Gut Rumbles
 

July 23, 2005

"organic" farmers

For several years, I tilled and planted 1/2 acre of land, where I grew all kinds of crops. If you don't know how much land 1/2 an acre is, go pace it off some fine day. It's bigger than a fucking football field.

I collected chicken-shit, goat-shit and cow-shit--- PLUS some horse-shit to till into my land and I STILL had to buy fertilizer to make the crops grow right. I worked my ass off doing it, while I still held a full-time job at the chemical plant, but I enjoyed seeing that sandy piece of shit land produce beans, corn, squash, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, zuchinni, and almost anything else I stuck into the ground.

I hoed, I pulled weeds and I fought every kind of crop-eating pest you can name. I want to know how many "organic" food-eaters ever did that?

NONE is my guess. Most of those fuckers think produce grows in a grocery store. I'm here to tell you that it DOESN'T! Why do you think I'm on a first-name basis with the owners of the Seed & Feed store? I FARMED, that's why.

If YOU haven't (and I don't call growing a few tomato plants in pots "farming") then just shut the fuck up about something you know nothing about.

And I was small time compared to the REAL farmers. They plowed HUNDREDS of acres, and I went to them for advice. They had little use for environmentalists or "organic" farmers, either. They FOUGHT the land and mother nature. That's how they made their living.

I call bullshit on anyone who hasn't done it and doesn't live around people who have been doing it for generations. Drink your bottled water, eat your organic carrots and kiss my Cracker ass.

Farming is some of the most difficult work a person can do.

Comments

Farming is the hardest work in the world. I can't wait til harvest though, I'll be getting some money finally. Detassling corn. Probably get roped into baling hay too.

Anyway I agree completely A-man. Farming is hard work.

Posted by: Alli on July 24, 2005 12:56 AM

Hell, I remember raising chickens and hogs back in europe under uncle commie.

It is NOT easy to grow shit in this world.

Posted by: Yogimus on July 24, 2005 01:05 AM

Dairy farming is the hardest. You have milk your cows twice a day, seven days a week. You don't get any days off or vacations.

Posted by: DanC on July 24, 2005 03:13 AM

Yea but you get to play with tits all day...

Posted by: Yogimus on July 24, 2005 03:42 AM

I always wanted to get into organic farming.
Think about it- you plant the crop and forget about it untill harvest, , , THEN charge twice what conventional produce costs for poorer product.

Sounds like a great con.

Posted by: KurtP on July 24, 2005 08:08 AM

You've always been hoeing and it had nothing to do with planting a garden or farming. A hoe is a hoe and you is what you you am.

Posted by: Willy on July 24, 2005 08:50 AM

Sorry Rob, but a 1/2 acre is 21,780 square feet and a football field is 57,600 counting the end zones. Of course I did not Google a fucking football field, maybe that's smaller.

Posted by: Ivan Ivanovich on July 24, 2005 08:53 AM

Yeah, I spent many afternoons after school hoeing an acre we had planted out behind our house when I was young. That was some damn hard work. I'd get home from school and work on that garden until dark. The stuff we ate out of that garden was always good though. I thought it was worth it even though it chapped my ass because my lazy bitch of a step mother sat her ass under the shade tree and watched me and my brothers do all the work while her kids got to go play.

Posted by: assrot on July 24, 2005 09:11 AM

Hell, Rob that ain't farming that is gardening. I was raised farming square miles, several thousand acres. And oh, this whole world would starve to death in a week if we depended on organic farmers.

Posted by: DavidB on July 24, 2005 09:33 AM

Talk to some open-minded, cost-saving farmers these days and you will find a more...enlightened opinion. Much of traditional farming technique is habitual, not based on best practices.

With cost of fuel going up, only corporations will farm in expensive traditional ways and they, mostly, get the agriculural subsidies the government gives out. If they had to rely on what prices their harvest brought in a free and open marketplace they'd be out of the business in a New York minute.

Sorry t burst your bubble again, Rob. But, as usual, you don't really know what you're talking about.

Posted by: Rachel on July 24, 2005 09:53 AM

Rachel,

I agree that farming practices have changed, but I think I am correct in stating that boll weevils, corn borers, ear worms, green bugs, spider mites, powdery mildew, and other pests et al. have failed to become "enlightened" and thus still need to be managed non-organically.

Posted by: DavidB on July 24, 2005 10:06 AM

Despite your experience in farming a half acre for a couple of years, I think that your definition of 'organic' farming is a little off.

Growing produce organically doesn't mean no fertilizer, all it means is that the fertilizer used conatins no man-made chemicals. This is more a matter of modifying the soil than actually feeding the plant -- a longer term view is that applications of compost and manure, through the actions of microorganisms, will produce quality soil throughout the growing season.

As far as pesticides go, there are several natural ones that are actually more effective than their chemical cousins. Beneficial insects also help as does rotating crops to break up the life cycle of the pest.

Between the compost, the crop rotation and the encouragement of beneficial insects your fields will end up in better shape each year. While productivity may be reduced (this is debatable, and organic methods may well be more cost effective for a small farm dependent on manual labor) on a seasonal basis, organic methods pay off in the long term by permantly improving your growing environment each year.

