The votes are in, and is it a win?
Protesters have been marching their boots off and want organic farming to reclaim its roots. They think only food grown in soil should be labeled as “organic.” On November 2, 2017, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) committee met to vote on the future of organic farming labels.
For those of us out of the loop, the debate has been a smackdown between conventional organic farming and hydroponic organic farming. Many organic farmers argue that crops grown using hydroponics shouldn’t be labeled as such, as they don’t use soil—and one of the core core principles of organic farming is promoting soil health and fertility so that it can regenerate sustainably. “Feed the soil, not the plant,” is the guiding mantra.
However, the issue isn’t just about dirt for all. Food activist Vandana Shiva claims, “Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, the climate crisis, and the crisis of democracy.” How’s that for a loaded statement?
Meanwhile, areas with limited growing seasons love hydroponics. Organic food can be grown all year round using this method, which is cleaner and faster than conventional farming. It can grow anywhere from a greenhouse to a countertop, from the basement to the rooftop. Folks like Tim Miner, creator of the Modern Steader curriculum and operator of The Edible Learning Lab, use hydroponic farming “to educate the next generation in good eating practices, food consciousness, and self-confidence.”
So should the label “organic” on our food represent both traditional soil and alternative farming methods, or should it reflect the roots of the organic movement that focused heavily on soil? The advocates for keeping the label universal argued that soilless farming is consistent with the goals of the National Organic Program. It utilizes organic fertilizers and cuts down on pesticide and water use in general. When the votes were tallied, they won by one vote, eight to seven. The National Organic Program agreed that both methods may keep the organic label.
“To forget how to dig earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
What do you think? Is it a win, or undermining the integrity of the organic farming organization?
We’d love to hear from you.
Author: Kate Fleming
Editor: Callie Rushton
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis