Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What Do Organic Food Retailers Want?

More Organic Food Products Might Help!

I'm only a consumer of organic foods, with no retail experience.  However, because I've been thinking long and hard about the overall organic food movement, I try to imagine what it's like to raise and sell organic foods.
I try to put myself in the position of the organic farmer, wholesaler, processor, and shopkeeper.  I also try to imagine what it's like to run a restaurant or other prepared meal service that might want to offer an organic menu.

More Resources

The farmer has special problems that we might talk about at length another time.  Overall, within the organic food supply chain, if I put my ear to the "ground," I hear shouted loudly, More! More! More! 
More variety, especially.  More dependable sources.  More certainty about what is truly organic.  Also, more locally grown items!

What About What's Not Locally Grown?

A host of organic products can't everywhere be locally grown.  Just a few examples--peanuts, for peanut butter; pears; avocados; coffee; teas; bananas; rice--and on and on the list goes.

It Takes the World to Supply Our Organic Food Needs!

Let's face it.  We should, wherever possible, foster locally grown produce, and the processing of this produce--for example, into jams, jellies, and baked goods.
Nevertheless, no matter how we look at it, we're interdependent.  No one, no community, no region, no national state can wholly supply all its own needs.  We need each other!

The Retailer Needs Us All!

If we raise our consciousness, just a bit, we'll realize that our local organic food store, not only needs us as a customer and also needs more customers, the store needs for us to work together in every way possible to foster the organic food movement.
The polluted air, the polluted soil, the polluted water that stain our food supply--all belong to us.  We've let it happen.  Only we can fix it!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Why Promote an Organic Food Network?

Who Benefits from an Organic Food Network?

Individual consumers of organic food and those who provide organic products in the organic food marketplace are widely scattered.  Many feel that their struggle to find truly organic food in sufficient quantities and varieties, or to sell it profitably, is a lonely effort.
Yet their counterparts, their fellow organic food seekers or providers are everywhere!   You and I can sense a gigantic worldwide awakening--an aversion to the seemingly inexhaustible pollution of food by thoughtless and/or greedy large and small distributors.

Lack of Connectivity

Even with our current seemingly endless Internet connectivity, concerned individuals and organizations, supporters of the nascent organic food movement, mostly flail weakly against the steel flanks of what they perceive are heartless corporations or obdurate government entities at all levels, all thwarting progress.

True Connectivity is Missing!

Each major role player in the organic food movement inevitably has his own very understandable and justified viewpoint.  Who are these role players?
  • The Consumer (at his home, at his local shop)
  • The Farmer
  • The Retailer
  • The Wholesaler
  • The Processor
  • The Restauranteur
  • The Fresh Meal Provider for Companies, Hospitals, Schools, Retirement Homes
My company--I Control Communications--aims to connect these seven role players, to enhance their communications.  We would enable any in one role to communicate with one or more in another role.  In addition, anyone in any of the roles will be able to communicate with fellow members within his own role.

To make this clearer, let's simplify the seven role players to three: Producer, Distributor (or middleman), and Consumer.  Now, let's take CHERRIES as an example.

If we link all three, Producer, Distributor, and Consumer, by their registered interest in CHERRIES, here are their possible paths of communication, on the subject of organic CHERRIES:

Communication about CHERRIES

Producers --->    Consumers
Producers --->   Distributors
Producers   --->   Producers
Distributors   --->   Consumers
Distributors   --->   Distributors
Distributors   --->   Producers
Consumers   --->   Consumers
Consumers   --->   Distributors
Consumers   --->   Producers

New Communication Channels

Boost the Power of

The Organic Food Movement!

With the new power of the Organic Food Network, developed by I Control Communications (www.icontrolcommunications.com), all participants will benefit! 


And organic CHERRIES will triumph!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Organic Food--Locally or Globally Grown?

