Thursday, October 31, 2013

Agriculture and the Sacred

The Sacred in Antiquity and the New Sacred Consciousness

Robert Karp, Executive Director of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association ( in an article in RSF Quarterly (Fall 2013) eloquently describes the innate, sacred consciousness of ancient peoples towards agriculture and all of life.  They felt themselves both part of spirit and part of the earth.

The Loss of the Sacred



He then refers to Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) who inspired  the biodynamic movement and indicated that human beings had to move from their sense of unity with all things spiritual, to discover the physical laws of nature and modern technology in order to gain for themselves their sense of unique individualism and independence from nature. 

The Former Healthy Age of Materialism Has Long Passed!



Karp points out the present dark side of materialism, especially evident in agriculture:
  • Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs)
  • Genetically engineered plants and animals (GMOs)
all of which "betray a consciousness completely devoid of any remaining sense of the spiritual dignity of organisms, creatures, and species." 

A New Awakening

Karp says, "In the depths of the crisis brought on by these destructive trends, a new, individualized, eco-spiritual consciousness of the world is emerging."  As evidence he cites:
  • 1960s--Growth of the ecological movement
  • 1970s--Appearance of the health food movement
  • 1980s--Dynamism of the environmental movement
  • 1990s--Organic farming movement
  • 2000--The local food movement

The New Consciousness of the Sacred

"This new consciousness of the sacred," Karp says, "is not the same as that possessed by ancient cultures.  This awakening is not embedded in hierarchical, collective religious practices or cultural norms, but rather has emerged as a natural extension of healthy scientific inquiry and in the context of a cosmopolitan  confluence of diverse philosophical perspectives and cultural traditions.
"This new sense of the sacred is thus rooted in and sustained by a contemporary sense of individuality and freedom of thought."  Karp sums up his thought with this quote by Wendell Berry:


To live, we must daily break the body and spill the blood of Creation. 

When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. 

 When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

U.S Organic Food Certification Now More Questionable Than Ever Before

Bureaucratic Powers Appear to Have Submitted

 to Lobbyists' Pressure!

Once again, the power of big business colludes with the power of big government to stamp on health, well-being, and the wishes of all folks who care about organic food.

"U.S. Department of Agriculture guts national organic law"

That's the title of a Consumers Union joint statement made along with Food and Water Watch, Beyond Pesticides, and Center for Food Safety ( 

The Public Process Circumvented



According to these organizations defending consumers, the actions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture "circumvent the public process" and the "decision makes it easier to continue the use of artificial ingredients and substances, undermining integrity of [the] organic law."

No Chance for the Public to be Heard!

Without providing a public comment period for changes in this policy, that has been in place since 2005, the USDA decision reverses the previous policy thus effectively forcing consumers to prove infractions by businesses rather than requiring businesses to first demonstrate that their substances create no harm.

In Summary

Consumers Union and its cohorts declare war:
". . . we intend to mount a fierce campaign to hold the agency accountable to the millions of Americans who expect more from the government--and the organic label."


Once again democracy in the U.S. is at stake:


May the Heart of America Win


Over Big Business and Big Government Extremes!



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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Philosophy of a Leading Organic Food Retailer

Jim Someck of Jimbo's Naturally, With 5 Stores

 in the San Diego Area

In San Diego's daily newspaper, U-T San Diego, Jim Someck got an illustrated feature article in the Business Section today (October 15, 2013).


Because, as the  headline fairly shouts:  Jimbo's growing naturally.  Back in 1984, Someck began Jimbo's Naturally, what has now developed into a local chain committed to organic and non-genetically modified food.

How Does Jimbo's Differ?


As Someck explains it, comparing his stores to much larger competitors Whole Foods and Sprouts:
  • While our produce that we sell is 95 percent organic or more, theirs may be 40 to 50 percent.
  • Customers who want to have that quality will shop with us
  • Even though our prices may be better than Whole Foods--virtually all our products are 5-10 percent below suggested retail--we never highlight that
  • For us the message is not about the cost of food
  • We have positioned ourselves to be more about the quality of the food.

A Customer Scares Someck, But Then Validates His Philosophy!

Early on, a man told him it cost about $300 more to shop at Jimbo's in that year versus shopping at the supermarket:
  • Someck's fear--I thought oh, no, here we go, because that's always the issue with organic food, is that it often costs more than conventional food.
  • His fears allayed--When the man added, "I can tell you I've saved more than that on doctor's bills and have never felt better in my life.
  • Motivation--"That kind of spurred me on," Someck says, "to continue doing what I was doing."

Philosophy Related to Politics

According to Someck:
Even with all the talk about Obamacare and our health, people are dealing with the outcome rather than dealing with it at the beginning. 
In my mind, a great part of it has to do with what you eat.  Rather than putting chemicals and pesticides in your body, eating as healthy as possible can eliminate a lot of the illnesses and diseases that people have.

