Once, years ago, I was in a Midwestern State talking with a farmer. I raised the question of how much pesticide he used on his crop to ward off or kill insect predators or, in the case of weeds, how much herbicide.
“Look, my family and I eat a part of what I grow,” he said. “Do you think I am going to put anything on the crop that would endanger them?” Good answer.
I thought about that encounter while reading a really extraordinary book by an organic crop inspector that just blows the whole scam about organic foods wide open. “Is It Organic?” is a 599-page book by Mischa Popoff that comes with a wonderful history of farming while revealing why the public is being conned into believing that organic foods are safer and better for them when all they are is more expensive.
The book is available from http://www.isitorganic.ca/. If you’re a consumer interested in environmentalism, the history and politics of organic foods, or you are involved in agriculture the price is worth it. If you like plain talk and honest outrage, every fact-filled page will prove far more educational than most of the literature about environmentalism, energy, socialism, and agriculture than you will find anywhere.
“I believed in the principle of producing top-quality food and letting the market decide if it was worth more. Still do in fact,” writes Popoff. “But I learned the organic industry abandoned living up to that principle long ago.”
The secret this multi-billion dollar industry doesn’t want anyone to know is that “there is no field testing on certified organic farms to ensure synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemicals are not being used and to ensure harmful pathogens from animal waste are safely eliminated. The excuse I was given is that field testing is too expensive; something I later learned is patently false.”
“Testing in the field goes straight to the heart of what organic farming always meant throughout its vibrant history, until it was ruined by political activists. You’ll hear talk of end-product testing, but it’s a BIG waste of time. Synthetic chemicals dissipate if you wait long enough.”
“Honest organic farmers want field testing and so do consumers; so why is it rejected in this multi-billion dollar industry at the same time as it’s talked about as if it was the routine?”
Popoff explains that, “Organic food sold from one end of this continent to the other, whether grown locally or overseas, becomes ‘certified’ based on paperwork refereed by activist private-sector bureaucrats who make money hand over fist by giving their stamp of approval.”
Like global warming, organic food is a scam and it is run by an “unscientific, undemocratic, radical socialist movement” that eclipses the organic farmer “and bilks consumers in order to underwrite a political revolution that is about to impact your ability to feed your family.”
Popoff calls it “food pornography”, an industry that calls itself organic, “but which is really just pure marketing from start to finish, promising everything and delivering nothing.”
“The genius of claiming that private companies test organic food,” says Popoff, “before they accept it as truly organic and put their corporate brand on it lies in the fact that there’s no possible way to know if it’s true.”
This is a very refreshing book to read on many levels and it’s worth knowing the author did not grow up in some suburban enclave and lived a privileged life. He was a farm boy “My family didn’t have a phone ‘til I was seven and I got my first horse before we got a television. I learned to drive a tractor and the bail truck when I was ten, and I got my first car, a three-speed standard, at the age of twelve.”
Far from the usual story of some PhD holding forth based solely on academic study and research, Popoff worked his way through college “grinding hamburger on the graveyard shift at a local grocery store.” He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1991 with honors in history and a minor in philosophy.
I doubt that “Is it Organic?” will leap onto the bestseller lists, but it deserves to be widely noted and widely read. It’s the literary equivalent of a lighted dynamite stick, exciting to read and thrillingly honest, a dangerous book in the best possible way.
The Moral Liberal Featured Writer, Alan Caruba, writes a daily post at http://factsnotfantasy.blogspot.com. An author, business and science writer, he is the founder of The National Anxiety Center.
Copyright 2010 © Alan Caruba