Sunday, December 22, 2013

Organic Agricultural Research Supported by U.S. Department of Agriculture

Grants Awarded to Five Universities

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), on December 11, 2013, awarded five universities grants to support research, education, and Extension programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers.

The Secretary of Agriculture Speaks

Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack said:
The organic industry is a rapidly growing segment of American agriculture and it is important we continue to invest in sound science to support organic producers. 
The discoveries these grants enable can help farmers who are looking to adopt the best organic practices that will make their operations more competitive and sustainable.

Universities and Grants Awarded

  • University of Florida, Gainesville, $675,719
  • Michigan State, East Lansing, $464,482
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, $718,225
  • University of Texas Pan American, Edinburg, $746,973
  • Washington State University, Pullman, $749,661

The Organic Transitory Program

The grants disbursed include more than $3 million through the Organic Transitions Program (ORG).  This program:
  • Determines "ecosystems," i.e., environmental benefits, provided by organic farming systems in the area of soil conservation and climate change mitigation, including mitigation of greenhouse gases.
  • Develops educational tools for Cooperative Extension personnel and other agricultural professionals who advice producers on organic practices.
  • Supports the organic industry to develop appropriate practices and materials to correspond with the National Organic Program's National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.

The Department's Stand on Organic Production

Officially, the Department says:
Since the late 1990's, U.S. organic production has grown significantly.  U.S. producers are increasingly turning to certified organic farming systems as a potential way to decrease reliance on nonrenewable resources, capture high-value markets and premium prices, and boost farm income.
Today, more than two-thirds of U.S. consumers buy organic products at least occasionally, and 28 percent buy organic products weekly.


Thankfully, the U.S. Department of Agriculture


Is Awake to This Trend!

*   *   *

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Organic Farming on the Sinai Peninsula

Who Would Have Expected This?

According to Al-Monitor, The Pulse of the Middle East, the daily newsletter summarizing reports from Middle Eastern nations, including Israel, the southern Sinai Peninsula--once a thriving tourist resort, surrounded by stretches of dry desert--is now dotted with world-class organic farms.
These farms, that continue to expand, supply vegetables and herbs for both locals and tourists in the Red Sea towns of Taba, Nuweiba, Dehab, and Sharm El-Sheikh.

How Did This Happen?

After the January 25, 2011 uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's multi-billion dollar tourism sector plunged, suffering 90% losses.  Earlier,  in 2007, Maged El-Said, a tourism investor living and operating in South Sinai since 1989, had decided to start an organic farm.  Although he raked in millions of dollars from tourism investments, he was dissatisfied, wanting a sustainable, environmentally friendly business.  People thought him crazy for attempting such a venture.
He noted that during the Israeli occupation of the Sinai the Israeli government had developed a 400-acre agricultural estate--presently, its irrigation system in ruins and thousands of trees dying.  Nevertheless, from this Israeli farm produce was exported, even flowers to The Netherlands.

A Model Organic Farm Transforming the South Sinai Region

Habiba Organic Farm, El-Said's two-acres in Nuweiba, a Red Sea town 40 miles from the Israeli border, with the help of universities and NGO partnerships, now serves as a model for Egypt's South Sinai.  The farm demonstrates how an entire region can transform itself via sound organic farming practices in the desert.

A Demeter-Certified Biodynamic Farm

In 2012, the Habiba Organic Farm (HOF) began selling its organic products as Demeter-certified.  Demeter International is the certification organization for biodynamic agriculture and a top organic certifier worldwide.  The farm was officially registered with the Egyptian Center of Organic Agriculture and declared one of the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.

Developing a Self-Sustaining Society


A regional organism develops where

  • Crops can be used to feed cattle and chickens on neighboring farms
  • A free-range chicken farm supplies neighboring farms with chicken excrement to use as organic fertilizer
El-Said that others now see the wisdom of organic farming.  Eniz Eneizan, a powerful leader of the Tarabyn tribe in South Sinai, has turned his farms organic.  El-Said says,
But our major success was seeing the tribal leaders of South Sinai adopt the idea and open their lands to it.

An Organic Community


Blooms in the Desert


May Many More Bloom in Deserts Throughout the World


And in Your Neighborhood!

*   *   *




Friday, December 20, 2013

Preserving Farmland for Biodynamic and Organic Cultivation

Yggdrasil Land Foundation--A Land Trust--and its Associates

Yggdrasil Land Foundation, together  with its associates, the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association (BDA), the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (MFAI), and RSF Social Finance (RSF), work to develop and preserve organic farmland.

Loss of Prime Agricultural Land

In the U.S., from the 1980's to the late 1990's, the rate at which prime agricultural land was taken over for commercial development increased by 51%.  By 2007, the U.S. was losing 1.2 million acres each year.

Farms Across the Country

Yggdrasil, with headquarters in San Francisco,  now is helping preserve farms across the country, from the East Coast (New Hampshire), the Mid-West (Wisconsin), to the West (California). 
Yggdrasil partners with the Michael Fields Institute of East Troy, Michigan, that both conducts agricultural research and education in sustainable farming, and with RSF Social Finance, that, as its name implies, helps fund sustainable farming ventures.
Michael Fields Institute holds about 25 workshops a year attracting hundred of farmers, as well as urban residents interested in sustainable farming practices.

