[NAFEX] chemical vs organic

Kevin Moore aleguy33 at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 14 12:58:47 EDT 2009

A very interesting perspective. Organic vs. chemical gardening. I must say that I am neither. Especially since the advent of the USDA's National Organic Program which has destroyed much that was good about organic certification to begin with. I consider myself an advocate of natural gardening as opposed to organic. While I still occaisionally use sprays such as seaweed extract or dilute milk for immediate problems. I find I resort to them less and less. I take a permaculture approach of trying to design a balanced ecosystem where there is something that eats every pest. I prefer to call this natural gardening to disociate it from the industrial agriculture that calls itself organic. Even borers have predators and diseases. The trick is to maintain a balance so that some damage to trees is acceptable as long as the pests don't get out of hand and start doing enough damage to actually hurt the trees. By directing the location of various plants and water
 sources in relation to your trees, it is possible to achieve this balance, though I will be the first to admit that having trees and other plants that are naturally resistant to various pathogens is always a good foundation to start off with.
I know this probably doesn't help your research, but there are an increasing number of people who are going "beyond organic."
Kevin z9 Louisiana.

From: Kieran &/or Donna <holycow at frontiernet.net>
To: North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, June 12, 2009 11:13:51 AM
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] chemical vs organic

Someone, I think it was Fluffy or maybe Alan who 
said organic people are "unscientific".   That's not entirely 
true.  Most of us are simply naive idealists who really believe that God or 
Nature is benign and nice.  We have read that if we just improve our 
soil enough, that the bugs and disease will go away.  
That generally seems to hold true for truck crops.  I haven't seen a 
bean beetle in years.  Fruit trees seem much harder to deal 
with.  The borer for every species thing doesn't help.  
The curculio seem to have developed the perfect system, simply ruin all the 
fruit for any other creature but let a few fruits hang on long enough to 
make a few seeds for the trees to reproduce. Codling moths aren't 
nearly as efficient.  Someone asked me at work about what 
was eating the leaves on various species of veggies in her first ever 
garden.  Two of us were interrogating her, as she was obviously 
describing rabbit or deer damage.  the same bug does not attack all those 
species, and each one does it's own very specific thing.  The older 
men in the family had simply gone out and dusted Sevin to deal with all those 
other pests.  Here our worlds divide.  I adore bugs, except for the 
ones I hate with a passion.  I could never spray my garden with an 
insecticide, it would kill too many of my miniature wildlife.  ( I 
don't have to go on safari to Africa or even use binoculars to 
observe amazing creatures and great drama.  Try watching one of those 
special spider wasps in action.  You know, the blackish ones with the 
orange curly antennae.  Know what they use those antennae 
for?  They feel the spider very carefully with them to find the right 
spot to sting.  It's rather obscene to watch, esp as I am so fond of 
wolf spiders. )  I know a great deal about all kinds of bugs, 
including those that have no economic impact on me.  Tennessee oldtimers 
don't know these things, they kill everything with Sevin.  That is 
scientific?   I get a big kick out of explaining to oldtimers about 
why the blister beetles they hate so much are only a mixed curse, because their 
young feed on grasshopper eggs.  Once we got banties running loose 
eating grasshoppers, the blister beetles became rare.  
    Sevin is one of the 4 food 
groups in Tennessee.  Never mind that it is 
a neurotoxin that mammals can break down in their livers because they have an 
enzyme that insects don't have.  Never mind that this enzyme can be used up 
by repeated exposure or that certain medications can use it up.  Never mind 
the reports in Organic Gardening, that magazine for superstitious organic 
gardeners about how Sevin can last 40 days in the garden in certain 
conditions.  Never mind the final conclusion in the book A PLAGUE OF 
FROGS that it was the breakdown product of a pesticide that interfered with 
the thyroid function in the developing frogs and caused the limb 
deformities.  The researchers working with the pesticide itself did not get 
these results, giving the impression that it would not affect frogs.  Yes, 
there is also some kind of amphibian infection running around that can do this, 
but the Canadian researcher said flatly that in his years of sampling, that only 
farm ponds with lots of pesticides produced deformities.  Is it truly 
scientific to assume that chemicals don't break down into intermediate products 
out in Nature?  Some of us organic nuts are now bitter and 
twisted, having realised that the world consists mostly of creatures saying 
gimme.  We watch longingly the simple lives of chemical 
users, but are still only too aware that the miracle of modern 
chemistry is biting America's backside in the rates of cancer 
and other health problems.  
    This is not intended as an 
attack on anyone on this group, I am merely addressing the great divide in 
Nafex.  Never mind politics, we don't go to Nafex meetings and then 
immediately try to figure out whether we are talking to a Dem or Rep, we want to 
know if we are talking with someone who grows resistant stuff or who grows the 
best of everything and sprays.  Both groups start out naive, but one trusts 
the chemical companies and sprays, the other puts their faith in Nature and 
doesn't spray.  Both get rewards, but often the organic bunch have to do a 
whole lot more learning first.  Personally, I would love to see the concept 
of IPM agriculture blossom.  I would love to be able to buy IPM produce in 
my local grocery.  But somehow the concept has never gotten major attention 
among consumers and publications to consumers.  IPM is definitely the most 
scientific form of agriculture in my opinion.  It is based on the 
intersection of 3 realities, economic reality, and the knowlege of biology and 
    I suppose this is the foundation 
for an article I have long wanted to write for Pomona but never could quite 
figure out how to approach.  The divide in Nafex between the organic and 
the chemical people is quite deep.  People have their minds as made up 
already as they did in the last election.  I soon discovered last year that 
I could only discuss politics with like minded people, that there were no 
discussions between sides, only arguments.  I think the divide is addressed 
by the Meyers-Briggs, Kiersey-Bates personality tests.  The division is 
between the 25% of the population who see the forest, and the 75% who see the 
trees.  Between the big picture and the details.  The big 
picture people think the detail people are idiots because they can't grasp the 
implications of what they do.  The detail people think the big picture 
people are idiots because they are vague.  For the extremes of either type, 
there is sudden glazing over of the eyes when forced to converse with someone of 
the other brain type.  I have watched it happen, I have experienced it 
myself.  My husband once endured an excruciating conversation 
between a brother and BIL of mine, 15 full minutes regarding a scratch on a car 
and what to do about it.  Our attitude is, the car is transportation, a 
scratch means nothing to that purpose.  To detail people, a scratch is a 
very real thing.  
     For the purposes of this 
discussion, ask yourself which type you are, and would you please report in 
which type you are and whether you think organic gardening is stupid  and 
chemicals are fine.  Remember there are people in the middle, more 
versatile people than the ones at the ends of the spectrum.  If you are in 
the middle, what is your opinion re chemicals, in 25 words or less?   
Thank you.  Any input regarding an article for Pomona on this subject would 
be very much appreciated.  A group effort will produce a better balanced 
article.  Some details, some theory, something for 
everyone.    Donna 

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