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America’s Organic Food Shortage

With Jane  Clayson in for Tom Ashbrook.

Farmers across the country are struggling to keep up with the high demand for organic food. Will we have to go abroad to feed our appetite ?

In this Feb. 2, 2012 photo, a cow is seen in a field at Raindance Farm in Westville, N.Y. Even as more consumers are willing to pay premium prices for organic milk, supermarkets are having trouble keeping it on the shelves as high feed and fuel prices have left some organic dairy farmers simply unable to keep up with demand. (AP)

In this Feb. 2, 2012 photo, a cow is seen in a field at Raindance Farm in Westville, N.Y. Even as more consumers are willing to pay premium prices for organic milk, supermarkets are having trouble keeping it on the shelves as high feed and fuel prices have left some organic dairy farmers simply unable to keep up with demand. (AP)

More than 80% of American families are choosing organic options in the grocery aisle – and at the farmer’s market. To avoid pesticides – antibiotics –and GMOs.

But our national appetite for organic – might just be more than our domestic farmers can supply. Farmers are turning to China and India to find the organic grain to feed their animals. And it’s a lot of money. As much as $100 million this year. It’s not an encouraging scene for an organic farmer.

This hour, On Point: satisfying the American appetite for organic.

Guests

Mark Peters, reporter for the Wall Street Journal covering the Midwest and Great Plains. His recent article is “A Gap in the Organic Food Chain.” (@mrmmpeters)

Lynn Clarkson, president of Clarkson Grain company, which processes organic grains.

Meg Moynihan Stuedemann, certified organic dairy farmer at Derrydale Farm in Belle Plaine, Minnesota. Vice chair of the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

Gary Hirshberg, chairman and co-founder of Stonyfield Farms, the world’s leading organic yogurt producer. (@gary_hirshberg)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wall Street Journal: A Gap in the Organic Food Chain — “The Farm Belt isn’t going organic fast enough to keep up with surging consumer demand, forcing makers of organic foods from milk to deli meats to look abroad for key commodities while struggling to recruit skeptical farmers at home. The U.S. is the world’s largest producer and exporter of corn and soybeans, but organic supplies, which are used largely as animal feed for production of organic meat and dairy, are hard to come by here. Federal data show organic food producers are turning to China and India for organic soybeans, as total U.S. imports of those kinds of beans doubled last year and could surpass $100 million in value this year.”

CBS News: Demand for organic foods boosts industry’s sway — “The organic food industry is gaining clout on Capitol Hill, prompted by rising consumer demand and its entry into traditional farm states. But that isn’t going over well with everyone in Congress. Tensions between conventional and organic agriculture boiled over this week during a late-night House Agriculture Committee debate on a sweeping farm bill that has for decades propped up traditional crops and largely ignored organics.”

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  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    How does our government justify paying farmers not to grow food, when there is clearly a demand for certain types of food stock? Nuts !

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      they mostly stopped doing that in the 70s. that’s part of the problem. they encouraged farmers to overproduce mass quantities of food product using petroleum based fertilizers and pesticides and herbicides.  

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri

    What’s with those cow ears ? Either I am very tired or that is very funny ! Or both ! 

    • jkwalker111

      You mean how a portion got torn out?  I would guess that her ear tag got infected or something and it was cut away.  Then retagged.

    • J__o__h__n

      GMO cow?

  • Henryfromwayland

    I buy a lot from a local farm in Wayland MA that’s not officially organic – they don’t feel like jumping through the certification hoops – but is in fact organic. Maybe something of an answer here?

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    if they start labeling the GMOs it will really throw a wrench in the works as demand for non gmo products skyrockets

  • Jim

    When there is demand… somehow the price and supply will find its way there.

    the demand for organic food is there in my family. I decided to use my side yard to grow blackberries… the weed is going wildly all around… but it gives my family three to four week supply of freshly picked fruits. On my backyard.. we are growing various Asian pear trees. The yield of Asian pears is not a lot for the year. Eventually we will use the rest of the the other side yard to grow grapes or blueberry.  

  • anamaria23

    Recently, out grocery shopping, the first six produce items I saw were  from Mexico.  I do not buy produce  from other countries, organic or not.  
    I eat a lot of the same food, organic grown in USA, such as Olivia’s greens, and some frozen berries, and other USA grown organic products, though supply is limited.   
    My children belong to community gardens and are learning to freeze and can local food.
    With the rates of cancer  climbing, we must demand some input and control over our food supply.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      sounds like you already have quite a bit

  • anamaria23

    The pesticide Roundup needs to be examined here as it is in others countries. It  is banned in some places, regarded as a carcinogen.

