Beyond Organic Chapter 1: Farming of a Different Kind

The beyond organic farming movement emerges in Iowa.
In 2010, Donna Schill, then a journalism graduate student, spent part of her summer working on an organic farm in Iowa and discovered a movement and a story that became her preoccupation for the next 12 months.

History Lesson: The Birth of Organic Farming

The mid-1920s marked the beginning of chemical farming and of organic agriculture, as a result.
Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, educator, and agricultural specialist among other titles, believed that the burgeoning industrial food system was dangerous and functioned on misconceptions about nature. He developed his own way of farming called biodynamic, the precursor to organic farming, according to the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, a non-profit based in Washington State and Oregon that fosters knowledge of the biodynamic method of agriculture, horticulture, and forestry.

Divide Over Standards Splits Organic Community

Organic food sales rose from 1.2 percent to 3.7 percent of all U.S. food sales from 2000 to 2009. Fruits and vegetables total 11.4 percent of all organic fruits and vegetables sold in the United States.

But to organic purists, the cost of this growth may be more than just the higher prices they willingly pay to get food with the organic label. For them, the suspicion of big corporations in part fuels their growing skepticism of the federal government’s organic certification standards.

Lax Oversight Tarnishes Organic Foods Label

As the popularity of organic farm products soars across the U.S., an IowaWatch investigation has found that lax oversight of the industry raises questions about what the organic seal really means.

Farming Purists Look ‘Beyond Organic’

For nearly a decade, the word organic has stood for all that is wholesome and pure to the health-conscious consumer.
But an emerging movement of farmers who consider themselves the real organic purists are saying their methods go “beyond organic.” Although still in its infancy, adherents to beyond organic methods are enlivening the debate about the effectiveness of the government certified organic program.