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 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

Peeling Back the Onion: What this Election means for Food and Agriculture

yellow-onionEarly November in California signals the end and the beginning of many things. This year as the election looms, I cut and chop the last dry farm tomatoes from Molino Creek Farm. Each slice marks the conclusion of these ruby orbs of delight. I make caponata to extend the last vestiges of summer flavor in my kitchen. As I peel back the onion, I muse on its ability to make me weep and the way it will transform into a sweet caramelized crescendo.

This election has been much like an onion with its multitude of sharp layers, sometimes bitter, yet holding sweet potential for food and agriculture. Let’s peel back the layers this November to see where we can make progress in Food and Ag policy.     Continue reading

Eat Lobby Play – Hot Policy in DC

Capitol HillMy journey from Kickapoo to Washington DC unfolded, and I arrived just in time for a shimmering May heat wave. The locals, however, were beside themselves with languid delight having just come off weeks of cold gray, rainy weather. After dusting the country mud off my boots and donning a suit, I headed over to the noteworthy Newseum – famous to many who tourist their way through town. I wasn’t here to read the daily grind, however. I arrived in Washington DC to attend OTA’s Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days, to educate, circulate and pontificate to Congress on all things organic. Of course dining my way around Capitol Hill was tantamount to my journey. Continue reading

  Kickapoo to K Street – An Organic Odyssey

fall foliage I have taken many a circuitous journey not the least of which was a mid-May tour dedicated to organic food and agriculture. Varied in scenery and scape, it offered resolutions of grandeur and revelations of growth. On this excursion, I discovered new evidence of organic vitality and vigor while sampling many of its succulent edible delights, all in the company of friends and heart family. Continue reading