  • donniethebrasco

    Buy organic from China.

    As if there isn’t already not enough lying in the organic industry.

    • HonestDebate1

      Plutonium is organic.

      • nj_v2

        Once again demonstrating that “HonestDebate1/Gregg” is anything but honest.

        • HonestDebate1

          So is arsenic. 

    • donniethebrasco

      So is lead, cadmium, and melamine, and arsenic.

      Organic food from China would never use pesticides, fertilizer, or GMOs.

      • Bob_in_RI

        Donnie, you are so right. This Organic “thing” makes so much sense to people that very few have taken the time to realize that it’s underlying principals are completely indefensible. You probably know this but the USDA usually takes two years of scientific study to formulate a standard for something or other. Their first attempt at an organic standard failed when the scientific committee they established for the inquiry adjourned unable to produce a report. Why? There existed no science to support such a standard. One cannot ethically produce a list of banned substances when there is no justification to ban any substances at all. Ultimately, ten years after Congress first requested an organic a standard, and under renewed pressure, the USDA did something that they have never done before or since. They undertook an analysis of public opinion as to what Organic should mean and produced a standard based upon, if you will, nothing. Another fun fact: It is a serious violation of the regulations within Organic program for any participant to make any claim whatsoever that by nature of their participation in the USDA Organic Program, their product is different in any conceivable way from a conventionally grown equivalent. Why? Because, just as yiu say, it’s not!

  • donniethebrasco

    Organic, frozen berries and spinach were recalled because of Hepatitis A and e. Coli

    • nj_v2

      ^ One of the biggest forum clowns is in full-troll mode today.

      Certified organic food is far less likely to have contamination issues than conventional.

  • Emily4HL

    Remember what Mark Bitman just said on OnPoint? It doesn’t need to be local or organic, it just needs to be a plant.

    I loved the Dr. Oz Time article that took it step further in a TIME magazine article and endorsed canned and frozen vegetables as the healthy diet of the 99%.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      I like the frozen organic vegitables. that’s a good way to save money and still eat organic. always fresh, no spoilage, cheap

  • donniethebrasco

    If I put that sticker on my food, I can charge twice as much?

    Can you print some more stickers for me?

  • donniethebrasco

    Good thing there isn’t any cheating in organic foods right now.
     

  • donniethebrasco

    I am an organivore.

    I eat only organic.

    If I eat something that is not organic or GMO, I will die.

    This tofu looks delicious.

    Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!

    • manganbr

      At least come take a swim in the Iowa river before you tease consumers of organic food. I assume there’s probably no real harm in the actual eating of GMO food (I’ll wait until there’s evidence of that), but what I am concerned about is all the other effects of industrial agriculture, for which GMO grain is a cornerstone.

  • HonestDebate1

    The problem is organic farming is more expensive, more labor intensive and yields less. That means less profit. The nutritional advantages are minimal.

    • TyroneJ

      Every study done, and there have been a huge number, have shown zero nutritional difference between organic and non-organically produced food.

      There is however, a large difference in residual pesticides between organic and non-organically produced food.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        But that’s the thing to some: Stuff like residual pesticides and hog lagoon runoff are society’s problem, beeyotches!

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        I can tell by the taste

    • nj_v2

      ^ Another dispatch from the Bureau of Greggg’s Butt.

      It’s only more expensive if one discounts the externalized costs of industrial agriculture.

      Labor intensity could actually be a benefit. There looks to be more than a few people unemployed.

      Nutritional advantages, depending on the crop, can be significant.

      Greggg conveniently ignores the overriding, negative aspects of corporate, industrial agriculture.

      • HonestDebate1

        What I wrote is true. How much field work have you done on farms?

        • nj_v2

          Note “HonestDebate1/Gregg’s” honest-debate tactic.

          1) Post dubious, refutable information as given facts.

          2) Ignore legitimate counter arguments disputing presumed facts.

          3) Deflect with irrelevant, personalized question.

          • HonestDebate1

            You’re serious aren’t you?

            You didn’t refute my facts. I said the nutritional advantages are minimal and you said “Nutritional advantages, depending on the crop, can be significant.” So? Overall the nutritional advantages are minimal, as I said. You didn’t dispute it was more labor intensive you just said it was a good thing. but it’s not good for the farmer. Labor cost can put them out of business.The question was relevant because I’ve worked on tons of farms and know tons of farmers over the years. I know a little about it. Your “facts” are presumed.

    • 1Brett1

      More labor intensive? Yes. Yields less? Prove it.

  • donniethebrasco

    Don’t buy any green bananas.

