A Tale of Ten Acres Continues – UNFI’s Agrarian Path to Local Organic Food

It’s springtime in Racine, Wisconsin and the ten acres adjacent to our distribution facility lay ready for cultivation. The cover crop planted last fall had worked its subterranean magic, suppressing thistles and weeds, building topsoil, micronutrients and loam. The prolific rains had rendered the land moist and open, ready for planting. Steve Spinner’s vision for creating a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program near a UNFI facility was as close as placing a seed in the soil. The only hitch in this idyllic giddy-up was finding a suitable farmer willing to undertake the organic dream. Continue reading

Delaying the Organic Animal Welfare Rule is Nothing to Crow About

It’s springtime, and you may be too occupied with your summer vacation planning or planting tatsoi to pay attention to organic policy, especially when it comes to Animal Welfare. Springtime foibles may have your attention today, but it’s worth paying heed to what’s happening in DC. Even if you don’t give a cluck about chicken or livestock, what’s occurring now in Washington may set a dangerous precedent for all in the organic sector.    Continue reading

April NOSB Meeting: Why it’s Important to be Part of the Organic Process

It was typical spring weather in the Mile High City for the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) spring meeting last week. A day of piercing sunshine was followed by wind and sputtering rain that cascaded off the Rockies. The unsettled climate mirrored the tone of this biannual meeting. A cloudburst of uncertainties was gathering that could decidedly affect farmers and ranchers, manufacturers and consumers all with the swift vote of this 15-member board. While the lion’s share of this meeting was set aside for discussion, it provided a glimpse of the board’s predilections on future recommendations.  Continue reading

What I said at the NOSB meeting last week

The National Organic Standards Board met in Denver last week. The room was packed with policy wonks, farmers and consumer advocates. Public comments are the main reason for these meetings. We all sat in a subterranean ballroom to agree to disagree and perhaps influence the board to make the right decisions in order to grow organic.

My three minute comments were applauded by some and likely criticized by others.  Following is how I addressed the board:

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Organic Growers Observe Earth Day with Every Harvest

April 22nd, 1970 was the day the Earth took center stage as twenty million souls took to the streets in defense of the natural world. The rally cry was for clean air, water and soil, a society that protected the wondrously biodiverse planet we call home. Forty-seven years later, the earth is a cleaner albeit hotter orb and organic farmers play a crucial role in protecting the planet’s future.    Continue reading