September 1st, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
Amidst all the food-related doom and gloom courtesy of “food deserts,” deregulated genetically modified foods, massive outbreaks of deadly salmonella-tainted animal products and seemingly endless options of processed junk food around every corner, food in America may have a brighter future than you think thanks to a rising college course trend: Organic agriculture.
Read More:American Farmer, PhD? Organic Farming Interest Booms Among College Students
August 14th, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is less common on poultry farms that have made the transition from conventional methods to organic farming, finds a new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Read More:Organic Farming Methods Reduce Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, Study Finds
July 15th, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority banned an ad that claimed organically raised animals had higher welfare standards than those conventionally raised.
Read More:UK Bans Organic Food Ad
June 16th, 2010 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
In 2008, China had a little problem with milk. You might have heard about it. melamine, a dangerous chemical, somehow got into there baby formula, sickening 54,000 babies and killing four.
And China didn’t take it lightly. They executed two company executives held responsible for the outbreak, so needless to say, any food imports from China need strict inspection.
That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture has banned a Nebraska organic food inspecting company from operating in China due improper operations.
Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA), located in Lincoln, Nebraska, had been working in China for years, but recently got lazy.
What did they do? The USDA requires organic food to be inspected by a third party, and it turns out OCIA was using Chinese government employees to inspect Chinese farms state-owned land. Oh what’s the big deal! Sigh.
These crops are branded with the USDA’s organic seal.
And surprise-surprise, in the wake of this blunder, OCIA’s executive director declined to comment on the USDA’s ban.
But kudos to China, prior to OCIA getting the boot, Chinese organic farms did have periodic visits from other food inspectors certified by the USDA.
Now, while this is great to hear – you have to come down hard on lazy companies, especially ones that handle our food – the USDA had been trying to revoke OCIA’s license since 2007. Talk about glacial action.
Hey, better late then never…I guess.
It’s an understatement, but China does have its fair share of toxic problems. In addition to the melamine debacle, previous reports have linked China’s massive air pollution to birth defects. Is there an inspector for that too?
Image credit: Trade Prince
Read More:USDA Boots an Organic Inspector from China
April 15th, 2010 - Scott Shaffer
Local and organic food-growers need your help!
Bill S. 510 is an overhaul of the food safety system that will hurt small-scale organic producers. The bill would require a $500 registration fee for all farms, regardless of size, and would require complicated monitoring of crops. If this bill passed, it would seriously burden small local and organic farms, which is probably why big food businesses like The American Frozen Food Institute, General Mills, and Kraft Foods support S. 510.
Food safety is an important issue, and Congress should definitely do something about it. But why put extra burdens on small growers when the major recent health scandals — E. Coli, melamine, and salmonella, just to name a few — were linked to industrial farming practices? This is surely an issue on which all citizens can agree — whether they be small-government conservatives or liberal, eco-friendly foodies.
Defenders of Wildlife, Farm Aid, and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, among others, have announced their opposition to S. 510. Please join them and help stop it. This bill is scheduled to come before the US Senate for a vote in the next few weeks, so please, visit Credo Action to learn more and contact your Senator and tell them that you support organic and local farms.
Read More:Upcoming Senate Bill Threatens Local and Organic Farms
November 25th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Plus a $250,000 fine! That’s what a Texas man faces for lying to authorities that his products were organic.
The man, owner of Sel-Cor Bean and Pea in Brownfield, mislead officials by claiming his products were purchased from organic suppliers, but it turns out, they were not certified as organic.
And between 2005 and 2006 his company’s food items were marketed and sold as organic.
The owner also falsified documents in an attempt to trick investigators.
He has pleaded guilty and now faces up to five years in prison, and could be fined $250,000. Was it really worth it?
But this has happened before.
In September, the director of a British food supplier was sentenced to 27 months in prison for selling $820,000 of products “mis-described” as organic.
And the dumb-dumb award goes to…
Via The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
Image credit: Now Public
Read More:5 Years in Prison for Lying About Organic
November 23rd, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Since people are pinching pennies like never before, you’d assume they’d bail on the organic turkey.
