Monsanto won, or so one would think. They have controlled the USDA and the FDA for decades. There is a revolving door of legislators, VP’s and consultants that have traveled from Monsanto to the USDA, FDA or even higher places like John Ashcroft, the once Attorney General, and back to Monsanto. It is a game as old as our government has existed, but in the post WW2 era, big business has had way too much influence on our food and farm policy. This is wrong, but I can only do what I can, and becoming an organic farmer and proponent of a different food system, was something I could do.
The first ‘back to land,’ modern organic farming era, came during the 70’s, coming on the heels of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. Another ‘back to the land’ was brewing in the 90’s. That is where Joelle and I began our organic farming journey, or more precisely, where the seeds of our organic farming journey were planted and germinated.
I remember it as clearly as yesterday when I met my first organic farmer. We were recently married and were trying to find our way as young adults. We had two children and 3rd on the way. I fortuitously stumbled upon a job as a produce person at a boutique retail produce store in NW Portland called Kruger’s Specialty Produce. At that time, we sacrificed financially, leaving a good job, but with little upside for growth. We needed to subsidize our income, so I started my own janitorial business working evenings to make ends meet. I ended up cleaning the offices at a farm chemical plant. I remember when I started the manager told me, “If you bring in any employees, we do not want any pregnant women working in the warehouse.” I could not get that out of my mind. It was ironic that I had two paths before me, working for a company that sold products that killed versus working for a company that promoted growth and health. I could not stay at that warehouse.
Almost immediately, at the produce market, I was introduced to organic farmers delivering their beautiful produce. They were working with nature; they were committed to not using chemicals and toxic chemistry to grow food for people. They believed that soil health was of paramount importance and eschewed conventional/chemical practices. It was not easier for them, but it was the only way forward. Many were farmers that were sick and tired of farming with chemicals, who watched their soil health deteriorate, and others were looking for a way out of corporate America. No matter what the path, they were committed to a different food system.
Their conviction was infectious and that inspired the beginning of our home delivery journey. We started delivering organic produce in 1988 and with every delivery, my passion to find a way to farm increased. It took Joelle and I another 5 years before we planted our family at our Stanwood farm and started to grow food!
24 years later we are still at it.
Tristan, Joelle and the Box of Good crew