Organic food has quietly become a Big Ag behemoth. Everyone talks about video games and the film industry, for example, but Big Organic dwarfs them both in revenue and by next year it will be a $100 billion juggernaut.

The increase is partly because more farmers are taking advantage of the healthier profit margins and partly because organic marketing groups sell a health food mythology where cost is not a factor, so costs can rise along with more product. It is a miracle of capitalism.

But given a consumer-base that is wealthy and that is educated by advertising so completely, why don't all farmers switch? It just takes paying for a sticker and promising to use an organic toxic chemical rather than a synthetic one, there is no testing of organic food, so it would be easy to just make more money. 

The reason more don't move to organic, according to a paper in the Journal of Marketing, is because conventional farmers know in their hearts and minds they are deceiving the public if they switch - making that change is like switching belief systems.

"The ideological map of American agriculture reveals an unfolding drama between chemical and organic farming," write the authors, who by their verbiage apparently also believe that organic farming contains no chemicals, making them the only products in the known universe that are chemical-free."Chemical farmers argue that to make money, one must follow chemical traditions; when organic farmers make more money, it seems "wrong."

Yes, you read that correctly. Melea Press of the University of Bath, Eric Arnould of Southern Denmark University, Jeff Murray of the University of Arkansas and Katherine Strand of McGill University demonstrate to the world that they know nothing about science or agriculture by claiming there is such a thing as a "chemical" farmer. To science, the distinction is as silly as a Rabbi saying there is a difference between kosher food and unholy food - it is simply a cultural process, the food is the same.

Regardless, it's their press release so let them call normal farmers whatever they want.

The authors looked at "chemical" and organic wheat farmers (no one in American farming even knows what organic wheat is - there is no GMO wheat so they mean an organic pesticide on wheat that will be milled and processed beyond recognition anyway) of the American plains -  to see which crop production strategies they used, and why. They found that, as predicted, both "chemical" and organic farmers gave belief-based reasons for their choices, and clearly felt that their beliefs were in competition.

One "chemical" farmer stated that he felt organic farmers were unscientific and that they probably followed "an organic crop guru." An organic farmer, by contrast, stressed the joy of bringing the earth back to life: "I had thousands of seagulls, but my chemical neighbor did not have one. Why was this? Earthworms. My soil is getting healthier because I'm not putting all the herbicides and pesticides out there."

That's right, an organic farmer in their story actually called a competitor a "chemical neighbor" and said they use no herbicides or pesticides. How can it be a $100 billion industry with yields being chewed up by bugs? Well, it isn't. That organic farmer is simply clueless about science and doesn't realize organic pesticides are still pesticides.

The authors make their pitch for getting more "chemical" farmers to switch to organic by stressing the vital importance to agricultural managers of recognizing how ideological beliefs influence farming methods, and of using this understanding to find new ways of inspiring farmers to adopt profitable changes.

"It is possible that when approaching strategic change, managers might have greater success if they recognize that potentially conflicting ideologies are in play. As we have illustrated, the preservation of the agricultural world is at stake."

Citation: Melea Press, Eric J. Arnould, Jeff B. Murray, and Katherine Strand (2014) Ideological Challenges to Changing Strategic Orientation in Commodity Agriculture. Journal of Marketing: November 2014, Vol. 78, No. 6, pp. 103-119.  doi: Source: American Marketing Association