Organic industry’s bitter divide over hydroponics is about philosophy—and market share

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Dave Chapman and dozens of other longtime organic farmers packed a meeting of the National Organic Standards Board in Jacksonville, Fla., this week. It was their last-ditch effort to strip the organic label from a tide of fluid-fed, “hydroponic” greenhouse-grown vegetables that they think represent a betrayal of true organic principles.

Their protests, however, failed to convince a majority of the board, which voted, 8-7, against a ban on hydroponic methods in organic farming.

On one side are organic traditionalists who are committed to the ideas of Albert Howard, an English botanist who inspired the organic farming movement. Howard wrote that “the health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible.” For farmers like Chapman, nurturing the soil is the essence of organic farming, and a vegetable grown without its roots in the soil simply cannot be called organic.

On the other side are companies like Wholesum Harvest or the berry giant Driscoll’s, who say that they are delivering what consumers expect from that organic label: Vegetables grown without synthetic pesticides, year-round, and affordably.

The battle is over more than philosophy. It’s about market share. Hydroponic methods, deployed on an industrial scale, are taking over an increasing share of sales to supermarkets.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Hydroponic Veggies Are Taking Over Organic, And A Move To Ban Them Fails