[NAFEX] foundation of agriculture

Thomas Olenio tolenio at sentex.net
Sat Apr 7 09:03:02 EDT 2007


I would suggest that the foundation of agriculture is economics, which are
driven by consumer demand.  Since the bulk of consumers prefer "perfect
appearing produce" at a "cheap price", the conventional farmer is simply
supplying consumer demand.  The organic farmer is simply catering to a
smaller market segment.

Do not blame the farmer for the decisions made by the consumers.

Change the consumer's preferences and you change the production process.
Similarly the consumer demand for electric refrigerators put the iceman out
of business.

How many farmers do you think are going into tobacco today?  It is all about
market demand, and economics, which are driven by consumers.  Change the
consumer, change farming.


-----Original Message-----
From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Jason MacArthur
Sent: Saturday, April 07, 2007 8:23 AM
To: nafex at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Boron and other things

I find this conversation about organic vs. conventional farming  
interesting.  I have worked on organic vegetable farms quite a bit,  
and one of the things I always found disheartening was the lack of  
communication and understanding between organic and conventional  
growers.  Ultimately, farming practices are not divided by bright,  
clear lines; rather, they exist along a spectrum of grays.  Growing  
anything is inherently intrusive to the environment in which it is  
done- the decisions of how and when to intrude form the choices that  
farmers make, decisions based on experience, habits, economics,  
etc.     "Organic" is one set of parameters, "Conventional" another,  
but ultimately there are more similarities than differences between  
the two camps.
	 I think we should be able to agree  that soil is the foundation of

agriculture and agriculture is the foundation of our society.   
Farming practices which promote healthy soil are more sustainable  
than those which destroy it.    How do you compare the merits of a  
chemically based no-till system to an organic system which doesn't  
use herbicides but which involves many more trips over the same  
ground with a diesel powered tractor?
	I think we should be able to agree that water is the foundation of  
life.   Farming practices which don't pollute water are more  
sustainable than those that do.   Huge amounts of Nitrogen  
Phosphorous dumped into mistreated soil become pollutants, but just  
because a farmer occasionally reaches for some Imidan doesn't mean  
they over-fertilize.
	I think we should be able to agree that consuming pesticide residues

has uncertain and probably deleterious health effects on humans.   
What we need is a regulatory system which analyzes these things based  
on science not lobbbying.
	How we grow our food has a huge impact on our environment and our  
societies, and I do think that our system of agriculture has gone too  
far down the road of chemical and fossil fuel reliance.  But let's  
not throw out the baby with the bath water.
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