OFMA and some other issues and opinions (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at sunsite.unc.edu
Thu Jan 15 19:54:08 EST 1998

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 18:33:27 -0600
From: Guy Clark <guyclark at socket.net>
Reply-To: guyclark at sockets.net
To: organic-certification at listserv.oit.unc.edu,
    Deni Durham <ddurham at gte.net>,
    Eric Feutz <efeutz at mail.coin.missouri.edu>,
    Mary Hendrickson <rusomh at showme.missouri.edu>,
    Ann Pearce <annp at garden.org>
Cc: cooperative-bus at relay.doit.wisc.edu, sanet-mg at shasta.ces.ncsu.edu
Subject: Re: OFMA and some other issues and opinions (fwd)

Loren Muldowney wrote-
>I am trying to boost my spirits by imagining that the honest employees
> of the USDA are as  horrified about this as I am, and upset about how it
> reflects on them personally, and are hoping and praying that WE give
> them the ammunition needed, via our letters, to fix this.
	I think many of the foot soldiers, infantry, grunts may (and should) be
embarrassed by the proposal, but the real shame should be placed squarely
on the shoulders of the real decision makers in the Department.  If we had
a parliamentary system I would advocate hounding the government out of
office; but given that we have the choice between not the lesser of two
evils, but the evil of two lessers, we have to fight on different levels. 
The standard could never be implemented and I would be perfectly happy.  I
think the system we had before works/ed just fine.  The emphasis should be
on buying locally produced products.  The reduction of agriculture to the
industrial model has failed miserably; farming is not an industry, but a
craft that requires constant personal attention.  I believe that the farmer
has to be on intimate turns with the dirt, water, air, flora, and fauna
that s/he stewards.  It all gets back to questions of scale for me; I do
not ever want to have to hire someone to work my land.  If I have to hire
someone then I have broken a scale barrier.  I feel no more affection for a
100 acre organic farming operation than I do for a 100 acre chemical
farming operation; both are too big.
>> Fertile Crescent Farm. 
> What do you grow?  Is exporting important to you?   Do you see a problem
> with the possibility of fraud, or some way to eliminate the problem of
> somebody growing food "conventionally" and selling it as organic?  Do
> you worry that reflects badly on you, through no fault of your own?
	I grow a multitude of vegetables, but I guess I am most known for garlic
and hot peppers.  I started planting my orchard last year with 10 apple
trees, 3 pears, 2 plums, 2 peaches, a nectarine, 100 strawberry plants, 100
asparagus crowns, raspberries, rhubarb, and horseradish.  I hope to add
about 20 trees a year for 20 years or so.  I am also considering  a
woodlot/agroforestry project.  I think maybe walnuts, ginseng, and a hay
crop or something.  I am starting a CSA this year for vegetables and
flowers and may start a flower CSA for dentists, doctors, hairdressers,
etc.  I also work as a sous chef and garden coordinator/executive director
of the Community Garden Coalition which provides the land and all supplies
and even some labor for lower-income, persons-with-disabilities, youth, and
immigrants.  I have gotten involved in the last two years in several
organizations.  I am the Central region director of the Missouri Organic
Association, vice president of our local Master Gardener group, on the
planning committee of the Columbia Area Food Circle which hopes to build a
regional food system and encourage purchase of locally produced
agricultural products, and hope to join the board of our farmers' market.
	I do not think exportation is important.  Like I said it makes no sense to
produce something in a sustainable way and then send it more than a couple
of hundred miles.  The point is to provide for/buy from local producers. 
We have to get away from the American dream of "I want what I want, right
now, no matter where it comes from, how it was produced, or what its season
is."  I could give a hoot for "free trade"; all that means is that
megacorps(e) are free to run rampant with no affiliation to place or
people.  They are replacing nations as the important political force.  They
are more and more openly buying politicians and bureaucrats.  If we are
going to have free trade in anything, I think it should be in ideas and
people.  We should be able to wander the earth to learn from each other and
take these experiences back to our local environments. 
	I have no real fear of fraud or misrepresentation because, again, we
should be dealing with each other face to face.  Consumers bear the brunt
of the responsibility because they MUST educate and inform themselves about
what they are consuming.  They must ask the hard questions.  Producers are
responsible for how they produce and for providing truthful information to
others.  We also have responsibility for educating the public about the
choices they are faced with; this is an enlightened self-interest area.  I
also do not fear misrepresentation by others reflecting badly on me because
I am banking on MY reputation and the trust between myself and the people I
sell to.  They should know me and trust that I am going to provide them
with the highest quality food money can buy.  I encourage them to raise
more of their own food too.  I also tell them ways to cook what they want
to buy.	
	I used that name because of what I see as the irony of the agricultural
revolution.  I think that it was humanities biggest mistake; up until then
we lived off the fat of the land working a few hours a day and exploring
our limited corner of the world in great detail.  Once we became sedentary
we were even more localized, but we worked from "Can't see to can't see"
and then along came the industrial revolution and electricity and we worked
all the time (notice how a lot of us are up in the middle of the night
bleary eyed after a full day of what ever other work we do tapping away on
keyboards having mediated "relationships" with people we never meet).  The
agricultural revolution to me is our "fall from grace" and expulsion from
THE GARDEN into the world.  Lilith, Adam's first wife, refused to submit
and lie below Adam.  Adam being the whiner that he was implored God to
help.  God sent down one of his winged process servers to force Lilith to
acquiesce; she thumbed her nose and ran away. (This reflects the struggle
in the region around this time between the invading Hebrew shepherds who
were male dominated wanderers who procreated in the male-superior position
and the indigenous agricultural matriarchies who mated with the women on
top.).  So God makes Eve as Lilith's more docile replacement and what does
she do, but conspire with the serpent (DNA) to eat of the tree of knowledge
of good and evil.  Out we go into the world banished to painful childbirths
and sweating brows.  We would all love to sneak back in to THE GARDEN, but
the walls are high, the angels fierce, the swords aflame, and the gates
locked.  So we are left to wander and wonder.  To burn down this heaven on
earth because we have been banished from the face of God or the realization
of the gods/goddesses we are.
> One thing which seems obvious is that the comment period is too short. 
> Maybe all of us should send in 500 pages of commentary, and see how they
> like it.
	I think that is an interesting proposition, maybe we should write it in
Pig Latin too.  I see several levels of sarcasm in that.

