Pearl Snaps

Stories of a cowgirl living life by her own lights

Organic = Sustainable???


I’ve got to get something off my chest.  The last two days I’ve run across two articles praising the growing interest in sustainable agriculture programs at universities and colleges.  I agree that this is a wonderful thing.  Increasing awareness and interest among young people in agriculture is imperative for the future continuation and growth of our industry.

What gets my goat is the fact that many of these “sustainable” agriculture programs have a major focus on organic agriculture and organic only.  Even my own university, the University of Kentucky, is among this growing crowd.  If these universities want to really teach about sustainable agriculture they should combine both organic and conventional methods, taking the best management tactics from each system, to take a truly sustainable approach to food production.

The hijacking of  ‘sustainable’ by some of those in organic agriculture has lead to a misleading view that organic is the only form of agriculture that is sustainable.  By only focusing on organic ag, universities and colleges are only perpetuating this myth.  Instead let’s take the best of both worlds to come at the issue of sustainability in agriculture.

The one promising thing that I did see in the first article mentioned was from a graduate student, Misha Manuchehri, currently studying crop science at Washington State University.  “Sustainability is just as important, and I don’t think sustainability and organic is the same thing,” she said. “There are some great conventional farms that are extremely sustainable, and I could easily see myself working for them.”

Let’s hope that more students will take her words to heart.

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” 
— Friedrich Nietzsche

6 thoughts on “Organic = Sustainable???

  1. Please keep blogging on this topic whenever there’s something appropriate to report. The ‘we vs. them’ mentality is going to kill ag if we don’t soon figure out how to unite,

    • I plan on it Sally! There are notable practices in both organic and conventional ag systems that contribute to sustainable farming. I only wish more in ag would see this fact. Divided we fall, united we conquer!

  2. Seems sustainable has to also mean profitable. If you can’t afford to keep producing, you go out of business. This element seems to often be left out of the conversation.

  3. Keep preachin’ it, sister. I’m right there with ya.

  4. Yes there is a difference between sustainable, conventional and organic. Both organic and conventional can be sustainable but the big thing to remember is that organic is not always sustainable. This is a topic that always seems to get me going!

  5. Thank you Jesse. I really appreciate your post and couldn’t agree with you more. Best of luck to you!

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