The Bioponic Debate – Are There Bigger Fish to Fry?

I can smell it; spring is just around the corner. While some areas of the country are still under winter’s frigid grip, elongated English cucumbers are flourishing in shade houses near the Mexican border. Tantalizing heirloom tomatoes, curvaceous eggplant and thick zucchini are growing in various mediums of soil and soil-less technologies. They fill our winter plate. Innovative farmers have figured out how to maintain vigorous populations of microbes using natural fertilizers to cultivate food in containers and other soil-less conditions (sweepingly named Bioponics). For the time being, they can market their produce as certified organic if they follow the organic regulations. All this could change in 2017.

While the “to soil or not to soil” debate rages on, does the organic community not have bigger fish to fry? Continue reading

Eat Lobby Play – Hot Policy in DC

Capitol HillMy journey from Kickapoo to Washington DC unfolded, and I arrived just in time for a shimmering May heat wave. The locals, however, were beside themselves with languid delight having just come off weeks of cold gray, rainy weather. After dusting the country mud off my boots and donning a suit, I headed over to the noteworthy Newseum – famous to many who tourist their way through town. I wasn’t here to read the daily grind, however. I arrived in Washington DC to attend OTA’s Policy Conference and Hill Visit Days, to educate, circulate and pontificate to Congress on all things organic. Of course dining my way around Capitol Hill was tantamount to my journey. Continue reading

Why I went to Washington

OTA in WashingtonI was barely off the plane from Bolivia, and the ink was barely dry on my “high altitude” diaries when the call came in. The Coalition for Safe and Affordable Food, backed primarily by the Grocery Manufactures Association and other biotech companies, was up to its old tricks again. Despite the cheery name the folks behind this coalition want to introduce a bill that would look like a solution to federal GMO labeling but in fact weaken and dilute any meaningful labeling protocol in the US. I went to Washington with a pressed suit and business cards to represent the 93% of consumers who want the Right to Know: label GMO. It was an auspicious time to show up! Continue reading

Tell Congress to talk turkey on the Farm Bill!

Congress talks turkeyLet us give thanks for the organic food we will consume tomorrow and to all the dynamic organic producers, distributors and retailers who have been hard at work.  Let’s express gratitude for our ability to work in such a vibrant and vigorous business arena that helps build the soil, protect seed biodiversity and promote health and wellbeing. After we give thanks, let’s make sure we do not become complacent in our festive organic hangovers. There’s no better time than now to remind Congress to keep working on a meaningful Farm Bill before the year runs out! Continue reading

Congress Shuts Down Organics

Organics on HoldThe media has been abuzz with news of the government shutdown and the blame game is exuberant on both sides of the aisle. In 2011, after Republicans took control of the U.S. House, Congress passed just 90 bills into law. The only other year in which Congress failed to pass at least 125 laws was 1995. There are currently 5,628 bills and resolutions before the United States Congress. Of those, only about 5% will likely become law. These statistics make the 112th Congress, covering 2011-12, the least productive two-year gathering on Capitol Hill since the end of World War II.

It’s time to take a comprehensive look at how this non-action is usurping the standard operations of the National Organic Program and the entire organic industry. Where does Organic stand in the wake of all this legislative dysfunction? Continue reading