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Organic vs. Natural: Understand the Difference, Educate Others

Organic vs. Natural: Understand the Difference, Educate Others

These past few days have been heaven for college football junkies such as myself. Why? We got to watch a ton of great bowl games and the best is yet to come — January 10th when Auburn and Oregon play for the National BCS Championship. Then, a few months later comes March Madness, the college […]

GMO Organic Regulation Uncategorized USDA
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These past few days have been heaven for college football junkies such as myself. Why?

We got to watch a ton of great bowl games and the best is yet to come — January 10th when Auburn and Oregon play for the National BCS Championship. Then, a few months later comes March Madness, the college basketball championship tournament.

Now that I got the sports plug in, let’s talk about Organic vs. Natural.

I am addressing this now because when I was watching the Rose Bowl game yesterday (TCU vs. Wisconsin), a major potato-chip manufacturer kept popping up with its “all-natural” ads. The vegetables in the ads looked pristine, the kitchen was sparkling white and the cutting board was beautiful. It was about as picturesque and healthy looking as you can imagine.

And, they kept saying their potato-chips were “all-natural”.

According to the USDA’s website, this is what “natural” means.

As required by USDA, meat, poultry, and egg products labeled as “natural” must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. However, the natural label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to processing of meat and egg products. There are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products if they do not contain meat or eggs.

Did you read that last sentence? There are no standards or regulations for the labeling of natural food products if they do not contain meat or eggs.

As a result, “natural” has been badly abused as a marketing technique, and tons of companies have used genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), synthetic chemicals, and growth hormones in the production of their “natural” foods.

Since the government has been unwilling to enforce any type of standard for the term “natural”, class action lawyers have gotten involved and filed lawsuits against corporations such as Pepsi (Naked Juice) and Kashi who have used ingredients that are anything but natural.

What to do?

Avoid buying products labeled as “natural” and purchase “organic” products.

Organic food has very strict standards — no GMOs, no toxic pesticides or chemicals, nothing artificial, nothing can be irradiated or grown in sewage sludge — and the certification process is rigorous. Organic food is MUCH healthier for a person and for the planet.

So, the next time some person or some advertisement says that a food product is “natural”, now you know what the word really means. Or, doesn’t mean.

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First Time Ever: Federal Judge Orders the Destruction of GMO-Crops

First Time Ever: Federal Judge Orders the Destruction of GMO-Crops

Does it make sense that we have to sue our government to get them to obey the law? No, of course not. But that is what we have to do these days. The USDA is so controlled by Big Ag, biotech and pro-GMO companies that it will completely ignore the law in order to placate […]

GMO Organic Regulation The Center for Food Safety
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Does it make sense that we have to sue our government to get them to obey the law? No, of course not.

But that is what we have to do these days. The USDA is so controlled by Big Ag, biotech and pro-GMO companies that it will completely ignore the law in order to placate its very powerful constituency.

Here’s what happened: In August, Federal District Judge Steven S. White (pictured) ruled that the USDA could not approve the planting of GE-sugar beets until an environmental review had been completed. Seeking to circumvent this ruling, the USDA’s Department of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service gave the green light for GE-sugar beet seedlings to be planted just one month later, in September. Read more »


My Take on the NYT Op-Ed Piece by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser

My Take on the NYT Op-Ed Piece by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser

Tonight, the Food Safety Bill is supposed to be voted on in Congress, and I just came across this op-ed piece by influential organic food advocates Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser. Overall, I like what they have to say. The important Tester amendment appears to be in there and much to no one’s surprise, Big […]

FDA GMO Organic Regulation
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Tonight, the Food Safety Bill is supposed to be voted on in Congress, and I just came across this op-ed piece by influential organic food advocates Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser.

Overall, I like what they have to say. The important Tester amendment appears to be in there and much to no one’s surprise, Big Ag thinks that small farmers should not get any exemption. As we all know, Big Ag and their factory farms are the true cause of all of our food problems — not the little guys.

The main issue I have with this legislation (and this op-ed piece) is that it gives the FDA a tremendous amount of power over food manufacturers. In theory, this makes a lot of sense. Having a government body oversee and monitor our food supply is very reasonable.

However, the FDA is so beholden to Big Ag and biotech that I don’t trust they will use their authority in the correct way. I see them cracking down on the little guys while the major food conglomerates remain unscathed. Even if small farmers are exempt from a lot of red tape, the FDA still will have power to harass them. And, that is what makes me nervous.

The FDA needs to prove that it can play fair and make rational decisions when it comes to organic food. Its first test will be to reject the ridiculous GE-salmon debacle that has been proposed. Yet, the FDA is acting in a very shady manner and everything I read makes me think that they are going to approve Franken-Fish.

Let’s hope they do the right thing and not allow GE-salmon. Only then will I have more faith that they will act appropriately in keeping our food supply safe.


Live Update on Food Safety Bill

Live Update on Food Safety Bill

This was an email I just received from Will Telligman, Legislative and Advocacy Manager for the Organic Trade Association.  I spoke with him briefly this morning about what is going on with the Food Safety Bill and below is the message that he just sent me.  It is copied and pasted below. ————— 2:00PM EST […]

Organic Regulation
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This was an email I just received from Will Telligman, Legislative and Advocacy Manager for the Organic Trade Association.  I spoke with him briefly this morning about what is going on with the Food Safety Bill and below is the message that he just sent me.  It is copied and pasted below.

