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May 29, 2009

Organic Bytes #175

Health, Justice and Sustainability News
from the Organic Consumers Association

In This Issue

  • Alert of the Week: Monsanto's Greenwashing Ads on NPR
  • Graduation Quote of the Week: You Are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring
  • Web Video of the Week: Understanding Peak Oil
  • Sustainability Tool of the Week: Downloadable Curriculum Teaches Food Sovereignty
  • Clarification of the Week: Silk Brand Soymilk's Importation of Soybeans from China
  • Headlines and Articles of the Week---
  • Consumer Tip of the Week: Good Methods for Finding Local Food
  • Environment News of the Week: Pollution Can Change Your DNA in 3 Days, Study Suggests

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Advertising Alert of the Week

Monsanto's Greenwashing Ads on NPR

If you listen to NPR stations that carry the program Marketplace, you've probably heard the 12 second ad that Monsanto has been running that says: Marketplace is supported by Monsanto, committed to sustainable agriculture, creating hybrid and biotech seeds designed to increase crop yields and conserve natural resources. Learn more at

Tell American Public Media, which produces the Marketplace program, to stop spreading Monsanto's lies.

Learn more and Take Action

Graduation of the Week

You Are Brilliant, and the Earth is Hiring

"There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn't bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn't afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here's the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don't be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done..."

Source: Paul Hawken's May 3rd commencement address at the University of Portland

Read more

Web Video of the Week

Understanding Peak Oil

The whole discussion of oil supply and demand can be slippery and complicated. How long will it last, and when can we expect to see serious impacts on our everyday lives? If you're looking for an entertaining and captivating overview of this issue, we've found it. Watch this feature length documentary online now to learn about the history, present and future of global oil production and consumption. It could change the way you plan your tomorrows.


Sustainability Tip of the Week

Downloadable Curriculum Teaches Food Sovereignty

Food sovereignty is the right of family farmers to grow food for their families and local markets and the right of consumers to get access to local, healthy foods. This grassroots movement is gaining momentum around the world, and now the National Family Farm Coalition and Grassroots International have put together a series of downloadable curricula to increase understanding of how the food system works, its failures, and the hopeful alternatives that are blossoming throughout the world. The curriculum is divided into four modules: one each for consumers, faith and anti-hunger groups, environmentalists and farmers, all designed to help:
• Understand the ways in which current U.S. agricultural, trade and energy policies undermine the right of communities and nations around the world to determine their own food policies;
• See how food sovereignty and locally based food systems rooted in social justice and environmental sustainability can be practical alternatives to unsustainable industrial agriculture;
• Envision how people can act together across borders to build local food systems and pass fair agriculture, trade and energy policies.

Learn More and Download

Clarification of the Week

Silk Brand Soymilk's Importation of Soybeans from China

In last week's Organic Bytes #174, we informed readers about a new survey from the Cornucopia Institute that ranks mainstream soy brands based on how much they source their beans from U.S. Farmers. Our headline read "Silk Soy Milk Abandons Organic Ingredients Altogether", and many of you pointed out that there are still USDA certified organic Silk products on store shelves. To clarify, since it was acquired by Dean Foods, Silk has dramatically scaled back on production of its organic products, and many consumers, who are long time fans of the Silk products, have not noticed that the majority of these items are no longer certified organic. As always, we ask consumers to look for the USDA seal on products they are assuming are organic. Secondly, the Cornucopia report suggests Silk is importing a portion of its soybeans from China. Some of you noted the Dean Foods website claims its soybeans are 100% U.S. grown. To answer your questions, Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute has elaborated on the report to provide some clarity to our readers.

Learn More


One Phone Call Helps Change theWorld for the Better

We know times are tough for everyone right now. That's why the OCA continues to work to organize its more than 500,000 supporters to fight for consumers, family farmers, our environment, and our most precious assets, our children. We want to continue fighting the good fight, as well as bringing you Organic Bytes, but we need your donations to survive these financially difficult times. If you enjoy Organic Bytes and believe the world is a better place with OCA's nonprofit work, please consider donating today. Any size donation is helpful and appreciated.


Headlines and Articles of the Week

1) Health News of the Week: How Organic Food and Farming Can Reverse Trends in Obesity and Diabetes
Obesity and diabetes are collectively the nation's number one public health problem. A new "Critical Issue Report" describes six ways that organic food and farming can contribute to reversing current trends in obesity and diabetes. But most important, the report explains why the conscious decision by individuals to purchase organic food marks a critical first step toward a healthier diet and lifestyle.
Learn more

2) Consumer Tip of the Week: Good Methods for Finding Local Food
Information on farmers markets and CSAs, as well as the Natural Resource Defense Council's Local Food database. There you can type in your state and the month and pop up a list of produce that a shopper could reasonably expect to see harvested somewhere in that state at that time.
Learn more

3) Organic News of the Week: Owls Replace Pesticides
For years, toxic rodenticides have been used to kill crop-damaging pests. Endangered birds of prey are indirectly killed when they eat rodents that contain these poisonous chemicals sprayed on crop fields. Now government -funded programs in countries like Israel are helping farmers install nest boxes to encourage birds of prey to deal with pests instead of toxic chemicals.
Learn more

4) Big Brother News of the Week:
USDA's National Animal Identification System Listening Tour Continues: Majority Of Speakers Opposed

"More consumers are stepping up to complain about the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) continues its national listening tour..."
Learn more

5) Environment News of the Week: Pollution Can Change Your DNA in 3 Days, Study Suggests
A new study finds particulate matter suspended in the air can reprogram human genes in as little as three days causing increased rates of cancer and other diseases.
Learn more


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Message from our Sponsors

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