The Agricultural Amway

worm-tea-large.jpgIn a recent class on compost tea some skepticism was expressed about people touting the benefits of compost tea in order to sell products. This led one skeptic to muse about ways they could market a product that would carefully insure that your compost tea was brewed at ambient temperature (in other words, do nothing and make you pay for it). I was also amazed to hear that compost tea is sold in bottles on the shelves of organic gardening stores. The benefits of compost tea come from the microbial organisms living in it. Bottling compost tea for any length at all destroys one of the primary benefits of the brew.

The list could go on of agricultural and gardening products that make all kinds of claims about controlling pests and weeds and make your tomatoes as big as your head, of which there is very little evidence to support such claims.

This is the agricultural Amway. Companies often try to get one or two farmers to buy into the benefits of their product and then they make those farmers into dealers of the product. You can see where this is going can’t you? I don’t how much this functions exactly like a pyramid scheme, but it’s the same idea. The guys on top get some people to buy into the idea and the more people they sell on it the more the guys at the top make. All the while nothing is really happening. No product is actually benefitting anyone and an entire market is created out of thin air.

This is exactly what has driven our species to the brink… promises that can never be fulfilled or kept. Ammonium nitrate can only get you so far before it destroys the very thing it promises to save.

I’m brewing up another post about compost tea that looks at what makes compost tea beneficial, but also confounds our modern ways of looking at agriculture.

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