European and American organic standards now considered equal
by Danielle of eatbreatheblog.com
In February, the European Union (EU) and the United States (U.S.) announced that organic products certified in either Europe or the United States may be sold in either region, beginning June 1. According to the USDA, “This partnership between the two largest organic producers in the world will establish a strong foundation from which to promote organic agriculture, benefiting the growing organic industry and supporting jobs and businesses on a global scale.” U.S. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said, “This partnership will open new markets for American farmers and ranchers, create more opportunities for small businesses and result in good jobs for Americans who package, ship and market organic products.” Clearly, this move will benefit large companies that use worldwide shipping to transport their produce around the globe, but will the change be a boon or bust for small-scale farmers?
Together, the U.S. and EU’s organic market is valued at more than $50 billion and it’s growing. Until now, the standards used to classify a product as organic haven’t been equivalent, so the world’s two largest markets have essentially been off-limits to one another. Previously, those who wanted to trade products on both sides of the Atlantic had to obtain separate certifications for each standard, which meant a double set of fees, inspections and paperwork. Farmers and food producers in both markets will soon benefit from easier access, less bureaucracy and lower costs. Shared standards will improve transparency and enhance consumers’ confidence and recognition of organic food and products.
Organic by definition
Until a few decades ago, the definition of organic wasn’t strictly codified. The notion of organic farming was considered to be more of a philosophical choice espoused by advocates like Rodale, Steiner and Howard and based on the idea that organic production led to healthier food. Starting in the 1970s, farmers and regulatory bodies started taking a closer look at organic production. They quickly realized that, without a system of rules, oversight and certification, anyone could call their products organic, regardless of how they were actually produced. This led to the development of current restrictions that are soon to be lifted. Although the U.S. and the EU shared certain rules, such as prohibitions on pesticides and chemical fertilizers, other regulations differed.
With the restriction on organic goods lifted, government officials predict that U.S. exports will grow by 300 percent by 2015. The change won’t affect sales at farmers’ markets, on-farm stores or community-supported agriculture memberships. The agreement, however, is a game changer. Given that the new standards have the potential to open new markets in Europe, large-scale operations and co-ops capable of shipping overseas will likely notice the biggest difference in their day-to-day operations. Only time will tell what effect this change will have on small-scale farmers both here and overseas. Ideally, as with any major business venture, the new approach to sending and receiving organic goods will noticeably benefit consumers and farmers on both sides of the pond.
by Melissa McKinnon
1. Start with a Leafy Green Base: the darker the green, the more nutritious. Be creative and try a new lettuce variety, especially if you’re stuck on Iceberg; Bibb, Red Leaf, and Romaine are always good options, or you can branch out and add spinach, kale, or other greens likes collards, mustard greens, or Swiss chard. My favorite is the Organic Girl brand (when I can’t get it from my own garden).
2. Add Some Color: I suggest at least one from each color group below…
- Something Red: grape tomatoes, red pepper, strawberries, pomegranate arils, sliced beets, dried cranberries, radishes, apples
- Something Orange or Yellow: bell peppers, carrots, banana peppers, mandarin oranges, mango salsa, corn
- Something Green: peppers, cucumbers, sprouts, green beans, granny smith apples, pears, zucchini, artichoke hearts, celery, broccoli, peas
- Something Blue or Purple: blueberries or other berries, purple cabbage, grapes, purple carrots, raisins
- Something White: mushrooms, onion, cauliflower, garlic or shallots
3. Add a Protein: this can be grilled chicken or salmon on top of the salad, or something simple like a half cup of rinsed and drained beans (kidney beans, black beans, whatever your favorite is), a hardboiled egg or an ounce of low-fat cheese.
4. Add a Healthy Fat Source: 1 Tbsp. of olive oil or chopped olives, ¼ avocado, or a small handful of nuts and/or seeds. You need healthy fat in your meal if you want to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins available in the rest of your salad!
