Will the “Organic and Regenerative Farming Investment Co-operative” be good for the sector? What about consumers?

Recent changes to funding options for organic producers look likely to shake up the industry.  The Organic and Regenerative Farming Investment Co-operative, a Victorian based funding concern is but one example of the possibly seismic shifts rippling through the Organic Sector.

To quote Sue Neales in the Australian:

A new model for funding organic farming is set to expand the boom sector, as wealthy local investors and superannuation funds move to grab a stake in the organic food industry and its meaty profits.

What are the implications? For producers, access to capital funds represents a chance to grow their business, to expand their marketing and to implement their plans.

How about the effect of all this growth on the organic ethos? To this observer, the point of the organic movement is its local-ness. Feeding people nearby, reducing food kilometres and removing transport costs, both dollars and carbon from the food chain. The Organic Sector is in danger of becoming the beast it set out to disrupt. A $10 million enterprise is not going to sustain its own weight by selling through local farmer’s markets. Certainly not into a city of 40,000 persons or less. The only answer is to join the global food system. Now that’s fine if that’s your business model.

Maintaining “Organic-ness” through long supply chains is difficult. World Organic News reported back in 2015 that in the North American context, organic grains contained almost as much glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup) as conventional grains. The problem appears to be the ubiquity of glyphosate in the environment. The longer the supply chain, the greater the possibility of contamination.

The nature of the transport system is that the same truck can be moving chemically laden grains one day and organic the next. The standards of cleaning required are not too well explained by organic certifiers. Similarly in a flour mill. Unless there is a dedicated organic production line then cross contamination is not just likely but inevitable. Indeed, unless the whole mill is organic there is the possibility of chemical transfer throughout the building.

I have been unable to find any studies on the “stickiness” of glyphosate on metal surfaces or any other surface for that matter. So we don’t know if the chemical reacts with materials and then contaminates whatever else passes over that surface. If we don’t test, we can’t know. To ensure organic “purity”dedicated harvesting implements, trucks, mills, processing facilities and probably other things too are required. That’s if the organic producer is going to join the industrial food system. There is a reason organic producers are often smallholders.

Continue reading “Will the “Organic and Regenerative Farming Investment Co-operative” be good for the sector? What about consumers?”

Support your community while saving on organic food at farmers markets

Farmers marketsWherever you live in Australia, you’re bound to be close to a farmers’ market. These are the vibrant community spaces where everyone from local producers to backyard amateurs get the chance to sell their (mostly) organic produce. There is usually entertainment, events for kids, great coffee, and of course many, many food stalls (depending on the size of the market). It’s an event that brings the community together. Just as importantly though, it’s a great place to save money on organic food. Continue reading “Support your community while saving on organic food at farmers markets”

Tackling the cost of organic food

food-healthy-vegetables-potatoesOne of the themes we will explore at The Real Food Chain is the relatively high cost of organic foods. We want to know how to get around this problem, how we can boost our health without having to spend too much money. In doing so we ask the very real questions: Why are organic foods more expensive? Why can’t people do their food shopping each week for no or little extra cost than a basket of sprayed veggies? What are the options to save money?

As anyone who has shopped will say, it is often the case that true organic food comes with a premium that pushes it out of the range of ordinary folk, no matter how much they want to improve their family’s diet. Shopping for the week’s meat, fruit and veggies would seem only be the preserve of the well-to-do unless you live on an organic farm. This may be overstating the point a bit but it contains a germ of truth! Continue reading “Tackling the cost of organic food”