  • donniethebrasco

    EBT

  • Jasoturner

    Agree with him or not, John the caller was awesome!  No time to park the Bentley and shop organic…

  • donniethebrasco

    Low information shoppers with EBT cards.

    • nj_v2

      ^ Low-information handle.

  • Naomi

    I definitely question the source of my food beyond the organic sticker – especially for meat. And I really don’t like the idea that I’m eating anything for China.

    The best choice is to eat locally and seasonally!

  • donniethebrasco

    Organic will begin to accept GMOs.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    John, caller at :31: “We don’t have time to park our Bentleys”???

    Either a great prank, or a fool who should have been screened better. Jane do you have to thank everyone for everything if they don’t have the slightest evidence to back it up?

    I’d point John to the Big Ag panacea of “fully informed consumers”. Except when Big Ag gets pissy about labelling things:

    Previously, labels only required that countries of origin to be noted, so a package might say, “Product of U.S. and Canada.” Now, the labels must specify “Born in Canada, raised and slaughtered in the United States.”

    In addition, the USDA is prohibiting processors from mixing meat from animals born, raised, or slaughtered in Mexico, Canada, or other countries with meat from the U.S.

    The American Meat Institute, a trade group for packers, processors, and suppliers and seven other groups said segregating the meat is not part of the law Congress passed and the USDA is overstepping its authority. They also claim the rule will be costly to implement and that it offers no food safety or public health benefit.

    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/meat-groups-sue-usda-over-meat-labeling-rule

    • donniethebrasco

      Are all people who don’t agree with you fools?

      Are you the all knowing (presumably atheist) being?

      Whole Foods is the company you worship.

    • J__o__h__n

      What Bentley owners do their own driving let alone grocery shopping? 

  • donniethebrasco

    Organic green peppers make sense.  Organic bananas from Mexico make no sense.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      learn spanish

  • Bob_in_RI

    Since 1972 no American consumer has been harmed in any way by the agricultural use of a chemical fertilizer or pesticide or by a hormone or an antibiotic. Nor have they been harmed by the use of GMO technologies. The nutritional or food safety benefits of organic agriculture as perceived by the public are completely imagined. There are some environmental and worker safety benefits to organic agriculture. These practices should be exported to all types of agriculture for maximum benefit. The current state of the art of organic agricultural methods correspond to the state of the art of conventional methods of the 50′s and 60′s. Given the population growth since that time, a significant increase in organic food production throughout the world would most definitely result in dangerous food shortages. We must realize determine the best way forward to ecologically and safely feed the world.

    • DeJay79

       I strongly disagree. you have no way of knowing the harm and results of using all those chemical fertilizer or pesticides. There is the huge issue of environmental damage that has in many ways ‘harmed’ Americans.

      • Bob_in_RI

        There certainly are ways to determine harm. An ailing individual displays symptoms of a medical condition to physicians who correlate those symptoms to an antagonist of some sort. Allergies and bacteria aside, in a hundred years of conventional agriculture and a whole lot of eating, it’s rarely, if ever, happened. You imagine it might. Your imagination may produce the great American novel but it’s not the ideal foundation of public policy. As for the ecological piece… I’m with you. Every corner of the agricultural industry, not just Organic producers, should be compelled to protect our environment to the greatest possible degree. Buying local is great too. There are so many real and demonstrable risks to our health and safety. We would do well to focus on these and resist the urge to conjure up new ones from the ether and do damage in the process.

        • Michele

          There is real harm being done by conventional farming practices. Modern farming uses more petroleum
          than any other single industry. More energy is now used to manufacture
          synthetic fertilizers than to till, cultivate, and harvest all
          the crops in the US. The manufacturing of petroleum-based
          synthetic fertilizer is now responsible for 5% of total world
          fossil fuel consumption. More than
          three billion tons of topsoil are eroded from the US croplands each year. That translates to an erosion of soil 7x faster than it is built up naturally.  It takes 500 years to reproduce 1-inch of topsoil through an organic process (meaning bugs and worms make the soil).

          • Bob_in_RI

            As I have said, I’m all for improving the ecology of Agriculture in this country. Why must we limit our reforms to the 10-15% of farms using Organic agricultural methods? Your goal of dispensing with nearly every agricultural innovation since 1960 is unrealistic and will produce a devastating reduction in efficiency. The goals must be ecology, safety, efficiency and affordability. Getting off of fossil fuels and using our corn for food again wouldn’t hurt.

          • Bob_in_RI

            Additionally, you seem to share the common perception that organic farming is undertaken, in every case, by cute little flannel-clad, Ben and Jerry-looking Vermonters working three acres. In reality, there is lots of organic factory farming underway using the heavy equipment you associate with conventional agriculture. As the demand for organic products increases so will the scale of production.