The Pros and Cons of Where Organically Food is Grown

Of course it matters where organic food originates!  However, what matters most is, "Is the consumer getting what he needs?"  You and I need nutritious food.  If our food has traveled long distances, by the time we purchase it, prepare it, and dine on it--even if organically grown--it's weary, maybe a bit limp, and has lost not only nutrition but taste.  Moreover, transportation, whether 10 miles, 1,000 miles or still more, has contributed to the "carbon footprint,"  making overall life on planet Earth less sustainable.

But Do You, or Your Neighbors, Grow Your Own

Organic Coffee, Coconut, or Bananas?

Is there a farmer alive who can dine exclusively on what he raises organically?   Certainly, if he chooses to forego foods that most farmers, and virtually all consumers, seek at least now and then.
In other words, the organic food movement needs balance between locally-grown and globally-produced products.

The Economics of It All

What we're willing to pay pretty much trumps source of origin.  We're willing to pay for organic coffee, organic coconut, and organic bananas, because Farmer Jones down the lane can't grow them, nor can any distributor obtain these products locally grown.  These organic items must be imported. 
On the other hand, we hopefully may have a choice as to whether to buy organic string beans at a local farmers market or from a store that derives them from who knows where?  We may pay more for locally produced items (though quite often even less) or we may "save" by shopping at the big box store that purchases in bulk from far away.

As Regards Organic Food, "Caveat Emptor"

When you or I shop for organic food, the ancient saying caveat emptor or "Let the buyer beware!" applies as with any purchase.  The more informed we are, the better it is, not only  for us individually, but for our families.  We not only need to be sophisticated about what purports to be "organic," but we need to weigh the pros and cons of place of origin (where the tomatoes come from) and how much a decision to buy will cost us.

Farmers and Distributors Face Similar Decisions

Every farmer, every wholesaler, and every storekeeper faces comparable decisions--but risk their businesses financially!  A consumer can buy or not.  At most he risks not having the organic food he wished to purchase.
Distributors and farmers need a keen sense of the market.  If I  raise this product or if I stock this item, will someone want to buy it at a price at which I can make money--not lose money?  Or will the businesses to whom I want to sell choose to import the item instead of buying from me? 
Moreover, both farmers and distributors face the risk of spoilage, far less of a problem for you or me, unless we, as consumers, buy more than we can eat or safely store.
Local or global, all members of the organic food movement face decisions,
big and little!




Monday, April 22, 2013

Where Is the Organic Food Movement at This Time?

How I Aim to Help the Organic Food Movement

If I look around the world, I see scattered efforts to enhance the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of organic food.

Cultivation--In some countries, national organizations of organic farmers exist.  In some of these, even within the nation, local groups have organized.  Some farm groups are especially focused on actual organic cultivation.  Some also work on getting their organically raised crops and animals to market.  Some help develop CSAs (Community Supported Agricultural efforts) and help foster and participant in "Farmers Markets."
Distribution--In the area of distribution, little organization focusing on organic food can be found.  Are there any associations of organic food retailers?  Organic food wholesalers?  Organic food processors?
A sub-section of the Distribution segment is Organic Food Meal Service.  This includes Restaurants,  Company, School, and Hospital Cafeterias,  and Retirement Home Meal Service.
Where are there associations of restaurants and organizations in what is often called the Hospitality Industry that have formed, to demand and foster organic food needs? 
Consumption--Although--organizationally speaking--consumers are largely asleep, nevertheless, individuals as well as a variety of health organizations are beginning to voice concerns and are  starting to advocate for greater transparency in how foods are raised, processed, transported, and marketed to consumers. 
Nevertheless, where do we see powerful enough consumer organic food organizations, strong enough to counter  the hefty weight of factory farm Goliaths, food processing industry behemoths, either locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally?

