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

Its spring time in the Rockies and I am heading to 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

One Final Push For Organic – April 19th is Your Deadline to Act

My humble beginnings in the organic industry began in 1976 in a small co-op in Iowa. The people were eclectic, and I was drawn to the culture as much as I was the idea of providing healthy organic foods to my community. We were a nascent movement, getting back to the land and nature. Growing, selling and eating organic foods—we were a palpable crusade of Birkenstock bedecked folks who wanted to leave the world a better place through food and agriculture.

I was involved in a bit of midwifery helping to birth the organic movement. Fast forward almost 40 years later, has the organic industry truly grown up? 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

A Political Sea Change for the Good Food Movement

WaveIt’s been just a few weeks since our political world took a turn into uncharted seas. We had been progressing along swimmingly, making progress on the likes of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, local organic food hubs and vibrant conservation programs. We had the luxury of squabbling over the recommendations of the NOSB wrangling over every nuance of organic production. We took the National Organic Program for granted as an institutional “holy maceral” that would carry us someday into regulatory utopia.

All of that came to an abrupt halt last November when the new political tide rolled in. These uncharted waters are like nothing we have navigated before, and the good food movement should take heed and consider rowing with a united stroke if we are to remain afloat.  Continue reading

Make a Comment to Support the Organic Check-Off Program

GROOrganic.large-logoLike it or not we are well into a new year and a new federal government. Despite the many changes and sometimes uncertain paths, I believe the organic community is poised for  growth should it decide to adopt an Organic Check-off program.

USDA recently published the first draft of a proposal in the Federal Register. Then just after his inauguration, Donald Trump  ordered a freeze on all pending regulations not yet in affect. The new administration will take pause and review all new regulations during the next sixty days. Since this program is self funded by the industry and will cost the federal government nothing, I believe it will move forward. Continue reading