> > I have the idea for the posters to announce meetings on the subject; do
> > you remember the image of the student during the Tianemen Square
>>uprising in China?  One student in the middle of the square with his arm
>>upraised in a "Stop" position and the tank sitting there; he stopped that
>>tank with nothing but his upraised hand and force of will. 

> That image is burned forever into my brain.  And the similarity is not
> just in your head.
	I have since, last night, decided that the more appropriate image is a
stereotypical farmer or farm family image stopping a giant fleet of
tractors and combines.  

> > the point that one of the essential points of organics is traveling
> > on the earth; it makes no sense to raise a food, fiber, or other
> > organically and then ship it half way across the country or half way
> > the world.  

> I agree almost without qualification, but feel strongly that THIS is not
> the place to include that in our definition.  I have become convinced
> that anybody who genuinely, honestly, deeply considers the whole food
> situation will eventually arrive at that conclusion. I keep seeing it
> happen to others; it happened to me.  Because it is true.
	I do not propose to put it in any rule, but it is one of the fundamental
points in the background of this discussion.  I could never see this
standard and be perfectly happy.  I do not think we really need it.  I do
not like the idea of standardized anything, but I do think that consumers
need to know what they are getting.  As I said above the way to do that is
to educate yourself and ask the questions, visit the farms, raise your own
food.  Producers, generally, have their own view of what is "Organic" and
as long as they are clear to the people they deal with and those parties
agree among themselves, I think the government should stay the hell off my
> > Namaste',
> What does that mean? (not the first time I have seen it, but still do
> not know)
	"Namaste'" carries a lot of meaning/s but the readers'-digest-condensed
version as I understand it is, "I honor the place in you of truth, I honor
the place in you of beauty, I honor the place in you where if you are in
that place in you and I am in that place of me, there is only one of us."
	Guy Clark

Guy Clark

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