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Principles for an Agricultural Regeneration

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Organic Transitions page.

I often get asked, "will the core of agriculture really ever improve?" It's not going to be easy but I believe that the growing number of people passionately engaged in changing the food system will eventually get us where we need to go.

Right now, it is hard to see everyone engaged because they are fragmented across many groups working on issues as diverse as food justice in developing countries, labor rights for agricultural workers, the environment, and animal welfare. Others sit within the various food and diet movements ranging from veganism to paleoism. While these groups on the surface appear to be pulling in myriad directions, they are all pulling away from the status quo. They all see something about the current system that they want to change.

I believe their similarities go deeper than just wanting change. While their tactics and strategies may differ, there is a set of common principles that can be found within the various food-related movements. The organic movement was founded on four principles that envelop most of the issues within the agriculture and food system. You might be surprised by what the founders of the organic movement were trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, the current codified set of rules fall far short of fulfilling the promise of the principles.

I've included the four principles as described on the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements' website with some minor editing for length and to remove reference to specific practices so that we can focus on the principles. Regardless of what your role within the agriculture and food system is, I ask you to consider whether your beliefs and purpose are aligned with this set of principles.

The food movement needs to coalesce along a common front and I think this might be the starting point. Those of you who have read Real Dirt will know that I have some serious reservations about the sustainability of some current certified organic practices. However, I think you will find that those practices are also at odds with the original principles of organic. I also think that most "conventional" farmers would sign up for these principles.     


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