          • Michele

             You are inferring alot from my post.  You stated above that no real harm has been done by conventional farming.  I am providing you with some facts of which  you were either unaware or ignored.  I think farming is a difficult means of making a living but conventional farming practices have been detrimental to the planet, that cannot be denied – the World over. 

            Honey bees seem to be the latest victims in a race to maximize yields and profits at all costs.  Agribusiness is BIG business.

          • Bob_in_RI

            I stated that no harm has come from consuming conventionally produced food. I’m aware of the ecological issues including hive collapse. We simply have to find broadly applicable solutions to these problems can be implemented beyond the Organic sphere which may never exceed 30% of the industry.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Klaas-Martens/1356627190 Klaas Martens

      I farmed with chemicals until I was paralyzed by them in 1992.  I spent that summer without the use of my right arm.  My step father died with a rare autoimmune disease that was caused by exposure to diazinon.  My county has extremely high rates of cancer among farmers.  My organic yields of many crops today are equal and sometimes higher than those of my conventional neighbors.  Cornell University’s systems trial has shown higher yields of corn in the past two years than their conventional comparison fields.

      • Bob_in_RI

        I’m sorry for your loss and personal health issues. I’ve long singled out workplace health and safety and the ecological issues as the sole benefits of Organic agriculture. I’m sure that the choices you have made are the right ones for you and your family.

  • donniethebrasco

    Organic is allegedly GMO free.

    The problem with organic is that you can’t test the food to see if it is organic.  You have to trust the seller.

    There is no test to see if a product is organic.  How can people believe that products are organic if you can’t test for it?

    How can organic foods be any different health-wise if there is no test to determine if a particular food is organic?

    Organic foods are the placebo/snake oil of our generation.

    • nj_v2

      ^ Utterly clueless, but we already knew that.

      • donniethebrasco

        Why can’t you just test the food?

        Because Organic food is no different from standard food.

    • 1Brett1

      For something to be labeled “certified organic” the farms have to be inspected, soils tested, product tested, etc. A grower can’t just put “certified organic” without it actually being certified. Fields have to be free of any insecticides/pesticides for years before they can be certified. 

      If you are really concerned you can have the produce you buy analyzed to see if there are traces of insecticides/pesticides in them. If you find that there are you can report the farm and report your findings to the grocer where you purchased the food…I doubt a seller would want any bad publicity about false selling claims. You have recourse and options. 

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        Speaking of how to get rid of bad publicity: Hey, we spent a whole hour without one mention of the new swath of Ag Gag laws.

      • nj_v2

        I’d suggest that giving serious responses to idiot trolls like donnie only serve to make the troll look to have some shred of credibility or legitimacy.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          At some point, more of Donnie is less. Like when a kid in your charge keeps bothering you for ice cream, every repeated instance has reduced effect.

          • nj_v2

            Interesting way to look at it.

        • 1Brett1

          That was just in case someone else read his comment and thought there was some fact-based notion in it…One can have some assurances if something is labeled “certified organic.” 

          Yeah, we all know DtheB is a troll, not only by the content but by the frequency of his comments. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      I guess that’s why so many people are into going to the farms to get the food and joining CSAs and such. and if you cant trust the granola crunchers down at the farmers market who can you trust?
      I grow a lot of my own produce in the summer so that’s for sure organic

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

    The idea of companies disclosing where their chicken feed comes from is an interesting one.

    I point our host to the lawsuits against dairies which had da noive to label their non-RBGH product “non-RBGH”, which hurt the feelings of Monsanto’s lawyers.

  • donniethebrasco

    You can’t verify a food is organic.

    It is just like kosher.  A pure marketing fiction.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      organic  is a legal designation and the USDA does oversee it

      • donniethebrasco

         How can you tell the difference between organic and conventional food?

        The organic has a label that says its organic.

        There is no test that can determine whether or not something is organic because there is no difference between organic and conventional.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          you could test for pesticide herbicide and chemical fertilizer residue and heavy metal content. and you could test the dna for genetic modifications. and of course one tastes better.
          here is a fun little experiment. next time you are in the store compare the nutrition facts on organic and non organic molasses.

  • donniethebrasco

    Why can’t there be a test?

  • donniethebrasco

    Organic is group think and creates more money for the hucksters.

  • donniethebrasco

    The biggest scam is shelf stable organic mac and cheese.

    Unhealthy food with fake food in it.

  • nj_v2

    Before the show started, i saw the topic, and despite the early hour, was going to suggest a drinking game; one sip for every organic-bashing post from the forum’s coservoclown posse.

