Agriculture Blog War: Perfect vs. Good

The words "battle" and "organics" aren't usually keeping one another company in a sentence, but there is a battle over organics brewing over at Huffington Post.

Two food/ag/blog heavy hitters, Chelsa Green's Makenna Goodman and Stonyfield Farm CE-Yo Gary Hirshberg are engaged in a blog vs. blog about the organic movement. On one side, we have Goodman, a Vermont farmer and writer claiming that the organic food movement is a half-lie where producers adhere to a set of feed standards to be certified organic, but ignore every other aspect of ethical and sustainable farming. Then we have Hirshberg, the yogurt maker who is New Hampshire's largest private employer, saying that this is all making the perfect the enemy of the good, and focusing on disingenuous organic producers ignores the real problem: the other 97% of the food industry that laughs at New Englanders like Hirshberg and Goodman with every bank deposit of cornfed cash.

Here's Goodman:

"Organic may, in fact, be little more than a sweet notion and marketing campaign that rests easy the hearts of the eco-conscious consumer. Organic, in other words, is not always the right choice. Sorry, but it's true. In fact, if all of us knew exactly what "organic" means and the other available alternatives (fast corporate food never being one of them), it is possible we could actually save money and be better informed about the food we're putting into our bodies.

Hirshberg, one of the first to become hugely successful via organics, argues that this focusing on a minor part of the problem and ignoring the real enemy:

"Much like the person who frets over which china to use while the house is on fire, you take organic-- which accounts for 2-3% of food sales-- to task while ignoring the rest of our food system. Organic consumers have certainly not been robbed. On the contrary, they're reaping the documented and well-researched benefits of choosing organic, both in terms of their own health and the health of the planet."

If you fail to see why Hirshberg's and Goodman's arguments are mutually exclusive, you're not alone. Can't we all just get along?