This week's dose of organic headlines, updates, resources and recipes courtesy of dsnodgrass...
Happy new year, let's hope the following trend continues in the U.S.
US families are buying more organic foods than ever and in a wider range of categories, reports the Organic Trade Association in their study, "US Families' Organic Attitudes and Beliefs 2010."
75 percent of US families purchase organic products.
41 percent of parents report they are buying more organic food than a year ago, up significantly from the 31 percent who said they bought more organic in 2009.
Parents say they buy organic because they are concerned about pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in foods (41 percent); use it as a way to avoid highly processed foods and/or artificial ingredients (39 percent); and believe they're more nutritious for their children (38 percent).
Confusion remains, however, over what makes a product "organic" vs "natural." 80 percent of respondents believe foods labeled as "natural" follow the same standards as "organic."
Monsanto and its enablers are absolutely freaking out that the US Department of Agriculture is acknowledging Monsanto's critics, which could be a sign of a sea change. I'll write more about this soon, but here's a sample.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is defending his decision to involve environmental activists and other critics of biotechnology in discussions on USDA’s proposed deregulation of Roundup Ready alfalfa.
Vilsack has taken some heat for his recent closed-door meeting with a small group of stakeholders, including biotech alfalfa providers, and conventional and organic growers. They reportedly discussed how Roundup Ready alfalfa can “coexist” with organic and conventional varieties as part of the USDA’s plan to deregulate the product.
Some in the ag industry say the administration’s proposal to place geographic limits on where biotech alfalfa can be grown is a major shift in the government’s policy toward genetically engineered crops. In a weekend appearance on the Iowa Public Television program Iowa Press, Vilsack was asked if farmers who are planting biotech crops should be concerned.
“Not at all. What we’re having is a discussion—a conversation—to try to take the courts out of determining who gets to farm and who doesn’t get to farm,” Vilsack said.
Vilsack said it’s a very complicated discussion—one, he says, that probably should have taken place a long time ago.
Encouraging news from the Philippines...
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala is taking organic farming seriously and he will move to spend the P900 million allotted under the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 to show that it can be profitable for food producers.
In his report, Alcala said the money will be expended for policy formulation on organic agriculture products regulation and registration, accreditation, certification and labeling.
The funds will also finance research, development and extension of appropriate sustainable environment and organic agriculture, promote the establishment of facilities that produce organic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other farm inputs, and establish the parameters for the certification process of organic products.
As an organic farmer himself, Alcala has championed the use of natural farming practices to reduce pesticide use and thus promote a more healthy way of growing food and consuming them.
Part of the allocation for 2011 would also go to the implementation of organic agricultural programs, projects and activities, and provision and delivery of support services to farmers and other stakeholders.
...and from Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan government is taking measures to promote usage of organic fertilizer among the country's farmers.
The Cabinet of ministers Wednesday approved a measure proposed by the Minister of Agrarian Services and Wildlife S.M. Chandrasena to expand the fertilizer subsidy to farmers and to promote the usage of organic fertilizer.
Under the proposed measures a pilot project will be launched to set up an organic fertilizer production unit in each of the 25 districts in the country.
With the promotion of organic fertilizer the government expects to reduce the use of chemical fertilizer by 15 percent in the first stage with the ultimate goal of reducing the use of chemical fertilizer up to 25 percent.