What I Aim to Achieve

I see the need for greater conscious and co-operative interaction among all players in the organic food movement--consumers, middlemen, and producers.  To this end, I'm in the process of creating a web-based communications system that would link all participants by type of organic food product.  My business is called I Control Communications (www.icontrolcommunications.com). 
Originally, I conceived it as a means to bring the many hopes, wishes, and interests  of the so-called LOHAS cultural creatives together (LOHAS stands for Lifestyles Of Health And Sustainability).
I and my two partners now focus on what we call The Organic Food Network (For details, check out the above website). 
We aim to connect all the players in the organic food world, both consumers and providers, to satisfy everyone's needs more effectively--as both buyers and sellers.
We aim to transform the world of organic food via real-time communication, so that, whatever your role, just reach for your smartphone, tablet, or computer, make a few selections and press GO!  Our service will instantly link you with resources you seek, local or far away.
Moreover, we'll let consumers register whether they prefer organic food grown locally, and/or meeting kosher, halal, or biodynamic standards.
Consumers may also choose favorite categories of organic foods:
Meat, Seafood, Baked Goods, Vegetables, Fruit, Grains and Flour
Milk, Cheese, Butter, Eggs, Yogurt, Spices, Jams and Jellies
Nuts, Deserts, Wine, Beer, Oils and Salad Dressings, etc.
You as a shopper may change your wishes (add or delete preferences) at anytime, 24/7.

 These New Connections Can Transform the Organic Food World!

Connection Possibilities via The Organic Food Network:
Consumers <------> Producers
Middlemen <-------> Producers
Producers   <-------> Producers
Consumers <--------> Middlemen
Middlemen <--------> Middlemen
Producers   <-------->Middlemen
Consumers <-----> Consumers
Middlemen <-----> Consumers
Producers < ------> Consumers
When all participants can interact, possibilities for cooperation and transformation are endless!



Friday, April 19, 2013

Chemical vs. Organic Fertilizers

What Does the Texas Fertilizer Plant Explosion

Tell Us About Organic Food?

"Our society is sick!"  That's what it tells us!  Since the 19th Century, mankind has focused increasingly on all that can be measured, weighed, tasted, touched, and heard.  Correspondingly, mankind has increasingly ignored the invisible world, believing instead that what is invisible must be unmeasurable and can't be calculated, some how doesn't exist, has a lesser value--if any existence or value at all!  Note, however, that in recent years, sub-atomic physics has discovered its limits in attempting to measure the invisible.

What is Real?--Really?

In other words,  although all of us originate from an invisible source, and we obviously have invisible life in us during our earthly sojourn, and at death disappear into an invisible realm--to many in our contemporary society, life itself doesn't really matter (pun intended)!  Because it can't be counted!

We Can't Picture Life-Enhancing Cultivation Methods

--So Let's Build Life-destroying Chemical Fertilizer Plants!

The explosion at the West Chemical and Fertilizer Company (West, Texas) on April 17, 2013, was locally devestating, but is symptomatic of our society's overall ills.  The U.S. Geological Survey registered it as a 2.1 magnitude earthquake.  It killed 15 people and injured up to 180.

How Many People are Sickened, Maimed, and Killed by Chemicals in Our Food?

The plant, although it did not manufacture any products, stored and sold agricultural chemicals and fertilizers  to farmers.  Here's what the New York Times says:
The Company stored substantial amounts of chemicals used as fertilizers that can become explosive under proper conditions: anhydrous ammonia and ammonium nitrate.
Anhydrous ammonium is stored as a liquid in pressurized tanks and farmers inject it into the soil, where it vaporizes into a colorless, corrosive gas.  Ammonium nitrate is usually sold in granular form, and was used in the Oklahoma City bombing [that killed 168 people April 19, 1995].

No Comparison!

Tragic as the West, Texas, bombing is, think of the untold multitudes worldwide who ingest measurable quantities of poisons as they eat and imbibe foods grown by framers who cultivate inorganically, foods sold by distributors who either don't care about organic foods or can't obtain them.
We--humanity--are to blame.  We've brought these worldwide tragedies on ourselves.
And only we can change our thinking and the thinking of our fellow human beings!  


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Guardian All Organic Food Lovers Should Champion!

Eco-Friendly Beyond Pesticides Guards Our Health!

