W e, as a society, must decide what we want and expect from organic agri-
cu lture. There are many possible goals, both ecological and social, as de-
ta iled in chapters 2 and 3. Organic agriculture could improve soil resources
an d provide quality topsoil for future generations. By reducing the use of
ag richemicals, organic farmers could protect our surface and groundwater
su pplies. Or organic farmers could plant special heirloom seeds and develop
cr ops to diversify the genetic pool of agricultural vegetation. Biodiversity
co uld be the focus of organic farms, and these farms could be the basis
fo r protected natural habitats in rural areas. Organic farms could improve
la ndscape quality by providing visual and sensory variation in rural areas.
O rganic farms can act to preserve rural areas with picturesque farmhouses
do tting the aesthetically pleasing countryside. Or organic farming could be
ch arged with the mission of changing the industrial food systemby building
al ternative marketing channels. Organic farmers could also establish local
fo od systems that aid in rural development and help us “save the family
fa rm.” Organic farms may help attract attention to rural areas and educate
ou r urban society about food production. Agrotourism could bring city-
fo lks out to the countryside to learn about organic farming. And these are
ju st a sample of the many things that organic farms could achieve.
But can organic agriculture really do so much? Which of these options
is most urgent and most widely accepted or attainable? Our society must
an swer the question: what do we want from organic farms?
First, we must acknowledge that organic farms cannot be expected to
do more, in terms of ecological integrity and social change, than other
fa rms operating in America today, unless we provide substantial monetary
su pport for them to accomplish such high goals. We cannot expect organic
fa rmers to step in and rescue our rural natural resources, save the family
fa rm, and improve social relationships within agriculture. They are and
m ust be, first and foremost, a farming operation - that is, most of their time
an d effort goes into producing crops and selling them, not rescuing society.
Se cond, organic farms should not exist solely to be singled out as examples
of special farms within the oppressive framework of conventional agricul-
ture. Rather, we can work to build a future in which organic farms become
the norm. Right now we can encourage local organic farms by buying at
regional farmers' markets or CSAs, and we should encourage the acceptance
of organic farming methods by buying organic products whenever possible.
Finally, we must carefully educate people about organic farming methods
and the potential of organic farming. The Organic Foods Sourcebook (Lipson
Lines: 70 to 76
PgEnds: T E X