Example of a Gift of Farmland

Recently, as reported by the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, October 29, 2013, a 92-year-old woman, Betty Phelps Refior, has donated her 226 acre farm to the Michael Fields Institute.  The prime acreage located in the heart of Indiana's corn and soybean country, about 10 miles from Peru, Indiana, has been in her family since 1887.

The Dying of Bees Convinced Her

In 2010,Refior heard about bees dying.  Her land had been cultivated in conventional ways but she decided that she wanted her land to be a place where farmers and urban people could come to learn about the environment and how to protect the land for future generations.
Although it will take three years to convert the farm to a point where it can become certified as organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Institute plans for the 226 acres to become a model to show how farmers can transition to organic agriculture.

May this triumvirate:


The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening  Association

The Michael Fields Agricultural Institute


RSF Social Finance


Continue to Foster and Prosper


Farmlands in America!

*   *   *


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Chemicals Destroy the Very Basis of Agriculture

They Kill Earthworms that Produce the Best Soil!

Narendre Singh of Organic India says:
Western, modern farming has spoiled agriculture in the country.  An over use of chemicals has made land acidic and hard, which means it needs even more water to produce, which is costly. 

So Says the Country With More Organic Food Producers Than Any Other!

India estimates that it has more organic producers than any other country.  Formerly, most organic products were exported. Now, they find favor with growing numbers of consumers.  According to a survey of 1,000 consumers in ten cities, 30% of Indian consumers prefer organic products and are prepared to pay  10 to 20% more for them.
But more earthworms are needed:


India Honors Earthworms


Shouldn't We All?


Long Live Earthworms!

*   *   *

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association

A Valiant  David Battles the Monsanto Goliath

Seed for Thought, the December 13 newsletter of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, (OSGATA), sums up the tragic battle humanity faces--between the mighty, concentrated powers that care primarily for their own wealth and well being and the far more dispersed warriors who perceive the dangers of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and care for humanity as a whole.
The Seed for Thought newsletter says:
There is a mounting public support for GMO labeling across-the country [the U.S.A.].  Growing numbers of restaurants, grocery retailers, and organic companies are pledging to source non-GE [genetically engineered] ingredients for their products.
In the absence of Right-to-Know labeling, many consumers wishing to avoid GE foods have turned to the organic label.  Under federal standards, genetic engineering is considered an excluded method in organic production systems.


The Hidden Danger

Although organic farmers may consciously avoid the use of materials contaminated by GMOs--animal feed for example--because products apparently organic are not tested for genetically engineered content, neither farmers nor consumers can know if the products are inherently safe.

The Entire Organic Food Movement is at Risk

According to the newsletter:
OSGATA recognizes the impact of trans gene movement and contamination on the organic industry.  Compromised organic seed integrity has broad-reaching impacts on the viability of organic farms and the credibility of organic products.  Organic farmers also risk the threat of patent litigation in the face of contamination.

A Tool to Overcome the Risk

To battle the giant Monsanto--as a help for farmers, seed handlers, and seed companies--OSGATA has just issued a tool entitled The Organic Farmer's Handbook for GE Contamination Avoidance and Testing Protocols.  The handbook tells how to avoid transgenic seed contamination for crops, with federally approved GE counterparts currently in commercial production.  Testing protocols have been assessed for early detection of contaminated seed lots, to prevent further contamination through trade channels.

Cheers for Humanity!


May Humanity 


Win This One!


*   *   *  




Friday, December 6, 2013

Enjoy All-Organic Meals--All the Time!

Wise Shopping and Meal Planning

Make Organic Food Affordable

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) says that although 80 percent of parents buy organic food sometime and that organic food sales continue to increase by double digits annually, folks still find organic food too expensive.  An associated organization, the Organic Center offers credible, peer-reviewed scientific studies that support organic food and farming for human, animal, and environmental health.

Tips to Make Organic Food More affordable 

To make organic food more affordable, the OTA offers tips, showing how a U.S. family of four can eat organic for $25 a day, or less:


  • Buy in bulk
  • Buy in season, then store for off season
  • Plan for the month, not just the week
  • Explore private label ingredients
  • Explore local blogs and community news
  • Join buyers' clubs and loyalty programs
  • Comparison shop
  • Check out cookbooks and new publications

Who's Behind This Positive Organic Food Advice?


The Organic Trade Association is a membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America, representing over 6,500 organic businesses in 49 states.  Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, consultants, farmers, retailers, and the public.



Thank You, OTA,  for Championing Organic Food


Before a Doubting World!

*   *   *

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What is the Role of Biodynamics in the Overall Organic Food Movement?