Too few among us in the organic food movement--consumers, middlemen, or farmers--know the non-profit organization, Beyond Pesticides, based on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C.  This organization, led by scientists, conservationists, and activists, lobbies to provide the public with useful information on pesticides and alternatives to their use.  Through its website and publications, it offers ways for us to protect ourselves and the environment from the hazards posed by pesticides.

Choose Your Poisons--Or Avoid Them Altogether!

Beyond Pesticides, on its website offers a program--and a tool--called Eating with a Conscience, to protect health and the environment.  The site declares:

The Organic Choice is Clear

It is important to eat organic food nurtured in a system of food production, handling, and certification that rejects hazardous synthetic chemicals.
USDA organic certification is the only system of food labeling that is subject to independent public review and oversight, assuring consumers that toxic, synthetic pesticides used in conventional agriculture are replaced by management practices focused on soil biology, biodiversity, and plant health.
This eliminates commonly used toxic chemicals in the production of food that is not labeled organic--pesticides that contaminate our water and air, hurt biodiversity, harm farm workers, and kill bees, birds, fish, and other wildlife.

Dial Your Poison!

Beyond Pesticides' website lets you choose from among four dozen fruits and vegetables to learn the names of numerous pesticides that can be used to grow your favorites.  To avoid the possibility of ingesting these highly questionable aids used by conventional farmers, the only answer, according to Beyond Pesticides is to eat organic!

A "Daily News Blog" Covers the Entire Human

and Environmental Health Spectrum


Examples from "Daily News Blog"

April 16: The spring meeting of the National Organic Standards Board just recently ended, and Beyond Pesticides is happy to report that the Board voted to stand by a 2014 expiration date for the use of tetracycline in organic apple and pear production. . .
April 15: Supermarket Chain [in the UK] to stop Suppliers from Using Bee-Harming Pesticides . . .
April 12: Study Shows Tumors in Children Caused by Parental Pesticides Exposure . . .  





Friday, April 12, 2013

Canadians Really Care About Organic Food!

How Much Do Canadians Care?  In the $Billions!

According to a recent report (April 11, 2013) of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), the organic market in Canada grew to $3.7 billion in 2012.
Since 2006, the value of the organic food market in Canada has tripled!  Now, 58% of Canadians buy organic products every week.

Strict Organic Food Labeling Seems to Have Stimulated Demand

The Executive Director of the Canadian Organic Trade Association, Matthew Holmes,  ascribes the huge increase to growing consumer confidence:
At the industry's urging, the government implemented strict national standards and label requirements in 2009 to uphold consumer confidence in organic claims,
So it's tremendously gratifying to see this result in such a strong market growth and continued consumer commitment to organic.

Vancouver Leads the Way!

Research shows that two-thirds of British Columbia consumers shop weekly for organic groceries.  Over three-quarters in Vancouver shop organically!

Broad-Scale Organic Food Support Encourages Organic Certifiers

Co-President of the Certified Organic Associations of BC says:
We are pleased to see growing consumer demand and impressive sales growth from mainstream retail to direct-to-consumer channels.
The Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) is the membership-based trade association for the organic sector in Canada. 
It represents
  • Growers
  • Shippers
  • Processors
  • Certifiers
  • Farmers' associations
  • Distributors
  • Importers
  • Consultants
  • Retailers
  • Others in the organic value chain

See http://www.organicnewsroom.com/2013/04/canadas_organic_market_now_wor.html






Thursday, April 11, 2013

Labeling GMO Foods Has No Impact on Price for Consumers!

Major Study Up Ends Monsanto Argument

A thorough study (published April 9, 2013) by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) discredits Monsanto's claim that verifying and labeling for non-GMO ingredients would be costly and burdensome.
Major players in the organic food business are already doing what Monsanto says would be costly.  These manufacturers and retailers have systems in place to verify non-GMO, as well as rGBH hormones, trans fat-free, country of origin, and fair trade.

Sellers Get Their Suppliers to Sign Affidavits

One of these is the largest consumer-owned natural food retail co-operative in the United States--Seattle-based PCC Natural Markets.  Trudy Bialic, Director of Public Affairs, says that their affidavit system makes sure that products aren't made using child slave labor, come from animals with rBGH hormones, and that all seafood products have been harvested using sustainable sources and practices.

