The nominations are in, emails sent, interviews completed, the data compiled. The results? There are hundreds of co-ops and natural food stores in North America doing an excellent job of clearly and truthfully labeling products, and offering consumers healthy, organic, locally sourced, non-GMO foods.
At the end of March, the OCA announced our Top 10 Right to Know Grocers contest, a project of our Organic Retail and Consumer Alliance (ORCA) Campaign. After months of hammering on the "Traitor Brands" whose parent companies joined Monsanto to defeat Proposition 37, the California GMO labeling initiative, we wanted to recognize retailers who are doing a great job of supporting our right to know. So we reached out to you. We asked you to nominate stand-out stores. And you responded. In all, hundreds of organic consumers nominated 156 natural health food stores, co-ops and CSAs.
With so many retailers working so hard to battle the corporate takeover of our food, how could we choose just 10 winners? We couldn't. We went with 12 overall winners - we call them the "Diligent Dozen" - and 10 winners in each of five regions: Northeast, Southeast, Central, Northwest and Southwest. You can find all the winners, and a short description of the great work they’re doing,here.
We were, frankly, blown away by the enthusiasm of those of you who appreciate what your local stores are doing, and by the dedication of the nominees to fighting the GMO battle. In the end, this turned into much more than a contest. We plan to build on this project to create a hub for organic and local, sustainable food retailers, a place where they can connect, learn from each other, and work together to pressure manufacturers to rid their products of GMO ingredients. Congrats to the winners! And if you didn’t get a chance to nominate your store this time around, never fear – we’re planning to make this an annual contest!
Public approval? Government regulations? Who needs ‘em when you can use a global trade agreement to do an end run?
If you thought recent news stories claiming that Monsanto has given up on trying to sell its genetically engineered seeds in Europe sounded too good to be true, you were right. Far from giving up, the biotech industry is now looking to a new trade pact between the EU and the U.S. that could blow the European market wide open for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). TheTransatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) calls for the removal of “unnecessary regulatory barriers” to trade. Among those barriers are restrictions on GMOs. Here’s what Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) had to say about the deal:
“US seed companies that for a decade have been struggling to break the deadlock over the authorization for the cultivation of their [GM] seeds now will be presented with the ultimate opportunity to change the entire process to suit their needs.”
The TTIP, and its Pacific Rim counterpart, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), are being negotiated in secret. No input from the public. No access by Congress, despite requests from more than 140 Congress members to see drafts of the negotiating texts. Who does have input? More than 600 corporations. And if President Obama gets his way, both deals will be “fast-tracked” with no debate.
Hopes of passing a five-year Farm Bill died last week, when the U.S. House of Representatives voted down its version of the bill. But the contentious debate that scuttled the bill, for the second year in a row, sends a positive signal: Congress is finally debating some of the big issues surrounding our nation’s food policy.
The big controversy that doomed this year’s Farm Bill boiled down to this: House members wanted to slash spending by gutting programs to feed the poor, especially children, while preserving billions in subsidies for the Big Ag fat cats who poison our food and environment with their genetically engineered crops and factory farms.
But there were other debates, too, both in the House and the Senate, leading up to the demise of the 2013 Farm Bill. For the first time ever, the House passed an amendment that would allow research on industrial hemp. And though we weren’t successful in killing the Monsanto Protection Act through an amendment to the farm bill, we did get a promise that it will be debated, rather than rubber-stamped, when it expires on Sept. 30 with the Continuing Budget Resolution. And the good news is, some of the most outrageous provisions in this year’s farm bill, including the King Amendment that would have wiped out hundreds of state laws protecting local food supplies and public health, died along with the bill.
What’s next? Congress will likely pass another one-year extension of the 2008 bill, though Senate Ag Committee leaders insist they'll pass a new Farm Bill no matter what. The current extension expires on September 30. In the meantime, we can keep the debate going by pressuring lawmakers to draft – and pass – a healthier farm bill, one that promotes sustainable farming practices that produce healthful, nutritious food.
“Vision without execution is hallucination.” – Thomas Edison
It’s great to have a vision. Turning that vision into reality is just plain old-fashioned hard work. Satisfying work. Fun work, at times. But it’s work. And it’s work we couldn’t do without you.
Thanks to your generous support, we’ve been able to take on a number of new strategic projects, to raise public consciousness and build a stronger organic movement. One of those projects involves arranging visits with senators in 10 states, to pressure them on the issue of states’ rights to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The project involves recruiting people on the ground in those states, setting up the meetings, and conducting follow-up interviews until we get a commitment from each senator to support state GMO labeling laws. We’ll be reporting back on that project soon.
We’ve also just completed phase one of our Top Right to Know Grocers Contest, a project of OCA’s new Organic Retail and Consumer Alliance (ORCA) Campaign. This project involved interviewing more than 100 store owners and managers. We talked to them about their strategies for providing consumers with organic and non-GMO products. As the project evolves, we’ll be helping these, and other, food retailers to connect, to learn from each other, as we all work toward the common goal of expanding the supply of organic, locally grown, sustainable, non-GMO food. Because good food shouldn’t be that hard to find.
Our vision for a just and sustainable food system, a poison-free environment, a world where workers are paid fairly, food is grown sustainably, and public health is valued over corporate profits, is a big one. It’s our vision. It’s your vision, too. Please consider a donation today to help us execute the vision we all care so deeply about. Thank you!
Not Lovin’ It: Marketing Chemical-Laced Foods to Kids
It’s great that Michelle Obama wants kids to jump around and eat healthful foods. But you would think that with all the attention focused on childhood obesity, the havoc it wreaks on kids’ health, the impact on IQ, the long-term economic consequences of a lifetime of medications for obesity-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease, Mrs. Obama wouldn’t limit her lecturing to parents and kids.
How about lecturing the corporate ad guys who shamelessly target kids with their colorful cartoon characters and catchy jingles, in an attempt to get kids to hound their parents to buy more highly processed, sugar-laden, additive-heavy junk foods? Better yet, how about banishing those ads?
Not long ago, nine-year old Hannah Robertson caused a media stir when she stood up at a McDonald’s shareholders meeting and asked CEO Don Thompson a few pointed questions about the hamburger chain’s junk food and advertising policies. Mr. Thompson’s responses? Woefully inadequate, even by a nine-year old’s standards.
Caged Chickens à la King? Colbert on the King Amendment
When the Farm Bill died, the King Amendment died with it. Thank goodness. Introduced by the “notorious Iowa ag-industry henchman” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), the amendment would have eliminated the few state laws that ban cruel production practices, including extreme animal confinement in cages and crates, the force-feeding of ducks, horse slaughter, and shark finning. It might also have wiped out states’ laws to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Research shows that Vitamin D is critical for your health. But if you’re like most people, you probably don’t get enough. Want to know for sure? The Vitamin D home test kit is an easy-to-use prick test. You return it by regular mail, and your results are mailed back to you.
All proceeds from sales of the test kit will go to the GrassrootsHealth D Action Study. The D*Action project has been initiated by GrassrootsHealth, a public health promotion organization, along with 42 leading vitamin D researchers. The project aims to demonstrate how health can be achieved right now with what’s known about vitamin D, through a combination of vitamin D measurement and health outcome tracking.