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Organic Link Love for Memorial Day Weekend

There is no more appropriate way to start off this Organic Link Love column than by introducing Debbie Stabenow, the esteemed Democratic Senator from Michigan and chair of the Agriculture Committee.

During the recent vote for GMO-labeling in the Senate Farm Bill, The Huffington Post quoted her as saying that “labels run counter to science and the public interest in healthy food.”

If you’re shaking your head after reading that one, you’re not alone.

It is one of the most absurd statements that I have ever heard…… but par for the course for politicians who are influenced by Monsanto’s lobbying machine.

In other GMO-related news, the Senate also refused to overturn the Monsanto Protection Act, and Connecticut passed a watered down GMO-labeling bill with so many provisions that it is essentially meaningless.

Interestingly, New York, my home state, is making real progress in its effort to push through a GMO-labeling bill.

Articles keep popping up about how the organic industry’s clout is growing in Washington, D.C., but it is clear that we still have a long way to go. 

USDA Secretary Vilsack recognizes distinct needs of organic yet has said nothing about how to protect or compensate organic farmers from GMO-contamination.

Lots of acquisitions have taken place lately as major corporations continue to see organic as the future, particularly in the baby food segment. Campbell Soup acquired Plum Organics, Hain Celestial bought Ella’s Kitchen, an organic baby food company in the UK, and Danone purchased Happy Family.

Organic salad producer Earthbound Farm is being prepped for sale in the $600-700M range, and Dean Foods’ WhiteWave spinoff is seen as clearing the way for a takeover.

There were a bunch of really inspirational stories including a couple in San Diego who is training U.S. Veterans for careers in organic farming, a charter school in California will be serving organic food, and people with special needs are growing organic vegetables on a 35-acre farm in Abu Dhabi.

And, Hungary, a country where genetically-modified crops are completely banned, found that some of Monsanto’s GMO-corn had been planted and quickly destroyed them all. (Yes, I found that to be inspirational.)

On the crowdfunding front….a woman in Canada has started an organic farm via crowdfunding, there is a campaign on IndieGoGo to shoot a documentary about a woman who was poisoned by pesticides and is now an organic farmer in Virginia, and there’s a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a documentary about small, organic suppliers.

Ironically, crowdfunding platform CircleUp raised its own $7.5M Series A, which is fantastic news for emerging organic food companies.

Horizon Organic plans to expand beyond the dairy aisle, into cookies and crackers. An anonymous investor put $3 million into a Maine organic dairy company called MOOMilk, and an organic dairy farm in New Zealand is pioneering a high-tech, voluntary milking system.

Organic food sales in the UK have increased since the horse meat scandal there, organic farms are a growth area in Russia, an organic co-op proves that agriculture can prosper in Cuba, and young people in India are increasingly turning to organic farming.

There’s an interesting profile of Planet Organic, England’s largest organic supermarket chain, and the Rodale Institute and Lehigh University have partnered on a new organic gardening project.

As I wrote about the other day, Oprah Winfrey revealed her first move into the organic food business.

In the juicing world……Organic Avenue named Martin Bates as its new CEO, an American takes on the pressed organic juice scene in London with Plenish Cleanse, and here’s a cool profile of the founders of BluePrint Cleanse.

To wrap things up, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said this of Walter Robb, Co-CEO of Whole Foods: “He is one of the great CEOs of our era.”

I know Walter Robb, have interviewed him, and agree 1,000%. Aside from being a phenomenal CEO, he is an even better person.

A message from Tradin Organic

How Tradin Organic is Helping Coconut Farmers in The Philippines

For more than a decade, Tradin Organic has been working with local partners in The Philippines to bring a diversified range of organic products to the market, such as coconut oil, tropical fruits and even cocoa.

The company is helping to support local farmers by assisting them with technical support and organic certification, in addition to paying Fairtrade premium on top of the organic premium.

Learn more.

livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink