Peeling Back the Label: Organic, Natural, and Local

Boycott?Walking down a typical food aisle can be a daunting experience with a cacophony of seductive labels resounding from every shelf. These missives entice you to make purchases based on a feeling. Buying that product will make you feel healthier, sexier or perhaps insert a sense of pride that you are somehow protecting humankind and the environment. Food labels are powerful instruments that determine our purchasing habits unwittingly as we fill our baskets with hopes and emotions. With so many labels vying for our attention, it’s high time we peeled back the truth to see what’s really behind some of our most popular food labels. Continue reading

The National Organic Program needs you!

The National Organic Program administers the O...

The National Organic Program administers the Organic Seal to products that meet the requirements. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The National Organic Program (NOP) receives recommendations on policy and proposed regulatory changes from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). This 15 member board is comprised of specialists in various areas of the organic industry. The experts also rely on YOU, the organic community, to provide comments on their proposals and deliberations in order to make the best decisions on how to move our industry forward. Continue reading

Mr. Organic: Q&A with Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program –Part two

Miles Smelling Soil (2)I recently sat down with Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program, for an interview on topics ranging from organic history to new initiatives to challenges for our industry. Below is the second part of the two-part interview. It has been edited and condensed for clarity. You can read the first interview by following this link.

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Mr. Organic: Q&A with Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program

Miles Smiling in a Strawberry Field (2)It’s hard to find anyone who knows more about organic policy than Miles McEvoy. Miles began working in organic agriculture for the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) in 1988. Prior to that, he spent 10 years working on farms, with fisheries and in forests.  He says this background provided him with valuable context on the keys to sustainably producing and harvesting food, while still running a successful business. His perspective is a unique one, in that it combines the idealism of a grassroots farmer and environmentalist with the knowledge of someone who’s spent years working within WSDA and now the USDA.

I recently sat down with Miles for an interview on topics ranging from organic history to new initiatives to challenges for our industry. Below is the first part of the two-part interview. It has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Where have all the farmers gone?

Organic FarmerIn a recent discussion with Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program, he cited a concern on the lack of new farming operations entering organic production.

“Though we have seen market success over the last 20 years, the number of new certified operations in the US has remained relatively flat,” Miles told me. “The industry continues to grow, sales are up, but the number of certified operations has not grown.”

A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out that the Farm Belt is not expanding quickly enough into organics to meet growing consumer demand. Consequently, producers are going abroad for commodities

This leads me to ask, where have all the organic farmers gone? Continue reading