Ben Dobson. Real Organic Farmer


“So it’s no wonder that people can’t eat bread or grains anymore. I’m sure there could be problems with the breeding or the gluten, but you are also eating Roundup. 

“Most human-grade grains, (that are so-called “human-grade grains”; they really shouldn’t be) are sprayed with Roundup as a desiccant. So if you’re eating your Quaker Oats or your General Mills – I’m sorry I’m calling people out, but I will – you’re likely going to see that instead of people swathing grain or waiting for the proper time to harvest these grains across our grain belt, this stuff is being sprayed with glyphosate directly on your grain before it’s dried down to harvest.

“I think that eaters need to first understand what chemicals are used in the production of food. And it’s very, very hard to find this information, but it’s important.”  – Ben Dobson

Dear Real Organic friends,

The fourth session of the Real Organic symposium is today, Sunday, Jan 24. Over 1800 people have tickets, and people are still signing up as the word spreads. It is not too late to join the movement!

We have gathered an amazing group of speakers for Session 4, and they look at nourishment from many perspectives: soil health, distribution, USDA policies, economic inequalities, corporate greed, the human microbiome, livestock on pasture, vegetables in soil, and the commitment of the organic community to build a better food system in the face of so many challenges.

We have been so busy putting out the sessions that this will be a short letter today. We are sharing a few words from some of our many speakers.

The Session 4 speakers include Joan Gussow, Karen Washington, Javier Zamora, JM Fortier, Anne Bikle, Fred Provenza, Jennifer Taylor, Ron Gilmore, Mark Schatzker, Michael Phillips, Paul Hawken, Barbara Damrosch, Jesse Buie, Vandana Shiva, David Montgomery, Alice Waters, Dan Barber, Kris Nichols, Walter Jehne, Rachel Nevitt, David Zuckerman, Ben Dobson, Rosie Burroughs, Leah Penniman, Steve Ela, Julie Rawson, John Ikerd, Eric Sideman, Didi Pershouse, Helen Kees, Glenn Elzinga, Hugh Kent and more. Please forgive me for any whom I missed.


Symposium speaker Mark Schatzker. Author

“If there’s no longer this relationship between the flavor of what the sheep are eating and the nutrient payload that they get, well what happens? That whole system of knowing what to eat breaks down. When you look at how deranged eating has become, all the problems we have with obesity, with binge eating. It’s as though, on some very central level, we don’t know how to eat.

I know some people will argue, ‘We were wired to get fat.’ I don’t think any of that is true. It’s only very recently that we’ve seen this very abrupt and striking change in eating behavior. And I think that’s because of what we’ve done to food. That food doesn’t talk to us the way it used to, and our brains are literally confused.

    – Mark Schatzker

Symposium speaker Fred Provenza. Author, professor.

The system has been hijacked. And the way you hijack that system is you create flavors that are very stimulating. And you make sure there is feedback that conditions a strong preference, and you think of all those products, ALL of them, that’s what they do! All of them!

Think of how many familiar flavors are used in different things, fruity flavors, doritos that are mimicking herbs, and spices that in their natural form are incredibly health-promoting. They’re incredibly nutritious. But when you mimic those kinds of flavors and then you follow that with a blast of energy that’s immediate, there’s no better way to condition a preference. We all, well… I love that stuff too. Honest to goodness, I love it. And so the whole system has been hijacked…

We’re in big trouble now.”

      – Fred Provenza

Vandana Shiva will give the keynote on Saturday at EcoFarm. Vandana showing support in Vermont for Keep The Soil In Organic.

Vandana showing support in Vermont for Keep The Soil In Organic.

It’s industrialization of production AND industrialization of distribution, through the Walmarts and Amazons and the big supermarket chains. The farmers do not receive more than 1% to 4% of the value, and that’s the case for coffee too. It’s only when they do direct distribution that you can have a chance for a fair price. We shouldn’t measure yield of nutritionally empty toxic commodities. We should measure health per acre and nutrition per acre.

“Fake Food is the next big desperate attempt to extinguish our movement. They’re scared of the organic movement. We are not too big, but they are scared. They’re scared because we carry another science, which is in the principles of ecology. We carry another economy, which is in the principles of giving back, of circular economies.

We ARE a threat because, in spite of the fact that we shouldn’t have existed, we are here.”

   – Vandana Shiva

Symposium speaker Joan Gussow. Author, professor, former NOSB member, and gardener.

“All you have to do is look at our health statistics! I mean, here we are, one of the richest countries in the world, and we have terrible health statistics. It looks better if you start at birth. We don’t look so bad because we have all these emergency things to take care of premature children. So we keep alive a lot of kids who are not very healthy when they are born. But if you look at the average longevity of the 21-year-old male in the United States compared to other countries? I mean, we’re below Greece. We’re below lots of countries people wouldn’t believe we’re below. We have terrible health statistics.”

   – Joan Gussow

Symposium speaker Karen Washington. Farmer and community activist.

“And a lot of it comes down to the pharmaceutical companies, and who’s getting paid. I can imagine a day when the hospitals are out of business, the pharmaceutical companies are out of business, food pantries and soup kitchens are out of business, because we are starting to live a healthy lifestyle. And again, we have to look at the fact that the food system is, in essence, a business. Someone is making money on the backs of poor people. I always say that, because if that wasn’t true, then you wouldn’t see hospitals and pharmaceutical companies making billions and billions of dollars.”

   – Karen Washington

Climate activist Paul Hawken on stage

Climate visionary and author Paul Hawken

The Reason Big Ag does what it does, is to supply ingredients to Big Food. And so they are symbiotes, absolutely. And they’re enablers of each other. And in a sense, they rule. They rule dietary guidelines. They rule USDA policy. They rule the crop insurance. All the things that militate against real change in this country are bought and paid for by Big Ag and Big Food and by the USDA.”

   – Paul Hawken

Symposium Speaker John Ikerd, Author and professor

“Everywhere around the world that we export this industrial food system, you see the same problems we are having here. You have an increase in obesity and heart disease and high blood pressure and a whole range of things. And these countries, a lot of these countries don’t want our industrial agriculture. But we’re FORCING it upon them, the big corporations are forcing it upon them, our government is forcing it upon them.”

   – John Ikerd

See you Sunday.

Many thanks,
Dave and Linley

Updated: You can still watch recordings from our January symposium by clicking here.