Give Thanks that Hope Springs Organic

I had lunch with a colleague last week, an organic advocate, businesswoman and friend. I had not connected with her in far too many years. We both built businesses and believed in organic before there was such a thing. We reminisced about the passion and energy we carried with us as we created new brands in the marketplace. We were eager to promote a different way to grow and produce food; one without harmful inputs that wasn’t dependent on big chemical companies.

We meet years later, both needing a shot of hope and a dose of gratitude. Continue reading

Unbuckling the Corn-Belt – One Drop at a Time

There is an African proverb that speaks to our modern agricultural dilemma. It is said that “dirty water cannot be washed.” Yet we continue to pollute our waters with our agricultural practices in the heartland of the continent. Corn and soy are planted in vast expanses, modified to withstand extreme applications of pesticides and herbicides. They are also reliant on vast devotions of synthetic fertilizers.

All these agricultural inputs end up in our waterways and drinking water, harming our health and the environment. There is no easy method to “wash away” these pollutants so pervasive in our waters.   Continue reading

The Issues Riddling Organic Will Set the Stage for the 2018 Farm Bill

It was a rollicking time for organic in D.C. last week.The Senate AG Committee held a hearing on global & local markets, specialty crops, and organics as they relate to the next Farm Bill. Chairman Pat Roberts gave a hi-five to organic farmers acknowledging that “they are responding to a market signal and increasing their margins.” He also attached some scorn to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) by stating “… it seems that uncertainty and dysfunction have overtaken the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and the regulations associated with the National Organic Program (NOP).”

What do these seemingly diverging messages from the Chairman of the House Ag Committee mean for organic in the next Farm Bill? For answers, you must understand some of the issues currently vexing the organic seal. Continue reading

California Organic – A Vision for the Future

Image from CCOF

I moved to central California as a teenager with the unlikely intention of following the Grateful Dead. I landed instead in the most fertile region of the Golden State. Rich with Salinas Valley loam and Central Valley  heat, I arrived in the fruit and vegetable capital of the world. At the same time, organic agriculture was spreading its influence across the bountiful landscape, creeping into strawberry production, baby lettuce mixes, sweet peaches and pears. California was the cradle of organic agriculture, nurturing an agrarian child that would quickly grow to be a formidable presence. Is it possible that in the near future we can make organic the prevailing system of food and agriculture in California? Environmental Working Group (EWG) believes it is so! Continue reading

Denver Urban Gardens – A Bright Light in the Mile High City

This past spring I took some time away from the rigors of the NOSB meeting in Denver to visit one of the UNFI Foundation’s grant recipients. For over 32 years Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) has facilitated community access to unique growing spaces in neighborhoods throughout the area. The gardens empower people to have increased food security and better nutrition, improving economic security. Their hyper-local approach is creating shimmering urban vitality with organically grown food. Continue reading