Tag Archives: Logsdon

Count me as a ‘Treehugger,’ too!

Treehugger? Author Logsdon one of them and so am I

“We’re all treehuggers.”
So writes farmer, author and journalist Gene Logsdon.
With  his latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees (Chelsea Green, 2012), to be released April 27, Logsdon, who has published more than two dozen books,  has
truly outdone himself.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a  longtime fan. The only book I had some difficulty with was his Holy  Sh–t: Managing Manure To Save Mankind, and that
objection wasn’t due to  the subject matter, but the title: I don’t approve of using swear words  (if I can help it!).
To get the gist of the man, Wes Jackson  (founder of The Land Institute) is probably right in describing Logsdon,  as “one of only three people I know who
are able to make a living  exclusively out of writing what should be common sense.”
Presumably,  the other two are revered Kentucky farmer-philosopher Wendell Berry and  Virginia “grass farmer” Joel Salatin (author, among others, of The  Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer).
To say Logsdon is “down  to earth” is an understatement (with Sh-t!, who else writes a whole book  dedicated to the intricacies of manure?). Hence, the
singular impact of  his calling himself “a treehugger.” Often used in derision,  Logsdon turns it around – exercising that uncommon common sense, again.  How could someone who loves the outdoors, depends on the largess of  farming, and even on the grace of clean air that trees produce, not
be  an unabashed lover/hugger of trees?
Humans have always depended on  trees for food, shelter, livelihood and safety, he notes. But trees are  even more important now, in helping to halt climate change by  sequestering carbon.
A simple fact, he observes: “A tree in its  lifetime produces oxygen and consumes as much carbon dioxide as it will  release when it is burned. Fossil
fuel such as coal or oil releases  carbon dioxide and thermal energy withdrawn from circulation millions of  years ago.” That simple math has profound
implications.
It is his  gift of seeing old things anew and new things in new ways that makes  Logsdon’s books an evergreen delight. Count me in with Gene Logsdson;  I’m very happily a treehugger, too!

Check out Logsdon’s blog: http://thecontraryfarmer.wordpress.com.

Last column: This is my final column with The Clarion-Ledger.
I am among those longtime employees given a buyout.
Not near retirement age, I am eagerly investigating new projects and employment.
I have a contract with Findhorn Press for a book on organic food, farming and gardening. Look for it Sept. 1.
You can follow me on Facebook at http://bit.ly/cuxUdc – or on Twitter @edibleprayers.
Thank  you, dear readers, for 22 years with The Clarion-Ledger and before that  with the Jackson Daily News. I can’t thank you enough for all the kind  words and support over all these years.
It’s been fun!

(Note: I intend to continue this blog.)

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

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Organic practices lessen E. coli threat

 

June 9, 2011

Organic practices lessen threat of disease

The news this week that a deadly outbreak of E. coli bacteria in Germany was from an organic farm raised flags with me, as much for its improbability as for its deadly nature.

Since those first reports, the German government has backed off its claim that an organic farm produced the outbreak.

While it’s possible for any farm – including an organic farm – to have produce infected by the bacterium, and consumers should always wash produce from the grocery, regardless of source, it’s less likely for organic produce for a variety of reasons.

First, the incidence of virulent strains of E. coli is a direct result of conventional (not organic!) farming of beef, where animals are “finished” on corn.

Ruminants are not naturally equipped to digest corn and it leads to bacteria (E. coli among them) being excreted from the gut. When coupled with the common practice of conventional agriculture (not organic!) to feed antibiotics to farm animals, virulent strains resistant to treatment are formed.

These bacterium are found in the manure of conventionally raised farm animals (not certified organic!) and that manure is often used to fertilize crops.

Here is where the possibility of E. coli can enter the organic food train, depending on the producer:

In certified organic vegetable crop production, strict manure handling is required.

Specifically: The U.S. regulations for organic production require that raw animal manure must be composted unless it is applied to land used for a crop not intended for human consumption; or is incorporated into the soil not less than 120 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion has direct contact with soil; or is incorporated into the soil not less than 90 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion does not have direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles. See 7 CFR 205.203 (c)(1) and (2).

Residual hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, disease organisms and other undesirable substances can be eliminated through high-temperature aerobic composting.

So, presumably, E. coli would be eradicated in certified organic crops – if manure is properly composted or incorporated.

Again, I’m not saying it cannot occur, but, for producers of organic crops, the likelihood of transmitting E. coli is much smaller.And, for those (such as in our case, for example) where only composted horse manure or composted grass-fed or organic cow manure is used, not “raw” manure, or from industrial agriculture confined and corn-finished herds, the likelihood drops to virtually zero.

Me? I say: Eat organic, eat local! Know your farmer. Compose your own compost and manures from known – or OMRI verified – sources.

For the home organic gardner: Anyone who is actually growing his or her own food and uses manure would do well to read the book: Holy Sh*t: Managing Manure To Save Mankind by Gene Logsdon (Chelsea Green, 2010, $17.50).

Online: For more on manures, see Organic Trade Association Q&A: http://bit.ly/eW35Gb.

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, writer, editor, organic farmer and blogger. His latest book titled Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press) is in bookstores now. Find Jim on Facebook: http://bit.ly/cuxUdc or follow him @edibleprayers or @organicwriter or visit blueskywaters.com.