What is Veganic?

2007 Quick Update
In 2007 The University of Minnesota completed an empirical study of our "crazy" Veganic claims (see below), and guess what? We were proven RIGHT!

Organic crops grown using factory farmed manures and offal are now PROVEN to take up the toxic products used in those factory farms! People buying USDA Certified Organic products and thinking they are avoiding the chemicals that poured onto factory farms (and into confinement factory-raised animals) are being horribly fooled. The crazy thing is it is now 2009(!) and no one's changing their practices. I really hope I don't have to update that again for 2010... The claim is that it is too expensive to produce vegetables without using factory farmed animal waste. We don't care. Food grown in America is too cheap. Do you want to submit yourself to decades of low-grade antibiotic, hormone and steriod use? Shouldn't there be a healthy choice for people that want healthy vegetables? And if USDA Organic isn't that choice, then what is?

If you're worried about chemicals in your food, think twice about buying USDA Certified Organic until the rule are changed or better yet, you take the time to speak with the farmer about how they produce their crops! Don't fool yourself into thinking that crops grown in toxic factory-farmed waste aren't going to suck up those same toxins and deposit them in YOUR body. YOU have the power to change how your vegetables are grown just by talking to your local farmer! When enough people talk to them, they'll listen and change.

Besides your local farmers' market, consider joining a CSA local to your area, and asking the farmer how they grow their products. (If you are in NY or MA chances are they apply tens of thousands of lbs of factory-farm waste to their fields every year). Get them to make a change to a greener (and more importantly HEALTHIER) way of agriculture! Or better yet, start your own garden and subscribe to practices like those listed in "Growing Green" by Chelsea Publishing.

Veganic Agriculture
So what is Veganic agriculture? Basically, for us, it just means that we don't use any slaughterhouse by-products or manures to grow our fruits and vegetables. All vegetables are grown using green-manure-cover-crops and plant-based nutrient sources as well as ground-up rock powders.

It has become too common for some organic vegetable farms (especially the big ones that now grow most all the organic produce you buy in grocery stores) to rely almost exclusively on slaughterhouse by-products (chicken manure, blood, bone and fish meal) to get nutrients to their plants. The only commercial sources for these products are factory farms, where animals lead miserable lives, and are fed diets of high-pesticide, GMO food, ridden with hormones, steroids and antibiotics.

These items bio-accumulate in the bodies of the animals and in their waste. To make matters worse, the packed and unhealthy conditions that these animals are forced to live in encourages the spread of diseases that may be transferrable to humans. For example, bone meal fed back to cows has been implicated as a possible cause for the spread of mad-cow disease in Europe.

The idea of supporting these industries in any way, and putting what we consider to be toxic waste products onto our otherwise clean fields seems completely counter to our goal of organic clean living.

Before we go any further, it's important to note that not ALL farms using animal waste products are getting them from factory farms! Many (especially smaller) local organic farms have their own well-treated animals, or have access to a neighboring farm's manure. If this is something you are concerned about, just ask your local organic farmer how they handle nutrient needs on their farm. They'll be more than happy to explain it to you.

Although we do have access to local clean manures, we decided to be "extremists" and go completely veganic, in part to demonstrate that it can be done. Not having to truck waste to the farm and then use a tractor to spread it saves a lot of fuel and time! It' true that we've had to be a little more careful and long-term thinking in our rotations, but once it was figured it out, it's not hard at all, and the money and time saved more than makes up for the initial planning.

There is no certification standard for Veganic Agriculture at the present time, but the basic concept couldn't be simpler. Really, we are just "cutting out the middle man." The middle man in this case is the cow, chicken, horse, pig or whatever. What is their manure made from anyway but plant materials? There is no "magic" that goes on inside the animal that makes their manure better for the soil or plants than if we used the base material. In FACT, it is quite the opposite if you are using factory-farmed wastes! Besides disease, pesticide and steroid residue, salts (most especially in chicken manures) are in high enough concentrations that they can salinate heavier soils -disturbing the delicate micro-ecology that is so essential to the long-term health of the soil -and US!

