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 Post subject: Natural - Organic, Which
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:30 am 
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I'm curious, does organic mean "natural'? Natural to me means what I would observe taking place in nature. What I hear being advocated as 'natural" today seems a far cry from what goes on in nature. Maybe I'm just confused. In nature, animals eat and "poop", nurtrients are recycled close to where they are produced. Very close. Trucks and trains don't move nutrients around, animal do. Energy is conserved. Excrement falls to the ground and become food for other living things.
In nature, with adequate rainfall, you will find a diversity of adapted annual and perennial plants. There will be a great diversity of animals and microorganisms. The soil is only disturbed when animals burrow in to make a home or search for food. Of course there are storms and volcanoes that disturb the soil, but the diversity of plants and animals soon reclaim and build the soil.
We humans, a part of nature, are screwing the earth up by covering it with asphalt, concrete, and buildings. We plow up the soil to convert it to a monoculture of just a few varieties of "crops". Nutrients, synthetic and organic are trucked in at great cost to land somewhere else. Oil wells, mines and factories are the source of synthetic fertilzer and recently in the last few years, of organic fertilizers. Industrial factory farms on land and in oceans are the source of much of our organic fertilizers. Cottonseed meal, cornmeal, and dry molasses, once food for animals, is being turned into fertilizer for lawns and golf courses. All three of these products are produced with chemicals, and involve much soil erosion, water pollution, and habitat loss. All require lots of fossil fuel that we now know is changing our climate. Is "organic" natural?


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 1:18 am 
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Please offer citations for your various complaints about "chemicals in generating organic amendments." When you offer a criticism with such a broad brush there really isn't a way to answer.

You seem determined to make out that organic methods are just as bad as anything else. You're wrong there, by a long shot. There is no going back to an Ur planet where there were few people, modest civilizations, no roads and trucks and such. We as organic gardeners do the best we can to limit the amount of that activity, to keep our "footprint" small.

Take a look at some of their suggestions. Modifying human activity to try to get the CO2 in the atmosphere down to 350ppm is a goal that will take a lot of answers and participants,

What are you growing in your garden, and how do you prepare the soil? (I almost hesitate to ask that question, for fear of the answer!)

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:22 pm 
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Come on now Northwestener, what organic grower would sell his product, produce for fertilizer or soil amendment when he could sell it for food for humans, or other animals? And organic or "natural" animal excrement(from cows, chickens, etc.) is left on the ground where the animals are grazing. They are not confined and their poop is not confined. Very hard to collect and put in a bag to sell to urban gardeners.
With the world population rising geometrically and food in short supply-read any newspaper, or anything Lester Brown has written- we can't be fertilizing our corporate landscapes, golf courses, and homeowner's flower beds with food. We also can't take any more natural habitat away from other species and put it into agricultural production for humans.This is what will happen if we increase the demand on soy, corn, and sugarcane.
Organic agriculture should respect natural nutrient cycles. For human society to be sustainable, waste must become resource close to where it is produced. Resturants, supermarkets, school lunchrooms send copious amounts of food "waste" to landfills everyday. The organic fertilizer industry should look at resources such as these instead of plowing up more virgin prairies, wetlands, and rainforests.
Yes, I would like to see agriculture, conventional and organic, as now practiced changed. No one should plant any landscape ornamentals that aren't native or "adapted" to any give locale. Food production should be localized as much as possible, with farms growing diverse crops of plants and animals fertilized with locally produced composts. More later...


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:06 am 
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what organic grower would sell his product, produce for fertilizer or soil amendment when he could sell it for food for humans, or other animals?


Many of the products used in organic gardening/farming are by-products of other industrial processes. An excellent example of this is the corn gluten meal that has been used for years. At one time it was discarded, now it has so many other uses that there is more demand and it has become expensive for gardeners to purchase to use in the garden. I think the use in organic gardening called attention to this by-product by other industries, such as pet food manufacturers, for example.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:21 pm 
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I'm not sure where you're headed with this line of questioning. Are you going to come back and recommend we depopulate the Earth to a nice, sustainable population of 220,000,000 people?

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Food production should be localized as much as possible, with farms growing diverse crops of plants and animals fertilized with locally produced composts.
I believe all people should buy locally. But are you suggesting the people living in the Arctic go back to eating only walrus and whale? And that bananas only be eaten in the sub tropics? Should we all drive to Washington to get an apple?

Production of food has not changed because we are using food to fertilize our plants. Farmers are not out there with the intention of growing lawn fertilizer. But an awful lot of them are raising animal feed instead of human food. Besides that it is not handled or stored properly for human consumption. The corn we use is not sweet corn suitable for humans. This is the stuff left over after the brewers, sugar manufacturers, and animal handlers have taken what they want. Secondly, the amount we use is a mere drop in the bucket compared to what the animals get. If you are suggesting that people in Africa are starving because we are spreading corn on our grass, I would suggest that people are starving in Africa because their leaders want them to starve. We send them food, and the leaders dump it in the ocean. It politically regulated starvation.

Remember that picture in your 4th grade social studies book of the "indian" teaching the Pilgrim how to grow corn by putting fish in the hole with the seeds? We're doing something like that. We're taking a material that is in relative abundance and redistributing it to grow something we enjoy. It would be more natural if the fish just jumped into the hole and died but we are not that lucky. Similarly corn does not die and fall on my lawn. Animals do not die on my lawn. I suppose I could grow my own corn and grind it into fertilizer, but I can guarantee you I would use more water, gasoline, and electricity per pound of corn than the industrial farmers down the road. Commercial agriculture has gotten so efficient that an apple grower in Argentina can make a profit selling apples in Washington.

