The first is for human health -- using biological inputs and systems to grow food means that my crops are healthier in themselves, and therefore healthier to consume. Avoiding pesticides, fungicides and herbicides means that the produce from Golden Valley Farm is free of nasty residues.
The second reason my farm is organic is for the health of the world. Again, biological systems and inputs, and lack of ‘nasty-cides’, means that the land I’m farming is in robust health.
Furthermore, Golden Valley Farm is mostly hand-worked, using renewable energy (that’s me eating lunch) instead of fossil fuels. I think very hard about using plastic and other non-renewables before buying. Additionally, I source inputs (fertilisers, amendments, etc.) as close to home as possible, and my produce is sold within 20 kilometres of the farm gate.
So I’d like to think I am taking the whole of the biosphere into consideration with every decision I make, whether its choosing a more expensive Tasmanian lime over an import, or turning my beds over with hand tools instead of the tractor.
In contrast to this sustainable approach, organic certification pretty much stops at the farm gate. A farmer can import highly processed certified organic fertiliser from interstate (or overseas if it’s cheaper), grow crops on the farm in the conventional way, and then sell them to interstate (or overseas) markets in plastic packaging proudly bearing the certification logo.
Don’t get me wrong -- more organic food consumed worldwide is a definite good, both for the people eating it and for the land it’s grown on.
But just growing organically fails to address the global food network’s dependence on fossil fuels. This is a double whammy: not only does all the transport, processing and packaging of global food consume non-renewable resources, it also adds to human CO2 emissions, edging our biosphere closer to catastrophic change. And as the organic proportion of the global food market expands, so does it’s petrochemical footprint.
So while the global surge in organically produced food is a great sign of awareness and discrimination amongst consumers, without the ecological side of the organic equation, we are only halfway there.
To fully realise a sustainable food supply, produce must be organic and local.
This means a move to a more regional supply/demand market, necessarily seasonal, and based on local inputs. It means changing the way we eat: less processed foods, less packaging, more fresh foods and better nutrition. Regional and seasonal specialities will be celebrated.
We are fortunate here in the Huon that local food traditions have not been completely swallowed by global agriculture and the big two supermarkets, and that we already have an agricultural economy. As the challenges of a changing climate and scarcer fuel are felt, I hope we will be able to provide a model of local resilience.
So is Golden Valley Farm certified organic? No. Why?
Because although organic certification provides an assurance to the consumer that the food was produced with a certain range of registered inputs, it ignores the heart and soul of organics: we should be caring for the planet as well as ourselves.