Natural sustainable agriculture is agriculture that supports both people and the environment, for today and for future generations. Stewardship of the earth includes feeding people and preserving our finite ecosystems and resources.
Natural sustainable farming includes organic farming, but sustainable farming is not necessarily organic. This can get confusing for many people who want to eat healthy and think organic food is healthier than natural sustainably grown food. It isn't...
So what is organic? The USDA specifies that organic operations must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved substances.
This sounds an awful lot like natural sustainable agriculture with a twist. In fact, the only substantive difference between natural sustainable and organic in principle is that a governing body must approve inputs (substances).
So what about those substances? The list of approved substances changes frequently and many small and mid-sized local farmers, especially those growing specialty crops, have a problem with this. Bluntly put, certifying bodies cannot keep up with new crop varieties or agricultural innovations, nor are they truly interested in the quality of the food. No disrespect to the certifying board members, their charter is a legal one. The quality of the food is derivative, secondary to the certified farmers meeting the certification requirements of the certifying body.
Good local farmers using natural inputs and sustainable farming techniques don't need to be certified. They already get it. For them, the quality and taste of the food is the thing, not a checklist.
This is NOT a criticism of farms that earn an organic certification, we applaud them. We have organic farm affiliates in the Wild Farmlands Foundation and they are GOOD farmers. On the other hand, we do NOT believe that organic farms produce better quality or more nutritious food than natural sustainable farms.
On the Central Coast of California, there are more than 5,200 small and mid-sized farms serving local communities. Many of these farms have been around for years. Some of these farms are operated by families who have farmed the same land and served the same communities for more than one generation... and most of these farms are NOT certified organic.
Whom do you trust, the small natural sustainable farmer that lives in your community, or the certifying bodies in Sacramento and Washington, DC?