent of the domestic market for premium-priced organic food. No wonder they want field testing.

What business does a city-dweller have telling a second, third or fourth-generation farmer what he can grow, how to grow it, what records to keep and what fees to pay just so he can supposedly prove he's not using synthetic fertilizer or prohibited pesticides? Who's behind all of this? Pick up my book and you will be surprised. You can find it by going to my website: www.isitorganic.ca. ESR

Mischa Popoff holds a bachelor's degree in history and is an IOIA Advanced Organic Inspector.

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