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#858928 - 14/04/2010 17:11 Organic Foods
AaronD Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 27/12/2007
Posts: 1017
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
OK I'm interested to hear about peoples (farmers) opinions on organic food, production and farming etc?

do you use organic methods or chemicals?
do you think the chemicals and hormones put into food is good/bad? and do you think food looses a lot of its "goodness" with chemicals?

why do you use/not use chemicals/organic methods?


if there is already another thread sorry :-)


#858951 - 14/04/2010 20:25 Re: Organic Foods [Re: AaronD]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
[ By way of explanation, Australian soils are some of the oldest and most eroded soils on the planet and all the essential nutrients have been leached out over the eons since they were eroded from the great mountain ranges of the past so to get yields we have to supplement our crops with added essential nutrients. ]

My father grew very close to organic food back in the 1940's.
Fertilizers were just some Super Phosphate sown with the seed so as to enable the plants to again get sufficient phosphorus to grow after most of the available and essential and natural soil phosphorus was used up by crops grown over the previous 60 or so years.

No chemicals were used on the growing crops at all as the first of the weed herbicides, 24D only came onto the market in a crystalline form in 1947.
Yields of wheat ranged from about 1.5 tonnes / Ha [ 7.5 bags per acre ] to 2 tonnes /Ha [ ten bags per acre ] and that was in a good year.
No insect control on the ripe, harvested grain.

Best Prices received were in 1948 when wheat reached 25 pounds per tonne.
Basic . ie; minimum wage was 7 pounds 10 shillings.
Most people took home perhaps 8 or 9 pounds per week

In 1948, one tonne of [ organic ?? ] wheat was worth over 2 weeks wages.

Year 2009.

Very dry years so wheat yields using the latest sowing technology and chemical weed control both pre sowing and post sowing and fungicides to control plant diseases and insect sprays to control disease bearing insects only yielded about 3 tonnes / Ha in the same area as above 1948 area.
Wet years will now grow up to 5 tonnes Ha but that is not what we have been getting in yields in the last decade due to the ongoing Big Dry.
So wheat yields = 3 tonnes / Ha in 2009.
Current wheat prices on farm = $175 / tonne
Average Australian weekly wage = $940 / week.
The value of 5.3 tonnes of wheat is now required to equal one week's average wage.

Relative to the wages of the times, one tonne of wheat today is now worth only 9% or less than one tenth of the value of the same tonne of wheat in 1948.
Pay us $1750 / tonne of wheat which would bring us up to equivalent to 1948 standard prices and we will grow you all the organic wheat or other organic grains and food stuffs you want.

Need I say more?

Edited by ROM (14/04/2010 20:34)

#859201 - 16/04/2010 20:16 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
Arnost Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 10/02/2007
Posts: 3909
In my previous life I used to be a bank relationship mgr for agribusiness clients... What ROM says above - is a story that I have heard over and over again when I asked some "deeper" questions of my clients...

But I have one even closer to home.

My sister-in-law bought a (now failed) business that provided home delivery of "organic" vegies. The promise was that the vegies were to be sourced only from certified "organic" farms (i.e. no pesticides, fertiliser etc etc). The business failed - and as post analysis suggested, because the "organic" vegies just could not match the aparent quality of the non-organic competition. Nobody wanted to buy - let alone pay a premium for - vegies that had the slightest blemish. Even those who were committed to and willing to pay a premium for "organic" vegies (business case sample predicate) eventually fell off!

And I see this at home - my kids have refused fruit that has a tiny bruise. If there is a frost burn or, horror of horrors, a worm hole - it is rejected and there is no way that they will eat it! I grew up in a culture where brown bananas were a luxury... (I have real difficulties in accepting this type of attitude and I end up in disputes with my wife... but that's another story).

Organic produce faces this type of attitude.

So going back to the root of your question - "why do you use/not use chemicals/organic methods?" - the obvious answer lies in that there is a very limited market for organic produce, and a farmer just can not produce "produce" at a competitive price that visually compares and is of apparent equivalent quality with that with that which uses fertiliser, pesticide or artificial breeding...
“No. Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise” ...

And this of course applies to scientific principles. Never compromise these. Never! [Follow the science and you will be shown correct in the end...]

#859207 - 16/04/2010 21:07 Re: Organic Foods [Re: Arnost]
KevD Offline
Occasional Visitor

Registered: 23/09/2001
Posts: 5236
Loc: Bellingen NSW 2454
We run an organic store. Our produce comes in from regional markets and many local growers and looks stunning...And tastes even more stunning. There is no need for organic food to look terrible - perhaps that happened more a few years ago but not now.

