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April 8, 2015

F O R A G E R

 

I’m not certified.

Certifiable, I’m still working on, and the way things are going with the insane amount of noise we have to deal with at the farm since the coming of the RE-PSYCHLOR, I have every expectation of being driven mumbling, frothy-mad with all the crashing, tumbling, and sporadic mashing of bottles and cans in our former paradise. I can hear the chink-chinking in bed at night.

The current certification in question has to do with organic certification. I dropped my certification with California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) at the end of last year because they charged me an eighty-five dollar penalty for failing to prove that one pound of certified organic zucchini seed I purchased from Don Tipping at Siskiyou Seed Company was not genetically modified. I had earlier faxed them a copy of the invoice (since misplaced) and had the fax cover letter to prove it, but they “did not receive the fax”, and because of the carrousel turn-over of staff at CCOF I eventually had to deal with another new hire who had to play by the rules. I lost my invoice -- they lost my fax. Touche.

 

I shouldn’t blame them for not acknowledging my ridiculously long-term service in the anti-GMO fight, or Don Tipping’s convictions and stellar work as a leader in the organic seed movement, but I do, and do so at the risk of being self-righteous, but the matter goes beyond “ You don’t know who you’re talking to, sister.”

You have to have rules, and certification must be neutral and objective. I grow tired of playing the churlish jack-ass, the whiny, complaining geez. (You think it’s an act, but I get to write my own lines!)  In this case, the paperwork and dunning was beyond what should have been required. The event became too tiresome to push along the complaint chain to the supervisor and the executive director and the board of directors. I had no faith in the monolith. Have you read Franz Kafka? You’ll know then.

“ Hey, sister. Did you know I once worked for six years as a volunteer regional supervisor for CCOF 30 years ago, traveling all over Southern California for you and going once a month to state meetings in places like Humboldt and Fairfax all on my own dime? Did you know that every year I helped re-write the standards you use now to make sure frauds like me don’t slip through your fingers?”

No, grandpa. I was not born yet.

(Can you smell the geez yet? It’s like a tuna sandwich you forgot in your car console last week.)

“ Oh, you’re new? The woman I was talking to has taken a leave of absence? Ok. Hope it’s not my fault. Where were we? Did you catch…How much of what I was just explaining…So do you know why I am calling? Yes, yes. The eighty-five dollars. It’s not the money…It’s the nuisance and misappropriation of effort. If I pay you will you listen to me? If I pay you does it matter whether the seeds were genetically modified or not? Sounds like I can pay to make this go away. You understand, but it’s a matter of the billing? My certification will be cleared once I pay?”

I will continue to defend certification indefinitely, because it is for you, not for me, that an independent third-party verifies my public claim of farming without synthetics in a clean setting. I feel that abandoning certified organic will not just expose individual consumers to unfair practices, but set loose the self-serving jackals of the market who would love to make up their own rules and conquer by dividing us.

We all need approval that the certification system provides, because peripheral food producers make claims or imply similar safety characteristics because they want to obtain the higher prices organic producers deserve or secure market share that the organic farming movement created.

I applied to be certified by a smaller, hopefully more patient organization called Demeter. I have been familiar with their work for years and yearn for the community and spiritual connection, confidence and cooperation we once enjoyed years ago before The Brother Commission took over organic.

 

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