This introduction is the start of an ongoing commentary from me, the good folks at Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative and our friends. I am excited to develop a forum where we can comment on current events in the organic community and in our bigger society.
My desire to lend my voice comes from my intuitive understanding of organic as a philosophy. Our cooperative defines organic as a philosophy, and we use that philosophy in our daily business. My experience as a city-raised person, a back-to-the-lander in the early 70’s, a long term organic farmer, an organic food pioneer and as a business leader of an organic cooperative gives me a broad perspective.
CROPP Cooperative is farmer-owned, and we produce a wide offering of organic foods for our brands, Organic Valley and Organic Prairie, and other well known organic brands. The best part of the network we represent, besides the quality of the food, is the amazing well of common sense, nature-based intelligence and intuition of our pioneering organic farmers. Our goal with this forum is to bring that common sense to the organic conversation.
In the last 10 years, the organic community has changed dramatically. Quite honestly, we often see a lack of balance in the conversation about organic, and lots of misinformation. It is hard to watch, so we felt a tremendous need to have a forum where we can offer a new perspective as well as correct so much of the misinformation we see circulating about organic. There are days when it appears that the organic community has lost its tolerance for differing opinions, so we hope to foster more understanding of the many perspectives as a foundation for our organic community.
Part of organic philosophy is that the integrated parts make a whole, so the challenge for our community is to see how we can have a respectful dialogue that strives to fit the many parts of our community together. That is not easy given that the organic community includes a diverse group of pioneers, new entrants mixed up with the purest organic farmer/philosopher to the largest corporations in the World and of course, our “citizen partners.” We are all part of the beautiful unfolding of the organic food and fiber movement that I believe is the beginning of a major long term organic lifestyle.
In this forum, we will address current organic issues. The first column addresses the current crisis in the dairy industry—both organic and conventional. When we pioneered organic dairy, we tried to build financial stability into our model, yet we are learning the powerful force of supply and demand. A recession like we are experiencing inevitably flows down to forcing the resources of the earth and the poorest people of the earth to take the greatest burden. The crisis of the dairy community both organic and conventional is terrible to watch. Our cooperative is being challenged by the same forces, but our farmers are working together to care for each other.
We will begin by offering this forum every other week and will include guest contributors. I am eager to share articles that I see as significant in this dialogue and to add my organic sense. We are looking forward to your feedback, challenges and issues to address.
I am a lover of words, proverbs and sayings of the past, so I will close with one of my favorite proverbs (a Japanese business proverb) that guides us as a business—“none of us are as smart as all of us.” Thanks for reading and look forward to building a positive dialogue of all the stakeholders in the organic community.
George L. Siemon