Other than the fact that we are using biological materials to feed and protect our plants, there is little that is natural about organic gardening. We are starting with Mother Nature's natural approach (feeding food to the soil microbes) and enhancing it the best way we know how. The alternative is to take artificially created salts and spread those on the soil. You have to be careful with those, because an overdose of the chemicals is poisonous to the plants. Think of what that can do to our precious soil microbes.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 5:34 pm 
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I'm headed to a little truth in advertising, so to speak. I'm tired of hearing organic, natural, environmentally friendly, organic gurus in the media bad mouthing chemicals and GMOs, then turn around and promote products derived from the bad stuff.

Corn gluten meal is a product of corn processing. But I believe it has always been an animal feed additive. Cottonseed is an animal food and has been pressed for human cooking oil, dry molasses is an animal food. I doubt if any of these were ever thrown away. Encouraging their use as fertilizer will only drive the price of meat up.

Maybe these organic meal fertilizers are only a drop in the bucket, but the organic gurus seem to think all agriculture could become organic using these types of products.

Yes, people in all parts of the world are hungry. A while back, when Ethiopia was experiening famine, their well heeled were exporting peanuts abroad. People are even hungry for real food here. Yes, due to politics and current economic policies. Subsidised corn and other crops used in processed food are the backbone of your efficient, commercial agriculture. This agriculture is only efficient because of these subsidies, cheap fossil fuel, and uncounted costs such as habitat loss, water pollution, and soil erosion. To the extent we use these products we are players alongside Monsanto, Cargil, Archer-Daniels Midland, Dow, Dupont, Tyson, and others in industrial, commercial agriculture. We're just using the bad stuff indirectly, making our ground better at the detriment of ground somewhere else.

Where I'm headed and hope to arrive someday, is seeing everyone's lawns and flower beds planted in native and adapted plants that don't need amendments other than compost. Here in the Blackland Prairie, vegetables will also grow well with compost made from a variety of plant materials, food scrapes, and natural urea. Choose any animal you want and can get it from.

In just a few short years, people will look back and wonder what we were thinking as we destroyed the soil, polluted the oceans, depleted and polluted aquifers, and drove an unprecedented number of species of other life forms to extinction, in order to have cheap exotic food and landscapes.

Yeah, I'm guilty too. I love bananas, avacados, citrus, and coffee. I even put sugar in my coffee. But I would never recommend anyone to do the same. I'm a food addict, I don't want to become a fertilizer addict any more than I have to.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 11:18 pm 
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So don't eat anything or do any gardening until the world is exactly the way you want it. It's your call. And you don't know how we get our soil to the state it is in, so stop presuming that by merely existing we destroy the planet.

Give the rest of us a break - and credit for working with what we have in the healthiest way available right now.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 1:09 pm 
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I've been gardening for 45 years, and will continue to produce as much of my food as I can. I've used salt fertilizers as well as compost. I use Medina liquid products. My soil is healhty and full of life. I don't till the soil. I mulch. I don't presume how you garden.

I don't claim that my way is the only way. But I do know that large commercial farming is ruining the land. My wife's family has a farm, and I observe firsthand the soil being washed off the land of the cotton, corn, and wheat farmers around them. Thankfully, their land is now mostly in pasture.

Howard convinced me that I should stand up for what I believe even if no one gets it.
Industrial farms and confined animal feeding operations with all their GMO crops and chemicals are not what I grew up understanding organic farming and gardening was about.

And we don't destroy the earth by merely existing. We do it by the choices we make, and the products we consume. Purchasing food products from industrial farms to use as fertilizer is far from being the healthiest way available right now, or ever. As I said in the earlier post, to the extent we use them we are part of the problem of soil health somewhere else. As Howard said, We should try to see the whole picture.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:53 pm 
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You're preaching to the choir.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:27 am 
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I don't think so. Like Howard, you've opted out of the dicussion.

Real organics is the respect of natural nutrient cycles and biodiversity, above and below ground. Nitrogen is incorporated into the soil by legumes and rain during storms, and by the "waste" of animals. Food, and food grade byproducts should never be used as fertilizer for all the reasons I've mentioned previously.

What choir am I preaching to? Choir members arise and sing out!


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:36 am 
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I haven't opted out of anything. I simply find your pompous style of discourse off-putting. It's you, not the issues.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:23 pm 
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Well, I don't believe I'm pompous, maybe I am. I'm offering a different line of thought, one that is outside the current organic paradigm. I'm not selling any products, or advocating any commercial products. My only vested interest is the health of the planet's ecosystem.

You, Howard, and Mr. Hall may not like my style, just as Neil Sperry probably doesn't like Howard calling his camp enviromental thugs. I am not trying to be malicious or pompous, I simply want to point out what I believe is an unsustainable, and yes, harmful path.

No one deals with dissonance very well. No one on either side of the "organic vs chemical" debate will have an easy time admitting they are wrong when their economic fortunes or their intellectual pride is at stake.

Even though you don't like my style, you should respond with something a little better than, "You are preaching to the choir". Or, you can do like Howard, and ignore what he calls my "inane" comments. Or better, you could come visit our school garden and see what we're about. From a distance, you can check our website and blog at stonewallgardens.org.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:54 pm 
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There is no "intellectual pride" at stake - there is just annoyance at your implied suggestion that anyone who isn't approaching their gardening and environmental activities the way you do is lacking in some way. You presume too much - and repel people who would be allies.

Howard probably has the best approach.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 8:43 pm 
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Of course he does. He's the one supported by the media and the corporations that keep him and the like on the air. If it does't come in a bag or a bottle it can't be organic or natural. How sad for the environment.


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