Organic Farming Changes How We Live | Well.org


Scott: My name is Scott Murray and I’ve been
an organic farmer for 40 years this year. I got my start at UC-Santa Cruz where I ran
a couple acres of gardens in the community while I was going to school to help pay for
my education. I worked at a restaurant as a waiter at night and I sold my food to the
chefs. When I got involved in organic farming, I started selling to specialty restaurants,
selling gourmet vegetables before organic was really an acceptable thing. Most people
misunderstood organic. They still do, but there’s a lot more people that understand
that basically organic farming is growing food without synthetic chemicals or genetically
modified organisms. We also grow more in harmony with nature.
We find a way to connect ourselves to the wonderful things that nature offers. There’s
a flywheel effect of the natural system. We’ve now labeled this, we call it agro-ecology.
Now, I also have gotten very involved in education because that’s one of my passions is we need
to educate the people of the future to eat better so that their health will be maintained
by, what I call, primary health care right here on the organic farm.
One of the keys is that if we want to have a healthy culture in the future, we need to
put the health back into farming. Right now most American agriculture and most world agriculture
is the unhealthiest chemical cesspool that you can imagine. Whereas on an organic farm,
we work with biodiversity. We encourage the ecosystem to be a partner with us in making
the farm work. Cory: I’m Cory [Hummerslug 00:02:11] and I’m
a senior analyst. I’m working on food and agriculture policy issues. I’m working with
the Environmental Working Group, based in the Oakland office. The Environmental Working
Group is a national public interest research and advocacy organization. We work to promote
public health by educating consumers about materials, trying to get toxins out of everyday
consumer products and also promoting sustainable agriculture and federal policy that supports
a healthy environment. We’re working right now on the farm bill.
That is a really important piece of legislation that affects the food we all eat. It affects
the kinds of crops we grow in America and it really is one of the most important pieces
of legislation affecting the environment. It’s a trillion dollars over ten years, so
it’s a hundred billion dollars of our tax dollars every year spent on the farm bill.
Unfortunately, the lion’s share of the money that is spent on supporting our food and agricultural
system is going to support commodity crops. We’re told that we should fill half of our
plates with fruits and vegetables. We need to eat more fruits and vegetables. Fewer than
5% of Americans are getting their recommended nine servings of healthy fruits and vegetables
a day. Yet only a tiny fraction of the farm bill is going to support the promotion and
distribution of these healthy fruits and vegetables. Most of the money is going into supporting
large-scale farms, commodity crops that are corn, rice, soy, cotton, wheat. These are
commodity crops that basically make up the ingredients, raw materials for junk food,
which of course we need to eat less of, meat, which we also need to eat less of, and biofuels,
which are a disaster for the environment. It’s about 13 billion dollars a year of taxpayer
money that’s going to support these commodity crops, primarily large-scale industrial farming
operations, while we’re spending just a tiny fraction supporting the kinds of farming and
the kinds of growers that are feeding us, that are actually growing the healthy food
that we need way more of in our planet. The only way this is going to change is if
we get more eaters involved in food and farm policy. Right now, it’s the large agri-business
interest that basically controls policy in Washington. We need to change that. We need
consumers to get involved and we need consumers to let their elected officials know that what
they want from the farm bill is not subsidies for commodities, is not massive give-aways
to big agri-business through mostly crop insurance programs. We need our money to go to support
healthy farming, that’s conservation programs that help farmers grow food more sustainably,
reduce the chemicals in their food. We need taxpayer money going to support local food,
to support organic farmers. The consumers out there really need to let their elected
officials know that they care about these issues. Even though food is something that
affects everybody, we eat every day, elected officials don’t hear enough from people about
what they care about with respect to their food.

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