Minnesota Farmer


There is a big push by some in the food industry telling people that they need to be raising the food we eat sustainably.  So what is sustainable?  Do small organic farmers fit?  How about large organic farms?  Can you be sustainable and raise your crops conventionally using herbicides, non-organic fertilizer, insecticides and/or fungicides?  Many have tried to tell me that only organic food is sustainable, is it.  Some have tried to raise crops organically and had to sell their farms since they could not earn enough income.

I was just reading a post from One Hundred Meals called “Supporting our Farming Habit” <http://onehundredmeals.com/2013/02/17/meal-seven-supporting-our-farming-habit/&gt; where Grant was writing about organic farmers who’s businesses were failing.  So if you produce food organically and you fail are you still a sustainable farm?  There are many farmers who raise their crops in a non-organic manner who’s farms fail, where they not sustainable?


The truth is that the way you farm does not make your farm sustainable.  A farm is sustainable if it can earn enough to cover expenses.  There are organic farms and non-organic farms that are sustainable, they earn their owners enough to pay the bills and a living wage.

I understand the idealism of those who profess to be organic only proponents.  They truly feel that there is only one way to farm, but to do so, they must be willing to pay more for their food, in some cases a lot more.

My parents and grand parents were raised on organic farms.  In those days it was not known as organic, it was just the way you farmed.  When my grandparents were born farm folks earned barely enough to feed their families.  When my parents were born, a farmer supported maybe two families.  When I was born a farm family could feed bout 20 people.  All of this was done with hard manual labor, very little machinery, the only fertilizer used was produced on the farm, no herbicides, no insecticides, no fungicides.  More than half of a city persons income would go to paying for food.  In those days people died young, living without the medicines we take for granted and could not travel far from home.  So much has changed since then.

Many of the practices that are called unsustainable today are those practices that allowed our children to get city jobs.  They are the reason that one farm family today supports 155 off farm consumers.  Yes, some farmers still struggle to earn enough to pay the bills, but their places are being taken by those who can sustain farm income in a manner that pays the bills.  I do not believe that because a farmer does not grow his crops a certain way he is unsustainable.  The consumer will tell him by either buying, or not buying his produce if he is sustainable or not.

So here it is, if you want to eat only organic food, do not buy it because you think it is sustainable, but because you think it tastes better, if it does.  Those still left on the farm are doing their best to supply you with the foods you want.  Support them, and be willing to pay the prices they ask for their labor.  Organic farming is not sustainable unless you do.


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