Holiday Giving Begins at Home with Food and Farming

If your inbox is anything like mine, you are getting crushed with year-end donation requests. As the days have shortened and the nights are long, it gives time to ponder what’s important and how to make a meaningful change in the world.

Did you know that obesity is more dangerous than traffic accidents, public drinking water is contaminated with nitrates and our morning cereal may harbor traces of herbicides?

So food and farming affect us at the very heart of our homes.

As you sift your way through year-end requests, consider that food and agriculture are the very residence of our collective well-being. The best place to affect change begins right here at home. Continue reading

Trump Administration Runs Afoul on the Organic Animal Welfare Rule

I’m not inclined to use inflammatory headlines, but this is really ruffling my feathers. On December 18th the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its intention to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule. This action defies the very process Congress mandated for the organic seal. It represents a full assault on the integrity of the organic label. Continue reading

Consider the Asparagus this Solstice

The ancients worshiped the return of the sun—that time when in the darkest hour the days began to lengthen. The winter solstice held the promise that the light would again return, seeds would yield to sprout and harvests would once again be reaped. This promise was embedded in the celebration—the birth of the sun.

To this day our holidays surround it; we feast and give gifts, we light candles and sing. The solstice and seasons have influenced many of our culinary traditions and still drive our food production. Continue reading

Organic Growers Occupy Ground Zero in Today’s Climate Conflagration

It’s the middle of December in what should be the wettest month of California’s rainy season. Yet windswept infernos continue to ravage the dry tinder landscape. The Santa Ana’s blow with hurricane forces whipping the flames up chaparral and ridges.

These out-of-control infernos aren’t only torching forests. The rural-urban intersection has grown, and widespread development puts more people, farms and packing houses directly in the path of destruction. The blazes are imperiling the avocado and citrus orchards, vineyards and fields of organic farms. Many are in the bulls-eye of this climatic conflagration. Continue reading

Big or Small, Does Size Really Matter?

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