The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.

Washington Post Investigative Report Uncovers Massive Fraud in Organic Grain Imports

May 13th, 2017

Updated May 15
[Read Cornucopia’s letter to USDA Secretary Perdue.]

Industry Watchdog Reinforces Call for New Leadership at USDA National Organic Program

Non-organic corn and soy, labeled as organic, are flooding U.S. ports, undercutting legitimate U.S. organic farmers, due to the USDA’s negligence. The organic industry’s most aggressive industry watchdog, The Cornucopia Institute, reinforced their call for USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to correct the chronic pattern of gross corruption at the National Organic Program (NOP) by replacing the incompetent management.

Imported organic corn being unloaded in the U.S.

Cornucopia’s letter to Perdue follows the release of a new investigation by The Washington Post documenting massive shipments of fraudulent organic grains entering the U.S. from China and Eastern Europe. The May 13 article, The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t, details how easy it has been for exporters to sell gross amounts of fraudulent “organic” commodities to U.S. markets.

“This is the second organic major-league scandal uncovered this month by The Washington Post, and it confirms a longstanding pattern of negligence and corruption documented by our researchers,” said Will Fantle, Cornucopia’s codirector.

Cornucopia has filed numerous formal and well-documented legal complaints seeking to force the USDA to examine a wide range of alleged wrongdoings at organic factory farms and by other industry scofflaws.  All too often the complaints have been dismissed without investigation, or, when found meritorious, penalties have been negotiated down to a “light slap on the wrist” for offenders, with the details of the deals cloaked in secrecy, according to Cornucopia.

The organic sector is a robust and rapidly growing piece of the food pie, with annual sales now topping more than $40 billion.  “Clearly there is a hunger by many in America for food that is safer and more nutrient-dense,” Fantle noted.  “But consumers are being cheated and ethical farmers are being robbed of income while the USDA fails to vigorously defend—as they were charged to do by Congress—organic integrity.” Read Full Article »

Calling on All Organic Dairy Farmers and Consumers – Help Us Identify Fraudulent Factory Farms!

May 11th, 2017

Help us determine where all the major brands are sourcing their milk by submitting your milk carton’s plant code.

You may have heard the buzz surrounding The Washington Post’s scathing investigative report Why Your ‘Organic’ Milk May Not Be Organic. Due to the exposure of the Aurora Dairy scandal, we’re sure you will agree that organic dairy is at a crossroads — help us identify the trustworthy brands!

National retailers or distributors, marketing “private label” brands (also called “store brands”), change their sourcing frequently or may have different suppliers for different regions of the country.

The plant code is circled above

We need information about store brand milk. You can help us shape transparency in the marketplace with your personal investigation. Plant codes found on milk containers can give the organic community information about the source of our organic milk.

Send us your plant codes today!

  1. Please visit grocery stores, big-box retailers (Walmart, Target, Costco, etc.) and write down the plant codes (organic brands only).

Codes are usually printed near the top of the paper container and somewhere on the lids of gallon containers. Sometimes they’re printed right on the label. Write down all the numbers, but we are most interested in numbers configured similarly to Aurora Dairy’s 08-29 (could appear as 08 29). For more on finding the code, click here. Read Full Article »

Growing Your Own Food is Delicious and Rewarding

May 11th, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: Gardening is a healthful hobby and allows eaters to know exactly where their food came from. Enjoy this brief tutorial for beginners on starting a garden.

Beginner’s Guide To Starting A Garden
Rodale’s Organic Life
by Jean Nick

Never gardened before? This will get you started!

Source: Mark Stratton

Growing food—even just a little of it—is rewarding and a great way to be both creative and put the absolutely freshest and most delicious stuff on the table. But what should you grow, and how much should you plant? To help you decide, consider three things:

1. Plant What You Like
This may sound obvious, but many budding gardeners are tempted to believe they can revolutionize their family’s eating habits by planting new and interesting vegetables, only to discover the abundance of, say, turnips and kohlrabi end up back in the compost pile. Your family will appreciate the garden more if you grow things they enjoy eating. Read Full Article »

Honeybees Collecting Persistent Poisons

May 11th, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: It has been clear that particular pesticides and insecticides are a danger for bees, but this new study shows that persistent chemicals, sprayed before hives were installed, are finding their way, in concerning amounts, into the bee’s food.

Bees face heavy pesticide peril from drawn-out sources
Cornell Chronicle
by Blaine Friedlander

Source: Autan

Honeybees – employed to pollinate crops during the blooming season – encounter danger due to lingering and wandering pesticides, according to an analysis of the bee’s own food.

Researchers used 120 pristine honeybee colonies that were placed near 30 apple orchards around New York state. After allowing the bees to forage for several days during the apple flowering period, the scientists examined each hive’s “beebread” – the bees’ food stores made from gathered pollen – to search for traces of pesticides.

In 17 percent of colonies, the beebread revealed the presence of acutely high levels of pesticide exposure, while 73 percent were found to have chronic exposure. Read Full Article »

That Weed Free Lawn Comes at a High Price

May 10th, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: The commonly coveted weed free lawn rarely exists in present-day yards without the use of chemicals which insistently claim to be safe when applied as directed. But it turns out 2,4-D, an active ingredient in many herbicides sold for grass is more easily absorbed into skin treated with sunscreen or insect repellent. Cornucopia supports lawns with weeds – especially weeds like dandelions and clover which feed pollinators early in the season when little else is available for them.

That Perfect, Toxic Lawn: American Suburbs and 2,4-D
by Chris Clarke

Source: Ian D. Keating

If you’re worried about the weed-killer glyphosate, a.k.a. Roundup™, you’re not alone. The herbicide is getting increasing critical exposure in the news — and on social media — as we learn more about its potential effects on the environment and human health. Roundup use is growing exponentially, so that concern is sensible. But there are other commonly used pesticides that don’t get nearly as much public attention, despite the fact that they’re significantly more dangerous to people and the planet. In this short series, we’ll discuss five common pesticides whose ill effects on human health and the environment are demonstrably worse than Roundup’s.  Read Full Article »

The Cornucopia Institute
P.O. Box 126 Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
Ph: 608-625-2000