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Organics good news for economy and more

There’s a lot of good news if you look at worldwide organic food production.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), organic agriculture is increasing by 25 percent per year.

Some European countries have as much a 10 percent of their agricultural land under certified organic management.

That means more organic food production, hundreds of tons fewer pesticides and chemical fertilizers in use, a resurgence of healthy soil organisms, safer working conditions for laborers and a growing change in the meaning of “business as usual.”

Organic farm corporation Aarstiderne (“The Seasons”) in Denmark has grown from 200 customers in 1996 to more than 45,000 subscribers across Denmark and Sweden today.

Yet they have kept the company relatively small (120 employees) and extremely transparent.

Their reputation is so good, and trust so high among customers and non-customers alike, that there has not been a single item stolen from the produce boxes left on customers’ doorsteps.

And in the “things you never thought of as organic” category, witness 4 Copas Tequila, a certified-organic and award-winning tequila that apparently tastes great (I’ll have to take their word for it) and doesn’t even give you a hangover.

4 Copas – named for the Mexican expression “When you share four cups with someone, you become friends for life” – is produced in Jalisco, Mexico, where the entire venture is intended to assist the community as well as produce a fine spirit.

The field workers’ health has improved without the heavy pesticides formerly used in the agave fields, the bottles are hand-blown by local artisans and feature artwork from prominent Mexican painters and they hire only local labor to keep the wages in the Jalisco economy.

The company is also composting their leftover agave fibers and working to develop biogas systems to reduce the use of diesel fuel.

Nearby, the Skyrocket distillery in Temecula is using organically grown agaves to produce agave-nectar sweeteners, Temequila cocktail mixes and a distilled spirit named JB Wagoner’s Ultra Premium 100% Blue Agave Spirits. (Due to a copyright conflict with Mexican Tequila, the spirits cannot be called “temequila” but the cocktail mixes can.)

Bottled in recyclable glass, the drink mixes and agave nectar are available at the Temecula Farmers’ Market, the Hollywood Farmers’ Market and online.

Bottles can be returned for a discounted refill at the farmers’ markets. The alcoholic beverage is sold at many California liquor retailers.

The distillery itself is a straw bale building with tours and tasting events available for $50 plus a share of the cost of chauffeured transportation.

I see great hope in stories like these, because business is fundamental to human survival.

We must all make a living no matter where we live, and the way most people make a living is through some kind of business – owning one or working for one (or more).

We are no longer a subsistence-based economy, nor could we support a fraction of the world’s population on one. But the “business ethic” that came out of the industrial age hardly qualifies as ethical.

A new idea of how business can work is on the rise and seems to be spreading quite rapidly.

It won’t overtake bottom-line thinking tomorrow, but our current economic woes will spread it more quickly than it might have otherwise.

The “quick profit” on someone else’s back is what got us where we are today – a lesson we’ve had ample opportunity to learn in every crisis since the industrial revolution.

That an economy can grow forever is a delusion, and sustainable economies require a focus much deeper than the bottom line.

I think there is good reason to believe we are finally able to learn that lesson.

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