At the Gristmill blog, there's a good article and ongoing discussion about the difference between organic and sustainable agriculture. The genesis of the article is Wal-Mart's pending expansion of its organic food section, which is bound to change the face of organic agriculture (and not for the better.)
Grist refers to the NYT article about Wal-Mart's move:
Some organic food advocates applaud the development, saying Wal-Mart's efforts will help expand the amount of land that is farmed organically and the quantities of organic food available to the public.
God only knows that one of my pet peeves about an organic lifestyle is that it's not available to people with low incomes. Back at the Grist blog, Kif Scheuer shares my agony about the Wal-Mart plan:
I'm torn about this. On one hand, it hints at a possible tipping point whereby agriculture might adopt organics much more widely; on the other, it raises the specter of complete corporate domination of organics. There's an ongoing fight to weaken organic standards, and Wal-Mart's entry may enable agribusiness to erode organic's validity.
I was happy to read in the NYT that Wal-Mart shares my feeling about social justice in the food system! Who would've guessed those sly dogs were really socialists in capitalist drag:
Wal-Mart says it wants to democratize organic food, making products affordable for those who are reluctant to pay premiums of 20 percent to 30 percent. At a recent conference, its chief marketing officer, John Fleming, said the company intended to sell organic products for just 10 percent more than their conventional equivalents.
Democratize the food system, make a gazillion bucks off it, six of one half dozen the other, right? Whatever.
If you're interested in reading more and have the time to read the Grist blog entry about this, do check it out. Very spirited discussion that offers many viewpoints on Wal-Mart's move.
Wal-Mart's move into organic food changes a lot, but it doesn't change this one thing: Organic food is good but organic Big Ag is still Big Ag–she's just wearing a green dress. So you know what the antidote is people….buy and eat local organic food whenever you possibly can!
Evil frowny face courtesy of The High Cost of Low Price