Thursday, November 10, 2005

More organic notions

After that last post, I started thinking about whether organic food production can be mass marketed. Many people in organic production object to scale, large scale that is. A large farm, even if adhering to organic guidelines, is basically no longer organic. At some threshold, size of the operation becomes objectionable in and of itself. Or so some say.

Clarifying my own thoughts isn't easy since I'm prone to listen to new arguments and change my mind. A few things about my attitude have remained consistent. I'm not an organic food purest. In fact I really don't care what people put in their mouths. Organic food production's greatest potential is environmental via reduced use of chemicals. And I'm not saying conventional production is bad either, but it is energy intensive and things we do to reduce energy use are good imho.

Organic food, again my opinion, is no higher quality or any better for you than any other food. Chicken shit on an egg is only a dirty egg and it makes no difference what lead up to the laying of that egg. Likewise with any other food.

My point of advocacy is fresh local production. I'm not too worried about organic production practices as such but I do like fresh, locally grown food where I can see and know the grower. Direct marketed food has all the appeal I need. Organic? Okay, but it's not a first criteria. And I'm perfectly happy buying food from a supermarket or restaurant and not think about organic for a second.

This brings me back to mass marketing of organic production. Confronted by shelves full of food in the supermarket, I'd probably go along throwing things in the cart I wanted and buying primarily on price. If the organic tomato was more expensive, I'd probably grab the lower cost tomato all other things being equal.

If organic food production begins to enter mass market channels, as it is, it'll be competing on price value with other foods. Some people are going to pay a "premium" but not a substantially large amount when the products are side by side. For organic food producers to maintain a wider profit margin than commodity foods they need to stay away from mass production.

Buy direct locally produced food, I say.

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