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.
Chickens outside, standards for shampoo, and strategies for avoiding GMO contamination—that’s just a taste of what organic farmers, businesses, and consumers are asking for. In the past 10 years, the organic industry has advanced 20 consensus recommendations for improvements to the organic standards via the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) but USDA has not completed rulemaking on a single one of them.
For so many reasons, I was sad that the in-person Organic Week in Washington, D.C., could not be held this year. One thing I was looking forward to was the interface between the Organic Trade Association’s Fiber Council members with its Retail Council members. The retailers are just one step away from the consumers, so from my vantage point, the more educated the retailers are about organic textiles, the clearer their messaging is to shoppers.
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.
We invited social media Influencers to advocate for organic alongside the industry during #OrganicWeekDC
This year, Organic Week in Washington, D.C., was all about the organic sector doubling-down on bold ideas and better solutions. In the backdrop of the nation’s capital, more than 200 participants explored leading-edge thinking, discussed bold strategies, and took incremental steps to advance policy and private sector solutions.
This year’s award honorees are:
Mike Menes is the Vice President of Food Safety & Technology for True Organic Products, and a member of Organic Trade Associations Board of Directors. He sat down with Bruce Taylor, whose company, Taylor Farms, recently acquired Earthbound Farm, to discuss values, sustainability, and Taylor’s not-so-secret wish for a drone air force.
Mike: Can you speak to the values that power Taylor Farms?