The end of the year gives us an opportunity to reflect on the past and engage in envisioning our future. We look back at a year of costly GMO (genetically modified organisms) labeling battles that drained over seven million dollars from pro-labeling funders’ coffers. The momentum we achieved was exhilarating until it became obvious that we were being outspent and undermined by erroneous messaging. Washington State fell by narrow margins reminiscent of the California defeat.
In mid-December organic took a giant leap forward when a major study published in the journal PLOS established evidence of nutritional advantages in organic milk. The study gave evidence that organic production enhances milk nutritional quality by shifting fatty acid composition. Simply put, organic whole milk contains more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids than traditional milk, one reason is because the cows making organic milk spend time grazing on pasture. Continue reading
This is a bit of sequel to the blog I wrote earlier called “I’ve discovered Organic Gold!” If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend you read it before going any further. It elaborates on WHY the organic label is the gold standard of labels and food. In this piece, I want to address the HOW. We’ve done an adequate job (despite ourselves) of growing the organic category, but we are still only 4.2% of the food dollars and 2% of agriculture in the US. After 25 years, only a 4.2% market share, that’s worse than the Congressional rating! It leads me to ask. How can we move forward to create more organic gold? Continue reading
I awaken to morning prayers resonating from the nearby Mosque. The sound is beautiful as the sun rises. Sfax, a city of 350,000 souls founded in 849 AD, it is nestled beside an important Mediterranean port of export for Tunisia. Over a breakfast of Tunisian sweets called Makroudh (a delectable combination of fried semolina, sugar and dates), we meet with several young entrepreneurs hoping to sell their artisanal organic products in the US. It’s a kind of business to business round table over pastries and tea. One young woman offered up lavish organic almond syrups, another proffered a dietary supplement made from dried olive leaves that she purported would cure everything from high blood pressure to parasites. Each one of these young people had been trained by the IESC experts and the University of Texas business school, funded by US aid intended to help them bring new foreign products to the US market. They were showing us their wares as well as their business wiles in hopes of making a good living with organic Tunisian products. Continue reading
We begin with an early morning departure out of Tunis, the capital city, through a hectic maze of traffic. Scooters and trucks filled with freshly cut granite weave together in roundabouts. Our bus is sideswiped by a cement truck and it takes off the side mirror – minor incident! As we drive, the landscape changes: more olive trees, set wide apart – only 17 trees per hectare in some areas. This allows the olive trees to soak up the rich desert soil and abundant sunshine. Some of these trees are hundreds of years old and it is said that the olive cultivation in Tunisia dates back to the 8th century BC, even before the founding of Carthage by the Queen Dido. The Phoenicians were the first to introduce this crop to North Africa. Continue reading