the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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who owns organic?

Organic-chart-Jan-2016

An updated version of Dr. Phillip H. Howard’s Who Owns Organic info graphic is now available here. When Howard, who is an associate professor at Michigan State University, first made the info graphic is 2012, a number of independent organic brands had been acquired by larger food corporations. Howard updated the chart because, as he writes, “A second wave of acquisitions has been occurring since 2012. Few companies identify these ownership ties on product labels.”

For those of you out there who try to be as social responsible as possible with your dollars, information like this may be overwhelming and, perhaps disempowering– but there’s a small silver lining in this story. For your sake, we’d like to note that Howard has a different chart showing major independent organic food brands and their subsidiaries. You can still feel good about supporting these guys!

independents


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pesticides show up in rainwater in four agricultural watersheds

Env_contamination1.if

Image from Wikipedia.

Read this 2008 study on the University of Nebraska’s Digital Commons. The study publishes research supported by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program done in 2003 and 2004, which found statistically significant levels of herbicides and insecticides in rainwater in Maryland, Indiana, Nebraska, and California. We’d like to know how these levels are changing over time as high pesticides continue to be sprayed around the country.


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monsanto cancels building new industrial plant

ar-151229831

Reuters/Tom Gannam/Files

The Gazette, and Iowa City newspaper, recently published a story mentioning the “struggling farm economy” being the cause of the cancellation of a $90,000,000 Monsanto seed corn plant. The story can be found here, but one must ask the question: Is consumer awareness prohibiting the expansion of these GMO giants? Keep putting your money where your ethics are, dear shoppers.

As a supplement, take a look at the USDA’s Economic Research Service and you’ll see that the value of net production per acre for organic is nearly three times that of conventional.

Organic: $366.27 (Yield: 121 bushels per acre)

Conventional: $139.05 (Yield: 159 bushels per acre)

 

 

 


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joyous JOJOBA jubilee

Jojoba.seed

Jojoba seed

You have probably noticed that there’s a lot of bad news going around these days, and I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just need to watch a feel-good video on the internet. Which brings me to today’s installment of Californians just do the coolest things! (The link reroutes you to an episode of old TV treasure, California’s Lost Gold.)

Check out that sweet video, and if you’re interested more, stop on by the website of La Ronna Jojoba Co. Larry and Donna Charpied have been growing jojoba as an alternative to whale oil for 30 years, and their story is fabulous: it’s the kind of story you’d expect from organic farmers: the bucking of “conventional” wisdom and an awesome stubborn doggedness to grow in a way that doesn’t drain the precious resources of the local ecosystem.


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you can now sue over organic labels in california

If I’m going to spend extra on organic produce and products, they better well be fully organic. We’re talking pesticide-free, earth-friendly, non-synthetic organic here. If I get a product labeled organic that doesn’t meet those standards, I’m going to feel cheated.

And, as of today, I could sue. In an opinion released today, the California Supreme Court ruled that consumers can sue over “misrepresentations in labeling,” when products are misleadingly labeled as organic.

Organic or Just Sort of Organic?

The California Supreme Court’s ruling came after Herby Thyme Farms, one of the largest herb growers in California, was accused of mixing organic and conventionally grown herbs in the same package and selling them under a “fresh organic” label.

A class action against the growers alleged that consumers were lead to believe that the herbs were 100 percent organic when they were not — and they paid a premium for that organic designation. Lead plaintiff Michelle Quesada sued Herb Thyme under California’s unfair competition and false advertising laws.

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heck yes, the EPA revokes new DOW pesticide for GMO crops

Warning2Pesticides

“E.P.A. can no longer be confident that Enlist Duo will not cause risks of concern to nontarget organisms, including those listed as endangered, when used according to the approved label,” the agency said in its filing to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.

Read more at the New York Times.


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keep the soil organic: the truth about hydroponics

Keep The Soil In Organic began as a petition started by Dave Chapman, the owner/grower at Long Wind Farm, and David Miskell of Miskell’s Premier Organics.

Why are we doing this?

We are doing this because of our deep concern about a failure to maintain the integrity of the national organic standards. The way that the national standards work is that a group of federal bureaucrats from the USDA (called the National Organic Program, or NOP) are responsible for defining and administering organic standards for the United States. They are guided by an advisory committee of 15 people (called the National Organic Standards Board, or NOSB) representing organic farmers and consumers, who make informed recommendations to the USDA. The USDA has sometimes taken a long time to respond to a recommendation, but never before have they actually reversed a recommendation of the NOSB, which is charged with the mission of representing the organic community. The NOSB is a balanced group of committed, well informed people, who have taken their responsibility of guiding the federal organic standards very seriously. They do a great deal of good research and hold public hearings to hear all points of view, before making a recommendation. They only make recommendations on subjects requested by the NOP.

The recommendation

In 2010 the NOSB (National Organic Standards Board) submitted a recommendation to the NOP (National Organic Program) that soil-less vegetable production NOT be certified as organic. (See below). Until that time the issue of soil-less growing had never been addressed by the NOP, so the NOP asked the NOSB to come up with a recommendation. The NOSB voted 12 to 1 (with 2 abstentions) to prohibit soilless production. They wrote out a carefully worded, well thought out document, making their arguments clear. The recommendations of the NOSB are almost always eventually accepted by the NOP, but in this case the NOP has not acted on the NOSB recommendation, and three years later, the NOP continues to ALLOW hydroponic vegetable production to be certified as organic. The NOP has not offered any guidance to certifying agencies on this matter, nor any explanation. They have not held public hearings.  Many certifying agencies in the US are now refusing to certify hydroponic operations as organic.

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