We've all been unsuspecting subjects in a vast scientific experiment, and the results are beginning to come in. They are not good.
Addressing attendees at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's annual Cooking for Solutions symposium last month, Gary Hirshberg, the head of the organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm, said that until the mid-1930s, humanity ate a strictly organic diet. Recent studies linking attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and increasing cancer rates to agricultural fertilizers and pesticides are proof that modern food-production methods have been "an evolutionary misstep," he said. "It is a very profound change that has taken place in a short period of time." But there is a silver lining, according to Hirshberg. "When we're pained enough, then we change. This pain threshold is going to get us going in the right direction."
Business got us into the current situation, Hershberg said, and it will take business--the bigger then better—to get us out.
His company provides one template for what that change may look like. Launched as a seven-cow rural education project in 1983, Stonyfield's annual revenues now top $330 million. The company has achieved that growth without spending a cent on chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Organic production methods have benefited all parties involved.