So winter weather found most us this year after all, later than
usual in its extremes, and at times exacting a painful price on
agriculture, as in California citrus country.
News—from farm conferences, organic milk debates, energy
analysts and those global warming scientists—is that we are
on the edge of something big. Actually, the edges. Without an identifiable
single leader or leading organization, the local/organic movement
has evolved into an economically significant force in the US. When
The Packer—the leading trade publication for the
North American fresh produce industry—lists local and organic
food as the top interests of US restaurants, lots of food-industry
people take note.
Already this year, we’re feeling the beginnings of a groundswell
demand for sanity in food and fuel policies. Rising numbers of farmers
and consumers want the USDA to shift from its “command-and-control”
style of regulation that increasingly focuses on minimizing risk
by delivering safe, dead food from industrial systems. The insurgent
demand is rather to maximize health—of farms, consumers, livestock
and communities—through fresh, vital and potent foods in local
economies that factor in sustainability with every bite.
Even more scientific support for taking action—however belatedly—to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions has given new prominence to innovations
that will change our fuel use in significant ways. Even the best
biofuel scenario—decentralized processing of sustainably grown
crops with integrated systems to produce an honest, net-energy,
whole-cycle return—will require a simultaneous reduction in
energy consumption to matter at all, global-warming wise. Sounds
like local, organic food to us.
As you think about how these challenges and possibilities can
guide your future, read in this issue about the
rising yield strength of organic plots in The Rodale
Institute research compared with conventional production…
a reader’s frustration with poor-quality
certified-organic seed…Joel Salatin’s
mysterious, romantic and alluring
marketing scheme….and a
re-born CSA that’s welcoming the next generation
back to a hard-working family farm.
Former New Farm forum users, it’s OK to come
back and talk. We’ve blocked out the spam and the trash,
and we want the dialogue to resume. Midwest readers, check out the
new suite of OPX
prices from Chicago sources on grains, vegetables and fruits.
As you plow through your winter office work and set your sites
on spring, read us, then write
us to stay connected as you explore the edges you face to stay
fresh, sustainable, useful and profitable.