[NAFEX] Organicism

road's end farm organic101 at linkny.com
Sat Dec 15 18:37:23 EST 2007

On Dec 15, 2007, at 1:20 AM, Mark & Helen Angermayer wrote:

>   I wasn't suggesting nicotine was approved for organic use, rather my 
> point was just because something is natural doesn't mean it's 
> automatically safer than a synthetic. 

And organic growers are perfectly aware of that. I've never heard 
anyone who knows anything about the subject argue otherwise. Arsenic is 
natural, after all.

>  If you know of any, I'd be interested in any university studies that 
> have made a go of organic fruit production in the Midwest. 

Not really my area and can't spend much time researching this; but I 
just googled "organic apples Midwest" and found, on the first page of 
hits, reference to a number of growers doing this; and to a number of 
university studies in process. One link mentioned "organic orchards 
projects ongoing at Michigan State University, Iowa State University, 
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and starting at the 
University of Wisconsin-Madison" so you might look into that. There 
wasn't a link to those studies in that article, but you could look up 
the universities and contact them. -- I don't know what stage those 
studies are at; it's my experience with universities that interest in 
research in anything organic usually follows many years of individual 
growers working out what's possible; the universities lag, but 
eventually get on board.

That one page of results also produced reference to a number of farms 
growing and selling organic apples in the Midwest. So I suspect it is 

As far as the rest of your post: I'm not an apple grower, let alone an 
apple grower in your area; so I don't feel competent to advise you as 
to possible methods of dealing with the problems you had. You could, if 
you felt like it, try googling for addresses and contacting some of the 
people who are apparently actually doing this, and ask them.

Of course, you might find out that whatever they're doing doesn't seem 
to you that it would suit your particular operation: it's possible, for 
instance, that you might think that whatever they suggested required 
more labor than you felt able to supply; or that they might be using 
variety selection, and you might not want to switch to the varieties 
that work for them; or there might be other things about your operation 
that might preclude your taking their advice. Or you might try what 
works for them, and it still might not work for you. (Farming is like 
that, organic or not.) So maybe you won't be an organic grower. OK by 

On Dec 15, 2007, at 7:06 AM, Alan Haigh wrote:
>   I have, of course, read similar studies as those you mention but 
> they are not at all holistic in the economic sense. 

I assumed you hadn't read such studies as you posted:

On Dec 14, 2007, at 1:37 AM, Alan Haigh wrote:

> organic agriculture produces far more calories in ratio to those put 
> into it than conventional agriculture.  But conventional agriculture 
> produces more food in a land use to food quantity ratio.

which is what those studies address. I took a fast look at the 
particular cites I sent again and at least some of them do address the 
economic aspect. In general they state that labor tends to be higher, 
which I would agree is common in organic agriculture though it's 
probably not so in all cases. If you had said "conventional agriculture 
produces more food in a human hours to food quantity ratio", then I 
would have agreed with you; but I don't agree with the statement you 
actually made.

On Dec 15, 2007, at 7:06 AM, Alan Haigh wrote:
>   Land that is enriched with organic matter will of course become more 
> fertile over time but this is an expensive and labor intensive 
> process.  
And what is the long term cost of allowing farmland to become gradually 
less fertile over time? and the long term cost of depletion of 
resources implied in the statement you made that "organic agriculture 
provides far more calories in ration to those put into it than 
conventional agriculture"?

I would say that the answer to those questions is that we don't 
actually know; but that failing to account for them makes other 
economic calculations suspect.

> Organic has become a huge commercial brand world-wide and the public 
> in general often believes that it is the only alternative to ruinous 
> agricultural practices.  Unfortunately, as agri-business  embraces the 
> profitability of this brand they are beginning to find ways to engage 
> in similarly ruinous practices but still make profits on the 
> brand-name.
On that one I agree with you.

And now I have to try to get some other work done ...

Finger Lakes NY; zone 5 mostly
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