Jonathan Moscatello is agriculture program manager of The Food Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally and socially responsible agriculture.

Wednesday, 30 May 2001

PORTLAND, Ore

PORTLAND, Ore. Hi, I’m Jonathan Moscatello, the agriculture program manager here at The Food Alliance. My day is typically filled with recruiting producers for the program and meeting the needs of the producers who are currently Food Alliance-approved. It’s pretty rewarding work to be creating incentives for innovative farmers and ranchers who are protecting the environment and considering the welfare of their workers. I’m meeting this morning with Oregon Country Beef ranchers, and this afternoon, I’ll be heading south to visit Stahlbush Island Farms in Salem, Ore.

Me (on the left), with two generations of Food Alliance-approved farmers.

Right now, The Food Alliance is conducting evaluations of all the OCB ranches with our seal of approval. We’re pretty excited to be working with OCB, a cooperative of small, family-owned ranches throughout Oregon. OCB ranchers are working hard to hold on to a rich heritage of ranching, while treating the land with respect. A few of OCB’s stewardship practices include controlling overgrazing, conserving water, encouraging a diversity of vegetation, and protecting wildlife habitat. OCB also does not use growth hormones or feed-additive antibiotics. In a nutshell, OCB does its best to ensure “long-term health and productivity of the land rather than short-term gain.” When a cooperative of family ranchers makes a promise like that, it is important to me that The Food Alliance finds a way to communicate this to consumers through our seal of approval. OCB’s product, known as “Country Natural Beef,” is currently marketed through Whole Foods and Wild Oats/Nature’s Northwest stores in California and Northwest markets.

Bill and Karla Chambers at Stahlbush Island Farms.

I am equally thrilled to be working with Stahlbush Island Farms, a relatively large fruit and vegetable operation located in the heart of the Willamette Valley near Corvallis, Ore. Since Bill and Karla Chambers acquired Stahlbush Island Farms, Inc. in 1985, the farm has become known as a leader in sustainable agriculture. A few of the practices that are conscientiously observed on the farm include rotating crops over a seven-year period, planting cover crops, protecting groundwater, recycling, and composting. Because Stahlbush Island Farms is committed to being a steward of the earth, The Food Alliance is committed to its success. Stahlbush Island Farms products can be found in Fred Meyer stores across the Northwest as well as in Wild Oats/Nature’s Northwest markets.

You may be wondering how The Food Alliance can be so sure that the farms we endorse, such as Stahlbush Island Farms and Oregon Country Beef, are living up to our standards of environmental and social responsibility. This is a two-step process. First, the producers that wish to become Food Alliance-approved send in a detailed application that explicitly outlines their practices. Then a third-party inspector visits the farm or ranch for an on-site evaluation using commodity-specific evaluation criteria (we have specific guidelines for over 200 commodities). The inspector then submits the evaluation to me, and if the operation has achieved a 70 percent score or better in all categories, it becomes eligible to market its product using our Food Alliance-approved label.