What’s the difference?: What seemed like organic fertilizer to farmers could have been spiked with the synthetic kind.Truck photo (left): Iris Shreve Garrott It’s no secret that the organic food industry has seen explosive growth, taking only a mild drubbing through the recession and then continuing its ascent. At the heart of that growth has been trust — consumers are willing to shell out more bucks for organic because the food’s been grown without synthetic chemicals, with that claim verified from farm to market. Yet two major cases of federal fraud have been filed in the past six months, rocking …
Bob Scowcroft in 2008, in one of his signature shirts.Photo: Bart NagelAfter nearly three decades at the center of organic food and farming world, Bob Scowcroft recently retired as head of the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF). Scowcroft was California Certified Organic Farmers‘ first executive director in 1987, then went on to cofound and lead the OFRF for two decades. OFRF has played a key role on two fronts — advocating for organic farming research and pushing for a state, and then national, organic law. With his penchant for bear hugs and loud Hawaiian shirts, and the sharp insights and …
How come we hardly see op-eds on what paved roads, improved sanitation, more efficient distribution networks, soil conservation and a reduction in food waste might do for world hunger?
I never thought I’d be involved in a fight to save a city park, but here I am. The Marines are progressing with plans to move and expand their facility in Washington, D.C. They are looking at one option of taking over Virginia Avenue Park where I happen to participate in a community garden. A young Virginia Ave gardener(Sam Fromartz)Six years ago, the Virginia Avenue Community Garden, just a mile or so away from the US Capitol, was a deserted lot, with a broken playground, a ramshackle building, thriving drug activity, and not much else. But it was decent land, with full …
Organic food has take criticism lately, because a portion is flowing from overseas. (All those food miles, all that lost support for American farmers.) Well, there's a reason that trend is underway: Not enough American farms are growing organic crops and fewer still are converting, so demand is exceeding supply. With the Farm Bill, attempts are underway to address that problem.
I've got an interview over at Salon with Charles Clover, a British journalist who has been covering the oceans for 20 years and has a book out, End of the Line. Among his more startling revelations: that McDonald's fish sandwich is more sustainable than Nobu's menu (the restaurant for the stars), because it is sourced from an Alaskan fishery certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. McDonald's, though, does not advertise the MSC label because then it would have to pay a licensing fee.
Regulation might not be the best way to create greener markets, but the right sort of regulations enforced the right way can work. That's a lesson in the organic market, which witnessed a first this week: a mega-organic dairy with 10,000 cows (3,500 "organic"), which was clearly skirting regulations, was suspended by a certifier and no longer allowed to sell "organic" milk.
Organic coffee is safe, for now. In a victory for organic farmers in the developing world and organic coffee drinkers here, the USDA's National Organic Program has backed down and said that there will be no immediate change in the way these farmers are certified.
The issue regarding certification of organic farmers in the Third World continues to gain steam. Equal Exchange, the organic and fair trade coffee group, has a petition drive (scroll to bottom of page) to block the USDA decision that would decertify organic 'grower groups' such as coffee co-ops. Grist had a spirited discussion on this previously.
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