The Executive Director of the Biodynamic Farming

and Gardening Association Explains

Robert Karp, Executive Director of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association in the U.S., speaking to an animated and receptive audience in Carlsbad, California, on December 2, 2013, offered these salient observations:

Medicine for the Earth

Whereas Karp enthusiastically acknowledged and welcomed the current, widespread interest in
  • organic food
  • eating from local resources rather than food trucked in from who knows where
  • the dynamic growth of CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture support and distribution services)
he pointed out that the earth is sick and needs healing.
Going beyond the valuable contribution of the organic farming movement, biodynamics--which is a vital part of it--offers medicine for the ailing earth, in a way that no other part of the movement does.  He then touched briefly on the various biodynamic "preparations," designed to enhance both the soil and also crops once they appear above the earth.

The Farm as a Self-Sustainable Organism

Another essential contribution of biodynamics is the concept of the farm as a unique organism unto itself.  Although a weak farm may initially need to import manure for its fields and food for livestock from elsewhere, ultimately to become healthy, the farm needs to produce its own field manure and raise enough of its own food to feed its livestock.
Furthermore, because each farm and garden is situated in its very own landscape, with its own local weather and climate, each farmer or gardener needs to tune into the overall "personality" of the region where it is located (Something impossible for factory farms!).  As the farmer or gardener through observation of his land, his livestock, his farm or garden organism, becomes more aware of the land's own personality, he learns to work consciously to develop it--the way it intrinsically wishes to grow and thrive.

The Surrounding Community

Robert Karp sees all farms--not just biodynamic farms--as the basis of a revolutionary transformation of civilization.  During Medieval times, the city was the source, the center, that drew people to experience community.
Now, people try to escape the deadening, albeit exhilarating forces of our cities.  They seek community in a healthier locale and on a healthier scale.  Karp sees farms as a source of renewal, a "potential source of social, community renewal."   Farms now have educational programs and have become places to hold festivals.  The farm is now playing a therapeutic role in civilization.  It is an ark for social renewal. 

The Farm as Our Heart

The movement toward the farm is a movement of consciousness.  "I am not whole as a human being if I'm not connected consciously to nature, the foundation of all life"



And the origin of life is the human heart!

*   *   *

Monday, December 2, 2013

It May be Tiny--But It Intends to be Organic

Tiny Sikkim Plans to be a Fully Organic State by 2015!

Sikkim, with only 610,577 inhabitants, is a landlocked Indian state located in the Himalayan mountains.  It borders Nepal to the west, China's Tibet Autonomous Region on the north and east,  to the east, Bhutan, and to the south the Indian State West Bengal.

Chief Minister Pawan Chamling Confirms His State's Goals

At a ceremony inaugurating a College of Agricultural Engineering and Post Harvest Technology in Ranipool, Sikkim, on November 30, 2013, Chief Minister Pawn Chamling declared:
The State Government is moving ahead to make Sikkim fully Organic by 2015.
The State has adopted organic mode in production and processing agriculture.  There has been increasing demand for organic products in the domestic and international markets.  Consumers are generally willing to pay premium prices for organic products for health and improved livelihood. . . .
Process of organic certification of our land is going on together with extensive training for our farmers and officials.  We are also building an awareness program across the State among all the stakeholders to increasingly use organic manure only in our farm land.



Pay Heed Great Countries!



You Don't Need to be Big



To be Enlightened



About Organic Food!

*   *   *

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Organic Farm Hosts and Volunteer Helpers in 60 Countries Around the World

Sign Up as a Host or Volunteer Helper with WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms)

In 60 countries around the world, the international WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and its national affiliates match organic growers with volunteer helpers eager to experience what organic farming and organic living is all about.


Hosts may have a farm, smallholding, garden, allotment, vineyard, or woodland and follow sustainability principles--perhaps biodynamics or permaculture.
Hosts may make a living off their land, may be homesteaders interested in self-sufficiency.  They may be families, individuals, cooperatives, communities, or eco-villages.


As a volunteer (18 years or older), you usually live with your host and join in with the day's activities.  No money exchanges hands--you work 4- to 6 hours in exchange for food and lodging.  Activities you might help with are:
  • Sowing seed
  • Making compost
  • Weeding
  • Cutting wood
  • Harvesting
  • Packing
  • Milking
  • Feeding
  • Wine making
  • Cheese making
  • Bread making
How long you stay at a farm is negotiated between you and your host.  Most visits last one to two weeks;  however, visits might be as short as two or three days or as long as six months.

What Counties?

Choose from among organic farms in these areas:
  • Africa (8 countries)
  • The Americas (13 countries)*
  • Asia-Pacific (13 countries) 
  • Europe (26 counties)

*  WWOOF-USA (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, USA) offers 1,754 host farms.


Spread the word!


Many young people


Long for these opportunities!

*   *   *

Friday, November 29, 2013

Preserving Land for Organic Farming in Perpetuity

The Yggdrasil Land Foundation

The Yggdrasil Land Foundation is a non-profit organization, based in San Francisco, California, dedicated to preserving biodynamic and organic farmland.  Yggdrasil works with landowners who desire to sell or donate their property to offer long-term farming opportunities to families and community groups.
Today, Yggdrasil, incorporated in 2000 as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization,  owns over 400 acres, managed by organic and biodynamic farmers in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and California.

