December 30, 2008

Instant fixes often lead to trouble

We live in an age of instant gratification. The practise of sending dilutions of high concentrated organic chemicals through fertigation systems to produce hectres of salads, etc. is a practise that Earth Bound and other large US Organic farms have relied upon to provide instant nutrients to demanding crops. One of the most popular fertilizers from a California company, a fish and chicken feather brew, approved for by OMRI for Organic use...and used over a year after discovery (and California state neglect to inform) that it had been doped with ammonium sulfate.

Organic farms unknowingly used a synthetic fertilizer
By Jim Downing
Published: Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008 | Page 18A

For up to seven years, California Liquid Fertilizer sold what seemed to be an organic farmer's dream, brewed from fish and chicken feathers.

The company's fertilizer was effective, inexpensive and approved by organic regulators. By 2006, it held as much as a third of the market in California.

But a state investigation caught the Salinas-area company spiking its product with ammonium sulfate, a synthetic fertilizer banned from organic farms.

As a result, some of California's 2006 harvest of organic fruits, nuts and vegetables – including crops from giants like Earthbound Farm – wasn't really organic. read the whole article


Anonymous said...

Why Do you Lie - This was 2006 and 2007 and the State made the company stop selling the product AND THEN in 2008 Converted Organics bought the Company.

Get the FACTS.

anne said...

My error was in not recognizing that Converted Organics purchased California Liquid Fertilizer in Jan 08. I have corrected that in my post.
Being wrong, however, is quite different from lying.
Interesting to note that
California Liquid Fertilizer's then-president, Peter Townsley, is now technology officer for Converted Organics

inadvertentfarmer said...

One more reason to grow your own. Even here in the cold NW we can, with a little planning and a little work, grow both greens and root veggies year around...without supplimental heat. You have given me one more reason to stick close to home when it comes to my food. Kim

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Great post, I agree lying is verrry different.

OMRI means well, a friend of mine is on the board, but there isn't a foolproof way of checking every single product. Once the approval is given, it is too easy to cheat. It is the same with organic growers who fudge the line a little. I know of several growers who dropped their certification and say they employ organic methods, all the while their soil is contaminated. So many chemicals are there to stay, so while it is good for them to continue organic farming methods, they are really snowing their customers by not telling the complete story.

I grow my own, our soil is clean, and we are very careful what we bring onto the farm in the way of inputs. At this point it is just straw for bedding (from a reputable grower) and minerals for our livestock.

I got a real education working at one of the labs that tested for Oregon Tilth. If food shows up with residues, it is then sold on the conventional market.

Bishops Homegrown said...

One more reason why the words "Organic" and "Certification" don't work together. Organic Certification has been diluted for years by big ag and the USDA. Just because your not organic certified doesn't mean you are "snowing" your customers, if someone doesn't believe you about your practices, invite them to stop by your farm at any time they want and inspect the farm, they are full grown adult consumers and can make up their own mind about what they want to put in their bodies, particularly when many of us who aren't certified are more sustainable and more "organic" than any certified farm.

In my opinion if you want to call yourself Organic you should be producing your own on farm fertilizer and everything you do on farm should be part of a larger cycle.

Anonymous, isn't it funny that you won't post your name?

Good post Anne! Keep them coming my friend!

anne said...

Hi Kim, throwback and Alan. I have mixed feelings about the value of certification, some regional bodies are very ethical and thorough (in my experience they are the smaller groups with lots of farmer involvement)- in Canada the regional groups still have some autonomy to create standards beyond the minimum set by the Provincial and now National standard. And there is cohesion and collaboration in the community-which is valuable. I really think the problems arose with an emphasis on export and a tendency for these special interest groups to get ahold of the infastructure of the organization. There are a lot of very good farmers alienated from the process and its really sad...what we really need these days are ways to work together. I chose not Certify my second farm (after years as a Certified grower at the first) and pioneered the term Ecofarm in my area and a group of like minded farm folk. I was small, close to market and people could check me out. So I agree that if markets and CSA are ones choice the best strategy for accountability is to earn it with involvement from the community of both customers and also other farmers.
With conventional farmers pushing the boundaries around here, and being a new grower in the area, joining the organic program may be my only option for credibility and collaboration.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Bishops Homegrown, what I was talking about was farmers who after getting their soil tests and finding high amounts of dieldrin and other chemicals,then choosing to not follow the certification process because they knew they would not pass. These farmers then turn around and say they choose not to be certified (usual excuses are too much paperwork, and fees)but they tell people they are organic even though they are growing on very contaminated soils. Most bring in "fertilizer" from outside sources, and are not sustainable at all.