Can produce grown in a soilless medium be called organic? Vermont-based “Keep the Soil in Organic” says HECK, NO. Growing rapidly, this grassroots movement is drawing attention to the degradation of organic certification by big money and corporate interest in hydroponics. Started with a petition by two small-scale organic farmers, Dave Chapman and David Miskell, “Keep the Soil in Organic” has gained traction nation wide and around the world. Organic has always been about the health of the soil, so why change now?
The hydroponic invasion started as a tiny exception here and there years ago. Now it has become the dominant form of production for certified “organic” tomatoes and berries in the US. What began as a minor trickle has become a major flood, as the hydroponic greenhouse producers of the world have discovered that the USDA will allow them entry into the coveted organic market. By changing the fertilizer brew in their mixing tanks to “natural” (but highly processed) soluble fertilizers, and then switching to “approved” pesticides, the hydroponic producers can miraculously become “organic” overnight.
Growing soilless plants with force fed organic nutrients is a step backwards. Perhaps it is a technological innovation, but not an organic innovation. Call it what you want, but it is not organic.
To learn more about the “Keep the Soil in Organic” movement, check out their website HERE for more information, petitions to sign, actionable steps to take, and videos of a recent farmer-led rally in Vermont. In their words, “Organic without soil is like democracy without people!”