Cornucopia News Archive

Whole Foods’ “Responsibly Grown” Produce Ratings — Not “Good” Enough

Monday, July 27th, 2015

PrintThis spring 17 certified organic farmers signed on to a letter to Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey asking him to withdraw the company’s “Responsibly Grown” produce labeling program, at least temporarily. The farmers, all of whom sell produce to the 400+-store high-end grocery chain, objected to having to pay for the grocer’s marketing program and to the fact that non-organic produce could qualify to be labeled “GOOD,” “BETTER,” or even “BEST” under the program.

The Cornucopia Institute supported these growers, as did many other certified organic farmers and consumers around the country. It was a righteous fight – what we called “Robin Hood in reverse.”  Here was a corporation, with a market capitalization exceeding $14.5 billion, asking mostly family-scale farmers, some of the best farmers in this industry, to pony up between $5,000 and $20,000 to comply with the program’s reporting requirements and, for some, purchase new equipment. That’s not an inconsequential amount for small- and medium-sized family farms.  And the added record-keeping labor could crush some mom-and-pop outfits.

But most of all, the farmers philosophically took exception to one corporation, hiring their own private scientist, coming up with a list of good and bad agrichemicals.  Most organic consumers don’t want to pick or choose. They buy organic and they shop at stores like Whole Foods because they don’t want to treat their children like laboratory rats. Read Full Article »

USDA Criticized for Organic Livestock Proposal

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Rulemaking Could Institutionalize Conventional Livestock on Organic Farms

One of Aurora’s “organic” dairies, each managing
many thousands of cows (producing private label
milk for Walmart, Costco, Target and others)

Advocates for organic food and farming are encouraging industry stakeholders to send comments to the USDA, by July 27, rejecting a proposal that would facilitate conventional dairy cows, pigs, and other stock being brought onto farms after the dairies or other livestock facilities initially gained certified organic status. The department’s National Organic Program has been accused of facilitating the expansion of “factory farms” producing organic milk, meat and eggs through the agency’s lax enforcement of existing regulations, and experts say the new rules could continue that trend.

The proposed draft rule is intended to discontinue a practice that many in the organic dairy industry have long claimed is illegal.  Giant factory farms, many milking thousands of cows each, have been buying one-year-old replacement animals and “converting” them to organic on an ongoing basis.

“This routine makes a mockery of the holistic approach to organic livestock agriculture that the law is designed to promote,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute. Read Full Article »

Lone Star Organic All-Stars

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

by Elizabeth Wolf

[Cameron Molberg manages Coyote Creek Farm, just east of Austin. It is the only commercial source of organic feed between Texas and North Carolina. In early 2015 he was nominated for a position on The Cornucopia Institute’s formal Policy Advisory Panel.]

Coyote Creek Organic Feed Mill was founded
in 2007
Today the mill does business with about 200
family farmers

“You are what your animal eats,” says Cameron Molberg, general manager of Coyote Creek Farm, a certified organic livestock producer and the first commercial organic feed mill in Texas.

“It’s shocking what’s in conventional feed,” Cameron continues, citing the pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs the stuff is riddled with. “At Coyote Creek, we’re producing a feed product for the Olympic athlete of livestock. You don’t feed an Olympian candy bars and junk food.”

The livestock all-stars for which the mill produces custom feeds include everything from dairy cows and turkeys to poultry, sheep, goats, rabbits — even crickets (a protein source in many countries and, increasingly, for Paleo eaters in the U.S.). Backyard chicken enthusiasts are another burgeoning market for Coyote Creek. “Customers will pay $15 to $20 to ship a single bag of feed,” Cameron notes. “People are trying to incorporate organic production practices on even a micro scale.” Read Full Article »

Summary of NOSB Votes on Petitions, Sunset Materials

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

by Linley Dixon, PhD

Linley NOSBSpring2015
Linley Dixon, PhD addresses the NOSB

A clear message that The Cornucopia Institute, and other organic stakeholders, are pushing the NOSB to act more conservatively was evident in the votes to remove three 2016 sunset toxic boiler additives: cyclohexylamine, diethylaminoethanol, and octadecylamine. The NOSB also voted to reject the petition to add PGME as a synthetic boiler additive, based on comments provided by Cornucopia staff at the previous meeting.

The petition to add whole algal flour (used as a partial replacement for cream, milk, eggs, and/or butter in vegan products) and the petition to add triethyl citrate (for use as a whipping enhancer for egg whites) were both voted down, based on lack of essentiality.

All newly petitioned crops materials failed to be added to the National List, including exhaust gas for gopher control, calcium sulfate (gypsum from flue gas desulfurization) for use as a soil amendment, and 3-decene-2-one for use as a potato sprout inhibitor. Read Full Article »

Organic Regulatory Theater?

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

NOSB’s Spring 2015 Meeting Marked by Brutal Workload, Controversy

by Will Fantle

Source: iStock

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) held its semi-annual meeting in La Jolla, California, April 27–30. The board’s four-day meeting was dominated by the discussion surrounding the 200 synthetic and non-organic materials allowed for use in organics and scheduled for their periodic review under the “sunset” process.

The weight of such an extensive review clearly strains the capacity of the 15 volunteer members to assess, in any meaningful way, the balance of human and environmental impacts of the substances plus their essentiality, or necessity, in organic food and agriculture. Read Full Article »