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

New Zealand Holiday: A Sovereign Food Journey

abaconda-new-zealand-fernI travel to NZ on holiday, the first time in my career when I haven’t come to this island nation to work. Many times I have traversed the Pacific to represent organic apple growers in Hawkes Bay, the planetary inverse of the Monterey Bay. This time I come to take in hot springs, catch trout in monumental Lake Taupo, and tramp through thousand-year-old kauri forests. I come to eat and relax which affords me time to reflect on this place where people treat agriculture and food in a fair and sovereign manner. 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

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