When Organics Goes Bad

When Organics Goes Bad is a short video where Geoff Lawton visits an organic carrot farm in California and explains why some organic farms are not always good for the environment.

Whilst travelling with Warren Brush in his old pickup truck to his Quail Springs Permaculture Farm in the Cuyama Valley of California, we were struck to see that the surrounding valley river system was a dry degraded dust bowl. No water was flowing down the old stream path, although the bones of the river path were still evident but the once verdant forests which were now long gone.

Here in this very dry desert environment, it was hard to believe that once the steelhead salmon were in abundant supply. They were hunted by the Chumash Indians who lived in this part of the world. A functioning ecosystem was once a normal fact of life here, but now, none of this was visible to the eye. All of this was now erased from history. The only patch of green was a monoculture farm, where truckloads of compost provided by feedlot cattle were dumped regularly to make organic carrots. The cattle waste was transported to this patch of green in the desert by over 80 trucks producing 40 tons of carrots to the acre. The water to irrigate this carrot farm is slowly depleting the aquifer as it is continually being pumped lower and lower and is not being renewed. The end effect of all this activity is a layer of salt silting the entire valley, rendering it useless for future farming.

Geoff Lawton got out of the truck and surveyed the scene in despair.

Watch this short 3-minute video as Geoff Lawton explains why sometimes, going organic is not sustainable or even good for the environment.