A good friend who works inside government agriculture told me today that the USDA has launched some significant studies to try to figure out why farmer's markets are down, Community Supported Agriculture is down, and the local food system and its supporting farmers are suffering.
He and I both agreed that we didn't need thousands of dollars funding studies to determine the problem. The problem is industrial organics. When Wal-Mart became the world's largest vendor of organic food, that was a global game changer.
Overnight, the enemy, Monsanto, changed to Wal-Mart for those of us in the local integrity food business. Monsanto was an easy foe: unlikeable, arrogant, etc. This new one is far more difficult. It's murky, insidious, and pits friends against friends. People are quick to find convenience. If you're looking for integrity food, organic next to the diapers is certainly convenient.
But is it honest? No. From labeling to practice to regulations, industrial organics epitomizes cleverspeak and talk more than walk. I'll have far more on this later, but for now, the big news of the day is that the downturn in local farm-to-fork food is significant and has attracted the attention of the USDA. We farmers out here are feeling it, that's for sure. Attractive labels do not make integrity food. Government stamps do not ensure authenticity.
Have you become less loyal to your local farmers now that Wal-Mart (or other mainline supermarkets) carry organic?