a pensioner by now, I am still active in my profession - having studied
agricultural science I always worked as a marketing expert for natural
food products. Over the last years I contributed to the development of
distribution channels for these products in the Cologne area. It may sound
somewhat immodest, but I am certainly a witness for a process which commenced
in the seventies with enthusiastic experiments, followed by a phase of
professionalization in subsequent years, and led to the establishment of
completely new structures over the last decades.
I remember quite
vividly the feeling of disillusion I had at the turn of the century. Sure,
the label "biological" was well established at that time and the "market
segment" produced satisfying growth rates. But I was well aware that this
niche provided a good excuse for a development in the conventional food
sector which was bound for disaster. And the niche itself? Certainly, our
certificates proving the "biological" content of our products weren`t a
trick. However, the overall production process was far from being
in accordance with ecological principles: consumption pattern forced us
to offer "convenience products" wrapped in materials described by my colleagues
with the euphemism "compromise"; if all input resources like package or
transportation would have been taken into account the overall "eco" balance
would not have been very favourable. Today I would confess that it was
us, the activists of the first hour who had made a living out of their
initiative, who were largely to blame for the paralysis of the first ecological
Only the modified
economic conditions of the last twenty-five years allowed us to develop
a natural food production which really deserves this label. It is the demand
on the regional level which propels innovations in this field, certainly
a process which has not come to an end. Before having read "Flatlander"
by S. Flor I might have considered the last sentence to be a good conclusion.
But this short "message" reminded me to understand progress not only as
something which goes on and on on the same track; we have to be prepared
to jump on a different level!
Sven Guentler, Cologne