While not particularly well suited to large scale machinery (and subsidy) dependent conglomerates, organic farming is a perfectly viable method for some guy growing veggies on a half acre. If you would move away from your knee jerk 'hippies grow food in sewage and smell funny" attitude and do some basic research you might be surprised. For someone like you, I would think the challenge and intellectual exercise alone would make organic farming a worthwhile endeavour, it's not like your village is depending on you for food. If you did want to sell your produce you would likely find the boutique market more lucrative. Considering your yield, it isn't as though agri-businesses are going to be lining up to purchase your crop -- for some guy with a few acres organic methods also make good financial sense.

Posted by: Zappatista on July 24, 2005 10:33 AM

Yep. The manure is still great for gradually making the crappy, sandy soil into proper loam, but there's nothing wrong with using proper fertilizer too. The whole organic bit is nonsense.

Funny thing is, there's enough customers who buy into it that it can be highly profitable nonsense for a farmer that wants to do what it takes to get into that niche. It's all about marketing and product placement now.

Posted by: Jay on July 24, 2005 11:14 AM

ZAPATISTA is knowledgable about the facts of true organic gardening. If done correctly, with the crop-rotation and natural organic suppliments like manure and compost, a good garden results.

A good gardener cares foremostly about their soil, keeping it fresh and viable.

I know little about farming methods, but I know taking good care of your orchards and farmlands is essential to you and your neighbor. A person who doesn't heed their own infestations of plant pests and diseassess is a threat to the crops of their neighbors.

When we had a cherry orchard over in Montana, we HAD to spray. To be part of the cherry-growing co-op, that hauled our stuff away, we had to follow rules.

I will have to admit, though, that 'organic' has come to reflect an elitist attitude toward the purchase of food.

In Seattle, you've got to get 'ORGANIC' - it promotes an US and Them mentality, shows just how priviledged you can be...in the 50's it was fur coats that reflected status. Today, we lighten up with ORGANIC and your cappachino at STARBUCKS.

Buncha hogwash.

Posted by: Bonita on July 24, 2005 11:40 AM

DavidB,

Sorry dude. You're wrong. Read the link I've provided, study some and get back to us.

Posted by: Rachel on July 24, 2005 12:38 PM

I have raised many gardens without the aid of commercial fertilizers. Part of the secret of success is a soil analysis to see what the soil needs. Sometimes some lime will do the trick and sometimes just empty and till in the ashes from the fireplace or bar-b que grill.

The sand in Florida is tough to farm with out some type of fertilizer. I use cow manure from a local dairy as well as ashes. But folks their ain't noway of getting around using pesticides if you want a plant to survive. Hell, the bugs will even eat up the leaves off of the rose bushes.

Posted by: GUYK on July 24, 2005 12:43 PM

Rachel,

What Link?

So crop pests are now enlightened! Who knew?

You people that have never "farmed" more than a "half acre" should keep your expertise to yourself. Organic farming could NEVER feed this world. It makes for good gardens and hippie food but that is it. Farmers are great stewards of the land and they strive to keep it all as natural as possible, but it has to be economical and practical. Organic farming is neither especially if you are wanting to make a living from your land.

Besides I am pretty sure a carrot can not discern whether a nitrogen molecule came from compost or a petroleum by-product nor does it care.

If it gives you a warm and fuzzy to eat an organically grown carrot then by all means do it. I won't.

Posted by: DavidB on July 24, 2005 02:13 PM

Rachel's criticism of "traditional" farming techniques is also vague and uneven. The large-scale versus small-scale farming operations she seems to be alluding to only emerged following the post-WW2 era, when the development of combines and the falling price of crops necessitated the cultivation of VAST acres of land just to break even. Prior to this era, most farmers raised crops not for profit on the open market, but for personal use. Much of the cultivated acreage was used for livestock feed, not produce (and this still holds true for some operations today).

The fact of the matter is, the "traditional" practices that Rachel seems to be alluding to are the result of political and economic trends that only began about 100 years ago with the Reclamation Act. So for her to seemingly bash centuries of human experience and technique refinement, because most farmers are not "open-minded" enough(as she so snobbily put it) to deviate from what has worked for them through the modern era, seems a bit ignorant when taking the context of farming into account.


Posted by: Chris on July 24, 2005 03:59 PM

I've had organic produce and products that were quite good. But the truth is 'organic' is a marketing device- just as 'low fat' and 'fat free' have been. The consumer is not only purchasing a product, but a feeling.

I spent sixteen hour days cutting and pulling tobacco, some of which these days is labeled 'no additives' and yes, organic tobbaco is here too for the health conscious smoker.

I prefer Camels myself.

Posted by: Pert Moody Newt on July 24, 2005 04:17 PM

DavidB nailed it;

Farmers are great stewards of the land and they strive to keep it all as natural as possible....

