Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How Can an Organic Food Store Suceed? Or Can It?

Forbes Suggests How

Forbes tells it like it is (  On July 30, 2013, in an article entitled "Against All Odds--Launching A Retail Organic Foods Business," the author, Candida Brush, said:

The dramatic rise in sales of organic foods and beverages from $1 billion in 1990 to $26 billion in 2013 has encouraged many aspiring entrepreneurs to start organic or natural food businesses.

After describing how easy it is nowadays to get started, for example, with an online retail outlet (, the Forbes article points out that more than 47% of retail businesses fail within the first 5 years!

How Then Succeed?

Have a differentiation strategy!  Have a clear value proposition!  Make sure that customers and the local competition know your social purpose.  Candida Brush says:
My colleagues and I identify a "social purpose business" as one that is for profit (economic mission) and makes a social impact on the marketplace.

Have a Larger Societal Mission

Besides offering just another organic food outlet, base your business on a principle, such as changing customers' lifestyles to be healthier!  Such a commitment to a larger societal mission can drive your business--differentiate it from others--and most importantly of all, attract and develop loyal customers.
The concluding theme:  To overcome the odds in the rapidly growing and changing retail organic foods sector means more than just offering organic food products.  It means a commitment to changing society!

Foster Change!

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Do You Know Who Caught Your Seafood? Who Grew Your Dinner?

An Admirable Organization Aims to Tell You!

Trace and Trust aims not only to tell you who but "where, when, and how ... right now!" 
Trace and Trust ( began "in 2010 when a few experienced New England fisherman, a few dedicated chefs, and a few supporters sat down to discuss how they could collaborate to get the highest quality, most local, and freshest seafood from the ocean to customers' plates.  At the center of this admirable organization is Rhode Island's Brown Family Seafood ( .


New Sights for 2013

For 2013, Trust and Trace says "we're growing a national movement across all sectors of the food system--including meat, dairy and produce.  And we need your help!"
"To get Trace and Trust to the next level, we need to prove that food professionals want a system that will demand traceability across the supply chain and a way to fill the current communications gap between distributors and chefs."

A Membership Organization You May Join at No Charge!

Trace and Trust describes itself as "a membership organization connecting Producers who take pride in what they raise with Chefs who take pride in what they serve."  On the Trace and Trust website, you may register as one of these:
  • Chef
  • Specialty food producer
  • Retailer
  • Processor/Distributor
  • Farmer/Rancher
  • Wild capture Fisherman
  • Aquaculturist
  • Media
  • General consumer/fan
  • Other

Help This Admirable Endeavor!

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Saturday, July 27, 2013

In-Breeding Enhances and Fosters Monsanto's Power Over the U.S. Government

Why Labeling GMO  Products is Thwarted at Every Turn

The merry, cozy dance between government regulators and those outside of government, who don't want to be regulated, has been illustrated by The Corucopia Institute in an article, "Is the U.S. a Wholly-owned Subsidiary of Monsanto?"
The Cornucopia Institute ( describes itself as "Promoting Economic Justice for Family-scale Farming."  In the merry dance--so common in Washington, D.C.--where partners exchange places, now outside of government, now within, now a lobbyist, now a regulator, Monsanto's dancers perform beautifully!

From the Clinton to the Obama Years

Never mind which party is in power!  The Cornucopia Institute names names--15 powerful individuals, one a Congressman, one a Senator, and many now and again lobbyists, now and again regulators, dancing to the tune Monsanto plays.
The administration in power--whether Clinton, Bush, or Obama--is merely the backdrop for the dance.

Yes, It Could be Called a Puppet Show!

A multi-national corporation like Monsanto (with its chemical industry buddies) is the master puppeteer.  We world citizens are the audience, only occasionally glimpsing the trickery.

Power to the People!


Until we citizens use our individual citizen-power to overturn the puppet stage, tear down the drapery, reveal the puppet master hiding back of the fa├žade, manipulating the dances--we are likely to perish, sick and exhausted in every way.


Let us call the tune!


We are the pipers!

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

If the U.S. Required Labeling of GMO in Foods--If, Only If-

Then University Students Tell Us How to Detect GMO in Food!

Students at Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, Florida, in their student newspaper, July 23, 2013, tell readers a simple way to tell if food is organically raised or contains GMOs.

Unfortunately--unless federal, state, or local laws require GMO labeling--for most of us, this simple system only works if producers and distributors make full use of PLUs or "Price Look-up Codes."