There is so much that can be done with the produce that does not look great - jams, preserves etc. And organic food does not need to cost a lot more either. If sourced locally from good growers it can be fairly competitive with chemically produced food...And with peak oil around the corner I see a time not too far away where the petrochemicals-right-through-the whole-production-and-massive-distribution-process foods will prove to be considerably more expensive. Local, sustainably produced food for local people grown by local people in a real partnership is, I believe, something coming into its own. Fresh local food, money remaining in the local area, decent relationships between the grower and consumer, farmer getting paid a decent price, consumers getting food at a decent price...It IS all possible.

We have been learning a heap from Food Connect in Brisbane ( and aim to set up something similar down here to take what we are already doing in store even further...So I see organically produced food as a real food of the future- something in which everyone can be a winner smile

#859429 - 18/04/2010 08:02 Re: Organic Foods [Re: KevD]
majorowe Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 27/01/2002
Posts: 242
Loc: SE France
Organic food is a much more serious affair in Europe and is much more widespread and publically accepted. As others have suggested, the acceptance of organic food is as much a question of culture as it is of money. The european culinary culture is somewhat more, let's say, 'refined' than in Australia and as such I think this explains the a great deal of the slow take up of organic produce in the country. This said, the days of intensive farming such as they have existed in Australia for the last 50 years are not going to last forever.

The best tomatoes I have ever tasted just happened to be some of the worst looking. If you ever had the chance to taste one you would never eat another Woolworths tomato again.

Edited by majorowe (18/04/2010 08:03)

#859446 - 18/04/2010 10:38 Re: Organic Foods [Re: majorowe]
AaronD Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 27/12/2007
Posts: 1017
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
yeh i think that's the big thing that people don't like the ugly fruit and they want the nice looking food.

In regards to it being expensive to produce, why can places like Aldi sell organic foods for the same price as other supermarkets sell non organic? even Coles has an organic range which isnt much more expensive at all.
Who is missing out in these instances? is it the farmers who sell the food for the same price and miss out on profit or is it somewhere else along the line?

#859587 - 19/04/2010 07:12 Re: Organic Foods [Re: AaronD]
Pacman Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 14/11/2001
Posts: 5355
Loc: Cairns - Upper Bentley Park
I love this greening the desert video using permaculture, no need for pesticides or chemicals This method can be applied anywhere in Australia.

#859613 - 19/04/2010 10:19 Re: Organic Foods [Re: Pacman]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
A few years ago a sort of offbeat trial was conducted by some uni types.
They collected a number of labeled bottles of all the various bottled water purveyors including from the highest priced Perriers and etc down to just common everyday labeled bottled water.
All the bottles were refilled from the same source of water and then the patrons of a fancy restaurant were asked to pass judgement on the taste qualities of the water.
Needless to say the highest priced water with the most prestigious label was judged to be the best tasting and this judgement continued right down though to the lowest in status bottled water being at the bottom of the taste test results.
Might find a good parallel there with "organic" foods.

My son some three or four years ago following the completion of the not very good harvest [ again!] did the usual run around the grain merchants with samples of wheat that were stored in our property's 2500 tonne silo system.
[ Called a "virgin" silo system by some neighbors as due to our run of very bad dry seasons it hasn't been filled! ]
When I put this silo system up in the mid 1990's I installed CSIRO developed computer controlled fan aeration to each silo so that the grain temperatures could be rapidly lowered to below 15C.
Below 15C weevils and other grain boring insects that can cause very serious grain contamination and destroy stored grain in grain storage systems do not breed and eventually die without damaging the grain.
In most silo systems these grain insects are controlled with chemicals or by fumigating the grain in a sealed silo.

So when the grain samples were presented to one particular large grain merchant, Rolf mentioned that no chemicals or fumigation had been used for insect control on the stored grain.
Naturally all the fertilizers and weed controlling herbicides and fungal treatments on the growing crop had been used on our crop as without using these herbicides and etc we simply don't have a crop or if there is any yield it is unsaleable as there is too much contamination from weeds and crop diseases.
As three or four local farmers who went into "Organic" grain crops a few years ago following all sorts of propaganda about all the money to be made from growing organic wheat and crops found out when they were nearly broke after three or four years of trying to grow "organic" wheat and etc.
In fact I think two of them did have to sell up as a result.