    I’d be staggeringly drunk by now.

    • donniethebrasco

      Trust, but don’t verify.

      There are no health benefits to eating organic.  It just makes you feel better.  Just like a placebo.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      For tomorrow’s drinking game I’d suggest you dose your goods out with an eyedropper. You’d keep sober longer.

  • DeJay79

    My wife and I have our
    own garden. We love to grow our own food but we can’t do that for everything obviously
    so we then try our best to buy local from the farmers market and for the rest
    of what we need that we can’t get there we buy mostly Organic product at the
    grocer. I want to support this way of life.

     

    I hate the idea of factory farms, GMO’s pesticides and the
    Cow factories that are needed to supply fast food and other restaurant chains.

     

    The first caller how spoke out against Orgainc was just
    wrong and he sounded scared and uninformed to me.

     

    We have to care for planet as best as we can and
    pumping hormones and chemicals into every food source in order to get the most
    out of it will only lead to very negative consciences.

    • donniethebrasco

      You cannot tell the difference between organic food and non-organic food.  Without the label, they are exactly the same.

      • DeJay79

         yes I can, I know you wont believe it but get a strawberry from Wal-mart and one from a local grower and the farmers market. You will see that the one from Wal-mart is the perfect shape it is a good color of red with a fair amount of white at the top but when you bit into it the fruit that makes up its inside is flavorless and Styrofoam like.

        Then the one from the local grower is going to be misshapen and vastly different in size from its brothers in the same pint. the color of each berry is going to fluctuate but when you bit into it, it is going to be juicy and full of flavor the fruit will be softer and squishy. some of the berries will have spots on them and parts that more ripe than others. Nature is not perfect, real strawberries are not as big as the ones you can buy at wal-mart.

        For profit only farmers know that Shape, Color and Size are the factors that sell food. Flavor is irrelevant because once you taste it you have already bought it. and after years and years of eating the fake food we find in our stores we have forgotten what a real strawberry actually taste like.

        i know you are just a troll and could care less what i have to say on this issue and that the only reason you are here is just to get a raise out of people but I am not posting this for you but for the people who might actually be on the fence about this issue and I hope they at least try some real food for themselves and make up their own mind.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          someone who cant tell the difference between a store bought tomato and a home grown one may never understand

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        I can. I could win that blind taste test every time. I could even tell you which pesticides were used sometimes from the taste

        • donniethebrasco

          I’d take that bet.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            once you have eaten good produce you will be able to tell also

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

      I don’t garden, so I’m asking someone who does: Is it even at all possible for the home gardener to replicate the full industrial ag experience at home?

      Can you pump and spread all the stuff on your small garden that the Monsanto catalog would sell you, or is that simply illegal in most places?

      • DeJay79

         I don’t know about Illegal but I can tell you that there is no reason for us to do so. our garden grows just fine without all those chemicals, yes we have bugs, yes some of the plants leafs have wholes in them, our ground is mostly clay and because of that somethings grow better than others. Carrots have a hard time but Zucchini goes nuts.

        the problem we have is the seeds we buy, we have no way of knowing where they come from or if they are GMO or not. our other issues this summer has been the chipmunks  but the live trap seems to working now and soon they will all be relocated to the park.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

          I should have said that it was really a thought experiment. I figured you have no reason to go the full Monsanto.

          I was trying to suss out how accepted these practices are in vast swaths of the USA’s grain belt, or in our feed yards, which we (as a society) have ruled is not good to do where folks live and play.

          I mean, in my suburb we’re required by law to put out signs when they put grubkill on their lawns. I can’t imagine how much of what is going onto the land that flows into the Missouri or Mississippi watershed.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            have you personally ceased consuming all foods produced by industrial agriculture

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          if you are really concerned you could get certified organic seeds which are available everywhere seeds are sold.  gmo plants are certain varieties so if you know the variety of a plant you can know if its gmo. I have never seen a packet of seeds in a store from a gmo variety. they are highly specialized crops and monsanto would not want its valuable intellectual property to be that far out of its control. what if you pirated their seed? I think the real advantage to the organic seeds is that those ones will be more hearty and will do better without chemicals than the seed packets not labled as such. the best seeds are ones that you save your self. they are free and they are adapted to your exact conditions

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        the problem would come with the seed. as far as I know they don’t sell round up ready seed retail and I think they also have some sort of contract with it. if you could get the seed(and they don’t sue you and take your house for planting it) just head on down to the home depot get a big thing of roundup and spray it on your garden. some of the commercial pesticides they use you cannot get but others are available retail. you can obtain the same types of fertilizer. there you go, your growing the American way

  • donniethebrasco

    Trust, but don’t verify.

