Organic Growers Occupy Ground Zero in Today’s Climate Conflagration

It’s the middle of December in what should be the wettest month of California’s rainy season. Yet windswept infernos continue to ravage the dry tinder landscape. The Santa Ana’s blow with hurricane forces whipping the flames up chaparral and ridges.

These out-of-control infernos aren’t only torching forests. The rural-urban intersection has grown, and widespread development puts more people, farms and packing houses directly in the path of destruction. The blazes are imperiling the avocado and citrus orchards, vineyards and fields of organic farms. Many are in the bulls-eye of this climatic conflagration. Continue reading

Big or Small, Does Size Really Matter?

Having spent the first 19 years of my life in Iowa, I am keenly aware of the juxtaposition of big Ag and small family farms. For the most part, Iowa is a vast rolling landscape of corn and soy, planted and harvested by one agricultural soldier with his tractor, GPS and a battery of inputs. In places like Kalona, Iowa, the Amish community farms with draft horses and wide-brimmed hats. Their small family plots produce vegetables, corn, eggs, milk and delicious cheese curds.

Both models can be certified organic if the inputs and practices align with the regulations.

As the demand for certified organic continues to surge, large-scale organic production fuels the growth of the burgeoning $50-billion industry. What are the challenges and benefits of Big Organic and Little Organic. Does size really matter for the movement? Continue reading

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

Change Your Life, Volunteer in Morocco!

Have you ever dreamed of visiting the exotic kingdom of Morocco? Have you yearned to savor couscous tagines in Marrakesh or to awake to strong tea and morning prayers in Fez? The country conjures up dreams of old movies and foreign intrigue as it straddles Africa and the Mediterranean Sea. It offers mysterious foods and flavors and also boasts a wide range of organic producers yearning to enter the international market.  If you have the right skill set, there may be an opportunity for you to savor Moroccan flavors and help organic growers all in one elegant mission.

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