On being told that there were no chemicals used in the storage of the grain the immediate reaction of the merchant was "we can sell that as organic wheat" and they did!
It meant the truly munificent extra returns of about $15 / tonne on top of the $210 / tonne that Rolf got for that organic wheat.

Yep! growing "organic" crops is a sure way to make sure somebody else eventually owns your property.

In Lagos in Nigeria with a population of 18 millions and growing and now classed as one of the world's ten largest cities, organic food is sold everywhere.
They can't afford chemicals for their crops but the farmers still get very good organically grown vegetable crops.
A lot of their vegies sold in the huge markets are grown in the raw, untreated human excrement that flows from the poorly maintained or mostly non existent Lagos sewerage system.
Those organically grown vegies do real well on that untreated human sewerage which the growers don't publicise for obvious reasons.

The real dyed in the wool, organic demanding western consumers could always import some of that organically grown Nigerian food stuffs and I am sure that the Nigerian growers would think they were making a fortune with the prices that the western organic food consumers are prepared to pay.
And you would be benefitting a third world country as well!

#859648 - 19/04/2010 14:31 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
ant Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 05/10/2002
Posts: 9063
Loc: Overlooking ACT at 848m
That's one of the (many) objections against importing fresh food, from China and other places. You just don't know how it's grown, and let's face it, human waste is great for growing food crops, unfortunatly. My mother went around China in 1978, and on the communes that's what they were using.

a lot of people come in wanting organic apples. When told we don't have any, they choose what to buy, and they never go for the seconds with their spots and blemishes, they go for the perfect fruit. We don't use those expensive sprays on them for fun!

We have gone to a minimum-spray regime, using unmown grass in the orchard to host Predators that attack a lot of the mites and other things, but it's a very imperfect system and back up with insecticides and anti fungals is still sometimes needed. The organic guy up the road had to backtrack too, or he just wouldn't have had a crop.

You want organic apples, go check out those self-sown apple trees on every roadside. yeah, small and spotty.

#860015 - 21/04/2010 10:46 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
AaronD Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 27/12/2007
Posts: 1017
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
Originally Posted By: ROM
A few years ago a sort of offbeat trial was conducted by some uni types.
They collected a number of labeled bottles of all the various bottled water purveyors including from the highest priced Perriers and etc down to just common everyday labeled bottled water.
All the bottles were refilled from the same source of water and then the patrons of a fancy restaurant were asked to pass judgement on the taste qualities of the water.
Needless to say the highest priced water with the most prestigious label was judged to be the best tasting and this judgement continued right down though to the lowest in status bottled water being at the bottom of the taste test results.
Might find a good parallel there with "organic" foods.

so are you saying organic foods are exactly the same as regular food with chemicals but just packaged as organic foods?

how come you have such a grudge against organic food ROM?
is it just because you cant make any money off it?
i don't wanna stir up anything here but i would take pride in being able to produce and supply natural food and not chemical enhanced foods. do you take steroids so your body looks nice and big? or get plastic surgery? but im not a farmer so i guess i don't understand it fully.

My sister was doing an apprenticeship at a one of the largest producers and suppliers of plants in Australia. they grow seedling plants veges, herbs etc.
it was a requirement of the company that they have blood tests every 6 months so employees could monitor the level of poison and pesticides in their blood due to being exposed to the chemicals that they spray on the plants. basically after 6 months everyone's levels skyrocketed. anyway she left after a year because of how much exposure to all these chemicals and even the company admits with increased levels in your blood you are aware that your chances of cancer and other things caused by the poison.. Basically all these chemicals are in the food you buy. its obviously as bad as being directly exposed to the chemicals but its still absorbed by the food.

Again im not a farmer, but i think most of the people who eat food aren't farmers either.

#860023 - 21/04/2010 11:45 Re: Organic Foods [Re: AaronD]
ant Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 05/10/2002
Posts: 9063
Loc: Overlooking ACT at 848m
Farmers would LOVE to stop using chemicals. They cost a lot of money, they are dangerous, there's rules about their use, it's expensive to apply them.

Most of us manage to grow our garden veggies fairly organically, but doing it on a large scale is incredibly hard. I don't know of any big organic food growing operations, they're mostly boutique. There's a reason for that.

My family have gone to minimum-spray, but some years we lose so much of the crop because of it. The pests and diseases cycle through, one thing affects another, and by the time you realise you have a major problem, it's too late. So you've in effect worked 4 months of the year for no pay. Imagine that.