    There are no health benefits to eating organic.  It just makes you feel better.  Just like a placebo.
     

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      where can I get this placebo?

    • tridoug

      Okay, that’s sorta silly.  You can prove anything with enough research.  If you simply measure a specific subset of nutritional content you might be able to claim there’s no nutritional difference.  If you are sensible and consider pesticides, herbicides, GMOs and their damaging effects, there’s really no comparison.  C’mon now.

      • donniethebrasco

        Then why don’t they test organic foods.

        They can’t.

        They have to have a involved audit system.  They can’t test.

  • S Mack Mangon

    I am listening late:  Please – just label the GMO food so that “we” have an informed choice.

  • HarmonyFarmSupply

    Although many stores offer organic produce, many local farmers prefer the Farmers Market routine.  The problem that arise from this channel is the amount of competition for sales.  Many local farmers grow the same crops.  What is not sold is then transported back to the farm, stored, and then re-trucked to another farmers market.  Eventually the excess is discarded.  This waste increases decreases the profitability of farmer and requires a higher price on what is sold to offset the loss.  Basic business economics have not taken hold with the small local farmer.  An alternative to this would be to encourage these small farms to engage in co-ops and discuss who will grow what crops, establish a profitable price, and create synergies.  This does not mean to abandon poly-culture as a model, only to modify it. 

    Another addition would be to create a central “market” where permanent space is rented by the farmer to sell his/her produce.  This would eliminate the farmers market “circuit”, reduce transportation costs, and create the ability to sell more produce which would reduce waste and increase profitability.

    I am not saying that this is the end-all be-all solution, but this is where agriculture was at the turn of the last century before the industrial revolution created monolithic farming.  Basic business economics direct behavior toward increased efficiencies and increased sales.

    • donniethebrasco

      What is this “free market” that you speak of?

      Additionally, the real benefit of farmer’s market is that the higher prices charged also come without the cost of those pesky taxes. 

      Farmer’s markets have found the bliss of cash businesses.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/JXSANCUDPIKQSPID5KT2U4XK5Y TF

        It gets tiring to correct you, but: Food is seldom taxed (it’s really a red state thing, freedom-lover–see Tenn).

      • HarmonyFarmSupply

         I don’t believe that I said “free” market.  I said a permanent marketplace where the farmer has a space that they rent to display and sell their produce.

    • Emily4HL

       Essentially, a food co-op.

      • HarmonyFarmSupply

         A co-operative or a Grange.  Essentially, an organization where farmers come together to plan and share.  The idea is synergy.  One of the high costs of production is fertilizer.  The co-operatives have purchasing power and can negotiate a lower price.  Reducing input costs increases profitability.

  • John_Hamilton

    One thing you might want to look at is the future of organic vs. conventional farming as our infinite-growth economic system finally faces the constraints of finity. Our current system has to get larger in order to survive, but there is only so much Planet Earth. At the very least, the inputs in “conventional” agriculture will become increasingly expensive.

    In the very hot summer of 1988 farms suffered greatly. A big farmer I knew in northern Illinois (3,000 acres, mostly corn, the rest soybeans) told me that his corn crop was almost completely destroyed, but his 100 acre pesticide-free test plot flourished. Curiously, he said his lender didn’t like the way the test plot looked, and was giving him grief, but liked the result. This farmer was already doing no-till farming, so the farm may have switched to oranic by now. I don’t know, because I don’t live there anymore.

    An added factor, of course, is climate change. Global warming is already affecting agriculture, but chemical dependent farming is much more vulnerable to changes than organic.

    The last factor, not discussed, is why people buy organic food. I buy it for health reasons. Thanks to being prescribed a harmful medicine (Simvastatin) through our corporate-dominated health care system, I am in pain when I eat chemical-laden food. It doesn’t matter what it is – fruit, vegetables, grains, nightshades, etc., the reaction is pretty quick. There is considerable evidence that food treated with herbicides and pesticides is a contributing factor in many forms of cancer.

    One might ask, given all these factors, why tainted food is still the norm, and what the future holds for a method that has only been around for about the last 60 years or so.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      I am afraid the answer to your question is that of volume. the amount of food we are able to produce is so great because of all the petroleum and mined phosphorous. the volume of food is why we can feed so many humans. less productive methods could not feed as many people. a way to mitigate that problem that will occur, once the prices for food and food scarcity increase, is to convert land that is currently irrigated and fertilized for landscaping reasons into food production. I keep saying I am going to till my whole lawn and one of these days I just might do it.