Preserving Farmland for the Future

Yggdrasil works to counteract the trend of prime agricultural land being converted to commercial development.  From the early 1980s to the late 1990s, this conversion rate increased by 51%.  As of 2007, the U.S. was losing 1.2 million acres every year.

Details Provided

The Yggdrasil website describes in detail the legal and commercial details a seller or donor may encounter.  For example:
Yggdrasil aims to preserve farmland through acquisition and donation of land and easement as well as provide educational resources and workshops on preservation methods.
Yggdrasil utilizes diverse Preservation Methods to protect sustainable agricultural lands.  If you are interested in having Yggdrasil own and steward your land in perpetuity you can choose to sell outright or donate, and we will locate a long-term farm steward to care for the land. 
 If you would like to keep the land in private ownership, but preserve its conservation values you can choose to sell or donate a conservation easement.  Funding for purchasing or conservation easements must be cultivated and raised to provide fair market value compensation.  Landowners can assist this process by making outright or partial donations of land or conservation easements.



May this model lead the way


toward land preservation


for organic farming


throughout the nation!

*   *   *

Huge Growth Predicted for Organic Products

Swiss Bank UBS and Goldman Sachs Pleased

UBS, the Swiss bank that manages the world's largest private wealth assets ($2.2 trillion) predicts that natural and organic product sales could increase 10 percent a year during the next decade.
Noting that the U.S. market is still in the early stages of adoption to truly natural and organic products, the analysts stated:
We are still at the beginning stages of mass-market adoption.


 A Boost for U.S. Major Organic Food Retailers

Analysts from both UBS and U.S.-based Goldman Sachs are pleased to see Sprouts Farmers Markets heading toward as much as a 12 percent growth over the coming 15 years. 
Whole Foods and Trader's Joe, like Sprouts, are seen as top performers in the natural foods market.

Health Enthusiast Gloats

Nick Meyer of  Alt Health Works gleefully states:

Organic Food Market Growing Globally Despite Government  GMO Push

While it may be easy to get discouraged at news of Monsanto loopholes, government collusion, new genetically modified organisms (crops), and chemical companies' political influence, these new predictions combined with recent global trends are extremely encouraging.
The message is loud and clear:

Hang in there:




things really are changing.

      *   *   *

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Engage Young People in the U.S. to Get GMO-corrupted Food Labeled!

Max Goldberg Has it Right!

Max Goldberg of LivingMaxWell, Your Guide to Organic Food & Drink (LivingMaxWell) has it right.  He says:
If we want GMO-labeling to happen in the U.S.  young people must be engaged
AND empowered.

Real Food Challenge

Goldberg cites Real Food Challenge (Real Food Challenge) to show what youth can do.  The organization states:
The Real Food Challenge  leverages the power of youth and universities
 to create a healthy, fair, and green food system.
The organization aims:
To shift $1 billion of existing university food budgets away from industrial farms and junk food and towards local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane food sources--what we call "real food"--by 2020.

A New Partnership Needed

Goldberg calls on the leading organic food companies and non-profits to partner with Real Food Challenge and say:
Let us tell you what is really going on with GMO-labeling in this country and why young people MUST be an important part of this process.  We don't know how to effectively reach your demographic and we don't understand social media like you do, but we do have financial resources that you don't have. 
We are going to give you some of our money, so that you can help our country have a future of food that looks promising.  After all, you have the most stake here since you are the future.
Tell us what we should be doing
and please lead the way.
And to his organic food industry friends, Goldberg concludes:

All they need now is for our industry


to offer them


a seat at the table.

*   *   *


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Canada's Organic Food Market Now Fourth Largest in the World!

 Worth C$3.5 Billion Annually

A new study by the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) reports that the market for organics reached C$3.5 billion in 2012, making it the fastest growing agri-food sector in Canada.
Sales of certified organic food and non-alcoholic beverages totaled C$3 billion--triple the market's value in 2006.

Where and How Canadian Consumers Buy Organics


The study discovered a diverse purchasing base for organics among Canadian consumers:
  • More than half of Canadians buy organic products weekly
  • Except for British Columbia, where 66% of Canadian consumers shop weekly for organics.

First Comprehensive Market Analysis

Canada's Organic Market Growth, Trends and Opportunities,  is the most comprehensive study to date of the country's organic marketplace.  COTA reports that the study contains the first data on Canada's organic market since the federal government began regulating the sector in 2009.

May the rest of the world


Catch up with


Or Surpass Canada!

*   *   *

Monday, November 25, 2013

Create an Organic Beer to Celebrate an Anniversary!

Eco-conscious Patagonia Brews a Malty Beverage

 to Celebrates Its 40 Years

The well-known, outdoor clothing manufacturer, Patagonia, has joined New Belgium Brewing to mark its 40th year in business with suds described as brewed with organic ingredients.

