Posted by David Granatstein | February 11, 2016
This post was written by Harold Austin, NOSB member and David Granatstein, WSU
The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-624, Nov. 28, 1990) was passed to establish a uniform definition and regulation of organic foods in the U.S. The law provides the framework for development of a system for organic certification (7 USC Ch. 94, Organic Certification) for farms, processors, and handlers. The varied organic certification programs and laws in place prior to the national law typically contained lists of prohibited materials for use in organic crop and livestock production and in organic food handling and manufacturing processes, based on the general principle of natural is acceptable, synthetic is prohibited. The Federal approach called for establishment of a “national list” that would delineate “allowed synthetics” and “prohibited naturals.” If a natural material was not on the list, it was allowed; if a synthetic materials was not on the list, it was prohibited. This was meant to expedite the process of material review by only debating the exceptions, not each specific allowed natural.
Posted by David Granatstein | September 8, 2015
Next week, Sept. 12-19, is Washington Organic Week, an annual celebration of organic farms, foods, and businesses in the state. This week we are releasing our 2014 statistical update of the organic sector, a report we have now produced for 10 years running. With continuous data over time, one can start to pick out some trends and patterns, which are discussed below. I had hoped to also be reporting here on the results of the 2014 USDA organic production survey, which was due to be released on August 31st but was delayed. Those results will be discussed in a future post. Globally, the most current data on organic agriculture come from the annual “World of Organic Agriculture” report (Willer and Lernoud, 2015), free online, which gathers data on the organic sector from 170 countries around the world.
Posted by David Granatstein | April 29, 2015
Consumer interest in blueberries as part of a healthy diet has exploded in recent years. Blueberries are considered one of the “superfruits”, full of antioxidants and other beneficial compounds. They are also easy to use, especially in breakfasts, where the breakfast smoothie has become a standard way to start the day for many. This new morning pattern continues to create demand for ready to use ingredients such as blueberries. Washington State growers have produced blueberries commercially for many years, but our output has typically been less than our neighbors in Oregon and British Columbia. With the recent demand increases, new blueberry plantings in the state have followed. And the biggest shift is new plantings under irrigation in the Columbia Basin region, managed organically. A new publication on “Trends and Economics of Washington State Organic Blueberry Production” was just published by WSU faculty to help growers and others in the industry understand the current situation and evaluate opportunities for further expansion. Read more »
Posted by David Granatstein | September 5, 2014
Every year the second week in September (7th-13th this year) is designated as Washington Organic Week (WOW!) to celebrate the organic farmers, farms and food and the bounty of the harvest in our state (learn more HERE). Nationally, the organic sector did well in 2013, reaching $32.3 billion in retail food sales, up 11.4% from the previous year (Organic Trade Association, 2014). The steady growth in demand can be seen in Figure 1 below.
Filed under Organic Farming
Posted by David Granatstein | May 28, 2014
The results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture were recently released by USDA. Every 5 years, the National Agricultural Statistics Service fields a nationwide census to all identifiable farms in the country. The census reports contain a wealth of information and new questions are added as agriculture changes, such as questions on direct marketing, organic production, use of rotational or management-intensive grazing, and harvest of biomass crops for energy. Read more »
Posted by David Granatstein | April 28, 2014
Every now and then a news story or article really makes me stop and think. I just listened to an interview on NPR on Monday, April 14, with Dr. Martin Blaser, infectious disease specialist and author of the new book “Missing Microbes.” He is the Director of the NYU Human Microbiome Program. The microbiome refers to the diverse array of micro-organisms that live in or on our bodies. It turns out that some 70-90% of the cells in and on our body are not our own human cells – they are cells of various bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other critters we cannot see with our eyes or normally detect with any of our senses. Read more »
Posted by David Granatstein | February 24, 2014
I had the good fortune to attend the National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health in Omaha, Nebraska recently. Soil health is in the limelight these days, with a new soil health initiative at the USDA-NRCS, a new Soil Health Partnership from the National Corn Growers Association, another soil health initiative from the Noble Foundation, and several recent meetings on soil health here in the Northwest including a session at the Washington State Horticulture meeting last December and a day-long soil quality workshop in Mt. Vernon. Read more »
Filed under Event, Perspectives on Sustainability, Sustainability, Sustainable Practices and Technology
Posted by David Granatstein | January 30, 2014
2014 is the last season in which organic growers can use antibiotics to control fire blight in apple and pear production. Now is the time to look at non-antibiotic controls, for which there has been significant progress in the past few years. An annotated presentation by Dr. Ken Johnson of Oregon State University outlines possible control strategies. For more information on fire blight, please so Dr. David Granatstein’s fire blight webpage.
Filed under News and Announcements
Posted by David Granatstein | January 30, 2014
Washington State apples are known worldwide. The 2012 crop set a record at 120 million boxes (40-lb) and sales were brisk at good prices due to the freeze-out of much of the production in the eastern U.S. In that year, Washington’s production was 70% of all apples in the US. What is even more remarkable is that by January each year, 75-90% of all apples in storage in the US are in Washington, meaning we are by far the dominant supplier to our domestic market. These numbers are even higher for organic apples. Read more »
Filed under Organic Farming
Posted by David Granatstein | November 3, 2013
In the 1970s, I was part of the “back to the land” movement and very interested in organic farming as the solution to sustainability problems in agriculture. At that time, organic was close to invisible on the agricultural and food landscape. In spite of this, many of us strived toward “the whole world being organic.” A lot has changed since then; and a lot has not. Organic has undergone exponential growth in the marketplace, with increases in both the number of farmers and the land area involved. Organic is still a small fraction of the market, however, and many of the problems we saw decades ago still persist. Read more »
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