From the film “Evolution of Organic”: “One thing the big guys can’t do is be small.” In this historical sweep of the organic food movement, you might think that this means small farmers must cultivate their niche markets. They must assertively grow the community connections that will help them and their communities thrive. Indeed, but there’s a fuller picture.
To understand organic as evolution, follow the money. Small may sustain itself as a place for innovation and customization. It may continue to represent the holistic seed. Yes, the film’s core message emphasizes how it’s all about the health of the soil and the health of us and our children, but corporate infrastructure inevitably will dominate.
Where it’s at currently, organic food has only penetrated one or two percent of the American landscape (generously calculated, as much as four). The big guys, however, are well along figuring organics into their balance sheets. They are hearing not only that more and more people want organic food. The big guys are discovering the unsustainable costs of pesticides and herbicides and monocultures. They are calculating the missed opportunities in not being able to label products as certified USDA organic.
As local color, given its showing at the 16th Wild & Scenic Film Festival, it is heartening to recognize Amigo Bob Cantisano, Michael Funk, and Izzy Martin prominently featured in the “Evolution of Organic.” They, like most of the people in the film, have been at it for decades.
This documentary provides rather familiar coverage and personality. As a history lesson, though, it unfolds a story of origins, building and mainstreaming the movement, and a sense of the future arriving. Such context and encouragement in our awareness diet is tasty and nutritional.