Price Look-Up Codes (PLUs)

If food in our markets have stickers with PLUs attached to them, the Eagle News, the student newspaper
  • If the code starts with the number 9 and is 5 digits long, the food is organic
  • If the code starts with the number 8 and is 5 digits long, the food contains GMO
  • If the code starts with 3 or 4 digits and is 4 digits long, the food has been grown conventionally and may contains GMO


Chances Are--

Because GMO products more often than not do not need to be labeled in the U.S., chances are that food with a 3 or 4 digit code and 4 digits long may well contain GMOs!
GMOs are mostly in food products containing soy, canola corn, papaya, zucchini and yellow squash.  That means a great many products on the shelves in our markets may have stickers starting with a 3 or 4 digit code--although they should start with an 8!.

  We Take Our Chances!

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Distributing Organic Foods Needs Strengthening

Few Organizations Exist Specifically to Wholesale or Even Retail Organic Food!

Relatively few wholesalers--even retailers--focus chiefly on selling organic food.  Why?  Because, although the market for organic food increases exponentially,  it is still a very limited market, a very geographically scattered market--in other words, a very weak market  Few distributors can make a living selling only "organic."  To survive, they must offer so-called "natural foods" and a variety of other products.

Powerful, But Pitifully Small!

The Independent Natural Food Retailers Association ( has fewer than 200 members.  Since its founding in 2004, it has helped the developing market for organic food, but as its name implies, the association inevitably must focus on so-called natural foods.  It can only respond to demand!
Nevertheless, its founding member from the San Diego area, Jimbo's Naturally!, has profoundly influenced  the local community, giving back in charitable contributions $1 million between 1999 and 2013!

Wholesalers, Too, Are Few and Widely Scattered

I know more exist, but here are a few:
  • Garden Spot Distributors (, was founded in 1942 in western New York State.  This company, now located in New Holland, Pennsylvania, sells organic and natural foods to retailers but specializes in Shiloh Farms products.
  • Earl's Organic Produce (, founded in 1988,  is based in San Francisco, California, but serves buyers throughout the U.S.  Earl's is certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).  It offers some 475 products.  The company is a major supporter of the Organic Farming Research Association and the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
  • Bangalla Organic Wholesale (, located in Sammish, Washington, offers "over 15,000 organic , natural, or ecofriendly products for wholesale or drop shipping across the U.S. or Canada."  The company has distribution centers on both the east and west coasts.

Just a Snapshot of Organic Food Distribution


 in the U.S., in Mid-2013

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Organic Farming for Health and Prosperity

Organic Farming Can Cure Our Earth's "Dead  Zones"!

The dead zone edging the Gulf of Mexico is now nearly the size of New Jersey!  Dead zone is the term used to describe the results of hypoxia, where the area affected has been depleted of oxygen.  In these areas, marine life flees or dies when the oxygen level makes survival impossible.

Dead zones occur wherever nitrogen and phosphorous from chemical-based agriculture leach into waterways, wash downstream, and empty into the ocean.  Spring floods in the Midwest exacerbate this devastating process.

Only Organic Farming Can Reverse This Deadly Process!

Farming organically greatly reduces the conditions causing dead zones.  Organic farmers do not use the chemical fertilizers chiefly responsible for creating dead zones.  Instead, their practice of planting cover crops, composting, their use of manure, and mineralized rock all increase the organic matter to create healthy soil.  When soil is healthy, water seeps slowly into the ground rather than moving swiftly along the surface, carrying with it soil and nutrients.  Moreover, the structure of healthy soil encourages plants to put down root systems that hold soil in place.

Organic Farming for Health and Prosperity

In August 2012, The Organic Farming Research Foundation produced a report called Organic Farming for Health and Prosperity documenting how organic agriculture transforms dead zones into living, breathing, thriving zones.  A modeling study comparing nitrogen exports into Lake Michigan under different scenarios found organic farming to be the sole land management practice that reduces rather than increases the amount of nitrogen in the lake. (
The report expands on how more organic farming would not only conquer dead zones but would give new life to individuals eating organic food and to businesses marketing organic food in communities affected by the demise of healthy agricultural methods. 
Farming organically would not only resuscitate dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes region but would also revive the many other areas in the U.S. and around the world where unsustainable agricultural practices inevitably breed dead zones.

May the World Hear This!

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Feed Many from Small Plots!

