Friday, March 7, 2008

beyond organic

I have been reading the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  It is a terrific book, and it seems he has become the Times' Best Selling face of the Slow Food movement. 

I love situations in which my suspicions about foods in general are justified by factual information!  Thanks to Michael Pollan's book, this happens as often as I can turn the pages of the book.  

One example is milk.  I have been talking to my sister-in-law about what milk to feed to my nephew.  She has found it difficult to find decent milk.  The problem is that organic milk is not really milk anymore, much of the time.  Or rather, what our ancestors called milk, or the white stuff that comes out of cows.  Much of the current organic milk is almost exactly the same as the industrial product it has replaced, sans antibiotics and hormones:  Cows in horrid conditions, penned, fed via feed troughs a diet of mostly (organic) corn and a slew of synthetics (allowed under USDA certified organic standards) that help the wet mixture slide down into the now obsolete four-chamber ruminous cavern of the beast's abdomen.  No grazing, No grass.  Bear in mind that cows are Ruminants, they eat grass with the joy of millions of years of evolution behind them.  Corn is not digestible by cows unless it is genetically altered.   These are unhealthy animals producing a product that will be lobotomized by ultra-pasteurization, a process that will strip the milk of the very enzymes that make it digestible by Humans.  This is not the pattern for all organic milk producers, but for the largest and most far reaching ones.
Horizon, the most available product on the market, is a key offender.  Notice the obvious lack of the words "grass-fed" or "pasture razed" on their containers.  These words are absent largely from the Organic Valley Label also, I have been looking at their website and they talk a good game at least, more research to follow if I think of it.  But the basic idea is this:  if the container does not say "grass-fed, pastured cows"  then you can bet the extra 2-dollars you are spending that you are getting a shit product.  I like these guys, personally.

back to Pollan:
He visits this super-cool farm - Polyface Farm -  in Virginia which is NOT certified organic, but instead follows the original rules of "organic" farming, they call it "Beyond Organic".
Check out some of their basic principles here.
Then check the links below,  the second farm I discoverd via search engine (I am trying to arrange an April Visit, which will bring a nice post, I hope):
Polyface Farm
Sunrise Farm

Sadly, I now have to get into some real reading, looking at the sources of Organics: 
and Leo Marx

working it through, slowly...Be Well.


Betsy said...

this is alden's most favorite thing to watch at the moment (except for lions).
he sits very seriously and interrupts to tell me about baby cow milk (the cow produces milk for its calf) and grass cow milk (the cow eats grass all day). when i was growing up that was my milk. we had a cow named meghan who ate grass all day under shady trees and sunny skies. i wish that my baby could have that.

Luke Weiss said...

sesame street was so beautiful. we're going to get back to good milk!