Saturday, June 18, 2011

“Organic Blitz: Hype or More Hype”

“Organic Blitz: Hype or More Hype”
Darrel L. Hammon

Okay, enough of the organic this and organic that! What’s up with all of the organic stuff? Is this something new or something to give you all the shaft?

When I sauntered by the vegetable and fruit aisles at King Soopers the other day, I saw organic carrots, organic peas, organic asparagus, organic lettuce, organic apples, organic pears, and a number of other organic fruits and vegetables. Plus, I couldn’t help but pass the dairy doors and—gasp!—there was organic milk although I didn't see any organic chocolate milk. Plus, I couldn’t help but pass the dairy doors and—gasp!—there was organic milk. And the deal was this: The organic milk was about $3.00 more per gallon! $3.00 more! It was hard to believe. Why is organic any more expensive than anything else?

What is organic? The folks along with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) define “organic” as “Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones” (see

Based on what I know about organic, everything my family grew growing up was organic. We didn’t use pesticides, synthetic fertilizers (I have no idea what this even is), sewage sludge, or any type of genetically modified organisms unless you call the Snake River flies and mosquitoes as genetically modified. They were bigger than any fly or mosquito that I have ever seen. Must have been that volcanic ash from the Menan Buttes that was about a billion-years old.

What we did use was good-old fashion cow, horse, and chicken manure, usually served up after sitting in a heap for a bit of time to kill off any of the weed seeds or such. We either spread it, using Uncle Milt’s manure spreader or the hard way: We shoveled into our wheelbarrow, wheeled it to the garden spot, spread it around with pitch forks, and then tilled it under with a tiller of some sort. Plus, we added sand from the Little Annis Buttes to heighten the water drainage system. I always used gloves while spreading the money, usually leather gloves.

When it came to our animals, we didn’t give them any antibiotics or growth hormones. They grew on their own—after we gave them natural alfalfa hay, hay pellet and let them graze out in the pasture on natural grasses and a few weeds mixed in. I don’t think anyone added any antibiotics or growth hormones to the pasture unless you count the night crawlers that almost took over the entire pasture every night after dark. Of course, we caught a zillion of them over each summer and sold them for 50 cents a dozen to avid fishermen. And, yes, we were known to have drowned a couple of million a year in Birch Creek, Pine Creek, Spring Creek, Rainy Creek, and few other creeks around. I promise, though, we didn’t feed the night crawlers anything; so, I am assuming their excrement that helped the pasture flourish was not considered “sewage sludge” but rather pure, pristine, and natural—thus, organic.

We sold milk from our cow to the neighbors for about 50 cents or $1.00 per gallon (they brought their own pails); gave away vegetables to our family and neighbors that which my mother didn’t put up into hundreds of pints and quarts, appropriately sterilized and sealed I might add; made freezer jam of most of the raspberries and strawberries we didn’t eat while watering the garden from our well, which I don’t think was bioengineered or ionized through any sort of radiation.

Shoot, if I had known about all of this organic business earlier in my life, we probably could have made a ton more money than we did. I bet if we had labeled the night crawlers “organic,” I suppose we could have gotten $3.00 per dozen for them.

Surely then if farmers don’t use “pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation” or make their animals take “antibiotics or growth hormones,” shouldn’t fruits, vegetables, and animals be less expensive to produce or grow? I mean, really, have you priced synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation” lately? The prices are insane, if you can even purchase them at your local garden shop or farming store!

So, this organic blitz to me is just another concoction of the organic crowd to make more money. Why, if everyone would just grow a garden, then they would have their own organic vegetables and such. I suspect, though, it will be quite difficult growing organic chickens on your big-city balconies.

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