What I said at the NOSB meeting last week

The National Organic Standards Board met in Denver last week. The room was packed with policy wonks, farmers and consumer advocates. Public comments are the main reason for these meetings. We all sat in a subterranean ballroom to agree to disagree and perhaps influence the board to make the right decisions in order to grow organic.

My three minute comments were applauded by some and likely criticized by others.  Following is how I addressed the board:

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Organic Growers Observe Earth Day with Every Harvest

April 22nd, 1970 was the day the Earth took center stage as twenty million souls took to the streets in defense of the natural world. The rally cry was for clean air, water and soil, a society that protected the wondrously biodiverse planet we call home. Forty-seven years later, the earth is a cleaner albeit hotter orb and organic farmers play a crucial role in protecting the planet’s future.    Continue reading

Assault on Midwest Women & Children on the Rise

Growing up in the Midwest isn’t as idyllic as it used to be. The family farm has been eclipsed by sprawling thousand-fold acre parcels of corn and soybeans. Typically managed by one solitary man, he spends his spring and early summer days planting genetically engineered seeds and spraying herbicides. Monitors in the tractor map soil temperature and crop conditions, surveying the contours of green expanse and helping the farmer make timely decisions about which herbicides to spray and when. Continue reading

Fair Trade and The True Cost of Food


My father grew up in Iowa during the depression. Times were dire, and he witnessed much hardship and suffering. Getting enough to eat was never an issue for his family but seeing others go hungry left its psychological mark. After returning from WWII, he witnessed the Industrial Agricultural Complex taking hold in earnest, and the availability of cheap food became a patriotic goal. Generations were raised thinking cheap food was a bonus. It is proving difficult to shake that philosophy out of our food values. Continue reading

The Bioponic Debate – Are There Bigger Fish to Fry?

I can smell it; spring is just around the corner. While some areas of the country are still under winter’s frigid grip, elongated English cucumbers are flourishing in shade houses near the Mexican border. Tantalizing heirloom tomatoes, curvaceous eggplant and thick zucchini are growing in various mediums of soil and soil-less technologies. They fill our winter plate. Innovative farmers have figured out how to maintain vigorous populations of microbes using natural fertilizers to cultivate food in containers and other soil-less conditions (sweepingly named Bioponics). For the time being, they can market their produce as certified organic if they follow the organic regulations. All this could change in 2017.

While the “to soil or not to soil” debate rages on, does the organic community not have bigger fish to fry? Continue reading