  • HonestDebate1

    Aquaculture is cool. It’s farming fish in tanks and using the wastewater to grow greens then recirculating the now filtered water back to the tanks.

    • 1Brett1

      As long as the tanks aren’t overpopulated. If fish are too bunched together (not unlike traditional livestock in feedlots), they will become sick/acquire all sorts of diseases, and will need lots of antibiotics on a continuous basis to counter those problems, which effects the cost of overhead/the bottom line later on. Less populated tanks can produce a better product that can command a higher price, and the lower cost to address problems can make up the difference for less fish raised.

      Some farms actually have their tanks in the ocean/large lakes, which can carry with it a whole host of other problems for the environment and for the farm’s yield/labor costs. 

      The filtration system you mention and its double duty, sounds intriguing. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      actually you are discussing is called Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture. it is cool. clearly the wave of the future. ironically, it’s essentially the production method used by the ancient Maya  

      • HonestDebate1

        The problem with raising fish in tanks is the evolution of the water on many levels including nitrites, nitrates and PH. So the water must be monitored and changed accordingly. 

        I just like the idea of farming fish and greens at the same time. There is a high school in Mountain City, TN that has been doing it for years. Some of the methods are as I described, some keep the water in constant circulation once the water develops the nitrites and nitrates. And sometimes flats of plants are placed and grown right on top of the tanks. It all depends on the kind (and about) of fish as well as the greens. Leafy greens work best.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          yes, there are many aquaponic systems in use. most commercial operations focus on either fish or produce production but of course they also produce the other as a secondary product.  the way things work in nature is that plants filter the water and the fish feed the plants. its really just making nature work for you. 

  • Logicalfarmgirl

    Regarding the show details and focusing on grains for feed, I think it is crazy to buy grains from China and India. Besides the fact that China put melamine in milk, I am concerned with the quality of life of the animal. This is more important to what I put in my mouth than if the feed the animal ate came from chemically fertilized USA fields. Does the animal have access to clean water, clean feed, disease free environment and is it processed in a clean facility? Luckily I live in Upstate NY so can get family farm raised meat and produce. I pay $7.50 weekly for a loaf of bread made locally from locally grown and milled grains. This is hard to justify price if you have a large family. In that case I suggest making your own whole wheat bread to avoid preservatives.  

    There is nothing that justifies for me the import of feed and foodstuffs from foreign countries (excluding the Americas), especially China with which we already have a huge trade deficit.

    I think the lady caller who raises poultry with non-organic feeds was reasonable and logical in her approach to producing save and healthy food. 

  • HonestDebate1

    I have some friends who farm just over 900 acres of soy. They have had success with no-till methods although that’s not really organic farming. The yield is less but they actually come out better without all the plowing and disking with fuel prices as they are. It does decrease the supply which makes the cost to the consumer higher but it’s good for the farmer. And if the market dictates the price is down they just store it in silos until the price comes back up. It can last for years. Some of their fields are not suited for no till.

    They also raise chickens and much prefer the chicken litter to commercial fertilizer but it’s not enough by itself.

    • dogcart

      No till also promotes more herbicides than conventional cultivation methods.  Glyphosate-a-go-go!  Have you heard of the term “burn down”?

      • HonestDebate1

        It’s all a matter of pro vs. con. Have you ever heard of the term “dustbowl”?

  • easterlywind

    IN our ever shrinking world I think we will inevitably have to look abroad for organic crops to supplement this growing industry as we convert “back” to organic farming (of course that being what every farm used to be).  
    In an interesting juxtaposition, listening to this program today and not long ago to a program about the devastation of the honey bees worldwide.  Todays program, I don’t believe, touched on the possibility that systemic insecticides may be causing the honey bee die off in this most recent decade.  In China, where women paid to climb into fruit trees with tiny paint brushes to pollinate the flowers because there are no more bees.  How many American soccer moms do you think we can convince to do that? (Sorry, couldn’t resist)I think that supporting organic agribusiness worldwide should be a priority for the future of the human race.

  • Simeon Chapin

    These shortages, and the demand causing farmers to go abroad for feed, are the result of a industrial food system out of human scale where the farmer and the family are distant from each other. 

    When farmers and families work in partnership, the labels and certifications become less important because there is a relationship to be honored and cultivated. There are signs of hope. Farmers Markets are one. Aggregation platforms such as Farmigo (farmigo.com), Good Eggs (goodeggs.com), and Farmers To You (farmerstoyou.com) are creating markets that connect families with the human scale farmers who feed them. Farmers To You is right here in Boston and partners 50+ regional farmers with families for weekly food deliveries. 