Intriguing Taste

California-based Patagonia boasts that its beer brewed in the "California Common" tradition  and named California Route, is a California lager.  Here is the company's artful description:
Boasting California lager yeast with subtle  fruity esters and a refreshing light lager finish, California Route organic lager is canned for adventure [In other words, you can take your cans of organic beer with you on  outdoor trips, as you wear your esteemed Patagonia outerwear!].
The beer has an aromatic blast of citrusy hops and a heavy dose of noble hallertau. 
The addition of organic Munich specialty malt builds complexity with hints of freshly baked bread.  Consistent with Patagonia's long-standing commitment to organics, the beer is brewed with certified organic ingredients.

Where Can You Drink Up!

Patagonia says that California Route, 5.5% ABV, and sold in 12-ounce cans, will be sold in
  • Seattle
  • Portland
  • Chicago
  • Boulder
  • Denver
  • Boston
  • New York City
  • San Francisco
  • Palo Alto
  • Cardiff-by-the Sea
  • Ventura

Cheers to Patagonia!


May Organic Beer


Have a New, Thriving Day!

*   *   *



Organic Food Has Only One Truly GLOBAL Organization!

Demeter International--The Preeminent Organic Certifier

Demeter International, the organization that certifies the biodynamic agricultural method, oversees  a certification program established in Germany in 1928--the first ecological label for organically produced food!  Today, Demeter has some 4,500 members, 1,400 of them in Germany.

Difficult to Earn

The Demeter certification, the oldest, traditional organic certification in Europe, regarded as the highest grade of organic farming in the world, is hard to come by and must be renewed annually.

Demeter Standards

In over 50 countries, Demeter verifies that biodynamic produce meets its standards in production and processing.  These Standards include:
  • Biodiversity
  • Ecosystem preservation
  • Soil husbandry
  • Livestock integration
  • Prohibition of genetically engineered organisms (GMOs)
  • Viewing the farm as a living "holistic organism"

Economic Rewards to Farmers

Because organic food consumers value the high quality of produce bearing the "Demeter" label, biodynamically certified farmers earn an average of 10-30% more for their produce. 

Brief History

Demeter grew out of a cooperative for processing biodynamical agricultural products in Berlin, Germany in 1927.  The Demeter trademark was registered in 1928.  
In 1941, however, the Nazi government dissolved the Union for biodynamic agriculture; but, the Union was reestablished in Germany after World War II ended.
In 1997, 19 independent Demeter organizations, representing all continents, united to form Demeter International.


May Demeter and Biodynamic Agriculture

Continue to Thrive

and Transform the

World of Organic Food!

*   *   *

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Uniting the Organic Food World

A Service to Connect All

Organic food lovers are scattered throughout the land, throughout the world.  Here and there, some come together to fight local and global forces that ignorantly or greedily corrupt the earth's soil and the health of all of us. 
The anti-organic forces--some would say, diabolical--devastate the earth with their agricultural practices and seemingly sound food products.

Coming Together in Practical Ways

No doubt the fight against anti-organic forces will go on.  But, wouldn't it in the long run be more beneficial if the demand for truly organic food so overwhelms the economic system, that it's power triumphs over the anti-organic elements throughout the world?

Can That Happen?

The service that I and my partners propose aims to make that possible, to strengthen the organic food movement by connecting all its players in extremely, down-to-earth, practical ways. 
Who then are these players?  There are more of them than you might think:
  • Organic farmers
  • Organic food retailers
  • Organic food processors
  • Organic food wholesalers
  • Organic food consumers
  • Organic food restaurants
  • Organic food meal preparers (in hospitals, retirement centers, and in company and school cafeterias

Our Organic Food Connection Service

With real-time communication via smartphones, tablets, and computers, we'll enable all of the players in the organic food world--no matter how local, nor how far away--to connect as never before, but only to those who matter to them, and only on specific organic food topics that at the moment are of interest to them.
We'll let participants tell their fellow organic food lovers--whether buyers or sellers--what they prefer:
  • Organic food locally grown
  • Organic food meeting kosher standards
  • Organic food meeting halal standards
  • Organic food meeting biodynamic standards 


We'll Even be More Specific

Consumers--and those who supply them--may choose their favorite categories of organic food:
  • Meat, Seafood, Baked Goods, Vegetables, Fruit, Grains and Flours
  • Milk, Cheese, Butter, Eggs, Yogurt, Spices, Jams and Jellies
  • Nuts, Desserts, Wine, Beer, Oils and Salad Dressings


Still More!

Within a topic such as Baked Goods,  organic food buyers and sellers can specify:
  • Organic rye
  • Organic whole wheat
  • Organic raison
  • Organic pita, etc.


We Aim to Change Your Organic Food World!

We aim to transform your world (and mine) of organic food via real-time communication, to satisfy your needs more effectively--whether as a buyer or seller:


Just reach for your smartphone, tablet, or computer.


Make a few selections  and then,


Press GO!

*   *   *

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Agriculture and the Sacred

The Sacred in Antiquity and the New Sacred Consciousness

Robert Karp, Executive Director of the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association ( in an article in RSF Quarterly (Fall 2013) eloquently describes the innate, sacred consciousness of ancient peoples towards agriculture and all of life.  They felt themselves both part of spirit and part of the earth.

