As an ex-suburban Philadelphia kid now turned Californian, I find myself drawn to stories of the underdog. Gosh knows the Philly area is full of tales of heroes on the brink who have pulled it back at the end. From George Washington and his men surviving Valley Forge to “Rocky” I through V, as a kid I always felt inspired that no matter how tough things got, if you just believed in yourself, then there was always hope (insert music crescendo here).
While the movement for sustainable agriculture has traditionally been one of the “underdogs,” it’s now starting to emerge as a powerful force. Recently the National Research Council endorsed the sustainability movement. It noted that there are now twice as many farmers selling local meat and produce in farmers’ markets than there are growing cotton. While it’s good that prestigious commissions are taking notice and helping to move local agriculture into the mainstream spotlight, there are still some hurdles for the local food and sustainable movement that, when combined, feel like Dolph Lundgren (pretending to be Ivan Drago in the 1985 “Rocky IV” film) entering the ring after jacking up on anabolic steroids.
Three issues, in particular, shed light on a trend that I worry will increase short-term pressure on our small and sustainable farmers. These issues are: the controversy over the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Light Brown Apple Moth eradication program that inadvertently gives imported produce grown under LBAM conditions easier access to the U.S. market than locally-grown produce; the growth of intellectual property rights in agriculture and the effect on those who choose not to use patented GMO products for seed; and the current debate over the proposed FDA standards that would hold small, organic farmers to the same production standards as large, commercial cut produce processors.
It is part of The FruitGuys mission to support small and local farmers and we will continue to update you via our bi-weekly newsletter about these issues and stories. (You can sign up for our newsletter). We always want you to know what we put in your mix and where it comes from. You can check it out by clicking the ladybug icon on our home page.
Enjoy and be fruitful.
– Chris Mittelstaedt firstname.lastname@example.org