Saturday, January 16, 2010

Guelph Organic Conference end of January 2010

Recently, someone I knew mentioned the need for a conference for food producers who were not involved in fossil-fuel based, large-scale, industrial agriculture.

The good news is: the Guelph Organics Conference, January 28 - 31.

I'm sure all of you know some of this, and more ... but I'll just jot down that there are various organic conferences and organic agriculture organizations in Ontario, Canada, US, UK, and farther, farther afield. I take heart reading about the ever-changing world of SANER food production and the exchange of information that goes on.

I'm using the word SANER broadly, because I really like what it stands for and would love to see it catch on. The acronym SANER was coined by the Terra Edibles seed people. Meaning Sustainable, All-Natural, and Environmentally Responsible, the acronym came into use in last year's catalogue so that they would not have to contend with new Canadian regulations to do with organics. Regulations to do with organic food production in Canada took years to develop, with input from many individuals and organizations. There is much that is positive and important. But it is the nature of regulations to have counterbalancing problems, shortfalls and and restrictions. TE's Don McKay and Karyn Wright use SANER to describe their farm and lovingly produced seed. (

Elliot Coleman uses the term Authentic Food to describe the type of healthy, safely produced food that he advocates as beyond 'organic', a term that, sadly, has become co-opted, misused and misunterstood. Coleman writes often for Mother Earth News and has written several books. His latest two are specific to extending growing season in colder areas; Coleman's farm is in Maine, more north than London.

In Ontario, we have the Environmental Farmers of Ontario organization. In Canada, there is the Canadian Organic Growers organization. Both are wonderful. The National Organic Growers advocate organic agriculture and a much different approach than the 'regular' farmers union. The NFU annual conference was in London in November 2007, coincidentally at the same time as London's mayor's 'roundtable on agribusiness' (which I attended as an observer and was bitterly disappointed by). There are organizations for biodynamic agriculture. Individual farms like Everdale do wonderful things. There are CSAs like Sunnivue Farm ( Ontario and the world have incredible, knowledgeable, different, and thoughtful people involved in food production at various scales.

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