The Loss of the Sacred



He then refers to Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) who inspired  the biodynamic movement and indicated that human beings had to move from their sense of unity with all things spiritual, to discover the physical laws of nature and modern technology in order to gain for themselves their sense of unique individualism and independence from nature. 

The Former Healthy Age of Materialism Has Long Passed!



Karp points out the present dark side of materialism, especially evident in agriculture:
  • Confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs)
  • Genetically engineered plants and animals (GMOs)
all of which "betray a consciousness completely devoid of any remaining sense of the spiritual dignity of organisms, creatures, and species." 

A New Awakening

Karp says, "In the depths of the crisis brought on by these destructive trends, a new, individualized, eco-spiritual consciousness of the world is emerging."  As evidence he cites:
  • 1960s--Growth of the ecological movement
  • 1970s--Appearance of the health food movement
  • 1980s--Dynamism of the environmental movement
  • 1990s--Organic farming movement
  • 2000--The local food movement

The New Consciousness of the Sacred

"This new consciousness of the sacred," Karp says, "is not the same as that possessed by ancient cultures.  This awakening is not embedded in hierarchical, collective religious practices or cultural norms, but rather has emerged as a natural extension of healthy scientific inquiry and in the context of a cosmopolitan  confluence of diverse philosophical perspectives and cultural traditions.
"This new sense of the sacred is thus rooted in and sustained by a contemporary sense of individuality and freedom of thought."  Karp sums up his thought with this quote by Wendell Berry:


To live, we must daily break the body and spill the blood of Creation. 

When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. 

 When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration.

*   *   *

Thursday, October 17, 2013

U.S Organic Food Certification Now More Questionable Than Ever Before

Bureaucratic Powers Appear to Have Submitted

 to Lobbyists' Pressure!

Once again, the power of big business colludes with the power of big government to stamp on health, well-being, and the wishes of all folks who care about organic food.

"U.S. Department of Agriculture guts national organic law"

That's the title of a Consumers Union joint statement made along with Food and Water Watch, Beyond Pesticides, and Center for Food Safety ( 

The Public Process Circumvented



According to these organizations defending consumers, the actions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture "circumvent the public process" and the "decision makes it easier to continue the use of artificial ingredients and substances, undermining integrity of [the] organic law."

No Chance for the Public to be Heard!

Without providing a public comment period for changes in this policy, that has been in place since 2005, the USDA decision reverses the previous policy thus effectively forcing consumers to prove infractions by businesses rather than requiring businesses to first demonstrate that their substances create no harm.

In Summary

Consumers Union and its cohorts declare war:
". . . we intend to mount a fierce campaign to hold the agency accountable to the millions of Americans who expect more from the government--and the organic label."


Once again democracy in the U.S. is at stake:


May the Heart of America Win


Over Big Business and Big Government Extremes!



*   *   * 



Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Philosophy of a Leading Organic Food Retailer

Jim Someck of Jimbo's Naturally, With 5 Stores

 in the San Diego Area

In San Diego's daily newspaper, U-T San Diego, Jim Someck got an illustrated feature article in the Business Section today (October 15, 2013).


Because, as the  headline fairly shouts:  Jimbo's growing naturally.  Back in 1984, Someck began Jimbo's Naturally, what has now developed into a local chain committed to organic and non-genetically modified food.

How Does Jimbo's Differ?


As Someck explains it, comparing his stores to much larger competitors Whole Foods and Sprouts:
  • While our produce that we sell is 95 percent organic or more, theirs may be 40 to 50 percent.
  • Customers who want to have that quality will shop with us
  • Even though our prices may be better than Whole Foods--virtually all our products are 5-10 percent below suggested retail--we never highlight that
  • For us the message is not about the cost of food
  • We have positioned ourselves to be more about the quality of the food.

A Customer Scares Someck, But Then Validates His Philosophy!

Early on, a man told him it cost about $300 more to shop at Jimbo's in that year versus shopping at the supermarket:
  • Someck's fear--I thought oh, no, here we go, because that's always the issue with organic food, is that it often costs more than conventional food.
  • His fears allayed--When the man added, "I can tell you I've saved more than that on doctor's bills and have never felt better in my life.
  • Motivation--"That kind of spurred me on," Someck says, "to continue doing what I was doing."

Philosophy Related to Politics

According to Someck:
Even with all the talk about Obamacare and our health, people are dealing with the outcome rather than dealing with it at the beginning. 
In my mind, a great part of it has to do with what you eat.  Rather than putting chemicals and pesticides in your body, eating as healthy as possible can eliminate a lot of the illnesses and diseases that people have.

Philosophy Related to Business

A lot of people measure success by how many customers you have, what your bottom line looks like and things you can measure that are finite.
My definition of success has changed to something that's almost impossible to measure:
How many people's lives have I been able to impact in a positive way?
That became more important to me than any monetary success I could have!

May all organic food retailers


 have a comparable philosophy!

