Food and the Gulf of Mexico – All Rivers Flow into the Sea

I was in New Orleans recently with the intention of savoring the food as much as to partake of friends and family. I set about on a culinary expedition of the Cajun-bayou kind mixed up with great helpings of French influence. The food was rich and plentiful, southern soul steeped in Louis X1V sauces. Fried chicken, okra, sausage and crawfish all graced my palate and plate.

Thus I debauched at the bottom of the mighty Mississippi, a land of plenty where the nation’s corn-basket spills out upon an ancient delta rife with issues. So I pondered… How is it that my food and the Gulf of Mexico are intrinsically connected? Continue reading

A Few Bad Actors are Ushering in a new Organic Scene

It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. Organic corn and soybean growers across the Midwest have been kvetching about cheap imports fouling up their markets for years. USDA import data showed an enormous rise of organic soy and corn from Eastern European markets, quickly surpassing the traditional countries of origin like Argentina and Canada. When the Washington Post story on organic fraud hit, organic advocates winced, and the farmers uttered “I told you so.”  But the actions of a few unscrupulous performers may provide an opportunity for organic in the long run. Continue reading

California Organic – A Vision for the Future

Image from CCOF

I moved to central California as a teenager with the unlikely intention of following the Grateful Dead. I landed instead in the most fertile region of the Golden State. Rich with Salinas Valley loam and Central Valley  heat, I arrived in the fruit and vegetable capital of the world. At the same time, organic agriculture was spreading its influence across the bountiful landscape, creeping into strawberry production, baby lettuce mixes, sweet peaches and pears. California was the cradle of organic agriculture, nurturing an agrarian child that would quickly grow to be a formidable presence. Is it possible that in the near future we can make organic the prevailing system of food and agriculture in California? Environmental Working Group (EWG) believes it is so! Continue reading

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 Onion: What this Election means for Food and Agriculture

yellow-onionEarly November in California signals the end and the beginning of many things. This year as the election looms, I cut and chop the last dry farm tomatoes from Molino Creek Farm. Each slice marks the conclusion of these ruby orbs of delight. I make caponata to extend the last vestiges of summer flavor in my kitchen. As I peel back the onion, I muse on its ability to make me weep and the way it will transform into a sweet caramelized crescendo.

This election has been much like an onion with its multitude of sharp layers, sometimes bitter, yet holding sweet potential for food and agriculture. Let’s peel back the layers this November to see where we can make progress in Food and Ag policy.     Continue reading