Sunday, January 9, 2011

Project Restart: Resupply

Bought myself a new bottle of EM-1. Though it doesn't say that on the label...

Back when I started playing with bokashi, I did the math and determined that buying the liquid inoculant plus molasses and bran was much cheaper than purchasing dried EM bokashi bran. It's even cheaper if you activate the EM-1, which can be used as is, skipping the bran altogether, or used to inoculate a dry carrier if that's the preference*.

That math is still correct, but there was no way this bottle was going to be as cheap as my first. My local bokashi product retailer doesn't currently offer it, and Whole Foods no longer carries EM-1 (grr!). I didn't feel up to even the minor hassle of having it ordered through Sun Harvest or trying to talk my local feed store into shelving a case, so I went ahead and ordered it online, painful shipping charges and all.

Before the fire, I'd been planning to buy one of the line extension products, and I was nearly finished with my second round of a test for posting, so I went ahead and purchased what I'd need to pick up where I'd left off: one bottle of EM-1, a bag of EM bokashi bran from the same source as the liquid inoculant, and the item I'd been planning to buy, “EM Plus,” which is a recipe variant--same ingredients as EM-1, but with more rhodobacters.

I'm very fond of those, and have been wondering what effect extras might have in a bucket and as a cleanser. (Think trash bins.) But my garden budget is pretty much always in the negative, and I try not to let the blog-project cost me more than I save in produce costs, so I'd been putting it off, hoping I'd see it locally--shipping liquids is expensive.

That was before the fire. After, I needed to replace my EM. Immediately. While I have had some success with a few of the homebrew recipes, I'm not confident enough in any of those to give up on my brand-name EM--added to which, all the homebrew recipes take a while to make. I needed a source of EM to keep my buckets going and to use for non-bucket applications (chiefly cleaning right now), so time for a little spending.

There are two retailers on the trial list just now, but only one of them offered EM Plus. Except that they've changed the label. Mighty Microbes now sells it as SCD ProBio Balance Plus (Previously Sold as SCD EM Plus). It's not the only change; my EM-1 is ProBio Balance Original (Previously Sold as SCD EM Original), and the EM bokashi bran is All Seasons Bokashi(TM) – Compost Starter, Soil Inoculant – with SCD Probiotics Inside.

With the new packaging, you have to search to find any reference to EM! There's no "EM" at all on the bokashi packaging--which refers to “ancient Japanese farmers” but doesn't mention Dr. Higa, who is pretty much universally credited as the creator of the EM formula; there's nothing at all EM or bokashi-related on the Plus package, which focuses on probiotics; and the Original, formerly known as EM-1, has only this small reference:

SCD Probiotics Mother Culture ™ is made using the principles of effective microorganism (EM) applied science.

I wondered, but all become clear with the last line on the label:

SCD Probiotics is not affiliated with, sponsored by or endorsed by EM Research Organization, Inc. or their affiliates.

Hmm. Part of me wonders at the backstory. Part of me worries if the next step after label-changes might not be product withdrawals. (I need my EM!) Most of me, however, is just happy to have my microbes back.

At least for now.


*I typically do a bit of each, buying retail EM bokashi bran only for experimental purposes, as gifts, or to keep in my hiking kit, as I find it drying it myself not worth the hassle.

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