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What a Network of Organic Food Lovers Would Look Like

With Not only Consumers but also Growers and Distributors!

My aim is to transform the world of organic food via real-time communication.
Just reach for your smartphone, tablet, or computer.  Make a few selections and press GO!

What You Get



I and my partners propose an organic food communication service that links you instantly to resources you seek, whether local or far away.

Consumers Participate at No Cost!


Just tell us if you prefer certified organic food grown:
  • Locally
  • Meeting Kosher standards
  • Meeting Halal standards
  • Meeting Biodynamic standards



You Also Pick Favorite Food Categories

You get to pick one or more of these:
  • Meat, Seafood, Baked Goods
  • Vegetables, Fruit, Grains, Flour
  • Milk, Cheese, Butter, Eggs, Yogurt
  • Jams, Jellies, Nuts, Spices
  • Wine, Beer, Oils, Salad Dressing
  • And within each category, you can specify, for example under Baked Goods
  • Rye
  • Whole Wheat
  • Raisin
  • Pita, etc.

Here's an Example

Imagine, you say, I want organic cherries.
You sign on to our service, then look for stores or farms near you--even someone with a cherry tree in the back yard.  If they market in your area, reach for your smartphone, tablet, or computer and press GO.  PRESTO, you've found your cherries!


Tell us what you think!


Let's hear from you!



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Saturday, October 5, 2013


Let's Be Honest About Organic Food!

As a society, we tend to delude ourselves.  A century or two ago, and for ages before that, no one raised questions about food being either "natural" or "organic."  To conceive such distinctions would have been preposterous--non sensible!

Manure Was Natural Fertilizer

Not only did quantities of animal manure--especially in cities--need to  be disposed of, but it was only natural to manure fields to enhance soil productivity.

Chemical Fertilizers Were and Are Unnatural!



Our modern, scientific, and industrial age gradually lost a sense for what--for millennia--was the natural way of farming and introduced "new and improved" methods to fertilize using chemicals--that just happened to also make money for investors in the chemical industry.  It took a long time, but farmers were eventually wooed away from what had been natural and converted to the new unnatural fertilizers.
Somewhat the same thing happened with controlling pests.  Over millennia, farmers learned how to control pests, for various crops, at various seasons, and in various climes.
But the chemical industry knew better!  It devised many "one type destroys all" pesticides and again wooed farmers away from century-old ways of controlling pests, to the new killing, no matter what else gets killed, too!

Going Back to the Natural

An irony of our age is that the new "organic"--seemingly aberrant--way of cultivating is actually the old,  natural way!  But now in the marketplace, what is called "natural" is not sufficiently natural to be certified as "organic"!
What's a poor shopper to think?  She may even pay more for certified "organic." 
In other words, the new "organic" may cost more because it is cultivated in the age old, natural way, but so-called "natural" produce containing chemical pesticides and raised with chemical fertilizers, may cost less!

Buyer Beware! 

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Female Organic Farmer Speaks

Farmers Markets vs. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)

Donna Buono has a 20-acre organic farm in the small town of Rainbow in northern San Diego County, California.  She grows 70 different fruits, macademias, and heirloom vegetables on her Morning Song Farm. (See U-T San Diego, September 30, 2013).

Why She Gave Up Farmers Markets

"I was doing farmers markets, and I love them, but economically it didn't pencil out for us. . .once you pay your employee and pay for gas you don't make anything."
With farmers markets:
  • The farmer never knows how much to harvest
  • Rain or a sporting event can change sales figures substantially
  • You end up giving away or throwing away a lot of food

Why She Likes Community Supported Agriculture


A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm has drop-off points where customers pick up the produce they pay for in advance as "subscribers."  They pay a set price:

  • Small box, weekly or bi-weekly--$34.50
  • Large box, weekly or bi-weekly--$44.50
  • Salad fixings, weekly--$19.75

The CSA Disadvantages

  • Too few people who want non-GMO organic foods in their homes are aware of CSAs (San Diego County, one of the largest counties in the lower 48 states and with a great many small farms, has only some dozen CSAs!)
  • Marketing (Advertising) is expensive
  • Talented labor is a huge issue


Donna Buono's Organic Farm is a Labor of Love!


"Our subscribers say they feel like its Christmas

when they open their boxes"


"Healthy food should not be a luxury! 

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Promoting Organic Food and Locally Grown Foods

Whether Eating Out or Eating at Home

Restaurants, local organizations, and farmers in scattered parts of the U.S. realize the importance of organic and locally grown foods for the health and economic sustainability of their communities.

The Locavore Challenge

Especially noteworthy is the Locavore Challenge of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY).  The goal of the association is to promote local, organic food and farming.
The Locavore Challenge, promoted in conjunction with National Organic Harvest Month, aims to raise awareness not only among consumers purchasing for their consumption at home, but also among retailers, schools, hospitals, retirement homes, and restaurants with large purchasing power, that local sources are available, and can be far healthier than foodstuffs transported from far off and that, moreover, these locally delivered foods add considerably less amounts of harmful carbon to the atmosphere.

