The world was unexpectedly and quickly transformed with the outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19. Pantry buying. Stockpiling staples. Grocery deliveries. Online farmers’ markets with curbside pickup. Baking our own bread. Three meals a day at home. Such has been our new daily life since the onset of the pandemic.
It is a critical time for organic in the marketplace. Having surpassed $55 billion in annual sales and 82% household penetration, organic products have moved firmly into the mainstream. This comes at an important moment for shoppers, farmers, and the environment. It is also a time of unprecedented confusion in the marketplace. Dozens of competing labels are crowding the shelves. Some are meaningless; others may tout one or more benefits – but none of them come close to the defined, rigorous standards and enforcement that shoppers have come to trust in organic.
For years, organic stakeholders have repeatedly called on USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) to take significant steps to improve oversight of organic systems and enforcement of the USDA organic regulations. The need for this action stems from a rapidly expanding organic market, high demand for organic products, an increasingly complex supply chain, and unfortunately, the growing occurrence of organic fraud.
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic this year already had dramatic consequences for the organic sector in 2020. As shoppers search for healthy, clean food to feed their at-home families, organic food is proving to be the food of choice for home.
Renewal of 2020 Sunset Reviews
Three outstanding organic farmers--one operating an exemplary small dairy and livestock farm, one overseeing over 45,000 acres of certified organic vegetable production, and one leading other farmers to join the largest U.S. organic cooperative-- have been chosen to receive the Organic Trade Association’s 2020 Organic Leadership Awards. Sharing their passion for organic farming, they are leading by example to foster further growth for the sector, whether on a small scale or by something way bigger.
Take the first step to fight organic fraud with online training
Organic businesses wanting to protect against organic fraud in their operations can now complete an online training course that is a key component of the Organic Trade Association’s groundbreaking industry-wide Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions, a voluntary program to help minimize and eliminate organic fraud.
Finding solutions to plastic pollution is a growing concern for many organic companies--and consumers. For Javier Zamora, owner of JSM Organics on California’s Central Coast, using non-plastic packaging is a choice he made more than three years ago for packing berries and vegetables.
“A lot of our customers were concerned about the use of plastic clamshell packaging, and it was also a personal concern for me,” he says.
As shifts in food and ag proliferate, organic stays relevant and sets the bar
Last holiday season, we hosted over a two-week period our Keto-eating millennial relative (LOTS of meat), our vegan/plant-based friend (NO meat), along with other various flexitarian (SOMETIMES meat, depending on the day), grass-fed-milk-drinking (self-explanatory), Weight Watchers-following (Purple plan -- count the points!) and I’ll-eat-anything family members and acquaintances. The one common thread in all the menu preparations? As much organic food and organic ingredients as possible.
The Country Hen was founded by George Bass after his experiences running a commercial poultry operation, complete with its own feed mill, in Bogota, Colombia. The feed ingredients available were grown using heavy amounts of pesticides and herbicides. This weighed heavily on him and, after reading Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” he was inspired to produce eggs based on natural and organic principles, making life better for the birds as well as reducing the chemical exposure for humans.