May 01, 2007

Why Isn't Organic Farmland Growing Faster?

photo of Northern California from the sky, by SNRE graduate John Aloysius Zinda

A lot of us puchase organic food becuase we know that organic farming is better for the environment than conventional industry-driven production. However, though the desire for more organic food continues to grow, it appears that the number of "certified organic" farms is staying about the same.

That's got to make you wonder - I mean, it just doesn't seem to add up. But, this article by Tom Philpott from Grist magazine, which was publisized by the Organic Consumers Association, has some interesting insights.

Not too surprizingly, the processed & prepared organic foods market is growing, while the fresh produce market is only staying steady. Combined with an influx of imported organics to feed the new Wal-Mart line of organics, it seems that the smaller farmers are again getting squeezed out of the market, while the larger, more industrial organic producers are being pinched by imported competition.

Of course, the idea of buying local and direct for farmers plays a role in the solution. This article provides some solid explainations of why the food system will not be able to move to organic production under its current structure. Something to keep in mind when trying to find the energy you need to get up on the Wednesday or Saturday morning to make it to the Farmer's Market!


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