NOSB Fails to Prohibit Hydroponic and Container Growing in Organic Standards

The NOSB meeting opened with the standard introductions and agency updates. There was a palpable tension as the soil and the soilless camps huddled in separate groups outside. The topic looming large and passionately at this meeting is whether to prohibit various modes of growing outside the soil—organic hydroponics. Continue reading

2017 Fall NOSB Meeting, trick or a treat?

The fall edition of this year’s NOSB meeting will be held in Jacksonville Florida, just in time for a few goblins to come groping for organic candy. We engage in this magic twice a year to give voice to the issues and engage in the rulemaking process in a transparent and diverse manner. We summon up communal consensus with a brew of public comment and a pinch of participation. Will this Halloween NOSB invoke solidarity or discord? I plan to be there to report on all the tricks performed and any special treats offered up. Continue reading

Can Organic Soil Trump Climate Change?

The names bluster through in a destructive alphabetical roll call, Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria. Like apocalyptic horsemen, the storms sweeping through the Atlantic all reached category four and higher. Fueled by super-warm ocean currents, this unusually active hurricane season provides devastating evidence that our planet is warming. Our climate is changing.

Agriculture is one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse emissions, but we all gotta eat – right?  Now a trailblazing study, partially funded by the UNFI Foundation proves that organic agriculture is a way to feed the planet while reducing our contribution to climate change. Continue reading

Why the OTA Had to Sue USDA

It’s not something that you’d expect to hear—the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is suing the USDA. In fact, it’s an extraordinary occasion that hasn’t been witnessed before in the organic theater. But again these are extraordinary times. Most often the OTA works closely with and is an important resource for the National Organic Program, a division of USDA. They work hand in hand with the USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) to increase organic exports worldwide. Why then would OTA embark upon this seemingly adversarial act? Continue reading

Pancakes and Bacon: The NOSB Meeting is just Around the Corner

In just over a month, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will convene in Jacksonville, Florida, October 31st– November 2nd.  These meetings are held in different far-flung agricultural areas for a reason – so organic stakeholders can participate. The meetings are sometimes witnessed with emotion, passion and even poetry. There are also hours of laborious grindings filled with technical terms and regulatory jargon, interspersed with Roberts Rules of Order. Why put yourself through hours of dogmatic drudgery and sometimes controversy? Because the organic regulations are a mutable set of protocols that can change with a vote of this board.

If you don’t show up, the products you eat or sell or the way you farm could be in jeopardy. Continue reading