Last week, I was lucky enough to be one of the 3,300 people who attended the 25th anniversary MOSES conference. This annual conference, held in La Crosse, Wisconsin, is the foremost organic and sustainable farming conference in North America (perhaps in the world).
The total number of farmers in the US is about 2.1 million, according to the latest government census of American agriculture. Organic farmland is approximately 1% of total US acreage, so it’s quite possible that many of the organic farmers representing that 1% attended MOSES as well. Among the crowd were many small organic producers. Throughout my week, I experienced an uncanny convergence of conversations about big organic and small organic and local farms, which led me to ask, does size really matter? Continue reading
The organics and natural foods industry gathers twice a year to showcase new products, network and strengthen existing business relationships. These expositions are affectionately called Natural Products “Expo East” and “Expo West”. They present the opportunity to celebrate the success of organic foods and discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead. In my previous Blog “Eat Party Learn”, I highlighted the educational sessions held by The Organic Trade Association and The Organic Center at Expo East last September. This week, Expo West will descend upon us with all its festivity, gastronomy and bustle. Here you will find opportunities to join the discussions that are important to the flourishing organic and natural food business community.
The first time I attended Expo West was in 1984 when I worked for the small, collectively-owned, health food store, Community Foods. We were so small and frugal that we had to room together. In those early days the show was simpler and smaller but still a place to express our vision for the organic movement. This year, there are a myriad of opportunities to join in the strategic discussions of where the organic industry can go. Continue reading
In my previous blog, “Can Organic and GMO co-exist?” I reference the plight of organic farmers who are forced to bear the consequences of growing in a virtual sea of GMO crops. At least 80 percent of the corn and approximately 90 percent of the soybeans grown in the United States are grown from genetically modified seeds. Eventually we want to see those statistics reversed. The only way to do that is through consumer demand. Consumers must be aware of the presence of GMOs in their food. If GMO foods are labeled as an ingredient, then consumers will know and actually have a choice. This could lead to increased demand for organic foods and more business for organic growers. Continue reading
In the fields of Iowa where I grew up, the presence of organic soy and corn does indeed exist alongside Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) varieties. More than 80% of crops grown on US soil are from GMO seeds. Derived from weapons of warfare, their genetic modification allows them to withstand heavy applications of herbicides and pesticides. In my previous blog “Is buying organic produce for your kids worth it?” I sight the negative effect these chemicals have on the workers and people who live around these industrial agricultural zones. Additionally I explain the negative effects they have on our children and subsequent generations.
The co-existence of organic and GMO in place now is one sided and precarious at best. The USDA is attempting to codify or put into law a lop-sided set of rules that would define how organic and genetically modified organisms should co-exist in the unnatural theater of modern day agriculture. The USDA is actually proposing that organic growers pay for contamination done by the GMO patent holders! Continue reading
Most organic shoppers chose the produce isle first when it comes to organic food. It’s much more tangible to smell a luscious organic strawberry and know it’s not listed on the Environmental Working Group’s dirty dozen list. It’s a delight to pull off an organic seedless grape and savor the burst of flavor before purchasing a bag.
We all have to start somewhere, and the visual appeal, along with incredible taste, of organic produce is a good place to commence when buying healthy food for children. Organic food offers earthly delights as well as principles, practices and government-backed rules that produce cleaner and healthier food.
Yet some folks think otherwise. Continue reading