#860078 - 21/04/2010 19:12 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ant]
bigwilly Offline
Weatherzone Mod and Photog

Registered: 25/09/2002
Posts: 6543
Loc: Junee - just north of the 'Bid...
There are some success stories with large scale organic producers. One company "Green Grove Organics" out near Ardlethan has been certified organic for about 30 years and provides produce for the Junee Licorice & Chocolate Factory (all certified organic produce) and will soon provide produce for the first organic whiskey distillery in Corowa.

See more here

For the near future I can't see organics becoming mainstream or the 'norm'; there isn't the drive from consumers and hence there isn't the financial incentive to pursue organic farming. From those I've spoken to, it's bloody hard work and it takes many, many years for the benefits to be realised. I think it also has to be recognised that the organic path with lead to reductions in overall yields simply because without chemicals and synthetic fertilisers, the climate and topographic ranges of plant varieties will be reduced.

ROM, I understand that you've had bad experiences with organic farming, and the examples of increased yields does say something. But it must also be noted that farming practices, back in the day of 1-2T/Ha that you speak of, were far from present day practices in terms of soil structure and the conservation of it and its health.
YTD Rainfall = 281.0mm (Avg to March 117.0mm)
MTD rainfall March = 34.7mm(Avg 41.3mm)
February 2011 total = 203.9mm (Avg 37.8mm)
2010 Rainfall: 759.3mm (Annual Avg: 521.5mm)

#860119 - 21/04/2010 22:51 Re: Organic Foods [Re: bigwilly]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
You're right about soil structure and soil health back in those "organic" days BW, not that those old guys would have had a clue as to what everybody is on about when they talk about "organics".
They would have in all likelihood wet themselves laughing if what "organic" meant would have been explained to them .

To put a not very fine point on it, the soils by the 1940's were to say the least, buggered!
They were mined out of most essential nutriments like natural phosphorus although phosphorus fertilizers., ie Super Phosphate were already being used as they had near to no crops if they didn't use Super.
Nitrogen also was almost non existent in the older cropped soils.
The soil structure didn't exist anymore which resulted in the great dust storms in the 1930's and 40's which I have posted on here previously.

The "experts" from the much later generations sagely nod their heads and explain that the soils was "exploited" and the old timers were very sinful to let that happen.
The reality was that there were still large scale famines and hunger in the world and the the world needed Australian wheat particularly as Europe drifted into WW2.
And I really wonder whether a lot of those "experts" could have even survived in the conditions that people of those times worked under.

There were no herbicides as I have posted before and the only weed control and moisture conservation for the next crop was to fallow; ie cultivate the soil with a tyned implement with say 6 inch wide shares on to cut the weeds off.
Fallowing was done from about the winter of one year until the sowing time in winter of the next year.
This cultivation had to be done about every three weeks when there was rain about as the weeds would emerge and become too big to control as well as using vast amounts of water, a much proven fact, that was hopefully being stored in the soil profile for the next crop to use through any dry periods during the growing, seed filling and ripening stage.
This of course meant that you only got a crop every second year from a patch of dirt; ie; two year rotations.

The cultivator were generally about 8 to 10 feet wide and up to 12 feet for a large one.
There were some tractors around but a lot of those huge draft horses were still used through to the mid 1940's when the 1944 drought meant that the draft horses had to be agisted down in the Western District as there was nothing left to feed them up here in the Wimmera and Mallee.
A lot of those horses never came back as tractors were being given a priority supply item rating by the government to those grain farmers who wanted to buy them for the vital war food production.

A team of 10 or 12 Clydesdale draft horses, covering perhaps 40 feet wide, each with four feet of which each foot covered an area about as big as a small dinner plate and steadily pounding the soil and the clods into dust every time one of those one tonne horses put a foot down and this every three weeks or so for the winter, spring and late autumn months of the year on the same patch went a very long way towards destroying the soil structure.

The real story on how the farmers completely rejuvenated their soils and dramatically raised their productivity and rebuilt the soil nutrients, soil structure and water permeability has never been fully told or if it has, it has been totally ignored by the academic and city interests in that such a story would undermine a lot of their claims of the terrible raping of the countryside that has been carried out by farmers, something that seems to show up on a regular basis on this forum from a couple of posters.

The story really started with the importation of the first sheep into Australia by Macathur although there are quite a few others involved as well who get little credit in the popular media..

