Saturday, September 29, 2007

Organic Farming:

Utopia or Armageddon, two articles, two perspevtives.

Elizabeth Finkel of Cosmos Magazine does an interesting piece on the latest hot trend: Organic Farming:

“Popular or not, it's clear that organic food is not necessarily healthier, nor more sustainable or better for the environment. With the Earth's climate changing fast, and the human population heading for nine or 10 billion, we need solutions based on scientific evidence rather than faith and good intentions.

The boutique organic foods café is a great place to enjoy the romantic idyll of traditional farming and natural foods, but when it comes to the reality of feeding the world, one would have to agree with Roush: "If improving sustainability and reducing the environmental footprint is the goal, we need to be prepared to use the best tools we have."

The University of Michigan study reaches a different conclusion: Organic Farming Can feed the world

Organic farming can yield up to three times as much food on individual farms in developing countries, as low-intensive methods on the same land—according to new findings which refute the long-standing claim that organic farming methods cannot produce enough food to feed the global population.”…

…For their analysis, researchers defined the term organic as: practices referred to as sustainable or ecological; that utilize non-synthetic nutrient cycling processes; that exclude or rarely use synthetic pesticides; and sustain or regenerate the soil quality.

Perfecto said the idea that people would go hungry if farming went organic is "ridiculous."

"Corporate interest in agriculture and the way agriculture research has been conducted in land grant institutions, with a lot of influence by the chemical companies and pesticide companies as well as fertilizer companies—all have been playing an important role in convincing the public that you need to have these inputs to produce food," she said.”

I suspect the truth lies somewhere in between. The key question from the perspective of your restaurant should be “is organic viable in my area?”. If your restaurant chooses to emphasize organic farming, is there enough of a supply in your area to sustain it. Trust comes into play here. The worst thing that can happen is for your guests to expect organic and you not being able to deliver based on supply considerations.

Utopia or Armageddon, the question remains for Organic Farming!