Posted by Chuck Benbrook | February 25, 2015
If you ask any brand manager, company executive, or corporate board member what a company’s most valuable asset is, the answer is always the same – consumer trust, and the marketplace loyalty grounded in that trust.
Whether selling cars, computers, or potato chips, both trust and market share are difficult to earn and easily lost.
Maintaining consumer trust does not occur in a vacuum. Aggressive, young sharks (i.e., competitors) are always eager to move up the food chain, and the unexpected must be expected – and dealt with adroitly, to prevent a slip from starting a long, slow slide.
Think of all the sweat equity, and public and private investment capital that has flowed into U.S. Ag Inc. over the last half-century, making our food and fiber system the envy of the world, or so the story goes.
Posted by Kyle Brown | February 9, 2015
This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference. We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.
My name is Kyle and I’m currently studying organic agriculture systems at WSU. Recently I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Washington Tilth Producers Conference in Vancouver, WA. Let me tell you, it was well worth the time spent. The conference provided plenty of ideas and information and I left with a reassurance that organic agriculture is thriving and here to stay. Hopefully I can share a little of the excitement with you! Read more »
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | December 9, 2014
Nearly everyone agrees that producing ample, nutritious and safe food to feed 9 billion people, with minimal harm to the environment, is one of mankind’s grand challenges. In the May 14, 2014 issue of National Geographic, Jonathan Foley sets out a thoughtful, five-step plan that highlighted these imperatives:
- “Freeze agriculture’s footprint” (e.g., stop clearing tropical rainforests),
- “Grow more on the farms we’ve got” (close the yield gap, more multi-cropping),
- “Use resources more efficiently” (help farmers “get smarter”),
- “Shift diets” (more fresh fruits and veggies, less grain-fed meat), and
- “Reduce waste” (25% food calories wasted; 50% of food by weight). Read more »
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | October 23, 2014
In early September I visited a remarkable organic farm on the coast of California. This farm has been in organic production for about 30 years, and its harvests of mostly organic tomatoes have been marketed through a variety of outlets in Northern California.
I arrived on the day picking had just begun on a sloping tomato field about 6 acres in size. The crop was exceptionally clean, with virtually no insect damage and few weeds. Minimal, organically approved control measures had been used, including applications of sulfur and releases of trichogramma (beneficial wasps), along with many hours of hand weeding.
Posted by Chad Kruger | September 25, 2014
This week, CSANR released its annual BIOAg Program request for proposals for new research and extension projects. The RFP can be found here.
This competitive grant program is the key mechanism that CSANR has to engage a broad, interdisciplinary spectrum of WSU faculty in projects that further the development, understanding, and use of biologically intensive and/or organic principles, practices, and technologies to improve the sustainability of agriculture and food systems in Washington State. 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
New Meta-Analysis Identifies Three Significant Benefits Associated With Organically Grown Plant-Based Foods
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | July 11, 2014
There have been four progressively rigorous meta-analyses published since 2009 focusing on differences in the nutritional quality and safety of organic versus conventional food. The latest comes out July 15, 2014 in the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN). I was the sole American scientist on the mostly European research team that produced the BJN paper:
Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses. Baranski, M., D. Srednicka-Tober, N. Volakakis, C. Seal, R. Sanderson, G. B. Stewart, C. Benbrook, B. Biavati, E. Markellou, C. Giotis, J. Gromadzka-Ostrowska, E. Rembiałkowska, K. Skwarło-Son, R. Tahvonen, D. Janovska, U. Niggli, P. Nicot and C. Leifert.
Posted by Chuck Benbrook | June 3, 2014
Avoiding pesticide exposure and risks remains the #1 reason most people choose organic food. This is not likely to change until there is convincing data that show only modest differences between the pesticide dietary risks associated with residues in and on organic food, compared to conventionally grown food. Read more »
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 Chuck Benbrook | April 24, 2014
An April 19, 2014 blog post by NPR correspondent Dan Charles discusses Wal-Mart’s plans to develop a substantial new line of organic food products that will be sold at a 25% lower price than other organic brands. The story quotes individuals who question whether Wal-Mart will be able to deliver on the idea without hurting farmers or cutting corners and sacrificing organic integrity, but they may be underestimating the benefits of Wal-Mart’s economy of scale. Read more »