With those sheep mixed into their wool, came some new to Australia plants from the Mediterranean.
They were Medics, a native of the Mediterranean region and a low growing pasture plant but most importantly a legume, a nitrogen fixing plant of which in Australia, a characteristic that is only found in some native trees and some of the wild pea varieties but none that have the requirements that would make them suitable for domestication.
The Medics of which there are hundreds of species produce small brown burrs which contain about 5 to 7 small yellow flat kidney shaped seeds arranged in the spiral type winding of the pod.
The pods also have curved small spikes on them which enables them to cling to wool and clothing and etc and so are spread to new areas.
These Medics, the Burr Medic as the type I am discussing was and is called started to spread all over Australia where ever sheep were run and where ever there was suitable warmth and rainfall similar to the Mediterranean region which is the whole of the southern regions, the grain belt of Australia,

The first deliberate documented use of medics in Australia to increase soil fertility is probably unknown but the following story is very likely amongst the very first and deliberate use of leguminous, nitrogen fixing medics to increase crop yields.

An old guy called Ron Holland, a very near neighbor of mine for some 30 or more years told me this story AND produced the news paper cutting to back his story up.
Ron is a very old man now but as a young boy, his father, the well known in the district at the time, Harry Holland, in around 1926 or 28 use to get young Ron to go out on to the local roads after summer when the seed burrs had fallen off the ripe medic plants and sweep together the medic burrs that were laying on the roadside where the medics grew wild.
Ron then had to load these Medic burrs into a horse drawn dray which is a heavy two wheeled cart and take the loads of Medic burrs out into a paddock and spread the medic burrs across the paddock.
The area where this occurred is about two or three miles east of a location called Wail which is on the main Melbourne / Adelaide highway and about ten kilometres on the Horsham side of Dimboola.
The Wail rail overpass is well known to regular travellers on this highway.

Harry Holland did not know what those medics did but he did know that wherever he spread those "native" Burr Medics he grew much better wheat crops to the extent that he nearly always won the then very prestigious awards from the various and regional Agricultural Show Societies of the time for the best wheat crop in the region.

The South Australians and their Ag research organisations were arguably by far the most advanced in the use of medics and research associated with using medics to rebuild soil fertility, soil structure and etc by the end of WW2.
About this time also a South Australian by the name of Alf Hannaford developed a large seed grading and seed dressing machine that fitted onto the back of an ex WW2 lend lease Chev or Ford and with this he used to go out on a run cleaning and dressing seed for the coming sowing season.
Seed dressing is the use of various chemicals on the seed to stop certain types of fungal diseases attacking the plant.
One of these "Stinking Bunt" is no longer seen but is always ready to reappear.
Stinking bunt is a fungal disease of the ripe in the head seed grain and turns the grains in the individual head black and stinking.
A few affected seeds in a load and it is no longer fit for human consumption nor in many cases will stock eat a load that is apparently only very lightly contaminated.

After WW2, Alf Hannaford built an large business with his seed graders travelling to all parts of the Australian wheat belt to clean and dress seed for sowing.
Alf Hannaford in SA also saw just how medics could revitalise and rebuild soil fertility and the huge increase in wheat yields, often doubling after a crop of medic had been plowed in when the fallow was being made.
As he was also well known for his social conscience work Hannafford carried large signs and slogans on his machines extolling the benefits of using medics to boost and revitalise soil fertility where ever his machines went in the Australian wheat belt.
Quite quickly by about 1950 there was a new industry based on the 30 year old Subterranean Clover seed technology created to harvest, clean and distribute medic seed through the wheat belt.
Medic pastures really took off with the Korean War wool boom where wool reached a pond a pound of wool.
Wages were about 10 or 12 pounds per week at the time.
Sheep of course did very well on the medic pastures which are very high in plant protein as well.
And the medics grew like there was no tomorrow as not having had any medics on nearly all the cropping country, the ground was free of all the diseases, nasties and insect attackers that build up on any plant species that have been long established.
My father had paddocks of medics that were two feet high and you could walk across them.
I learn't to drive the Holden ute on those pastures and my brothers and I use to see how many turns in spins we could get out of the old ute across the sheep tamped, rock hard but very slippery and wet medic paddocks.

