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July 9, 2009

Organic Bytes #181: Natural Food Inc., Factory Farms, & Organic Integrity

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

In This Issue

  • Alert Update of the Week: Natural Food Inc. Responds to OCA's Criticisms
  • Quote of the Week: On Factory Farming
  • Alert of the Week: Tell USDA Deputy Secretary the Difference Between Factory and Family Farms
  • Food Safety News of the Week: OCA on New Food Safety Bill-HR 2749
  • Web Forum Posting of the Week: Why I'm Ditching Peace Cereal
  • In Memoriam - Craig Winters (1951-2009)
  • Web Video of the Week: Living a Nightmare: 24 Minute Factory Farm Film
  • Consumer Tip of the Week: 2009 Sunscreen Consumer Guide
  • Other Headlines of the Week

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Alert Update of the Week

Natural Food Inc. Responds to OCA's Criticisms

In last week's Organic Bytes, OCA criticized Whole Foods Market (WFM) and United Natural Foods for undermining organics by promoting and selling mostly conventional products (greenwashed as "Natural"), instead of certified organic products. OCA and thousands of organic consumers asked WFM & UNFI to begin to put pressure on their so-called "Natural" product suppliers to sign contracts with accredited certifiers and make the transition to organic.

Unfortunately, instead of pressuring these "bottom line" companies to rethink dropping organic ingredients in favor of conventional ingredients, and to stop marketing conventional foods as if they were "as good as" or "nearly organic," WFM and UNFI have "put the squeeze" on a number of OCA's advertisers--costing our organization thousands of dollars in lost revenue. In spite of this blatant intimidation, OCA will not be silent. We will continue to expose the myth of so-called "Natural" foods and farming. We will continue educating ethical consumers, retailers, wholesalers, farmers, and food processors to put their money and their practices where their supposed values lie. To learn more, read the new essay by OCA Director Ronnie Cummins: The Organic Monopoly and the Myth of "Natural" Foods: How Industry Giants Are Undermining the Organic Movement

Learn more

We Will Not Be Silent

Help OCA Expose the Myth of So-Called "Natural" Foods. Help Make Real Organics the Norm, Rather Than Just the Alternative.

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Quote of the Week

On Factory Farming

"If one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but when a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people."

Ruth Harrison - Author of Animal Machines


Alert of the Week

Tell USDA Deputy Secretary the Difference Between Factory and Family Farms

USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, who helped craft the organic law and regulations as an aide to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and the head of the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service under President Clinton, should be well-versed on the organic industry's worst controversies. In a speech at the All Things Organic trade show in Chicago on June 17, 2009, Deputy Secretary Merrigan said that she was going to get "tough on crime" and go after fraud in the organic marketplace. But, when asked whether she was going to do something to help family-scale dairy farmers who are struggling to compete with factory farms masquerading as organic,, Deputy Secretary Merrigan tried to dodge the organic dairy controversy by saying, "I'm not sure what a factory farm is or what a family farm is."

As Organic Consumers Association network members know, the current organic dairy crisis was precipitated by widespread fraud in the organic dairy industry. The USDA has delayed enforcement for over five years of the law requiring mandatory pasture access for organic cows, while allowing giant intensive confinement dairy feedlots with thousands of cows to supply nutritionally inferior "organic" milk to Aurora and Dean Foods/Horizon, who in turn supply Wal-Mart, Safeway, and Target with the cheapest "organic" milk in the country. Justice delayed is justice denied. While we wait for the USDA to enforce the law, the 90% of small and medium-sized organic dairy farmers (and even some large ones), who play by the rules and put their cows out to pasture every day during the growing season, are going out of business because they can't compete with the big confinement dairies of Aurora and Horizon, where production costs are 30% lower than grass-fed, pasture-based organic dairies.

Please tell Deputy Secretary Merrigan that, as an organic consumer, you know the difference between family farms and factory farms and that you expect President Obama's USDA to stop labeling fraud in the organic dairy and personal care sectors and to maintain consumer trust in the USDA Organic label.

Learn more and take action

Food Safety News of the Week

OCA on New Food Safety Bill-HR 2749

There's been a lot of buzz on the web about the new Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (HR-2749). Many of our supporters have called or emailed us to find our stance on the issue. Although the Organic Consumers Association is fairly satisfied that the bill is intended to protect organic farmers from being negatively impacted by new food safety regulations, the bill does not address the underlying causes of America's persistent and evermore serious food safety crisis: factory farms and chemical-intensive agriculture.