Successful Organic Cultivation Needs Little Land

In the 1940s and 1950s, Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, who helped introduce biodynamic farming and gardening in the U.S. and Europe, wrote a small book, Grow a Garden and be Self-sufficient. (See  In his book, reprinted as a paperback in 1981 (Grow a Garden and be Self-sufficient, by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer and Erika Reese), Pfeiffer showed readers how, on a plot 10 feet by 10 feet, a gardener could raise an abundance of food organically--enough to feed one person.

A Recent Urban Homestead "Marvel"  


More recently, a family of four, in Pasadena, California, 15 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, has demonstrated over a decade or more how they have produced 6,000 pounds of food (3 tons!) annually on 1/10 of an acre (1 acre = 43,560 square feet or 4,047 square meters).
From their 1/10 acre, the four people get 90% of their daily food needs and can sell their surplus at their Front Porch Farmstand, netting them $20,000 a year.

A Proven Concept

The family's activities (http://www.urban have created such a highly productive Urban Homestead model for sustainable agriculture and eco living in urban areas that national and international news media have featured them.
Without using synthetic chemicals associated with industrial mono-cropping, and while simultaneously improving soil fertility and the overall condition of the land, if the same efforts were put into cultivating an entire acre, the monetary results would equal an annual income of $200.000 per year!


Who says organic cultivation costs too much?


Why not try it!

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Students at Major U.S. University Grow Organic Food on Campus

Spirit of Sustainability Permeates Student Life at the University of California San Diego

At the University of California San Diego, four of the six student residential communities or "colleges" promote sustainability, including organic gardening:
  • Revelle College (named after Roger Revelle, a founder of the University) boasts Roger's Garden.
  • Waren College (named after Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Waren) has Earl's Garden.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt College (named after the former First Lady) champions Ellie's Garden.
  • Sixth College has students revitalizing land cultivated by unauthorized gardeners
All of these undergraduate student-run gardens fulfill university sustainability initiatives and foster campus community.

Organic Food for Student Eateries

The student coordinator for Roger's Garden is working to sell produce, including
herbs, to student-run eateries and dining halls.
Earl's Garden has a new role as food supplier to the student-run Food Co-op, a more than 30-year-old campus eatery for vegans and vegetarians.
Ellie's Garden, in addition to raising crops such as Swiss chard, kale, strawberries, and garlic, has begun cultivating a second plot called Ellie's Farm to focus on row crops and fruit trees.

The Best of the Old and the New

Roger's Garden uses companion planting, permaculture design, and up-to-date watering methods, attempting to balance old-fashioned gardening methods with more recent scientific findings.  The "garden guru" and landscaper for the garden, Zack Osborn, a biochemistry major, says
"We do the best we can to make it as legit and old-school as possible, so we're not planting in the dark ages."   He and his team, however, are well aware of biotechnology excesses--for example, when the cross breeding of plants genetically produces "super weeds."  Osborn continues,
"We believe that finding a good moderation between old-school methods, and the new technologies, we can still have that global food supply but we don't have to sacrifice the world to do it."
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Details at U-T San Diego, July 13, 2013, "Something's Cropped Up: In an Effort to Go Green, Four UCSD Colleges Tend Thriving, On-Campus Vegetation Gardens," by Amelia Evrigenis.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

B Corporations and Organic Food

San Diego's Mamma Chia--a B Company that Produces Organic Food and Beverages

What's a B Corporation?  What's it got to do with organic food? 
In this blog, I keep coming back to the concept of organic.  Why?  Although I focus chiefly on organic food, from the points of view of farmers, middlemen, and consumers, organic food can not be developed, distributed, and consumed in a vacuum.  We only have organic food to the extent that the concept of health, well-being, and wholeness continues to dawn in our society, to us individually and to mankind worldwide--and to the extent that the earth is conceived as a living organism.

With B  Certification a Company Gets Certified

for Its "Organic Consciousness"!

B Lab or B Corporation  (www.bcorporation,net) is a nonprofit organization that certifies a company as a "B Corporation"--only  if the company seeking certification meets rigorous social and environmental tests, that will enable its investors to determine its performance, accountability, and transparency.

B Corporation Investors Can See What's Going On

B corporations get measured in four areas: Governance; Workers; Community; and Environment:
  • Governance:  B Lab evaluates mission, the extent stakeholders are engaged, and the overall transparency of the company's policies and procedures.
  • Workers:  B Lab looks at compensation, benefits, training, ownership, and the environment in which employees work.
  • Community:  B Lab examines relations with suppliers, diversity, and involvement with the community.
  • Environment:  B Lab checks on resources and the area of energy

San Diego's Mamma Chia Shines!