Trader Joe's Uses Affidavits

Trader Joe's, a privately held chain of nearly 400 stores in the U.S. says that  its private label products are GMO-free, although the company doesn't label them.  A company spokesperson explained:
When developing products containing ingredients likely to come from genetically modified sources, we have the supplier of the product in question perform the necessary research to provide documentation that the suspect ingredients are from non-GMO sources.
This documentation is in the form of affidavits, identity-preserved  certification of seed stock, and third-party lab results from testing of the ingredients in question.

Similar to What the USDA Does!

The U.S. Department of  Agriculture (USDA), according to the Organic Consumers Association article, "requires test samples from approximately 5 percent of products, all of which must be GMO-free in order to be certified organic.  For the other 95 percent, the agency relies solely on sworn statements."

How Reliable Is This System?

Retailers seem to think so, for would producers deliberately deceive retailers, opening themselves up to law suits and scrutiny by the public? 

Why is Monsanto Fighting So Hard?

Here's the answer the OCA gives:
A chain-of-custody, legally binding labeling system empowers consumers to make more informed choices about what we eat, without increasing the costs of groceries or burdening retailers and manufacturers.
One simple label to identify foods that have been genetically engineered, often using genes of foreign bacteria and viruses, would lead more consumers to seek out sustainable, organic, non-GMO alternatives. 
And that--not some phony line about increased food costs--is why Monsanto is fighting labeling.
See http://www.organicconsumers.org.articles/article_27317.cfm




Wednesday, April 10, 2013

More Parents Than Ever Care About GMOs in Food

One-third of U.S. Households Want to Avoid GMOs in Food!

According to an Organic Trade Association (OTA) announcement (March 19, 2013), more U.S. families than ever turn to foods labeled "organic," to avoid unlabeled genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods legally allowed in the marketplace (See http://www.ota.com).
A 2013 survey shows that 32 percent of parents who have learned from news reports about GMOs are more likely to increase purchases of foods labeled organic. 
Whatever you or I may think about the laxness of standards to qualify for the USDA Organic label, "The USDA Organic label is basically the gold standard for consumers to be sure that the foods they are buying are produced without genetically engineered ingredients," according to OTA's CEO and Executive Director Christine Bushway. 

Similar U.S. Problems:  Gun Safety and GMO Labeling!

Overwhelming numbers of people in the U.S., according to many polls, seek safety from gun violence and from the latent dangers of GMOs.  Polls tell us that over 90% of citizens want purchasers of guns to have their backgrounds checked.  According to the Just Label It campaign (http://justlabelit.org), more than 1.2 million Americans--93%--want  the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to label genetically engineered foods.
Clearly, so far,  powerful, moneyed special interests triumph over the health and safety of citizens!


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Increasing Publicity of Organic Food Businesses

Major Daily Newspaper Highlights an Organic Food Business

San Diego's daily newspaper, U-T San Diego (formerly The San Diego Union-Tribune), in its Business Section, April 9, 2013, featured Organics Unlimited, a San Diego business that imports and then distributes organic bananas to customers such as Whole Foods and Jimbos.  The bananas come from Ecuador and Mexico.
In this nearly full-page article, lavishly illustrated, the paper describes the company's founding and current banana and distribution business whose sales now top $10 million. 
The company competes against giants such as Dole, Del Monte, and Chiquita but unlike these Goliaths all its bananas are organic!  However, Chiquita is also a customer, for it buys Organics Unlimited bananas and under the Chiquita name distributes them in Japan.  Moreover, a Japanese wholesaler discovered Organics Unlimited and now Japan gets organic bananas directly from Organics Unlimited and indirectly via Chiquita.

A Woman Owns This Organic Business--And She Cares!