Organic turkeys don’t come cheap! In Wisconsin, a 16 pound organic, free-range bird can cost you around 70 bucks.
Sounds like a lot, considering the kiddie table never finishes their food, Uncle Bob only eats the drumstick, and the rest ends up as cold sandwiches.
So one farmer in Wisconsin figured this year he wouldn’t sell that many organic turkeys, wrong guess.
Turns out, they’re still buying them, and now he has to turn people away. He doesn’t have enough birds to go around.
Farmer Matthew Smith was worried that he’d get stuck with unsold birds, so he didn’t raise as many as he normally does. But he sold out in three weeks.
A local food co-op believes people are being smarter with their organic purchases, instead of buying things like organic cookies and snacks, they are shifting priorities and just buying organic meat, butter, and cheese.
Makes sense, in light of swine flu and E. coli, people probably are more likely to get willies about meat than organic potato chips.
Via The Wisconsin State Journal.
Image credit: WWVB
Read More:Wisconsin Farmers Wish They Had More Organic Turkeys
November 23rd, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
In Ontario, there was a simple rule. If you are raising a flock of turkeys, numbering 50 or more, they must be kept under a roof.
Why? It protects them from contact with wild birds, and maybe catching avian flu.
But local organic turkey farmers fought the mandate, saying the birds must to be outdoors in order to be considered organic.
And they won.
The Turkey Farmers of Ontario will now exempt organic turkeys from having to be raised under a solid roof.
Farmers argued that the existing rule prevented them from complying with the Organic Council of Ontario that says organic turkeys must have access to the outdoors.
After an 18 month court battle, the legislation was lifted for organic birds, and now only food and water must be covered.
And to safeguard against disease, turkeys will be contained one week before slaughter, and flocks will be subject to random sampling.
Its curious how many laws, rules, and mandates need to be reworked to facilitate the needs of organic farming. It’s almost like the scale if tilted to make it easier for conventional practices. You think?
Via The Toronto Star.
Image credit: Going Local
Read More:No More Roofs for Ontario Organic Turkeys
November 18th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
If you’re dying to crack open a can of pumpkin and whip up some pie, you might have your plans dashed.
Libby’s canned pumpkin, the brand everyone knows, everyone buys, says all the rain in the Midwest this year has made a mess out of the pumpkin fields.
Fields are too soggy to get harvesting equipment going, so lots of pumpkins are rotting with fungus, and soon to be plowed over.
But it isn’t all bad. Organic pumpkin growers in Oregon are filling in the gap Libby’s can’t supply, and raking in the profit.
Some retailers denied adequate shipments of canned pumpkin phoned up Farmers Markets Foods, a major supplier of organic pumpkin, and begged for product.
A spokesperson for the company says they’re shipping out organic canned pumpkin by the truckload.
You never know, maybe this will help shift consumers perception of organics, and they’ll stick with it after Libby’s re-supplies.
Or just use whole organic pumpkins to make pie. I’m an idiot, and I can’t cook, but even I know. Mash it up, add spices, done.
Via The New York Times.
Image credit: SweetSpot.ca
Read More:Wet Weather Means Less Pumpkin to Go Around – Good for Organics
November 10th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Georgia might have nice peaches, but apples are a pain in the butt, especially growing organic apples.
Heat in humidity isn’t great for farming apples. The muggy weather means nasty fungus, moth larvae, and bacterial disease, so farmers say in order to grow a marketable product they have to spray.
Meaning local farmers can’t go totally organic, but they’ve come up with a compromise.
They call it Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, which involves targeted use of chemicals, computer modeling, and monitoring weather and insect populations.
Farmers say IPM has helped them cut spraying by 25%, and some crops go 30 days without being hit with chemicals.
I’m not sure how much of a compromise it really is. If you want organic, you only buy organic. But maybe if you live in Georgia, where peaches are local, and apples are not, just eat more peaches instead–right?
Via Access Atlanta.
Image credit: Harvest Wizard.
Read More:Growing Organic Apples is Hard in the South