Philosophy Related to Business

A lot of people measure success by how many customers you have, what your bottom line looks like and things you can measure that are finite.
My definition of success has changed to something that's almost impossible to measure:
How many people's lives have I been able to impact in a positive way?
That became more important to me than any monetary success I could have!

May all organic food retailers


 have a comparable philosophy!

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What a Network of Organic Food Lovers Would Look Like

With Not only Consumers but also Growers and Distributors!

My aim is to transform the world of organic food via real-time communication.
Just reach for your smartphone, tablet, or computer.  Make a few selections and press GO!

What You Get



I and my partners propose an organic food communication service that links you instantly to resources you seek, whether local or far away.

Consumers Participate at No Cost!


Just tell us if you prefer certified organic food grown:
  • Locally
  • Meeting Kosher standards
  • Meeting Halal standards
  • Meeting Biodynamic standards



You Also Pick Favorite Food Categories

You get to pick one or more of these:
  • Meat, Seafood, Baked Goods
  • Vegetables, Fruit, Grains, Flour
  • Milk, Cheese, Butter, Eggs, Yogurt
  • Jams, Jellies, Nuts, Spices
  • Wine, Beer, Oils, Salad Dressing
  • And within each category, you can specify, for example under Baked Goods
  • Rye
  • Whole Wheat
  • Raisin
  • Pita, etc.

Here's an Example

Imagine, you say, I want organic cherries.
You sign on to our service, then look for stores or farms near you--even someone with a cherry tree in the back yard.  If they market in your area, reach for your smartphone, tablet, or computer and press GO.  PRESTO, you've found your cherries!


Tell us what you think!


Let's hear from you!



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Saturday, October 5, 2013


Let's Be Honest About Organic Food!

As a society, we tend to delude ourselves.  A century or two ago, and for ages before that, no one raised questions about food being either "natural" or "organic."  To conceive such distinctions would have been preposterous--non sensible!

Manure Was Natural Fertilizer

Not only did quantities of animal manure--especially in cities--need to  be disposed of, but it was only natural to manure fields to enhance soil productivity.

Chemical Fertilizers Were and Are Unnatural!



Our modern, scientific, and industrial age gradually lost a sense for what--for millennia--was the natural way of farming and introduced "new and improved" methods to fertilize using chemicals--that just happened to also make money for investors in the chemical industry.  It took a long time, but farmers were eventually wooed away from what had been natural and converted to the new unnatural fertilizers.
Somewhat the same thing happened with controlling pests.  Over millennia, farmers learned how to control pests, for various crops, at various seasons, and in various climes.
But the chemical industry knew better!  It devised many "one type destroys all" pesticides and again wooed farmers away from century-old ways of controlling pests, to the new killing, no matter what else gets killed, too!

Going Back to the Natural

An irony of our age is that the new "organic"--seemingly aberrant--way of cultivating is actually the old,  natural way!  But now in the marketplace, what is called "natural" is not sufficiently natural to be certified as "organic"!
What's a poor shopper to think?  She may even pay more for certified "organic." 
In other words, the new "organic" may cost more because it is cultivated in the age old, natural way, but so-called "natural" produce containing chemical pesticides and raised with chemical fertilizers, may cost less!

Buyer Beware! 

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Female Organic Farmer Speaks

Farmers Markets vs. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

Donna Buono has a 20-acre organic farm in the small town of Rainbow in northern San Diego County, California.  She grows 70 different fruits, macademias, and heirloom vegetables on her Morning Song Farm. (See U-T San Diego, September 30, 2013).

Why She Gave Up Farmers Markets

"I was doing farmers markets, and I love them, but economically it didn't pencil out for us. . .once you pay your employee and pay for gas you don't make anything."
With farmers markets:
  • The farmer never knows how much to harvest
  • Rain or a sporting event can change sales figures substantially
  • You end up giving away or throwing away a lot of food

Why She Likes Community Supported Agriculture


A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm has drop-off points where customers pick up the produce they pay for in advance as "subscribers."  They pay a set price:

  • Small box, weekly or bi-weekly--$34.50
  • Large box, weekly or bi-weekly--$44.50
  • Salad fixings, weekly--$19.75

The CSA Disadvantages

  • Too few people who want non-GMO organic foods in their homes are aware of CSAs (San Diego County, one of the largest counties in the lower 48 states and with a great many small farms, has only some dozen CSAs!)
  • Marketing (Advertising) is expensive
  • Talented labor is a huge issue


Donna Buono's Organic Farm is a Labor of Love!


"Our subscribers say they feel like its Christmas

when they open their boxes"


"Healthy food should not be a luxury! 

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