Organic farming is not an either/or situation and unfortunately the subject seems to bring out the zealots on both sides. There needs to be a distinction made between planting a few acres with vegetables and running a large scale agri-business. The family farm is pretty much a myth. Anyone who has ever lived in a rural area can cite all sorts of anecdotal evidence about the salt of the earth, but the reality is that food production is a multi-billion dollar business that is incredibly centralized and dependent upon both subsidies and the belief on the part of lenders that said subsidies will exist forever. For farms at this level, while organic methods may have a long term return it isn't viable for them to wait.

This is a fragile system and if any one component fails Joe Farmer is working at McDonalds. Farmers are employees and get fired just like everyone else, except when a farmer loses his job the land and home tend to follow along. Owning a few thundred or thousand acres of land that has nineteen liens on it is the shortest path to a paupers grave aside from crack addiction.

Four companies buy some 70% of the crops grown in this country. If you want to be a part of this system you had best do as your told and what are told to do it push annual yield per acre over longevity and stewardship of the land. This is shortsighted and will bite us in the ass.

However, smaller, local farms that are truly independent can (and do) take the time to produce an organic product. Some do quite well at it.

It is also worth noting that as both fuel and labor costs rise the advantage gained by heavy mechanization is dimished. Organic methods require much less in terms of infrastructure and equipment investment and the yields are only some 15% off the, now tradional, chemically supplemted methods. It doesn't take much of a per barrel increase in crude to make up fifteen percent and when your crop commands a 17.5% premium, you come out ahead.

It's a little more work and a little more labor, but your kids may wind up with something other than an alkaline flat that has to lie fallow for five years before so much as ditchweed will grow. Don't for one minute think that Monsanto has the farmers best interest in mind, they want a quick return and there is a damn good reason millions of acres of land that could be productive are lieing fallow.

Posted by: Zappatista on July 24, 2005 05:18 PM

Chris,
It's not clear from what you write what it is that you object to. I don't think I said any of the the things you write about. Perhaps you're replying to those voices in your head. You certainly are not responding to anything I wrote.

My main point, is that organic farming in the USA IS a viable alternative to oil-dependent, chemical-heavy traditional methods. With some crops, in some geographical regions, under current (or worse) economic conditions.

The link I provide (click RACHEL) takes you to a recent study (Cornell Ag, I think) that has details.
\
Many other countries (Europe, New Zealand for instance) have found methods and best practices, combined with premium prices for organic produce make organic an economically and environmentally effective way to farm--for some, certainly not all--crops.

Posted by: Rachel on July 24, 2005 05:25 PM

The Hypocrisy of Organic Farmers.

Posted by: DavidB on July 24, 2005 06:14 PM

Ah, AgBioWorld... that's about as unbiased as Mother Earth News. The reality is somewhere in the middle, not that anyone who makes a living advocating the us/them thing would ever acknowledge it.

Posted by: Zappatista on July 24, 2005 07:04 PM

Looks like the "good ole boy" JB found himself a stooooopid Texas broad to put up with his long-winded foolish BULLSHIT!!

Hehehehe lets see how long this charade lasts....

SG

Posted by: Somegal on July 24, 2005 07:35 PM

Sigh....jb at least take a jab in the right post topic...Dumbass--- guess the rot GUT you drink is finally rotting your brain -- the common sense and "ethical" part of you was "Pissed away" long, long ago!! What kind of EX Preacher would bring up the garbage that YOU do? You are a scourge on Humanity not to speak of the Lutheran Church. gawwwwwwdddd!!! Guess it will all be resolved when you stand before your Maker...a time appointed for all...and one that all the Alcohol and Bullshit spouting will NOT get YOU out of!! Hahaha --- WhataGuy!

Posted by: Somegal on July 25, 2005 09:52 PM

It's not clear from what you write what it is that you object to. I don't think I said any of the the things you write about. Perhaps you're replying to those voices in your head. You certainly are not responding to anything I wrote.

Sigh...do you want to have a serious discussion or an insult-fest? I can do both.

"My main point, is that organic farming in the USA IS a viable alternative to oil-dependent, chemical-heavy traditional methods. With some crops, in some geographical regions, under current (or worse) economic conditions."

And that's the rub-- it cannot be applied to the broad demands of the market that today's modern society requires. No amount of "open-mindedness" is going to change that. Implying that organic farming is a viable alternative is fine if someone has the time an inclination to work on a home garden or small tracts of land year after year, with little chance to do more than make a barely subsistable living. Organic farming might be all the "rage" now, but it's going to be interesting to see of some of these organic operations last beyond a couple of decades, especially when people can get produce at a cheaper price in the local supermarket.

"The link I provide (click RACHEL) takes you to a recent study (Cornell Ag, I think) that has details."

I clicked the link, but the post has disappeared. Provide a more concrete source, please.

"Many other countries (Europe, New Zealand for instance) have found methods and best practices, combined with premium prices for organic produce make organic an economically and environmentally effective way to farm--for some, certainly not all--crops. "

Again, please cite your sources. I see a lot of vague argumentation about "open-mindedness" and "traditional farming," and "best practices," yet you never actually define what these actually are. When combined with the condescending style that you seem to apply to those who disagree with you, why should anyone take your argument seriously?

Posted by: Chris on July 25, 2005 11:39 PM
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