I'll admit it - I'm a Farmville fan.
For any of you that think I'm talking about some small town in IL, let me clue you in. Farmville is a game that people play on Facebook - over 80 million people in fact - and for the vast majority, it's likely the only experience they get with farms, farming, or agriculture.
In the game, you are gifted with a small plot of land and a bit of money and with both, you grow, fertilize, and harvest crops as well as buy and receive animals and buildings to create on your virtual farm the little piece of paradise you always wished you had.
Well, this week, it appears that Farmville has released a new crop, Cascadian Farm® Organic Blueberries.
So before I open up this can of worms, I want to start the discussion by saying that I support the organic farming industry because I believe that more choices are never a bad thing. The problem for me comes when people are disillusioned about their choices, when they don't understand that those organic foods offer the same health benefits at a significantly higher price.
And when consumers don't even understand what organic produce is in the first place.
Yes, I said it and I'll say it again. Consumers that swear by organic foods have no idea what organic foods really are. I learned this when a colleague told the story of gardening with a friend who purposefully purchased organic plants for her garden and then doused them in MiracleGro and it was reinforced again today. Because I'd be willing to bet money that the folks playing Farmville and planting these sweet little organic blueberries are going to fertilize them to get more "money" from the crop without ever realizing that fertilized crops are not organic.
The complete lack of information and the fact that consumers base their buying decisions on marketing hype really anger me. And while I do understand that purchasing decisions based on marketing is the way of our world, a movement to pure organic is going to have much more drastic consequences than buying more Pepsi than Coke would have.
So Farmvillians, enjoy your farms and plant organic blueberries until your heart's content. In the meantime, I challenge Farmville to ensure that no fertilizers are used on the organic blueberries and that the yields on organic blueberries are much less than the conventional blueberries. If this is the only connection back to the farm we're going to get, we need to milk it for all its worth.
ICGA/ICMB Project Coordinator