The system is flawed, either by design, ignorance or sheer bureaucracy, and biased towards those “in the know”.
Wherever they (and “they” are all the members of the same whiteshirt backpatting cabal) write about systematic changes, milestones to meet, backstoppers and leverages, I get sick and stop reading immediately. They have bullshitised the farmer’s work to senseless proportions. There are forms to fill, logs to keep, HACCP to install and maintain, traceability and all the other cumbersome and unnecessary things.
Yes, we need it turned upside down. Most consumers don’t care for organic certificates, but they do care about what they eat. So, the farmers should be encouraged to network, to offer informal distribution of their produce to the customer’s doorstep, instead of spending their money on stamps and seals proudly marking their produce organic, and keep it wilting on a supermarket shelf because it’s too expensive for a normal buyer.
Let me present an example of a Serbian grower of rare maize varieties. He has certified it as organic, but yet he can’t certify the maize flour coming from the very same certified maize! Because he hasn’t an HACCP system in place. Rubbish.
So why not just forget about certification and build mutual trust among producers and consumers instead? The food doesn’t have to be expensive to be healthy and flavourful.
Let me present another example: if you go to a farmers’ market, many times the tomato you buy is rather bland and run-of-the-mill. Because the farmer is a logical and streamline-oriented being and often sells somewhat underriped tomatoes because the unsold vegetables would otherwise go to waste. They spray it more because they have to return it home and keep it for another day. What I do is ask the farmer to let it ripe for another two or three days and convince him/her that I will come back and buy it, and they are happy to do so. They have never accepted any deposit money, they count on honour and their “But don’t let me down” is, for me, the biggest bond to oblige. Because it’s not his/her prime interest to sell underriped tomatoes, but to make ends meet.
If you encourage the farmer into doubling his/her production of heirloom varieties they grow for their families because you will come every day or two and buy it, they will be more than glad and may even offer to deliver it to your doors. What you two need is just a phone call. They are not a cheating race of humans, they are hard-working people, often misunderstood. And if they have reliable customers they can count on, they will ditch the headhunters from the supermarket chains, they will spray less and with less harmful chemicals (because they don’t want to make a museum exhibit, but a tasteful vegetable). Every true farmer and craftsman are proud of their produce. However, all this needs a lot of patience and time.