Having spent the first 19 years of my life in Iowa, I am keenly aware of the juxtaposition of big Ag and small family farms. For the most part, Iowa is a vast rolling landscape of corn and soy, planted and harvested by one agricultural soldier with his tractor, GPS and a battery of inputs. In places like Kalona, Iowa, the Amish community farms with draft horses and wide-brimmed hats. Their small family plots produce vegetables, corn, eggs, milk and delicious cheese curds.
Both models can be certified organic if the inputs and practices align with the regulations.
As the demand for certified organic continues to surge, large-scale organic production fuels the growth of the burgeoning $50-billion industry. What are the challenges and benefits of Big Organic and Little Organic. Does size really matter for the movement? Continue reading
It was June 2016 when the law passed requiring foods with GMO ingredients to be labeled. This disclosure was the first of its kind in the U.S., a milestone for food transparency and simultaneously a source of monumental discontent for many. The law requires that manufacturers disclose GMO presence but allows for digital means, such as QR codes or links, as a way to comply with labeling.
The law also mandated a study to identify potential challenges associated with the electronic options. The study found multiple problems related to QR codes or links.
As you read this, USDA is writing the regulations implementing the law, and the first draft will be coming out soon. There’s still time for USDA to hear from you on the study’s findings and craft a comprehensive, user-friendly standard. Continue reading
I had lunch with a colleague last week, an organic advocate, businesswoman and friend. I had not connected with her in far too many years. We both built businesses and believed in organic before there was such a thing. We reminisced about the passion and energy we carried with us as we created new brands in the marketplace. We were eager to promote a different way to grow and produce food; one without harmful inputs that wasn’t dependent on big chemical companies.
We meet years later, both needing a shot of hope and a dose of gratitude. Continue reading
The first time I encountered organic was circa 1976 in a little co-op in Iowa. Not only were we happily bagging herbs and cutting the cheese but we were encouraging our local farmers to grow organic food. Fast forward to 2017, and organic sales were $47 billion last year. The number of certified organic farms and businesses has reached 24,650 certified entities. Producers from across the continent supply the raw agricultural products that fuel this tremendous growth. The time has finally come for organic growers to congregate and cultivate relationships with each other along with service experts and supply providers. Continue reading
Why do consumers buy certified organic food? They cite the avoidance of persistent insecticides, herbicides and hormones, and to protect the health of their families and the environment. Another significant guarantee the organic label provides consumers is the lack of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs in organic production. A new initiative by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA aims to change public perception on GMO’s. How could the organic label be affected? Continue reading