If you’re like me, your brain could use a rest, if not a month at the spa. Heated elections burn me out. Since this one was a mountain-sized wildfire, I’m going to soothe myself via complete immersion in remaining facts.
During our turn into 2017, Organic Valley welcomed the 2,000th organic family farm into our cooperative of family farms. You know, I could stop right there and be perfectly serene for hours, but there’s even more mental balm to be had. These are organic farmers on a mission, and they are younger than your average farmer, so this fact has long legs.
It will need those legs, because, well, the future goes on for miles.
Everyone knows that when poison is sprayed over farm fields, it kills things immediately and things later, some intended deaths, some not. Many will tell us these poisons do nothing harmful to humans, but I guess nobody wants to be first to dip in their spoon. Conversely, over the years, organic farmers here and abroad have developed a brilliant spectrum of systems to avoid the use of poisons and still feed themselves and everyone else in the world.
Plus, none know more about animal care than farmers. Farmers are their animals’ daily companions and depend on them for a comfortable livelihood. Organic farmers believe it paramount that their animals’ livelihood mirrors their own. Every organic farmer I’ve ever met (and I’ve met a lot) likes to show this off. I call it humane treatment; they say, yes, that too, but more.
Do you know why conventional farmers have always balked at becoming organic farmers? They can’t imagine allowing their animals to suffer—not even a smidge. They have trouble wrapping their brains around organic’s No Antibiotics rule. For half a century conventional American farmers have used antibiotics as the magic wand to maintain herd health—and by extension, in their view, as the best tool to ensure they act humanely toward their animals. They have come to believe this is the responsible thing to do, and in their experience the medicine works. Why change? They never imagined that cows could thrive without antibiotics if simply provided all the nutrition and comfort of pasture and sunshine. This they learn, and soon evangelize, on their organic journey.
Hence, organic farmers love to perfect their pastures. It’s an eloquent system. Cows do the harvesting themselves and get everything they need in return. Cows crave pasture the way you and I crave sugar—except pasture is actually good for cows. Very good. It holds the soil in place, too, so heavy rain won’t wash it away. Well-tended pasture is the world’s best medium between atmosphere and soil, ushering carbon from atmosphere to soil, where it belongs. Think climate change ameliorator for our children’s children.
My favorite thing about organic farmers is what they do in the dirt. Soil health, to them, runs neck and neck with humane care. Every single bite of our farmed food can be traced ultimately back to the soil. No soil, no bites. Sick soil, sick bites. It really is that simple. Organic farmers geek-out on this connection. I’ve actually seen them taste soil—and then say astoundingly sentient things about its condition. The point is that soil provides all life, and organic farmers take it into their hands, their mouths even, in search of a deeper understanding of what more they can do to nurture health’s starting point. I do not want such genius to perish from this earth.
They are our last great hope to overcome the false promise of genetic skullduggery. Organic farmers understand what’s in peril along the slippery slope of GMOs: independence, solvency, soil health, animal health, human health, Earth health. There is not a GMO today, nor will there be one tomorrow, that will do anything but damage those six pillars that prop up healthy agriculture, because the GMO industry is only about power and profit for itself.
Did I mention that the number of organic farmers continues to grow? Which means the number of organic eaters must be on the rise as well. Which means good news this year and beyond. Easily all the way past the next election.