Mamma Chia, in the San Diego area where I live, sells organic chia-based products (food and beverages) in the U.S. to large markets such as Whole Foods, Vons, Ralphs, and other retailers.  The company has achieved 88 points out of a possible 200 (The minimum required is 80 points).  For more on Mamma Chia see and also "B Lab notes  companies with conscience," Barbara Bry and Neil Sentura, U-T San Diego (June 17, 2013).

B Lab Progress

B Lab explains itself saying: B Corp certification is to sustainable business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk.
Today, there are over 760 Certified B Corps from 27 countries and 60 industries working together to redefine success in business.  To this end B Lab and its community of Certified B Corporations is working to establish legislation in the U.S. to create a new kind of corporation called the benefit corporation.  Eighteen U.S. states now have benefit corporation laws and 12 more are at work to get such laws passed.

Especially Noteworthy


On July 17, 2013, Governor  Jack Markell of Delaware, home to over 900,000 business entities, will sign a law establishing benefit corporations in the state.  Significantly, Delaware is the legal home of 50% of all public companies and of 2/3 of all Fortune 500 companies!


May the World See More B Corporations With a Conscience


And May They Lead Directly and Indirectly to


More Organic Food!

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Friday, July 5, 2013

Organic Food Businesses Bolstered by Overall Growth of Green Economy

Who Can Say Which Green
Segment Influences Which?--They're All Interdependent!

A new survey says Green is finally paying off for businesses (  Three, leading green business associations issued a joint report: The Association of Enterprise Opportunity (AEO); Green America (GA); and EcoVentures International ((EVI).
Their report shows that three out of four small businesses said sales of green products and services increased--even in the recent bad economy!

A Whopping Increase for Organic Food!

While the overall food market grew 33%, the organic food segment grew 238%!  According to the report, although organic food and beverages help drive the growth of green, across all industries green segments grow and gain market share over conventional markets.
Consumers, it seems, respond when given the choice to purchase products they know are good for them and for the environment.
Consumers respond more positively to businesses that follow green policies--the greater their environmental practices, the higher their sales!

Green Is Catching On!

Salad is Good--

Especially, If It's Organic! 


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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

U.S. Government's Secret Trade Negotiations Will Cripple Organic Food Growth Worldwide!

Transnational Corporations Are Given Power Over Countries' Environmental and Food Safety Laws!

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) on June 13, 2013, petitioned President Obama and Interim Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro to allow the U.S. Congress and the public access to the negotiating process and draft texts currently kept secret regarding:
  • The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) 
  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)


Subverting Democracy at Home and Abroad

According to the Organic Consumers Association (, over 600 corporations and trade groups have had access to the proposals and draft texts--just not the U.S. Congress!
Leaked texts say that
  • By "harmonizing" food safety standards, the U.S. and participating countries would be forced to conform to the lowest common denominator standards of the countries involved.
  • Both agreements give transnational corporations "special rights" beyond domestic businesses and citizens that would essentially allow transnationals to avoid hundreds of domestic and international food laws.


Strangling Healthy Debate!

Unless the Obama Administration forgoes the so-called Fast Track option, the U.S. Congress, after agreements have already been signed, will be expected to vote--without debate or chance of making amendments.
In other words, the agreement would become a "done deal" with no input from farmers and others affected, those who lack the clout of the transnationals and other huge corporations. 


Strangle Debate


Strangle Our Democracy!

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Astounding Growth in Organic Food Industry!

Now $63 Billion Dollars Worldwide!

The LN Newsletter, June 26, 2013, (, citing an article by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), reports that worldwide the organic food industry now totals $63 billion dollars.  Between 2002 and 2011, the organic food industry increased 170% or 19% annually.

 What's Responsible for This Mighty Increase?

The LN Newsletter sums up the reasons:
There is no doubt that more and more people are catching on to the realization that organic foods are a healthier choice than processed and conventional foods.
Genetically modified ingredients, chemical additives, and coloring are a potential risk to our health and more and more people have steered clear of them in recent years.

The Largest Single Market for Organic Food

The United States is the largest single market for organic food (and beverages).  Since 2011, the U.S. organic industry increased by 9.5%, to over $31 billion dollars.

Nevertheless--Organic Agriculture Fares Poorly!

Less than 1% of the world's farmland is cultivated organically!  Across 162 countries, only 37.2 million hectares are cultivated organically.
That averages to less than 10 acres in 162 countries!

Much Good News!




A Long Way Still to Go!

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