What the USDA can do for you

I have been fortunate enough to visit many foreign countries, be it for my job or volunteering with International Executive Service Corps. In my capacity working with organic farmers, I have developed a deep appreciation for the services and support our USDA offers. If you are a farmer, rancher, handler or consumer, there is something for you at the USDA. They provide a multitude of resources to help organic producers navigate the road map to successful farming. They encourage consumers to weigh in and participate in the evolution of the organic regulations. Since everyone eats yet only a few of us farm, it’s important to stay abreast of our Department of Food and Agriculture. Tune into some of the opportunities to learn more and participate in the USDA programs. Continue reading

Denver Urban Gardens – A Bright Light in the Mile High City

This past spring I took some time away from the rigors of the NOSB meeting in Denver to visit one of the UNFI Foundation’s grant recipients. For over 32 years Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) has facilitated community access to unique growing spaces in neighborhoods throughout the area. The gardens empower people to have increased food security and better nutrition, improving economic security. Their hyper-local approach is creating shimmering urban vitality with organically grown food. Continue reading

Policy Matters as the Organic Industry Grows

I trundled to Washington DC on my annual pilgrimage to attend OTA’s Policy Conference & Hill visit days. Dubbed “Organic Week” in Washington, it’s a 4-day extravaganza of organic industry leaders gathering to confirm our priorities and take action on the hill. This year the climate in DC was unique, awash with new leadership and new philosophies. It became apparent that as the organic sector continues to grow, it’s important that we pay attention to federal policy and show up for our fair share of funding. Continue reading

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