When plowed in and incorporated into the soil those medic pastures put huge amounts of plant fixed nitrogen into the soil plus enormous amounts of organic matter.
The whole of the old worked out soil structure just literally jumped to a new level of fertility when a medic pasture was plowed in.
Crop yields went from about the maximum mentioned in my previous post of about 7 to 10 bags an acre [ 1.5 to 2 tonnes / Ha ] with 5 bags [ 1 t /Ha ] often more the case to 12 bags to 14 bags an acre [ 1.4 to 1.8 t / Ha ] after a good heavy medic crop had been ploughed in.

Then came the the first of the herbicides and new modern, more reliable machinery and new wheat and barley varieties with inbuilt genetically based disease resistance and we jumped to another new level in crop yields.

And all of that is why you can buy food at such low prices here in the western World and in Australia.

You will probably never again in the foreseable future have to spend 80% of your income on food as many of the poorest on earth still have to do and as has been the case right through human history for all but the very wealthiest.

Edited by ROM (21/04/2010 23:01)

#860140 - 22/04/2010 07:37 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
majorowe Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 27/01/2002
Posts: 242
Loc: SE France
ROM, your Medic story is a good example of what can be achieved without resorting to synthetic fertilisers.

Would organic farming be more tempting to you if it were subsidised by taxpayers, to (a) lower the cost of the product and/or (b) increase the income received by farmers?

Would this not be a good way to

(a) improve the environment and prospects of sustainable farming in Australia
(b) create farm jobs due to the increased labour required
(c) reduce the risk of pesticide induced illness (if such a risk exists)

Edited by majorowe (22/04/2010 07:37)

#860150 - 22/04/2010 09:33 Re: Organic Foods [Re: majorowe]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
Aaron, I don't bear a grudge at all against the so called "organic" farming or "organic" food stuffs.
What I am trying to tell everybody here is that if you want enough food to be produced from the available and suitable agricultural land on this planet to feed the planet's 6 3/4 billion peoples without modern chemicals or farming technologies then you will have to allow about at least 2 billions of those people to starve to death.

Now would you like to lead the way?

The Club of Rome report in the 1970's which everybody smart alec know all commentator of today likes to say is discredited, had a long hard look at the future of the world's food supplies as the situation was known in the 1970's.
With the global population rising into the 4 billions in the 1970's, the Club of Rome's analysis based on the then known and predicted abilities to feed the world's growing population forecast mass starvation on a huge scale if the global population continued to grow into the 5 billions.
It never happened because using chemicals for weed control and using new sowing machinery technologies that kept the stubble , the residues from previous crops which the new machinery could sow the next crop into without much soil disturbance, by producing ever more per hectare each year without decreasing soil fertility with new plant varieties and using plant breeding to increase yields and incorporate disease resistance from wild species into the food varieties the world's plant breeders and agricultural researchers and most of all the farmers are now able to feed nearly 7 billion people and with better quality and only a fraction of the price that people paid even in the 1970's for their food and with less hunger for a smaller percentage of the world's people than ever before in history.

The Club of Rome, like everybody else of those times, never forsaw the incredible increase in productivity from the world's farmers over the next 4 decades and that is the only thing that has kept the world's peoples from facing mass starvation and famine

In my father's time when were only very limited but much nastier chemicals than today's to do the same job on crop protection there were almost 3 billion people on this planet. less than half of today's planetary population.
And even in those times most of the planet's suitable agricultural land was taken up for food production.

The thing that never ceases to amaze me and this is NOT a specific reference to anybody on this thread, is the hubris displayed of so many people who are nowadays almost completely ignorant about agriculture but who assume that their opinions and views on food production and agricultural practices must be implemented by the farmers.
And they do this from a position of complete ignorance or based on some articles and some very biased propaganda from the various do gooder or the more extreme green groups.
Imagine the uproar and your reaction if the farming community decided by introducing legislation to limit some aspect of your business and force you to do things a different and very inefficient way because they decided that they didn't like the way you were going about that business or forced you to abandon some of your premises because they objected to your occupation of those premises and all based on some unsubstantiated beliefs based on an ideological perception.

If that is the way the do-gooders and green believers want to live then that is their right and their prerogative but it is NOT their right to impose their ideological and in some cases, cult like beliefs onto others.