A Restaurant Owner Describes His Goal

Lou Lego, of The Restaurant at Elderberry Pond, Auburn, New York, says
We have sort of a mission of the farm to get the country back to local agriculture, that we think the quality of the produce that's in grocery stores, and the quality of the meats, and the way meats are raised and everything has really deteriorated.
Each day, staff pick fresh produce for all the restaurant's dishes.  The menu also changes with the seasons
Our planning starts in the spring, with when we're going to need potatoes, what kind of potatoes we're going to need, and herbs and spices we're going to need, . . . different meats and fruits, so the restaurant really kind of drives the farm.
The restaurant is just one of 14 in the state taking part in the Locavore Challenge.  Each restaurant donates part of their proceeds to NOFA-NY to help fund year round efforts to promote agriculture in the state.

Restaurants Elsewhere in New York State

Among other restaurants in the state participating are;
  • Fifty South, Ballston Spa
  • One Caroline Street Bistro, Saratoga Spring
Kate Mendenhall, NOFA-NY Executive Director, says "The Locavore Challenge is an opportunity to celebrate the bounty of New York's organic and sustainable farmers as well as grow the movement of consumers seeking local organic food."

"Nature's Plate Award" by The Nature Conservancy 

A national award is now presented by The Nature Conservancy ( In its Nature's Plate Award, diners nominate online their favorite "green" restaurants.  Restaurants must be "full service" offering any or all of the following:
  • Sustainable seafood
  • Free-range and grass-fed meat
  • Organic produce or other organic food
  • Local and seasonal
  • Water (tap water rather than bottled
Winners will be announced October 17, 2013.


The Value of Organic Food,

Its Place in Community Life

Is Growing,




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Friday, September 27, 2013

Weed Killer Devastates Soil

Though Some Doubt This

A New York Times article (September 20, 2013) raises widespread doubts about the overall value of glyphosate, used in the pesticides Roundup and Buccaneer, to kill weeds.

Debate Affects Biotech Crops



Some 90% of corn, soybeans, and sugar beets grown in the U.S. are biotech crops.
Above and beyond the controversies involving the health and environmental consequences of biotech foods and the fight to force labeling, some farmers are having second thoughts, because of what biotech crops and the extensive use of glyphosate do to the soil.

A Farmer Who Tried Biotech and Why He Gave Up

Mike Verhoef, farming in Sanborn, Iowa, switched several years ago to biotech corn and soybeans on his 350 acres, regularly rotating his two crops with oats--oats not genetically engineered!--in order to replenish soil nutrients.

Soil Quality Noticeably Affected

Verhoef quickly noticed his soil becoming hard and compacted.  To work it, he had to use a bigger tractor and consequently use more gas.

Crop Yield Dropped Drastically

Moreover, the yield on his oats overtime dropped by about half!  He finally realized that "What I was using to treat the . . . corn and soy was doing something to my soil that was killing off my oats."

Back to the Old Ways



Two years ago, Verhoef gave up on biotech corn, soy, and glyphosate.  He returned to growing conventional crops again, using products from Verity, a small company that works to persuade farmers to switch back to conventional crops (see http://www.verityfarms.com

Fully Convinced!

Verhoef says not only has his soil improved, but his yield of conventional corn and soy are "average to above average" compared with neighboring farmers growing biotech crops.  Despite what his neighbors do or think, he states emphatically:

I'm not turning back, because I haven't seen anything


that is going to change my mind


about glyphosate!

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Saturday, September 21, 2013


Why Organic Farms Opt Out of  Government Certification

Only 1% (13,000) of the 2.2 million farms in the U.S. are certified as "organic" by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

A Multitude of Reasons

Small farms that have long been farming organically and newer farms attempting to farm organically, opt out of the USDA's certification process for a number of reasons:
  • Extensive record-keeping requirements
  • Fees that can amount to 6% of a small farm's gross sales
  • Philosophical objections to joining a monolithic government-run program that also certifies huge operations that ship produce across the country and may export as well.

Other Options  

Other non-government certifying organizations that some organic or would-be organic farmers join:
  • Certified Naturally Grown (, tailored for direct-market farmers producing food for their local communities, without synthetic chemicals (now includes 700 farms in 47 states).

  • Farmers Pledge, especially for farmers selling directly to consumers and/or retailers.  Some 130 farmers in New York and Connecticut sign the pledge committing them to a broad set of farming principles addressing labor issues, organic production practices, community values, and marketing (See and

Demeter, the certification for farmers abiding by the strict rules for those who farm according to the biodynamic method.  Demeter is an international standard.  Demeter food tests superior to food certified by the USDA. (See http://www.demeter-usa.org and http://www.demeter.net
See also the San Diego daily newspaper, U-T, September 18, 2013, "Naturally Grown, But Shh!  Don't Call It 'Organic.'  Farmers dodge certification hurdles, adopt their own term."


 Just as there is more than one way to "skin a cat," as the saying goes,

Farmers find ways to claim they are "organic"

without Government "blessing" them!

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