Co-Op: Production Standards

Unless you grow your own food, or have your own farmer whom you can trust, there is no way to know what is in your food.

In the field where your food is grown, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers, modified genetics, crop dessicants, are just the short list of what is in your food.  Processed food have added ingredients, preservatives, anti fungal agents, color enhancements, artificial flavors and colors, free flow agents, stabilizers, flavor enhancers, and a whole lot of items I've never heard of.  Then there's the water added to processed foods and all the materials used to treat it.  Most of these synthetic materials have been tested for safety, but there is good reason to be wary of safety claims.  Although some of these inclusions have been thouroughly tested and used for years without measurable harm, testing has never been done on combinations of these additives.  When I look around I see a population that is overweight, sick, tired and undernourished in a land of plenty.  It's not the amount of food.  It's the quality.

Certified Organic is one path to take.  For a small farm marketing their product locally, the certification is less important than the methods.  Why bother with the extra hassle, recordkeeping, testing, and expense when the people eating the crops are the same people growing the crops.  Certified organic is not without it's problems.  It can be abused the same way as commercial agriculture with destruction of the soil, monocrops, and extensive use of sprays, even if they are natural in origin.

Sustainable and regenerative methods are more attractive, in my opinion.  Using the natural world as a guide, we emulate Mother Nature, handling operations with a holistic view.  Rather than focus on NPK we offer the soil an abundance and diversity of organic materials as a mulch, building the soil depth and expanding the bodiversity within the soil so it can better serve a multitude of crops.  Pest management via natural predation is the preferred means, rather than disrupt the food chain by targeting a specific species.  We might lose a little here and there, but when the food chain is maintained, the good bugs will find a natural balance to keep the bad bugs in check.  

Intensive planting produces a significantly higher yield per unit of area than mechanized farming.  We don't  lose space having to fit a tractor between the rows.  It requires more labor, but we have that in spades.  We'll need to rely on our own labor rather than machinery.  We can ill afford the investment in major equipment and we won't have the vast fields which would justify the investment.  Using growing beds there is an investment of labor at the start, with successive plantings requiring less labor.  Other techniques, such as deep mulching and no till, reduce the demand for manpower.  

Naturally grown foods just plain taste better.  I've had people advocating for chemical agriculture and the green revolution feeding the world.  We're not trying to feed the world, we're trying to feed ourselves.   If we have to eat it, a tomato should taste like a tomato rather than a picture of a tomato.  If we are going to make a sauce from that tomato, it should be a delicious sauce.



Cooperative Enterprise, Plan Outline