5. Add Some Flavor: balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, fresh herbs, freshly cracked black pepper, etc. Stay away from high-sodium and saturated fat laden options. Something crunchy is always fun too (depending on what you’ve already added): whole wheat croutons, asian noodles, or these salad toppers from Oh She Glows are all fun ideas.
Bon Appetit! And Enjoy the Journey!
Melissa, My Journey to Lean Blog
- 2 c. shredded organic potatoes (about 2 small to medium potatoes)
- 1 all-natural egg
- sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
- 1/4 c. all-natural all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- 1/3 c. organic red onion, finely chopped
- 2 large organic garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bunch (about 4 c.) Swiss Chard, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 8 oz. Baby Swiss Cheese, shredded
- 4 all-natural eggs
- 1 c. milk
- 1 Tbsp. dried marjoram
- 1/2 c. breadcrumbs (I used homemade breadcrumbs from feta spinach bread)
- 1 Tbsp. butter
Preheat oven to 400F. Shred potatoes and pat dry with a towel. Add flour, salt, pepper, and egg, combining well. Spread into 9-inch deep dish pie pan. Brush with oil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and lower oven temp to 350F.
While the potato crust is baking, heat butter and olive oil in saute pan over medium low heat. Chop the onion and add to the skillet, sauteing for 3-5 minutes. Add minced garlic, salt and pepper, and cook for another minute. Chop chard (Note: Spinach could be a good substitute; for the chard, discard excess stems, if desired. I used about 2 inches past the end of each leaf for the added color and discarded the rest.) Add to saute pan, cooking for 5-10 minutes, until sweated down.
Meanwhile, combine eggs, milk, shredded cheese, and seasonings in mixing bowl. Add chard mixture and pour into baked potato crust. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and put tabs of butter on top of breadcrumbs, evenly spaced. This will help the top brown up beautifully.
Bake at 350F for 35 minutes, or until knife inserted 1 inch from the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cover with foil. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting. This allows the egg to finish cooking and solidify so your pieces come out perfect on the first slice.
Serves 8. Serve for brunch or a light dinner with a side salad and/or sliced tomatoes. Feel free to add chopped, cooked bacon to the pie ingredients for extra flavor (if you do this, you may want to eliminate the oil and butter and cook the onions, etc., in the bacon grease once you’ve cooked and drained the bacon). This is a great recipe if you have spinach or chard that has begun to wilt and you don’t want to throw it away. Also, you can prepare it the night before, if desired.
Hi! My name’s Melissa and I’m excited to represent the Upstate of South Carolina on the Carolina Farm Stewardship Blog! Each week, I receive organic produce delivered to my home in a “sweetness basket” from Milk & Honey Organics (more about them in an upcoming post). This week’s basket had Collard Greens in it. I’m from the North, and while I love the South and all it has to offer, I have struggled to perfect the art of collard greens. This recipe was my first real success with the lovely, leafy vegetable. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Organic Bacon and Greens Snack Wrap
by Melissa McKinnon
- 3 strips organic bacon, chopped
- 1 bunch organic collard greens (spinach would work too), washed, dried, stems removed, and chopped (about 3 c. chopped, fresh)
- 1 large organic garlic clove, minced
- 2 organic baby bella mushrooms, chopped
- 1 tsp. hot sauce (I used Texas Pete, still looking for a good organic brand, if you have suggestions)
- Sprinkle of seasoned salt (I used Lawry’s, still looking for a good organic brand here too)
- 4 oz. organic cream cheese (reduced fat or part skim, preferably)
- 4 all-natural/organic whole-wheat tortillas, quartered
- Heat skillet to medium heat. Meanwhile, chop ingredients.
- Fry 3 strips bacon to desired crispness, remove from skillet and drain on paper towel lined plate. Crumble.
- Reserve bacon drippings and add chopped greens, garlic, and mushrooms.
- Saute for 3-5 minutes, until greens are tender, garlic is carmelized, and mushrooms are reduced.
- Reduce heat to low, add hot sauce and seasoning salt to your taste.
- Add cream cheese and stir in until melted and well combined.
- Spread a tablespoon or two onto each tortilla quarter. Fold each in half and enjoy hot or chilled.