When I drive down to Melbourne, an increasingly rarer event these days, as I come over the Pentland Hills and look across the plains to the city I see the immense dome of dark brown or sometimes grey [censored] hanging over that city and I shake my head in disbelief at the hypocrisy of those in that city who are busy telling everybody else how they are supposed to live and work to improve that great catch all, overused and increasingly grossly misrepresented "environment" and even worse trying to force others to follow their own personal beliefs or nature worshipping cult.
I see the hypocrisy of those who believe that they are being poisoned by chemicals in their food but who live their entire lives surrounded by the detritus, stench , smoke and dust laden chemicals all around them in the city.
They will use fly sprays in copious quantities inside their houses to kill one fly.
They are constantly surrounded day and night by what are known to be toxic paints and chemicals of every description.
Ask the American nuclear submariners where very serious illnesses in nuclear submarine crews were traced to the supposedly "non toxic " paints used inside of the submarines.
They swallow pills and other substances in copius quantities.
They throw immense quantities of good food out because it has been around for two days and so on.
They will spend a lot of money buy all sorts of fancy packaged food stuffs in the super markets from all sorts of exotic origins without having a clue as to just where that packet of stuff's contents came from or what was done to it but they will then rush along at the first pretext to tell and demand that
Australian farmers must be forced to follow their beliefs and put into practice the methods they in their ignorance prescribe.

I suffer from a food sensitivity which caused me a lot of grief for some 4 years but eventually I traced it down to the Calcium Propionate which is us used in super market bread to stop mould forming on the bread.
Calcium Propionate is also a naturally occurring chemical in cheese and is cultivated in some cheese to give up to 2 times the natural limit and that is what you, the customers want.
You don't seem to want bread or cheeses covered with probably toxic molds that will at best possibly make you very ill and could kill you.

And I see the absolute hypocrisy of those who are trying to force their views onto others when I see the immense amount of natural environment destroyed and being continually destroyed just to satisfy the demands of the city dwellers for more houses, recreation facilities, shops, factories and worst of all in huge in area natural environments right across the countryside that are drastically and artificially changed from the natural so that the wealthy and not so wealthy can enjoy some arcane recreation.

The chemicals and technology used by farmers today provide much safer food quality than ever before in mankind's history.
When was the last time you heard of death from afla-toxins in food which can destroy a person's health or kill them, a common occurrence before chemicals and refrigeration.
And that is only one of the immense number of naturally occurring pathogens that reside on food stuffs of every description.

No Aaron, I am not at all against "organic" foods.
If you want this type of food and want to pay enough extra for it, and that simply does not happen despite all the posturing, then go for it if that is your desire and beliefs.

Just don't ever assume that what you believe in should be forced onto somebody else.

THAT is something that far too many of the western world's quite ignorant but indubitably correct and knowledgeable citizens of innumerable cult type beliefs are already trying to do to anybody and everybody who does not believe as they do.

#860154 - 22/04/2010 10:40 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
ant Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 05/10/2002
Posts: 9063
Loc: Overlooking ACT at 848m
As always, your words ROM are worth careful reading, and thinking. I read my mother's farming magazines, and then the city-based commentators, and they're so opposite it's not funny. There's a huge repository of knowledge in the farming community, it's staggaring. And then you read the glibly dismissive city economists, or the madness of how we can feed X billion people by simply importing water into dry regions, and in my case, you go off and join the Stable Population Party.

BTW, Horehound wasn't one of those Medics, was it? It smells and looks like a herb to me, but I hate the stuff.

#860214 - 22/04/2010 17:05 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ant]
AaronD Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 27/12/2007
Posts: 1017
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
im not trying to make people grow organic food,, doesn't bother me what people grow, i was just trying to understand what people think and see if there is any benefit to the big hype about organics (irregardless of if i drive a car, use fly spray, live in the country or the city).

so anyway is there actually any nutrition difference between organic or non organic food? like is it better for the body to eat home grown organic produce or buy a big juicy red tomato from the supermarket?

#860232 - 22/04/2010 19:55 Re: Organic Foods [Re: AaronD]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
OK Aaron, just got in off the tractor after some 7 hours sitting in the one spot cultivating so that my son doesn't have to fork out thousands of dollars for spray chemicals to kill the weeds before sowing in about three weeks.
He will still have to fork out that for another spraying just before he sows in any case.

On the vegie side of things I am definitely no expert but apparently some of those old tomato varieties if you are into tomatoes just kill the supermarket varieties stone dead as far as taste is concerned.
Again it is what people, despite their posturing on organics and the supposedly superior taste of the home grown vegies which is a lot like my bottled water example in an above post, resides in the imagination of the eater there of.
Supermarket vegies and fruit are engineered and I use that term "engineered" deliberately to enable them to be produced at the lowest possible cost as that is what happens in the supermarket when two or more choices with different price tags are displayed, the cheaper ones sell and the more expensive ones just sit there unless the consumer is a discerning consumer.

