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OMG, funny stuff. A chemical ag organization (Mid America CropLife Association) got its panties in a twist over Michelle Obama's organic garden. So they wrote her a letter. And forwarded it to some friends, who forwarded it to some more friends... until it made its way to me. Full letter at the link, highlights below.

Here's the message they sent with the forwarded letter to their other chemical ag friends:

Did you hear the news?  The White House is planning to have an "organic" garden on the grounds to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the Obama's and their guests.  While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I shudder.  As a result, we sent a letter encouraging them to consider using crop protection products and to recognize the importance of agriculture to the entire U.S. economy. [emphasis mine]

LOL! Dear Michelle, Great idea on the garden but we recommend pesticides!

UPDATE: Excellent diary by Youffraita.

They start out saying:

We are writing regarding the garden recently added to the White House grounds to ensure a fresh supply of fruits and vegetables to your family, guests and staff.

Yup, no way that's going to happen with an organic garden. Need some pesticides, LOL! While I've cited research before showing that organic methods do NOT have a problem producing enough food, somehow I don't think Michelle's decision to go organic was based on a need for yield. I don't think she wants to feed her kids or her guests pesticides.

Then the writers explain their organization:

Their mission is to provide scientifically based, accurate information to the public regarding the safety and value of American agricultural food production.

In other words - their job is to correct all these silly myths that say sustainably grown food is good for the earth and for people who eat it. Mmm hmm.

Then the propaganda for chemical ag begins:

Starting in the early 1900's, technology advances have allowed farmers to continually produce more food on less land while using less human labor. Over time, Americans were able to leave the time-consuming demands of farming to pursue new interests and develop new abilities. Today, an average farmer produces enough food to feed 144 Americans who are living longer lives than many of their ancestors. Technology in agriculture has allowed for the development of much of what we know and use in our lives today. If Americans were still required to farm to support their family's basic food and fiber needs, would the U.S. have been leaders in the advancement of science, communication, education, medicine, transportation and the arts?

Translation: Our country would suck if we all had to farm. Thank goodness we have all these chemicals and gas-guzzling machines and things that allow most of us to go about our lives without having to worry about producing our own food! Umm... right now with our massive unemployment rates, I think there are a few million people who might be THRILLED if they could be farmers. Not farmworkers who pick fruit for pennies a day in horrible conditions, but farmers. After all, note the rise in the number of small farms in the last 5 years.

OK, now here's the best part!

Much of the food considered not wholesome or tasty is the result of how it is stored or prepared rather than how it is grown. Fresh foods grown conventionally are wholesome and flavorful yet more economical.

Pardon me? A reduction in wholesomeness or tastiness has to do with how food is prepared or stored, not grown?? The tastiness might be subjective, and I think it has more to do with the entire system of industrialized, chemical agriculture than simply the chemicals. The same strawberry or tomato that might taste great if picked ripe would be picked underripe instead if it's destined for a far-away grocery store. And a variety of apple chosen for flavor certainly might taste better than one chosen to be able to withstand a cross-country journey.

BUT - the wholesomeness factor. Oh boy. Now, I haven't yet seen it proven scientifically that across the board organic food is more nutritious. But - conceptually - it makes quite a bit of sense that if organic food is grown in healthy, living soil and conventional food is grown in depleted, sterile dirt, the organic food will have more nutrients. Industrial organics, like baby greens grown on huge fields in California, shipped in bags around the country, might not produce healthier food as their do not (at least, to the best of my knowledge based on Michael Pollan's accounts in The Omnivore's Dilemma) seem to focus on healthy, living soil. But sustainable ag done right WOULD do that.

Then the letter goes into a long bulleted list, extolling the virtues of technology. I take issues with some of the bullet points although I don't have facts on hand to disprove them, I just highly doubt their truthfulness (like the idea that farmers protect soil from erosion). Others are just impressive-sounding details about current technology, like the use of GPS in farming. Cool, but not that cool if it's being used to apply pesticides.

The letter ends with a few "thank you" paragraphs, again encouraging Michele O to "recognize the role conventional agriculture plays in the U.S. in feeding the ever-increasing popultion" bla bla bla.

America's farmers understand crop protection technologies are supported by sound scientific research and innovation.

Mmm hmm. Right. I'm not buying it and I doubt Michelle does either. But thanks for playing!

Originally posted to Jill Richardson on Sun Mar 29, 2009 at 09:08 AM PDT.

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