Fall 2016 NOSB Meeting Recap: Carrageenan, Excluded Methods, Hydroponics, Facebook Live Interviews

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Last week, I was in St. Louis to attend the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting, and I’d say we walked away with one big win, one big loss, and one win that shouldn’t really be considered a win.

For those who are unfamiliar with the NOSB, it is a 15-person board that is supposed to represent various interests of the organic industry, with each member appointed by the USDA secretary for a 5-year term. More than anything, the NOSB makes recommendations to the USDA regarding rules and regulations for all aspects of organic, including allowed and prohibited substances. The NOSB, which meets twice per year, is arguably the most important committee when it comes to deciding the fate and future of organic. Read more »


TAKE ACTION: Tell the EPA Inspector General to Protect Us from Glyphosate in our Food

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If you were under the impression that our government is here to protect us, now is the time that we demand that they do so.

A blockbuster new report by Food Democracy Now! and The Detox Project shows that our health is in serious jeopardy because of the most widely used chemical in the world: glyphosate.

Glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s RoundUp, was was called a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organization. This means that it probably causes cancer in humans.

Even more alarming is that 250 million pounds of it are used in the U.S. each year — on farms, lawns, parks and schools, among many other places.

New scientific evidence shows that probable harm to human health could begin at ultra-low levels of glyphosate at 0.1 parts per billions (ppb). This is 1,750 times lower than what the EPA currently claims is safe. Read more »


President-Elect Donald Trump and Organic Food – How Concerned Should We Be?

donald-trump-organic-food (Photo courtesy of Donald J. Trump)

With Donald Trump now officially moving into the White House in January, I wanted to take a look at how his presidency would impact organic food.

First off, whatever Trump does, it will not be worse than President Obama. While many people may assume that Obama has been a friend to organic, nothing could be further than the truth. He has been an absolute and unmitigated disaster for organic. Read more »


Organic Link Love – New York Times, New CEO Structure, Tainted Water and the Latest on Sarma

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Here is a compilation of some of the most important and compelling organic food news stories as of late.

There is probably nothing more must-read than the article in The New York Times about the failure of GMOs. The NYT accurately said that GMOs have not resulted in increased yields or decreased amount of pesticides, and this piece was validation to those of us in the organic community who have long believed that GMOs are nothing but failed promises.

While the federal government and President Obama continue to defend GMOs, Germany has taken an opposite approach. Its cabinet has approved a draft law banning GMOs. Meanwhile, Sonoma County is trying to create a 13,734 square mile GMO-free zone in Northern California.

Big Food’s lobbying group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, was hit with an $18M campaign financing fine over their action during Washington’s GMO-labeling measure a few years ago. Read more »


Living Tree Community Foods Lemon Olive Oil is The Best I Have Ever Had

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Over the past few years, I have developed a relationship with the founder of Living Tree Community Foods, Jesse Schwartz.

Jesse is the person who urged me to check out Organic Circle, an amazing organic kosher supermarket in Brooklyn, that I profiled last month in my Supermarket Spotlight column. Needless to say, I trust his judgment.

When he wanted to send me more samples of his products recently, he was pushing real hard for his almond butter.

I said to him, “Jesse, I am sure it is great, but I really can’t eat almond butter anymore. For some strange reason, I now have an allergic reaction to eating almonds. It is better that you send me your lemon olive oil because that’s what I really want to write about. It is the best olive oil that I have ever had.”

This is not hyperbole. It truly is the best organic olive oil that I’ve ever had.

And when you learn how this lemon olive oil is produced, you’ll understand the reason for my enthusiasm.

The olives and lemons are co-milled, which means that they are crushed at the same time. Hence, a single oil is extracted from the combination.

According to Living Tree Community Foods, most flavored olive oils are infused, with an extract being added. The process of co-milling, versus adding an extract afterward, results in a very different final product.

The olives are a Mission variety, which has been used in Europe for cooking and healing in Europe for thousands of years. Introduced in California a few hundred years ago, the Mission olive contains phenols that are not found in other varieties, particularly oleuropein aglycon, which has significant health benefits.

Not to be outdone, the organic Lisbon lemons are an heirloom variety that is richly flavored and deeply aromatic.

Yet, the story gets even more interesting.

The Mission olives are grown by family farmer Darro Greco on a 100% certified organic estate called the Berkeley Olive Grove.

Founded in 1913 by a group of professors from the University of California at Berkeley, the Berkeley Olive Grove brought experts in from Europe to create an olive grove that would sustain itself. The award-winning grove is located in Sacramento Valley, 150 miles from the town of Berkeley, and is situated in a unique geographical area at the western escarpment of Table Mountain. Water naturally percolates from an underground aquifer, and the trees are 100 years old and are dry farmed. Read more »


TAKE ACTION: Cornucopia Alleges Corruption at the USDA’s National Organic Program, Demands New Management

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(National Organic Standards Board meeting, photo courtesy of The Cornucopia Institute)

As we are getting ready to see either Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump take up residence in the White House, many of you may be wishing that we had another four years of President Obama.

But whether you are for or against this current president, one thing has been irrefutable: he has been a complete and utter disaster for organic.

Not only did he recently sign the worst GMO-labeling bill imaginable, which has put the future of organic in serious jeopardy, but his administration has approved every single genetically-modified crop that has been applied for, including genetically-engineered salmon, Agent Orange Corn and three types of genetically-engineered apples that don’t turn brown.

And these are just the high-levels initiatives that the much of the organic industry knows about. Yet, when you dig into the details of the day-to-day operations at the National Organic Program, it gets even worse. Read more »