San Diego's Organics Unlimited was founded and is owned by Mayra Velasquez who as a sixth-grader in Mexico began helping her parents' banana plantation business export from Colima and Jalisco in the 1970s, because they knew no English and she did.
Mayra wants people to know that "organic" is not just a label.  It helps the environment, it  promotes healthy living, and the more awareness of this, the better!
She distributes not only under the Organics Unlimited label but also under the GROW brand that stands for "grow resources and opportunities for workers."  GROW adds a surcharge of 60 cents per box of fruit to support funding that improves the lifestyle of workers in the fruit growing regions.



Saturday, April 6, 2013

Labeling Food Organic--What's the Problem?

Identify What's Good and What's Bad!

In some areas of our life, we've reached a consensus that certain things are bad, dangerous, and to be avoided.  Society throughout the world recognizes that drivers approaching railroad tracks should be warned!  In many countries, if not most, signs warn vehicular drivers on roads of speed limits and other possible dangers, for example, "Deer Crossing"!
In the U.S., advertisements for prescription drugs bombard TV viewers with lengthy warnings of possible side effects to be aware of.  "If you take this drug and have one of these abnormal reactions, consult your physician immediately!"

Yet, despite findings of scientists worldwide of possible dangers from genetically modified organisms (GMOs), despite the fact that the European Union requires labeling of food containing GMOs, in the U.S. the attitude of lawmakers is "Let the chemical and pharmaceutical interests make their money, to Hell with the health of our people!  Besides we want to get reelected and we need those corporate contributions!"

Money Trumps Health!

No railway organizations (privately or publicly owned) could ever conceive of demolishing railroad crossing signs, because they're so patently needed.  Likewise, no auto or truck manufacturers would be so foolish as to obstruct governments from putting up roadway warnings.
However, because obscene sums of money are to be made adding chemicals to foodstuffs, and societies' legislators continue to permit corporate money to influence lawmakers--and it's in the nature of the beast to want always to get reelected!--money to those in power inevitably trumps good sense and the health of all.
Furthermore, laws such as those in the U.S. that grant personhood to corporations, giving them equal rights with individuals, allow multinational chemical and pharmaceutical corporations to trample on individual human beings throughout the world.  Again, to Hell with health!  Money, money, money, is all we care about!  

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Global Warming and Organic Food

Holistic Cultivation Enhances Global Climate

Tucked away in our own little pocket on earth, we fail to sense how our thoughts, feelings, and deeds affect the whole earth and all of humanity.  Individual consciousness dawns here and there, and we begin to glimpse a greater whole.
That's happening now, gradually, but to a greater and greater degree.  We find a good example in the TED Talk of ecologist Allan Savory.  Savory calls our attention to how our contemporary cultures, with rising populations,  turn land into deserts (desertifcation). 

Why are Growing Deserts a Menace to Global Health? 

Two-thirds of the earth's landmass is turning to desert (desertifying)!  This has two global impacts: (1) The damaged soil of deserts gives off carbon, which the earth atmosphere has too much of, as a result of our technological civilization; and (2) Healthy earth, unlike deserts, has ground cover that traps water, preventing it from evaporating, whereas, while deserts increase, water is becoming a rare resource in many parts of the earth.

The Remedy--Graze Livestock on the Earth's Barren or Semi-barren Grasslands!

Some estimate that grazing large herds of livestock on half the world's barren or semi-barren grasslands could remove enough carbon from the atmosphere to take the earth back to preindustrial levels.  In other words, although technology would help, fostering old-style agriculture might be enough!

Organic Food Needs This Old/New Grazing Approach!

I'm 90-99% a vegetarian these days, but I recognize that many folks crave meat, that monoculture and factory farming produce food lacking in true nourishment and vitality.  Truly organic food requires holistic farming--that means a healthy balance on every farm of animal life and crops. 
We are all so interrelated throughout the earth,  whether as producers of food, distributors of food, or as consumers (vegetarians or not), that the organic food movement to become successful must embrace and foster the healing of the entire earth.  Let's replace monoculture and factory farms and  --at the same time--reverse global warming, by grazing livestock on our earth's most barren lands!