The merger of Monsanto and Bayer looks like a done deal.

According to AP reports today, “Receipt of the [Justice Department’s] approval brings us close to our goal of creating a leading company in agriculture,” Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said in a statement. “We want to help farmers across the world grow more nutritious food in a more sustainable way.”

Got that?  What a sacred and noble goal.  And that is why I'm extremely careful not to impugn the spirit of industrial orthodoxy goals.  Does anyone actually believe that the Roman Catholics who burned Christian heretics during the Spanish Inquisition had evil intent?  Of course not.  Their intent was clear and sacred:  rid the world of these people who led people astray.  Keeping someone from heaven certainly merited strong punishment, like burning at the stake.

But a look at that historical record does show how divergent well-meaning people can be in their actions.  The Conquistadors who killed thousands and wiped out civilizations in the name of God did not have evil intent.  Too many of my friends think Monsanto (dubbed "Monsatan") and Bayer have evil intent, that they are bad people with sinister agendas.  That kind of thinking does not get us anywhere.

While I've been labeled naive or disloyal for saying so, I think it is the correct human-to-human response to assume noble intent.  Certainly sinister intent exists.  But for the most part the libertarians who think lower taxes and private philanthropy is the best way to help the poor are not sinister and evil intended any more than the socialists who campaign for higher taxes and more bureaucracy.  Questioning intent polarizes and is not productive.

So for the record, I think the folks at Bayer and Monsanto mean well.  Nutritious and sustainable food; who can question that as a sacred, noble goal?

As the saying goes, though, the proof's in the pudding.  Or as Jesus said, "by their fruit you shall know them."  In other words, it's not what you say, its what you do.  And that is why we must physically visit our food sources.  Just because you say something does not make it so.  Auditing our food sources has no parallel.  While we can't personally visit every one, we can visit a lot of them.  If everyone who could would, it would fundamentally change what scofflaws wearing the "organic" mantra, or "animal welfare" mantra could pass off.

Green-washing is rampant.  Here in Virginia, a Lynchburg outfit by the name of Seven Hills received $9 million of government money to launch and is showing up on the menus of supposedly local-oriented restaurants, and they are neither local nor anything other than industrial commodity.  You won't see grass on their website.

The amount of saying instead of doing is rampant.  Each of us needs to be skeptical about claims until we check it out.  The fact that industrial organics at Wal-Mart is taking such a large market share away from farmer's markets and direct farmer-to-consumer sales is one of the biggest elephants in the integrity food movement room right now.  Please, please, promise to not be a part of the deception.

How many farms have you visited?