Thursday, August 2, 2012

BEYOND ORGANIC: 3 steps to a new Green Revolution

July 7, NY Times ran an article "Has 'Organic' Been Over-sized?" about ongoing buy-out of organic food businesses by huge food corporations such as General Mills, and steady erosion of organic standards purity due to influence of big agribusiness representatives on decisions made by the National Organic Standards Board. Here's the link to the article:

Brett Wedel of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY (NOFA-NY) sent an email asking: "What do you think? Has infiltration of mega-corporations eroded organic standards? Can organic food production grow in scale without sacrificing its principles?" Brett asked for 150 word responses to publish in the next NOFA-NY newsletter.

I have a keen interest in this, since in 1985, I started the NOFA-NY certification program, and represented NY at meetings to create regional reciprocity among NOFA chapters, OFPNA, OCIA and the national certification system. My answer:

In the 80s, we created organic certification because of fear the word "organic" would be seized by corporate big boys. Sadly, "organic" mostly meant "grown without synthetic, toxic chemicals”—a negative definition—what food isn't, not what it is. Yet, it was what we could do at that time. Thirty years later, our fear is realized as organic businesses are bought up and organic standards corrupted.

Now, rather than fight this nearly-complete big boy buy-out, the next generation must go "beyond organic." Our farm movement must make giant steps forward to a truly ecologic future. We must "close the food circle" to grow and market food that stands for positive, life-enhancing, ecology-restoring ideas and methods.

Three key concepts define new goals for our continuing revolution in evolution:
community-centered: locally grown, locally consumed, economically sensible
nutrient-dense: food that is fully complete, healthful, nutritious
carbon-negative: farming and food choices that sequester carbon


  1. Great stuff David. I think one way to do this is to shop at local, community operated coops that KNOW where their food comes from, and who often support local farmers. This is a way to reconnect farmers with consumers, and vise-versa. If we know where our food is coming from, and farmers know who is eating it, there is a greater ease for everyone to do the right thing.

  2. David, Thanks for your relentless focus and actions on sustainable organic farming! It seems very important to emphasize nutrient-dense component by contrasting food items from different ways and sources of farming. How can local farmers do this? Do they have access to labs and nutrition specialists?