Earth Day Thought – Switch The Burden

It seems strange that the burden of labeling and certifying is placed on organic farmers. That gives the impression they\’re doing something remarkable when, with the exception of about a century, they have all of history behind them.

The words we use show how much things have changed. When it comes to farming, organic is now the opposite term for conventional, which is just another way of saying normal. No one refers to themselves as a chemical farmer or winemaker. The natural method has become the unnatural.

So, it\’s the organic producers who have to pay the costs, fill out the paperwork, and argue about standards just to tell you what they\’re not doing. Imagine if the situation was reversed, and this burden was placed on conventional winemakers instead. Your wine selection might be a little different for dinner tonight if you saw on a label the products they had to use to bring that bottle to market.

A lot of money goes into making sure you don\’t know, and in some cases are not allowed to know, the chemicals used in modern food production. Monsanto, the world\’s largest producer of genetically modified seed, loves to vouch for the safety of injecting cows with growth hormones, but milk producers who use this method don\’t exactly want to boast about it on their labels. In fact, Monsanto spends a lot of money backing legislation to prevent other producers from boasting they don\’t use growth hormones in their milk. This would allow customers to choose to avoid their products, and they don\’t want that to happen.

From a capitalist standpoint, it might seem we have a great system. Everybody is paying for what they want. Organic farmers pay to advertise their virtues, and conventional farmers pay to conceal their faults. Unfortunately, the use of chemicals is backed by tremendous sums of money, and with it the ability to influence legislation. Organic farmers tend to be the smaller operations, who cannot always shoulder the burden and bureaucracy of certification. It would be a nice change to consider them the normal ones, and let the unnatural companies have to pay to let you know what they are up to.


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