—————

2:00PM EST – November 18, 2010

The Senate is moving forward on the food safety bill, S.510.  There was concern that the bill would be stalled due to an amendment offered by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) to exclude small operations that engage in direct to consumer sales.  An amendment to ban the use bisphenol A (BPA) was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and was also seen as a potential roadblock for the bill.

A compromise was reached on Tester’s amendment that allows small facilities and farms engaged in direct to consumers sales to be exempt from requirements in the bill to create a HACCP plan, but they still have to prove that they have identified possible problems and have preventative measures in place, or be in compliance with state or local food safety laws.  Foods regulated under state or local laws must be labeled as such with the contact information of the operation prominently displayed.  Exempted facilities must sell their product directly to a consumer, restaurant or retailer within a 275 mile radius (the original amendment called for 500 miles) or must be within the same state, and may not have averaged more than $500,000 in sales annually over the past three years.  The final amendment language also allows the FDA to end an exemption if an exempt facility or farm is linked to an outbreak. Read more »


The Elections: What it Means for Organic

The Elections: What it Means for Organic

I wish I could give you a more definitive answer but the reality is this – we just don’t know yet. I got an email this afternoon from Will Telligman, the Legislative & Advocacy Manager at the Organic Trade Association. He provided the following two bits of information that I wanted to pass on. 1) […]

Organic Regulation
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I wish I could give you a more definitive answer but the reality is this – we just don’t know yet.

I got an email this afternoon from Will Telligman, the Legislative & Advocacy Manager at the Organic Trade Association. He provided the following two bits of information that I wanted to pass on.

1) We don’t know the impact that the elections will have just yet. This is what he said:

In the coming weeks, OTA will be conferring with outside consultants and other organic/sustainable agriculture groups to analyze what impact the new Congress will have on the organic industry.  We will continue to work with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and will educate the plethora of new staff that will be coming to Washington on the many benefits that organic provides to human health, environmental health, and rural economies.  The 2011 Policy Conference Hill visits will be a very important tool to educate new Members and their staff, especially those who are not from traditional agriculture areas.

It sounds like lots of lobbying and educating will be going on in the coming months. Hopefully, the newly elected politicians already understand how critical organics are to the health of our country.

2) Will Telligman also believes that the Food Safety Bill will not be finished in the lame duck session and it will be introduced when the new Congress convenes next year.

When I have more information, I’ll be sure to update you all.


URGENT: Update on Food Safety Bill – Take Further Action to Protect Organics

URGENT: Update on Food Safety Bill - Take Further Action to Protect Organics

I know that lately I have been writing a lot about legislative events in Washington D.C., as it relates to organic food, but the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) could reach the Senate floor as early as tomorrow. Based on information that I received this afternoon, several improvements have been made to the bill […]

Organic Regulation
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I know that lately I have been writing a lot about legislative events in Washington D.C., as it relates to organic food, but the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) could reach the Senate floor as early as tomorrow.

Based on information that I received this afternoon, several improvements have been made to the bill but more are needed to protect local and small farms and processing facilities who sell to restaurants, food co-ops, groceries, schools and wholesalers.

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) has put forth a VERY IMPORTANT amendment that would exempt small farm and small food processing facilities, as well as small and mid-sized farmers, who primarily direct market their products to consumers, stores or restaurants within their region. Getting the Tester Amendment included in this bill is of paramount importance.

Please call your senator and tell them: I am a constituent of ________ and I urge him/her to support the Tester Amendment and Tester Language in the Food Safety Bill. The Tester Amendment will exempt small farm and food facilities and farmers who direct market their products to consumers, stores and restaurants. We need a food safety bill that will crack down on the corporate food giants without creating unnecessary restrictions and red tape on small family and mid-sized farms. The health of our country depends on this.

Click HERE for a list of all senators and their phone numbers.

This was a press release from last April from Senator Tester’s website regarding the food safety bill.


Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) Delays Food Safety Bill — Thankfully

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) Delays Food Safety Bill -- Thankfully

While I am all for improved food safety in this country, especially with the recent egg salmonella scare , the current food safety bill that has been working its way through Congress is a step in the wrong direction. Why? – It has the potential to kill organic, local and community food production. The rules […]

FDA Food Safety Organic Regulation
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While I am all for improved food safety in this country, especially with the recent egg salmonella scare , the current food safety bill that has been working its way through Congress is a step in the wrong direction.

Why?

– It has the potential to kill organic, local and community food production. The rules and bureaucracy would make it impossible for the little guys to compete.

As it is now, many small organic farmers choose to avoid or unable to afford the certification process because of the cost and red tape.

– It is endorsed by “industry”.  Anything that is endorsed by industry is something that I am very wary of. After you watch the movie Food, Inc., you’ll see that the industry is the problem.

– There is a section of the bill that allows the Secretary to keep provisions of the bill secret. Yes, secret! This is due to national security reasons.

– After the debacle with genetically-engineered salmon, I don’t trust the FDA to do the right thing when it comes to protecting the integrity of organic. Read more »