Tuesday, August 23, 2011


In what I presume is based on a rationalisation process, Fonterra the major stake holder in milk collection, processing and marketing of the White Gold of New Zealand's primary production sector, have announced a curtailment of the areas they will collect and keep separate, "organic milk".

I have two main gripes with this item, one personal, the other pragmatic.

On a personal note I am often more than a little annoyed with the comparative new meaning and emphasis applied to words with a very accurate and traditional meaning in everyday use. Gay, free, entitlement, and many more but in this instance "organic".
Now the Kiwi Marketing board when desiring a new Word to label their Chinese Gooseberry, how many of you remember that prior to 'Kiwi fruit', that was the name of the "Hairy Berry", came up with the word Zespri. I have no idea where they found it but it was completely new to me.
Back on topic, Organic, my Consise Oxford tells me the word relates to:
Of or from a bodily organ, therefore milk from a mammary gland ,OK.
Of a compound or chemical particularly Carbon, still OK.
Of animals and or plants without "artificial fertilizers or pesticides".
Now the doubt creeps in.

When an electrical storm delivers rain, that rain contains significant quantities of nitrogen to the soil as a result of the massive electrical energy changing inert N into a soluble compound in the rain water. A dairy farmer applies NH3 or urea.
That same farmer uses Phosphate rock an inert rock that needs the acids in the soils to break it down to a compound available to plants or rock that has been altered by the addition of Sulphuric acid, adding another desirable element S to the product. In my opinion all still natural if a little manipulated for delivery.

To control internal parasites a farmer chooses chemicals in solution from a chemist or an alternative product from an Organic supplier but still containing a chemical to relieve the parasite burden. Kronic anyone. Natural, artificial still chemicals surely.

Thats enough of that , now for a little anecdote.
A producer of grapes for wine decides to grow 'organic' and through his vinyard manager moves to meet the quite exacting standards for that exalted status and succeeds, apparently.
His manager moves on and his replacement continues with the program entering the daily log of activity but when the next audit of the 'organic status' comes around lo and behold there is a little problem with the outcome due to some other substances being logged.
New manager contacts ex manager and seeks advice, only to be told "you didn't record all that did you, they were not allowed".
"But you used them, the chemicals were in the other shed".
"yeah but you don't write them down stupid".

I am on the edge of Grape growing with my hobby, and in our climate there is no way in hell I could produce fruit without recourse to chemical intervention so I minimise use and sometimes that bites me on the bum as a wee bit inadequate when sod turns up to "help"
There is no such thing as product without any stain on its organic status, a descriptive widely used today, only varying degrees.

If the laudible goal is 'Healthier Is Through A Minimised Intervention' as the aim (HITAMI), a title that is a bit cumbersome, so fine a new WORD, I am sure that list Ele finds her "word of the day" from would have one if mine is not acceptable.
My 'HITAMI' grapes and therefore my wine is as close to healthy as I can achieve and as most of the description in my dictionary says, 'organic'. My main lines of defense are Pyrethrum, Lime Sulphur, Wettable Sulphur and if necessary a little nuclear when shit happens!

The other gripe with the headline is expecting Fonterra to run an entirely separate collection, processing and marketing system to cater for one farmer in the back of beyond who claims rightly or wrongly an 'organic' status is in a word "NUTS', there is already a clamour for lower priced milk , so the rubbish complaint is just that, rubbish. Fonterra is already incurring significantly high collection costs in some cases due to the commitment given at its establishment to maintain collection for those already supplying their local factory and who now through attrition and changing land use are very isolated.
The very limited market for the increased priced "organic", without which many of those who slavishly consider if it is dearer it must be healthier, just does not justify the effort beyond the Waikato/ BOP area.

That would seem a laudable commercial decision surely.


Barnsley Bill said...

GD, where you see a smart commercial decision.. I see an opportunity. Perhaps one of these noisy mouthbreathers who try and ram organics into us will see the purity of their beliefs as sufficient motivation to build a milk plant to service these cardigan wearing farmers. Surely they will clean up filling this massive hole in the market made by fonterra making a massive error.

gravedodger said...

LOL BB obvious to many, but not to them, they probably want the Gummint to bail them out. I would have thought this outcome would have been extremely likely in any risk assessment.

To say I am sceptical of much of 'organic farming ' would slightly understate my deep down feelings, it is a crock of shit and that is the most "organic part of it".

Now I will have that second glass of my Pinot Noir as recomended by recent research, cheers M

Mort said...

reminds me of a friend's younger brother who married a econutter, and so they duly moved to country after buying a lifestyle block, moved on and renovated an old school hall, putting in green this and that, including self composting toilet which used sawdust and worms to get rid of the waste, then set about growing all their own food. The crop wasn't too good year 1 so she called in an organics mentor, and he prescribed some organic spray, which Wahine-partner (she wasn't ever to be called a girl or a wife) dutifully sprayed on.
# months later the kids started to get sick, and the wahine-partner started to get headaches, diarrhoea nausea and vomiting. So along to the Dr's the Sane one took them all, getting berated about the evils of western medicine all the way... few blood tests and a couple of weeks later and the problem was found... the plants were being protected from frost by a spray which had not had its copper component purified of it's arsenic...
the food was organic, but it sure wasn't good for them all.