Sunday, February 26, 2012

Simplicity and Organics

Michael Pollan's favorite organic farmer, Joel Salatin, has a new book, with an excerpt here.  Basically he's noting the misalignment between an organic operation and modern methods of marketing, particularly fast food chains and Whole Foods.  He discusses his dealings with Chipotle, where he's succeeded in selling parts of pigs (shoulders and hams) to them, but that leaves him with the problem of selling the rest of the pig.  All in all, it's a complex job of negotiation and management, a far cry from the simplicity some associate with organics.

As I've noted before, what's true for the livestock and poultry farmer like Salatin is also true for the organic field crop farmer.  To make organics work, to make the land produce as much as conventional agriculture, you need to rotate your crops.  That permits Rodale to claim their organic corn production is equal in yield to conventional, but it's also a sleight of hand because the organic corn producer has lots of alfalfa she needs to market.

As an aside, Dr. Pollan appears to be recycling his books as a good organic person should: he's got illustrated versions out now, but it's been a few years since he had a new one.

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