Hot Potato Issue

The sequel classic to Black Belt Jones inspired me while I was reminiscing over November’s VALOR tours. If you have not had the pleasure of Jim Kelly’s genre busting follow up, please have a quick taste now.

In November we visited an equipment manufacturing firm supplying specialty harvesting equipment to the world for large scale harvesting, and we also visited an organic produce grower, specializing in sweet potatoes, whose production is predominantly earmarked for a small Virginia potato chip company. This brought to mind several questions about the organic farming community and their impact on the food system.

In a nation where people are leaving the industry, arable land is being developed by home builders, and national food trends change rapidly and lean towards the exotic, the question arises” Can we feed ourselves?”. The United States is also responsible for feeding the world, if not through actual food production then through its technological contributions and management techniques.


LandLostWhere does the organic farming movement fit into these restraints? Should it try to replace industrialized production? Opinions vary, and generally those opinions seem naive and closed-minded to the opposing view holder. Additionally, can smaller scale production operations, regardless of management styles, maintain output levels to which the consumer has grown accustomed?

pic o salad
We visited a production fish farmer pioneering techniques to bring saltwater fish species into closed production systems on land in an effort to better control quality, supply and environmental impact. The restrictions involved in breeding, raising and slaughtering fish for market seemingly make this an impossible industry to break into, and yet Mid-Atlantic Aquatic Technology has decided to do so, in very inventive ways. Even with the advances MAAT has made, production will be limited due to growth restrictions and facility limitations.

These alternative production/harvest styles are exciting and encouraging, bringing new ideas and impacting all facets of the industry, ranging from the obvious, such as chemical usage and waste management, to the unforeseen, such as marketing and transportation. These new ideas are not specific to “alternative” production efforts, but are readily adopted in varying degrees by the industry at large; even if the industry at large cannot, or will not, move into these systems wholesale.

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