Through his iconic books, Eliot Coleman has been a mentor to many organic farmers over the years. He was also very generous with his time when I was starting out as a certified organic producer almost 30 years ago.
The antidote for the concerns Eliot articulates in his essay below is the constant vigilance that Cornucopia members underwrite and the economic power we all have in the marketplace when we use the organic brand scorecards we have developed to “vote” for the true heroes in the organic movement.
To: THE AGRARIAN ELDERS
When I sat down at my desk this morning, I noticed the EcoFarm brochure on a pile of recent mail. My first thought, because of Friday’s cave-in to hydro at the NOSB [Nov. 18], was that this well-established meeting of devoted organic advocates was the perfect venue for an organic last stand. The EcoFarm conference should have set aside time for a serious discussion of the hydroponic invasion and the future of true organic farming.
But when I opened the brochure it was nowhere to be found. I wondered why. Then I saw that the leading financial sponsor of EcoFarm was Driscoll’s, one of the larger hydroponic invaders, plus sponsorships from other OTA co-opters like Organic Valley. Then I realized that CCOF, once a respected movement leader, is behind the scenes making big bucks certifying the hydro people.
Then I wanted to cry.
When it is so blatantly obvious from the first few pages of the 37th annual brochure that the EcoFarm conference is now a symbol for the loss of our integrity-hope-enthusiasm-idealism and innocence to corporate interests, it makes one realize that all the forces we have been battling for the past 50 years have won. The meaning of organic has been stolen right out from under the nose of the movement by the greed of outsiders (with the collusion of greedy insiders) but most of the organic types seem oblivious, still gaily dancing at the yearly ball that used to nourish our ideals. As Julie Guthman wrote so perceptively, “We have replicated what we set out to oppose,” and we appear to accept it.
Am I the only one crying?
With great sadness,
PS: Fortunately, some of us are gearing up to start all over again, accentuate the positive, and replicate what we achieved in the 60s. Stay tuned.