The Organic Enthusiasts Are After Me

Prairie Gleanings

First, let's produce enough food, then we can argue what type we need to produce.

Published on: April 1, 2011
When I wrote my April column (, I had an inclination that the organic enthusiasts weren’t going to like it.

Just a week after it hit mailboxes, I’ve received several letters telling me how wrong I am about organic production. The main theme seems to be that I’m a lackey of corporate ag who is simply reciting their dribble about how necessary chemicals are.

For some reason, I thought the concept of working harder to produce less food is fairly easy to understand. Silly me. Some folks discussed how important the “lifestyle” of organic production is. Another claimed to be able to get close to current yield levels, albeit the process described to do so was quite labor intense.

A recent study, “Map the Meal Gap”, found that 44 counties in the U.S. have a significant portion of hungry people. It says one in four was “food insecure” (I like to say hungry, but maybe that’s not politically correct).

According to the study, folks in the U.S. pay an average of $2.54 per meal. The study comes from Feeding America, a conglomeration of corporations dedicated to, well, feeding America. It was funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the Nielson Co.

Regardless of your position on organic production, I think it’s hard to deny the fact that there are hungry people in the U.S. Of course, the problem is worse in the rest of the world.

Once again, I realize some folks don’t mind spending $2.54 for a piece of organic fruit. But, don’t forget that not everyone has that luxury. Just remember that even if you’re working hard to adhere to an organic “lifestyle” some folks are simply trying to find enough to eat.

At yesterday’s conference on waterhemp’s evolved resistance to HPPD inhibitors, Iowa State University’s Mike Owen made a great point. He explained that agriculture is one of the only industries where consumers actually do not prefer efficiency. In nearly all other cases, industry is praised for doing more with less. In ag, affluent folks hunger for food that is harder to produce.

Sorry, but in this case, I think we need to make sure everyone has food to begin with. Then we can decide what type of food is best.

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  1. RHiebert says:

    When I see the map I see few if not zero excuses for being "food insecure". These places shown have adequate soil, sunshine and precipitation. Few people do not have access to a small plot of garden space. It could more adequate and accurate to say that there is a lack of initiative and money, ie. laziness. If money was spent on seeds instead of smokes, beer and lottery tickets, there would also be enough food for America.

  2. C. Williams says:

    Well said. Let's put first things FIRST.