Vegetable-based amendments, called "Green Manures" on the other hand ENCOURAGE microbial activity. Their carbon-to-nitrogen ratios are much more in balance. While the process is somewhat slower... the net increase in overall Organic Matter can be several times greater when a farmer uses green manures instead of animal manures. We have the soil tests to prove it!

So why doesn't everyone do it? Historically -for thousands of years- farmers relied on green manures. No one had cows and chickens and pigs in the cramped concentrations they do now... And the transport of those waste products has only been made possible by use of heavy trucks and cheap oil for transporting it. The Chinese of thousands of years ago, ancient Romans, English (starting in the 1600's), and even the Hudson Valley farmers of the late 1800's all studied, actively wrote about, and relied heavily on what we now call "veganic" techniques as a questionably more exciting marketing term.

There are several ways farmers can apply veganic techniques. We use the simplest and cheapest in part because we have such an excess of good growing soil here. We simply take land out of vegetable production and plant it to green manures. That way we don't have to harvets the green manure -or move it from one field to another, AND we get the benefit of all the root growth, which, depending on the crop, is massive!

Other veganic farmers might plant a field to a green-manure crop (like alfalfa), harvest it, and spread it onto their permanent growing fields. That works great too!

For more information on the details of what and how we use Veganics here, or solutions for farmers without the acreage to give their soil "breaks" feel free to contact us!

2002 Update!

Research by the University of Washington last year gives more credibility to our nutty purist ideals. Broad-Leaf weed herbicide was applied during reconditioning of a hay pasture. The hay grew over months, and the roots soaked up the herbicide (just like non-organic carrots were found last year to soak up other broad-spectrum herbicides even two years after application). Months of rain and baking sun didn't break the herbicide down... the hay was harvested, sat in a barn, was slowly fed to horses... where the herbicide BIO-ACCUMULATED in their bodies and was then passed in their manure.

It doesn't end there! This "safe" manure collected until an organic farmer bought it, brought it home, and started composting it over many months. Temperatures up to 180 degrees cooked the pathogens in the manure... but didn't touch the herbcide! Months later when he applied the "black gold" to his fields, some very sensitive broad leaf crops that he happened to be growing died of herbicide damage which started the whole investigation, which has now been replicated.

The implications are tremendous! These herbicidal products are known carcinogens, and now we can see they do NOT break down enough at the concentrations farmers pour on their fields for weed control. That's herbiced that's going down on fields that grow YOUR (non-organic) food. American Farmers are applying record amounts of chemicals to their fields and YOUR FOOD even as other countries around the world including China, India and Africa are phasing in nationally sponsored programs to decrease pesticide use! Even the World Bank has gotten behind limiting pesticide use on food crops in OTHER countries. Why don't we do it here in the United States?

Here's a crazy idea for you: Food in America is TOO CHEAP! American farmers -whether they are small farms OR big agribusiness do NOT make enough money on the crops they grow.

As a result, American farmers can't afford to take a risk on innovative new techniques like Organic (much less veganic) if it might mean a lost or reduced crop yield. Since agro-chemicals and fuel are subsidized for farmers stickig with proven best practices thanks to your generous tax dollars, any rational farmer would be practically INSANE to try organic or veganic methods

The current toxic condition of our food is a direct result of the American Public's demand for ridiculously cheap food - even as they pay for it with their health and subsidies on the back-end!

Note: One of our evaluations said that we didn't try to scare people enough about the dangers currently inherent in the American Food system. I hope this helps! BE SCARED! Be VERY SCARED! Food in this country is NOT safe or healthy right now. While we may be extremists, our actions are not totally unwarranted. You can choose right now to change things for the better. Buy from a LOCAL farmer -and protect yourself by ask them what they put on their fields and what is put on the fields around them.