A Few Bad Actors are Ushering in a new Organic Scene

It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. Organic corn and soybean growers across the Midwest have been kvetching about cheap imports fouling up their markets for years. USDA import data showed an enormous rise of organic soy and corn from Eastern European markets, quickly surpassing the traditional countries of origin like Argentina and Canada. When the Washington Post story on organic fraud hit, organic advocates winced, and the farmers uttered “I told you so.”  But the actions of a few unscrupulous performers may provide an opportunity for organic in the long run. Continue reading

Genetically Engineered Plants and Animals: The Ecology of Unknown Consequences

Imagine the primordial forest, a canopy dense with foliage, the floor strewn in dappled light. From the cool boreal woodlands to the tropical forests, trees have sustained complex ecosystems evolving over the millennia of time. Some trees live for decades and even centuries, laying down shade and forest duff, sustaining mosses, insects, birds and mammals. Their seed and pollen spread with the wind sometimes traveling hundreds of miles. What then could possibly go wrong with a forest of genetically engineered trees, a pasture of GE grass or genetically engineered animals? The answer is we don’t really know… but probably plenty. Continue reading

California Organic – A Vision for the Future

Image from CCOF

I moved to central California as a teenager with the unlikely intention of following the Grateful Dead. I landed instead in the most fertile region of the Golden State. Rich with Salinas Valley loam and Central Valley  heat, I arrived in the fruit and vegetable capital of the world. At the same time, organic agriculture was spreading its influence across the bountiful landscape, creeping into strawberry production, baby lettuce mixes, sweet peaches and pears. California was the cradle of organic agriculture, nurturing an agrarian child that would quickly grow to be a formidable presence. Is it possible that in the near future we can make organic the prevailing system of food and agriculture in California? Environmental Working Group (EWG) believes it is so! Continue reading

What the USDA can do for you

I have been fortunate enough to visit many foreign countries, be it for my job or volunteering with International Executive Service Corps. In my capacity working with organic farmers, I have developed a deep appreciation for the services and support our USDA offers. If you are a farmer, rancher, handler or consumer, there is something for you at the USDA. They provide a multitude of resources to help organic producers navigate the road map to successful farming. They encourage consumers to weigh in and participate in the evolution of the organic regulations. Since everyone eats yet only a few of us farm, it’s important to stay abreast of our Department of Food and Agriculture. Tune into some of the opportunities to learn more and participate in the USDA programs. Continue reading

Denver Urban Gardens – A Bright Light in the Mile High City

This past spring I took some time away from the rigors of the NOSB meeting in Denver to visit one of the UNFI Foundation’s grant recipients. For over 32 years Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) has facilitated community access to unique growing spaces in neighborhoods throughout the area. The gardens empower people to have increased food security and better nutrition, improving economic security. Their hyper-local approach is creating shimmering urban vitality with organically grown food. Continue reading