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

Can The National Organic Program Regulate Perfection?

OrganicI’ve been in the organic industry for several decades now, and there is an increasing trend to move the organic standards towards complete and utter purity. Some in the organic community are clamoring for the National Organic Program (NOP) to regulate perfection in the organic rules. They want zero tolerance, exact measurements and prescriptive protocols. I wonder, can organic achieve ultimate perfection in an imperfect world? To what end does this ultimate penchant for perfection actually harm us? Continue reading