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.
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.
Acting on a recommendation of the association’s Farmers Advisory council (FAC), the Board of Directors of the Organic Trade Association has voted unanimously for congressional action on two tracks to help farmworkers now and in the future. The trade association seeks both passage for immigration reform giving undocumented farmworkers a pathway to legal status, and action to safeguard the well-being of these workers during the current coronavirus outbreak.
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.
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.
The Organic Trade Association’s Member Day in D.C. in May. kicked off with a crucial discussion on the long-term challenge of providing technical assistance for organic production. Members heard about two major initiatives, both focused on “training the trainers” to expand the supply of organically fluent educators.
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?
Brothers Rod and Bob Grimm founded iconic carrot brand Grimmway Farms in 1969. The company acquired Cal-Organic, a pioneering organic grower, from founder Danny Duncan in 2001. Organic Trade Association Board Member and Pioneer Emeritus of Organically Grown Company David Lively first visited Cal-Organic in 1985 when it was only a few acres, and Danny was preparing to certify 300 acres the next year. Lively recently talked organic, carrots and pride with Grimmway’s President Jeff Huckaby on the occasion of Grimmway’s 50th anniversary.