Category Archives: organic

Lousy GMO news for organic

Less research means more yield.

According to new governmental regulations, companies developing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) will now be responsible themselves for conducting the research that APHIS will use to do their environmental impact study on the companies products. That will produce a cheaper, faster road to the marketplace for GMO seed, a growing headache for neighboring organic farmers. And it will tighten their already substantial control over all the research done, and scientific information published, on their products.

Concerns? What concerns?

Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, is quoted in Popular Science as saying, “It’s like asking BP to write an assessment of an offshore drilling operation.”

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Regular organic news available from the NOP

uncle sam gardens

Uncle Sam says, "garden organically, and here are the rules."

You have to wonder sometimes. What were people thinking when they asked the USDA to take over organic. Government involvement doesn’t usually mean efficiency or proficiency, but it is what it is. At least the National Organic Program is fairly straight-forward with the information, now offering a regular email newsletter with the latest updates on various rules and initiatives related to the constantly changing world of organic.

You can sign up for it HERE.

Once you do, you’ll start receiving these really archaic and confusing emails that contain the link to the NOP Organic Insider newsletter page.

You’re welcome.

 

 

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New info on polyphenols

stress inducer

Polyphenols are a group of secondary metabolites produced by plants. Many also have health benefits for humans. In short, they are commonly considered antioxidants, but new research is revealing more detail on how these compounds work. This blog — Whole Health Source — by Stephan Guyenet is really interesting. The latest enty [HERE] is a well documented explanation of how some polyphenols don’t necessarily prevent oxidation in cells, but promote it at low levels, such that it stimulates the cells own antioxident response. His explanation is much better than mine.

The interesting thing is that some organically grown crops have been shown to contain higher levels of some polyphenols. Plants produce these compounds as a self defense mechanism against stresses caused by insects or other damage. Because organically grown crops are subject to higher levels of stress, they produce higher levels of polyphenols, and can therefor be healthier for humans.

For more info, go HERE. Dr. Alyson Mitchel (UC Davis) has done some fantastic research in this area.

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Natural farming goes beyond organic

Guatemala: a nice place to visit in January.

Haven’t blogged for a month. I’ve been traveling. Helped take a group of students to Guatemala and Costa Rica to look at culture and export horticulture in both regions. It was a great trip and a great group of students. Now I’m preparing for my annual Brazil trip to Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza, the organic coffee farm paradise I’ve taken students to the last couple years. That happens mid-March and you can read about past trips HERE.

Ran across this article on a new method of “natural farming” coming out of Korea. Sounds similar to the concepts of One Straw Revolution and Permaculture. It’s gaining popularity in Hawaii and providing solutions for small-scale pork producers in that state who are struggling with odor and the issue it raises with neighbors…

“Unlike conventional or even organic farming, “natural farming” is a self-sufficient system to raise crops and livestock with resources available on the farm. Rather than applying chemical fertilizers, farmers boost the beneficial microbes that occur naturally in the soil by collecting and culturing them with everyday ingredients such as steamed rice and brown sugar. They also feed their crops with solutions containing minerals and amino acids made from castoff items such as eggshells and fish bones.”

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Filed under natural, organic, small farms, travel and work

Global organic tries to go local

Bananas with a "local" feel.

This morning, while I sat in the kitchen checking my email, I glance over and notice that my wife had bought another bunch of Dole Organic bananas.  She’s been buying these lately. They’re much more expensive and they are smaller and not as yellow as conventional bananas, but the taste better. At least, me and my oldest daughter think so. This morning was the first time I actually looked at the label. At the top of the label is the USDA ORGANIC seal, and then in small print, “Visit the Farm at doleorganic.com FARM 776 Columbia”. That caught my eye. Supposedly I can go on line and look at the farmer in Columbia who grew this banana sitting on my kitchen counter.

I went to doleorganic.com, typed in “776” and hit GO. It took me to a page Dole created for the Don Pedro Farm…

In the heart of La Guajira desert with a great view of the snowed peaks of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, there is a farm called Don Pedro. This farm has over 310 hectares of organic bananas and was established in 2005. This farm is currently certified under EU and NOP organic rules, ISO 14000 and SA 8000.

In addition to this brief description, there are eight pictures, most of the farm, and a list of the farm’s certifications. You can even click on PDFs and look at a copy of the certifications. It also has a link to a Google EARTH Map showing the location of the farm. There are a total of 34 farms one can “visit” through the site.

Reconnecting food back to the farmer, sorta.

I have to commend Dole for helping their consumers “connect” with the farmers growing their produce. This is an ingenious attempt to frame their produce in a way that appeals to locavores. Know your farmer. That’s the locavore motto. And now, even if your farmer farms on another continent you can “know” him/her. Of course, “local,” like the term, “friend” is a relative term. For us living in the Midwest US there in no such thing as a truly local banana. South America is about as local as we can get from here. Better this side of the globe than all the way over in the Philippines. Right?

Anyway, glad to meet you, Don Pedro. Your bananas are delicious. God bless you and your farm.

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Filed under agriculture, big ag, food, local food, organic

Book: a different field

the stories of real farmers in Illinois

Here’s a book I wrote several years ago. You can order it cheap from the University of Illinois.

A Different Field — Innovative Entrepreneurs in Illinois Farming

Grapes, earthworms, buffalo, pecans, honey, and catfish-not typically what comes to mind when thinking about farms in the state of Illinois. But these and other unusual “crops” are featured in a new book about innovative farmers. This book tells the stories of 18 farmers who are exploring alternatives to corn and soybeans: a first look at a growing trend in Illinois as consumers become “more conscious of their health and more particular about their food.”

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Filed under agriculture, environment, local food, organic, small farms

Illinois Organic Growers Association

WANTED: Farmers interested in advancing organic  farming and marketing methods and strengthening opportunities for Illinois Agriculture.

Interested? Join the first official meeting of the Illinois Organic Growers Association, to be held Thursday, Jan 6, 4.00 pm in the ‘organic business meeting’ slot at the Illinois Specialty Crops, Agritourism and Organic Conference.  The conference takes place  Jan 5-7 in Springfield IL. Pre-registration deadline is 12/28/2010. This effort is supported by an Illinois Specialty Crops grant, University of Illinois Extension and Illinois Stewardship Alliance.

If  you can’t attend the meeting in person, but want to participate in the discussion please call in on Jan 6 at 4.00 pm.

Register (no fee) for the phone conference at: https://webs.extension.uiuc.edu/registration/?RegistrationID=5185

Instructions on how to  call in are on your registration confirmation.

To learn more about efforts to develop the association and view the organic tracks visit http://asap.sustainability.uiuc.edu/

To learn more about the conference and register, go to www.specialtygrowers.org, or call 309-557-2107; or email cblary@ilfb.org.  Onsite registration is available.

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