December 23, 2010

There's Organic and then There's Sustainable - but is Sustainable Realizable?

Create | Bring into Being

It ain't easy being green.

Refrigerator Without Doors
 Whole Foods Market has delicious, often organic food - but at what cost of energy and petroleum?

 Squash Curing
Eric and Anne Nordell (my brother and sister-in-law) are organic farmers who use horses to work their fields.   They have developed a philosophy:  Weed the Soil, Not the Crop.

Low Impact
Walking their land where our Thanksgiving squash grew was a spiritual experience.

Stacking Solar Panels
David Fisher, one of the organic farmers worldwide who base their farming practices on Weed the Soil, Not the Crop, grows the hay to feed his workhorses.  That's sustainable.  He refers to plants as solar energy collectors.  He sells vegetables primarily to individuals that live within a few miles of his Conway, MA operation.

Both my brother and Mr. Fisher have told me about the satisfaction of working with a team of horses.

However, we would need millions more small farmers like these to really reach sustainability on a societal level.

Furthermore, another farmer I know grows both organic and conventional strawberries.  The carbon footprint for the organic plants is much larger since he makes more rounds on his tractor to cultivate out weeds.  With the non-organic plants, it just takes one dose of a chemical pre-emergent herbicide.

As I said, it ain't easy being green.

How about you?  Do you buy organic?  Local?

Tech Tips for the panoramic images:  Ansco Pix Panorama camera, no settings to set, Kodak Gold Max 800 Speed 24 Exposure 35mm Film (4 Pack), film processed and scanned at Walgreens.  For Whole Foods and Fisher:  Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-70 mm, ISO 400.  ©2010 John Nordell


Anita Bower said...

You make good points. The best choices are not always clear. There is the issue of petroleum use, but also the health risks involved in non-organic crops. We try to buy local first, mostly from our Amish neighbors. To buy organic, we have to drive significantly further, and pay double.

John Nordell said...

Thanks Anita for stating your approach to this commplex issue. Interesting that you buy from your Amish neighbors - their use of horses for farmwork inspired my brother's farming practices.