An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
This weekend we got to spend time my my wife's aunt and uncle who are lifelong farmers in Wisconsin. It was really neat to talk to him about his experiences. Lately he has been working on getting much of his acreage certified organic by the feds and he related to us many stories on the absurdities of the process and the complexities that arise from it all. If I may, let me give you just ONE example.
He had been using turkey manure for his primary fertilizer and nitrogen source. But then, somehow, it got out that the turkey farmer was using bedding that was recycled from the ground up wood taken from a window factory. As it turns out, this wood had microscopic quantities of wood glue from the joints of the windows and this rendered his fertilizer unusable. So, where to get his nitrogen? He look and looked and as it turned out the only source was to have it imported from Chile! And apparently many Organic Certified Farmers are doing just that. Imagine the crowd that seeks out organic produce and what they would think upon learning that in order to get that healthy looking fruit into their local gorcery store, the poor farmer had to import nitrogen from half a world away! Consider the dreaded carbon footprint from such a need for anitrogen footprint!!!
Anyway, he had a litany of stories about how insane the rules are - like how a first cutting of hay is NOT organic while the second cutting (same plants) IS organic because the cutting happened on a certain day....the day before would have rendered it inorganic. Nuance.
In my mind this is what you get when something as monolithic is in charge in enforcing and empowering your personal food choices. By necessity the rules and regs evolve into laughable contradictions and inefficiencies, but this is the "nature" of big government overseeing stuff.
In my mind the solution (and I do think there needs to be one) is simple: grow your own or buy local, perhaps even from someone you actually take the time to get to know. It all recalls me to my belief in small and local as a solution for so many of the ills we tend to let the feds should "handle."
As a side, my wife's uncle said he just decided to go without the nitrogen and hope for the best. I asked him if he found this new organic market to be profitable and he laughed saying in essence: "NEW...there's nothing new here, heck 50 years ago we were ALL organic farmers! The same sorta people who made up all these chemicals and sold them to us, are now telling us not to use them at all. We've gone full circle!"
Love it. I agree...local and in season is highly preferable. And "nearly organic" tends to be better than "fully organic", for just the reasons you state. It's the 80-20 rule at work (80% of the work takes 20% of the effort, and vice versa).
I would _certainly_ buy Sue's uncle's produce...good enough for me :-)
He probably already knows this, but the first snow of the year is unusually nitrogen rich (i have no idea why) and used to be called "poor man's fertilizer". If he plows that first snow into his field he will have better results. Oh, shoot. Now I'm not sure. Maybe its the last snow of the winter that is called "Poor man's fertilizer." I bet he already knows about it any way. Nevermind.