Part 1: What comes to mind when you see food labeled “organic” at the grocery store or farmers market? I asked one audience that question years ago, and a gentleman replied emphatically, “Nuts!”
Part 2: However insightful it was, the organic vision that Howard and his peers, notably Lady Eve Balfour in England and J.I. Rodale in America, had outlined by 1950 was incompatible with the changes then transforming commercial agriculture. The components of this transformation were not all that new – chemically derived fertilizers and pesticides were introduced in the nineteenth century and hybrid seeds and mechanized tractors became commercially available during the 1920s.
Part 3: Despite a perpetual cold shoulder from the land grant agricultural establishment and the commercial food industry, organic agriculture grew steadily if silently during the 1980s. Each regional farmer group developed its own set of standards that specified the conditions with which a farmer must comply for their farm and the food it produced to be certified, labeled and sold as organic.
Part 7: The NOP itself was responsible the next time the organic community got sand kicked in its face, though once again a grassroots campaign snatched, if not victory, at least the status quo from the jaws of defeat. In the absence of any interest in the organic regulations from the political appointees, the NOP bureaucrats decided to start making and implementing policy pronouncements themselves.
Part 8: We must travel back to the 1980s to appreciate why and how the anti-synthetic and anti-agribusiness provisions were written into the USDA organic certification standards.