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I was driving up to the organic demo farm meeting in Tullamore last Wednesday I was struck by the deep nearly florescent yellow colour of many of the grain fields along the road. This deep chemical yellow is produced by the application of Roundup to grain crops prior to harvest. It dries the crop out and speeds up maturity for harvest. Oh and it kills the crop.
It was this time last year that I visited a farmer growing organic oats for Flahavans in Offaly. His brother was also on the farm walk and he grew conventional oats. The more I Listened to the two brothers discussing their different approaches to farming the more I felt reconciled with the fact that organic farming is the only sane way to grow food.
Brother one (organic brother) applies natural fertiliser (ie dung) tills his fields, harrows to control weeds, plants his oats, and leaves the field and closes the gate until harvest time.
Brother two sprays the field, then tills the field, applies a good liberal coating of artificial fertiliser, sprays a further herbicide post- emergence of the oat crop. He sprays several times with fungicides, then to round it all off, sprays with roundup prior to harvest, all for an extra yield per acre. However if you weigh up the inputs in time, chemicals, and labour then it doesn’t make much sense.
The one step that gets me though is the application of roundup just prior to harvest. This application of herbicides prior to potato harvest is a routine step in conventional potato production, it makes it much easier to harvest as the potato plants die and the weeds die leaving a “clean” field (not so clean really). I made a little video in our potato field last week click to watch it
My years as an “organic chemist” (no pun intended) tells me that the application of a systemic herbicide onto a food product just prior to harvest is not a good idea (the herbicide kills the plants, and systemic means it is absorbed into the plant to effect it’s nasty business and resides in the plant after plant death).
So the very last step before the crop is brought to be processed is a spray application with a “possible carcinogen” (according to the World Health Authority) that will be absorbed into the plant and reside in the plant, now where is the sanity in that?
I spoke to another organic cattle farmer during the week his thoughts were: “There is no interest in seeing organic farming succeed, no agribusiness can make money from organic farming, organic farmer’s don’t buy chemicals and they don’t buy artificial fertiliser” Conversely what we do “buy” is employment and levels of employment on organic farms are far higher than on conventional farms.
So organic food is better for you, the taste is better, the levels of employment are higher and it doesn’t involve the use of chemicals. Which sounds like the saner production of food to you?
Right now is a great time to get a new habit started and get your fridge and cupboards stocked up with great tasting healthy food, click here to start.
Here’s to happy and healthy eating.