  • jefe68

    The smell of success is sometimes not so sweet.

  • jimmydimmy

    This is pathetic. There were no “conventional” farmers 50 years ago, everyone was an organic farmer. Now there’s hardly any of them. Let’s hope the market responds…and that GMO seeds don’t destroy the paltry number of organic farms there are. 

    • jimmydimmy

      And that Farm Bill is nothing but pork barrel for corn,soy, wheat, cotton,sugar (GMO beets and sugarcane that is destroying Florida) and tobacco. And those subsidies all go to the largest, corporate farms. The ones that produce for Cargill, for ADM, for those that are driving our healthcare crisis by our market choices to poison ourselves. People are keen to that now, and they wan’t a difference. Too bad our Congress is all status quo

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      50 years ago was 1963, they were using chemicals like DDT on a massive scale. in fact the book “silent spring” came out in ’62

  • Miss_Lilianna

    Organics from China? Yeah right, everything there is known for being fraudulent. I’m already not paying $5 for a pack of scallions but $5 for a pack of Chinese grown scallions? Lord knows whats in them Just look at the air quality in the cities of China. That pollution must certainly effect the crops grown there as well. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      they are already in a lot of “organic” products.

      • Miss_Lilianna

         I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on these highfaluting “organic” products. I’ll stick to cheap farmers markets and local grocers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    would you rather smell a little poo now and again or a nice cloud of pesticides raining down on you?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rochelle-Stockman/1625185373 Rochelle Stockman

    Most likely, the latest Farm Bill isn’t the best friend to Co-Ops and Organic Farms.  Too bad they didn’t pass the bill from the Senate and send it up to the Prez right away. Now, we stand to lose a lot in this arena.

  • HonestDebate1

    I would really like to know why the above comment was flagged for review and needed the approval of a moderator. Was it the “p” word? I’m pretty sure it is a disqus algorithm and not On Point but still…

    • hennorama

      That’s an odd question there, coming from someone who believes it’s no longer safe to express their views.

      Isn’t it obvious – it’s all a gummint conspiracy to silence you, right?Quoting you:“I no longer am certain it is safe to speak out against my government so I anonymized all my previous comments and changed my moniker.”

      Oops – looks like you’re gonna have to “anonymize” (as if!) “… all my previous comments and [change your] moniker” again.

      I have a suggestion for your new moniker, sir:

      DishonestBlatherer.

      • HonestDebate1

        The comment was not speaking out against government. It was not profane. It was completely harmless. I have no idea what you are talking about but it has nothing to do with my question. I would just like to know what words trigger the algorithm. The other day it took 4 tries. What finally worked was removing (must be careful) the word he and the word she joined with a slash. I was referring to a commenter whose sex I did not know.

        But as to the issue you scoff, I stand by it. It is no longer safe to speak out against the government.

        • hennorama

          GS – Just messin’ with ya, but I do think you’re way over the top in your concerns.

          As to moderation – I’ve experienced similar stuff. I try to point it out when it happens, as it did just a couple days ago. The funny thing is, after I posted this comment, it TOO was “auto-moderated” as it still contained the subject word.

          See:
          http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/07/16/the-gop-and-immigration-reform#comment-965260174

  • r_gold

    China is unbelievably polluted. Industry is out of control there. I lived there for a year. Its devastating. Toxic industrial waste freely flows into the rivers and drains into the fields. Even in rural China there are many small extralegal factories that  do not have adequate means to deal with their waste streams. I simply can not trust any food product (conventional or organic) produced in China. Anyone that advocates for deregulation should move to China. 

  • FoodSleuth

    Correction to Mark Peters: organic agriculture IS traditional agriculture. And a note to consumers: if your farmer is using GMO feed, then that means it has been sprayed with herbicides (Round-up Ready soy, canola, alfalfa and sugar beets) and/or contain pesticides in each cell (Bt corn).

  • Regular_Listener

    I agree with the geezer who called in saying he can’t be bothered with organic food.  Generally speaking, I can’t either.  It is a lot more expensive, and I have yet to see that it is really better.  It does not last as long in the refrigerator, either.  However, if there were clear evidence that it is better for you, than maybe I would buy more of it.  I think OP did a show on a major study of this several months ago, which did not find a lot of differences.  

    But one way I am convinced that it is better is in regards to meat.  I try to avoid fast food/supermarket meat whenever possible.  Organic and free-range is better for nature, better for the animals, and it tastes a lot better too.

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ONPOINT
TODAY
Jul 31, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin heads the Cabinet meeting in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 30, 2014.  (AP)

The US and Europe face off against Russia. Are we looking at Cold War II? Something hotter?

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