As a child, my grandfather instructed me on growing vegetables. He was a gardener, and grew both food for the table and flowers for my grandmother (the flowers were all around the small yard at their retirement home).
The vegetable gardens, actually - there were usually several – were located at other folks' yards or farms where grandfather share-cropped.
Grandfather pointed out to me the importance of good top soil, drainage, and water supplies for the serious growing of food crops. He mainly grew tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, and green “bush” beans for canning or Mason-jar home preserving. Food he and grandmother would eat all winter.
He was what we call now an organic gardener. He recycled waste in a big compost area at his home yard, and he did the same near the other gardens at his neighbors.
His use and knowledge of insecticides was to find "natural" substances to run off the bugs and insects. Grandfather did a lot of hand-picking the worms and bugs from the plants. Herbicides were never used by grandfather (way too expensive).
Today, organic farming is a huge agricultural business (estimated annually at $30 billion). Organic farming is dominated by Big Agriculture, which is to say, corporate agriculture. The federal government backs this kind of big business. They also have had a large rulebook, since 2002, for the regulation of the country’s organic food industry.
Moreover, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) lists some 250 non-organic food additives that are allowed when the agricultural company grows and markets their products. All these companies indicate NOSB compliance by showing the food label on their products as “certified organic.”
According to the Boston Globe, state sponsored organic agricultural associations (mainly small business farmers) are being overlooked and that’s the real problem. The actual protection provided by the NOSB and the Congress, seems to benefit corporate agricultural the most.
Does this sound familiar? The regulators, in this case, members of the NOSB, get special treatment from the big agriculture companies. While the regulators collect information from the companies (questions and data gathering) they also get to help write the new rules. Inevitably, the big corporate types get to influence their regulators. It’s called regulatory capture (just like the big oil lobby getting big subsidies for the oil corporations!).
Something as important as organic farming should never be over-governed. Making laws to protect our food safety is a good idea; if a poison is added to our food through the process of growing it, government should find a way to stop it. Absolutely!
The problem is whatever happened to all those guys and gals using my grandfather’s methods of growing food? I wonder if he would be approved, today, by the federal regulators as an organic gardener? Certainly, he would not be subsidized or approved by the NOSB!