When addressing the concerns of E.coli or salmonella, the bill focuses on fresh vegetables and fruits rather than CAFOs or intensive confinement factory farms, in effect treating the symptom and not the disease. A close look at the nation's food poisoning epidemics over the past decade reveal that the overwhelming majority of fruit and vegetable contamination incidents are a direct result of water and soil pollution from large factory farms. The OCA believes that HR-2749 should be amended to address factory farming:

1) Animals should never be fed blood, manure or slaughterhouse waste.

2) Cows need to eat grass.

3) Animals need to be spread out on enough land to absorb their waste.

4) CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) pose unacceptable risks to human health such as antibiotic resistance, incubate dangerous viruses and pathogens such as the Swine Flu and Bird Flu, contaminate the environment, institutionalize animal cruelty, and need to be phased out and shut down.

Learn More

Web Forum Posting of the Week

Why I'm Ditching Peace Cereal

Here's an email we received from one of our readers:

"For quite some time I ate Peace Cereal’s Essential 10. I liked it because it was a high-fiber cereal with not much sugar. And it was organic. Then one day sitting at the breakfast table eating my Essential 10 I noticed the box no longer said Organic. Basically the same box design with minor changes to remove the Organic markings...

I wrote a letter to Peace Cereal telling them I was very unhappy and would no longer buy their products. They wrote back that the felt they could no longer be completely organic so that lower-income people could afford their product. That’s the kind of excuse I’d expect from Wal-Mart. And, of course, it wasn’t long before they raised all their prices anyway.

A look at the Peace Cereal website shows that they now have only one cereal containing an organic ingredient. That ingredient is listed as a coating made from a Chai spice blend.

I think those of us who value organics have an obligation to abandon those manufacturers and vendors who abandon us. And I hope co-ops will discontinue Peace Cereal. I now eat a different Organic cereal— Kashi Autumn Wheat. I think we all can find products that keep the organic promise."


Post your thoughts on any OCA related issue in our web forum



In Memorium

Craig Winters (1951-2009)

Craig Winters was a long time ally and friend of all of us at the OCA, and everyone in the anti-GMO movement, as well as a great fighter for holistic health and all things organic. In memory of Craig, all of us at the OCA pledge to redouble our efforts to campaign for mandatory labeling of Genetically Engineered foods, and to drive GMOs off the market. Hasta la victoria siempre/ Until the final victory!

 

Learn more

Headlines and Articles of the Week

1) Web Video of the Week:
Living a Nightmare: 24 Minute Factory Farm Film
Watch

2) Consumer Tip of the Week:
Environmental Working Group Releases 2009 Sunscreen Consumer Guide

Does your sunscreen work? Surprisingly, 3 of 5 brand-name sunscreens either don't protect skin from sun damage or contain hazardous chemicals - or both. An Environmental Working Group investigation of 1,590 sunscreens rates the season's best and worst.
Learn more

3) Organic News of the Week:
Washington Post Reports on Organic Label's Integrity

"Relaxation of the federal standards, and an explosion of consumer demand, have helped push the organics market into a $23 billion-a-year business. But the USDA program's shortcomings mean that consumers, who at times must pay twice as much for organic products, are not always getting what they expect: foods without pesticides and other chemicals, produced in a way that is gentle to the environment..."
Learn more

4) Health News of the Week:
Preservatives in Meat Linked to Dementia and Cancer

According to a study published last week in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, sodium nitrite, which is a very common additive added to meat and fish to destroy toxins, reacts with proteins in the meat, damaging human DNA cells. The study links the preservatives to dementia diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The ingredient, which has also been linked to cancer, can be avoided by reading ingredient labels on meats like cold-cuts, hot dogs, and sausages. Sodium nitrite is a synthetic ingredient not allowed in organic foods.
Learn more

5) Related News of the Week:
Top 12 Food Additives to Remove From Your Diet

Thanks to MSN Health & Fitness contributor Jean Weiss, a list of the most medically questionable and harmful additives in everyday foods has been compiled:
1. Sodium nitrite
2. BHA & BHT
3. Propyl gallate
4. Monosodium glutamate
5. Trans fats
6. Aspartame
7. Acesulfame-K
8. Food colorings (Blue & , Red , Green , Yellow )
9. Olestra
10. Potassium bromate
11. White sugar
12. Sodium chloride

Learn more


LOCAL [[State]] NEWS OF THE WEEK

[[State]]--Get Involved Locally

  • Learn more about OCA related action alerts and other news in [[State]] here.
  • Join [[State]] discussion groups in our forum.
  • Post events in [[State]] on our community calendar.

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