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

Peeling Back the Label: Organic, Natural, and Local

Boycott?Walking down a typical food aisle can be a daunting experience with a cacophony of seductive labels resounding from every shelf. These missives entice you to make purchases based on a feeling. Buying that product will make you feel healthier, sexier or perhaps insert a sense of pride that you are somehow protecting humankind and the environment. Food labels are powerful instruments that determine our purchasing habits unwittingly as we fill our baskets with hopes and emotions. With so many labels vying for our attention, it’s high time we peeled back the truth to see what’s really behind some of our most popular food labels. 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

If You Care About Organic, Show up for Organic

GrassrootsOnce again I find myself in the air racking up miles and enjoying the white cotton-ball clouds festooning my flight path. I cross the continent yet again to have meetings and presentations at Expo East. While my body is hurtling towards the delectable food, illuminating conferences and critical connections to come, my thoughts are set on the future of organic and the NOSB meetings in November. I want to make sure everyone who cares about organic shows up for organic in a meaningful way. Continue reading