Honoring Those Who Serve It Forth – Our Agricultural Workers

credit Richard Thornton ShutterstockI live and work in California, the farming capitol of the world; hub of agriculture, intersecting food, chefs and farmers. It is the state which produces the most food in the country, home to the world’s smallest and largest organic farms, and boasts the greatest diversity in farming systems and farm workers. Yet the lack of food and agricultural literacy is tremendous, and the bond between the farm worker and the eater is ill understood. Continue reading

A Glimmer of Hope in Organic and Sustainable Agriculture

The Organic JourneyI’m writing this from the Sustainable Ag and Food System Funders (SASFS) policy conference in Sacramento, California. I sit amongst a group of foundations and philanthropic funders who envision a world in which food and agricultural systems enhance and sustain the well-being of people, animals, and our planet—now and into the future. I am here as the executive director of the UNFI Foundation whose mission is to advance organic agriculture in North America. As I participate in the discussion, I realize there is much to be hopeful for as we move forward into an era of great political change.  Continue reading

The Rich History & Bright Future of Biodynamic

demeter-green-125x200Last July I had the great pleasure of visiting Germany and Austria as an organic ambassador with the Foreign Ag Service. As I interloped between embassies and ministries, I was able to savor the hearty cuisine and imbibe the most precious wines and beers. What I came to discover during my culinary indulgences was that almost all of the organic faire was Biodynamic. I soon learned that this wasn’t just another organic certification but an entire philosophy, one that beholds the farm as a healthy, living, breathing organism. The very nugget of Biodynamic is that the farm can be a self-contained and self-sustaining entity, responsible for creating and maintaining its own individual health and vitality. Continue reading

A Dirty Organic Thanks

thanksgiving abundanceWe have almost survived our four-year electoral margination. The beaver moon has eclipsed its emboldened shine. Now we must think of the good meal we will celebrate with friends and family to give thanks. As we consider this gourmands holiday with big birds and fluffy stuffing, it’s not too much of a stretch to consider giving thanks for the soil from whenst it all springs forth. Let’s raise a toast to dirt, humus, and compost and yes to manure itself. For in that microbial dirty brew life is sustained. Continue reading

What’s at Stake at This Week’s National Organic Standards Board Meeting?

200px-National_Organic_ProgramThe election is behind us, and the next policy balloon destined to go off this week is in St. Louis, Missouri. I am here not to saunter under the Gateway Arch nor worry the corporate offices of Monsanto. I am here to attend the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) biannual meeting which provides an opportunity for organic stakeholders to give input on proposed recommendations and discussions. These meetings can decide the fate of organic farming and manufacturing for many years to come. Indeed the very future of organic is held in the hands of the 15 individuals on the board.

So it’s important to show up. Continue reading