The vegies / fruit are bred to all flower and set fruit at the same time to enable the lowest cost picking or harvesting so it can be done in one pass to reduce picking / harvesting cost to the minimum.
They are all bred to grow to as an even a size as possible.
Ditto consumer choice as above.
They are bred to all have the same coloration
Ditto above
They are all bred to have the same coloured flesh.
Ditto above
They are all bred to last as long as possible on the supermarket shelves.
They are all bred to need as little water as possible to save costs and manpower
They are all bred to be easy to harvest / pick.
They are all bred to resist diseases and fungal infections that mar the shelf appearance of the fruit / vegies.

And there are other aspects as well but this is what the consumer wants before they complain about taste and as you may be able to see, there is not much left over to fit in the taste side of things.
However there has been a change even here as consumer complaints about the lack of taste in many vegies and fruit varieties have made the breeders go back and start to incorporate decent tasting into some of the newer vegies and fruit varieties that are coming into the super markets.

Many of the older garden grown varieties are probably much better in taste than the super market offerings but when it comes down to nutrition then it is probably a toss up as to which is more nutritious.
And here surprisingly it may be that some super market varieties are actually better sometimes as they are bred as above for resistance to disease and rots and other plant fruit / vegie infections that can downgrade the nutritional aspects of a fruit / vegie very quickly plus of course and in bad cases there may be the possibility of toxins that can cause illness on badly infected fruit.

Your choice!

Horehound is a bad weed which stock will not touch except if they are really hungry.
And it is a pain in the backside when you get near hedge rows of the stuff.
It is as tough as nails to kill s well.
It is also a herb from which the old guys before my time use to make Horehound Beer which I believe was not that dissimilar to Ginger Beer.
I also believe that so called Horehound Beer could be made in a fashion that gave it a kick like a mule!
They didn't miss a trick in those times long past!

And Horehound, another imported garden herb that has become a major pest in some areas has absolutely no relationship with Medics or clover as some people might know it as and that is different to the pasture plant which is also another leguminous plant, Subterranean Clover which buries it's burrs and has 4 small round seeds in each buried pod.

Strange that the farmers cop all the flack when Australia's gardeners were and still are responsible for importing most of the major weeds that are increasingly infesting and choking out our native fauna.
Bridal Creeper is just one such garden weed that is still being grown in gardens everywhere but is a really bad pest weed that chokes out any native bushes and shrubs when it gets established.
And there are a stack of other equally bad imported garden plants that have escaped from the house gardens, have adapted and are now major weed pests which we and the various state weed authorities have to deal with at vast cost but which I won't go into here.

Nope! Nobody wants to discuss this!
Just switch the blame to those awful farmers who are destroying the "environment".
Could lose a lot of members if we start to blame the city gardeners for a lot of Australia's problem weeds and the destruction on our native fauna that they are doing. [ / sarc ]

Regret not the past.
Fear not the future.

#860235 - 22/04/2010 20:46 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
ant Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 05/10/2002
Posts: 9063
Loc: Overlooking ACT at 848m
Who in their right mind would grow Horehound in their garden? it's vile stuff. Thank god for MCPA my new favourite friend.

I was interested to find recently that my crummy garlic chives plant had spawned a child 400 metres across the hill. Some desperate bird must have eaten the seeds. There it is, in the Poa Tussock, no water, growing. Incredible. So far nothing else has broken loose, except some nasturtiums, but they're struggling. And tomato plants, which is gob-smacking. Shame they wont' last.

#860241 - 22/04/2010 22:30 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ant]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
An absolutely true short story;

Phil and Caryn are next door farming neighbours.
Phil was tractoring around in one of his paddocks and comes across a patch of a few plants of a type that he has not seen before so he digs one up and as he has to head into Horsham that day, he takes the plant along for identification at our large Agricultural Crop Research establishment.

He doesn't get any good news as the plant is the very noxious and difficult to control bulbed weed, the "Star of Bethlehem".
At this stage it seems he only has a small area of an acre or so which cannot be cultivated as that would spread the bulbs across the property so he is lucky in that he found those plants when he did and has thereby avoided a lot of very big extra expense and time.

A somewhat disconsolate Phil heads home to be greeted by Caryn his wife who has also just arrived home from her Horsham city work place and is looking most pleased with herself.

Ooh! Look what I brought home for the garden Phil, a Star of Bethlehem!

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