- Quartering the wraps makes this recipe go further as an appetizer. Most people stick to two or three pieces, though I’ll warn you, these are addictive.
- If you prefer, you could add the filling to wontons and bake or fry for a delicious appetizer. This recipe would yield 20-24 wontons (1 1/2 tsp. per wonton).
- My husband and I think the wontons would be a great appetizer with grilled spare ribs.
Bon Appetit! And enjoy the journey! ~Melissa
After months of work behind the scenes and strong grassroots pressure, we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel in the fight for sensible protections for local food systems in new federal food safety law. And it’s not a train. CFSA has been out front on this issue for more than a year, and that work is bearing fruit.
The Status of the Legislation
Negotiations are still ongoing, but so far sustainable agriculture has won agreements from the bill managers that:
1. FDA will be able to exempt low-risk farms and food businesses from the onerous paperwork burdens and compliance costs imposed on high-risk operations. In other words, FDA will have to prove that local food producers are a food safety risk before dictating food safety practices for them.
2. FDA will have to actively minimize compliance burdens for small farms and businesses. In other words, it will not be able to impose regulations that local food producers cannot afford.
3. Any FDA safety standards for growing produce must be compatible with the National Organic Program and USDA resource conservation programs. In other words, FDA will not be able to prohibit organic practices such as manure-based fertilizers and vegetative buffers around production fields.
4. FDA will have to prove the actual risk of pathogen transfer from wild animals and livestock to produce crops before regulating animal controls on farms. In other words, diversified farms will be protected, working dogs will be protected, and no farm will have to put walls and ceilings around their fields to keep out wildlife.
5. FDA and USDA will establish and fund a food safety training program for small farms and businesses. In other words, producers will have access to the latest scientific evidence on best management practices to take care of their customers.
Additionally, we are pushing for a provision on food traceability that would exclude products directly marketed by farms and products where the identity of the farm that grew a food product is preserved all the way to the end consumer (farm-identity preserved products). This issue is still being negotiated as I write.
Together We’ve Made a Difference
These are important victories, and Carolina farmers have helped us get this far. NC Senator Richard Burr’s staff has been actively involved in re-writing the bill, and I met with those staffers last week, along with NC farmers John Vollmer and Chris Hardin. We shared information about how healthy local food systems are providing jobs, increasing farm incomes, saving farms, and providing nutritious, safe food for Carolina consumers. CFSA’s Campaign for Truly Safe Food has organized grassroots action on S.510 at more than 20 farmers markets across the state. Thousands of citizens have contacted Senators Burr and Hagan to demand they protect local organic food from bad regulations.
All this information has helped convince Sen. Burr to fight for the improvements listed above. We are grateful for this support, and encourage you to thank Sen. Burr’s staff for working on behalf of sustainable agriculture. We’re also grateful for the efforts of Senators Bernie Sanders (VT), Michael Bennet (CO), Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Barbara Boxer (CA) to champion these changes.
Call’s to Sen. Hagan’s office are still needed to encourage her support for these changes. Her staff have not fully understood the potential negative impacts on small farms and local food from the original version of S.510.
CFSA also supports Sen. John Tester’s Amendment to S.510, which would exclude farms and food businesses with revenues below $500,000 from the new produce standards and preventive controls in the bill. These entities would continue to be regulated under existing local, state and federal law. We are hopeful the amendment will succeed in a floor vote, as it will provide insurance against one-size-fits-all rules.
What’s Next in Washington
It now looks like the bill might come up for a vote as early as next week, or it may be pushed back another week or two—the Senate has decided to fight over Wall Street reform next week, which may delay them from moving to the bipartisan issue of food safety. Any delay gives an opening to those who oppose our commonsense reforms:
- Rep. Rosa DeLauro yesterday complained at an Organic Trade Association meeting that the Senate is “watering down” the bill, even though she has not apparently read the new language.
- Consumer groups, who have intransigently opposed accommodations for small food producers in their push for tough regulation, have made a big ad buy in the Charlotte area promoting S.510. I’ll be posting to this blog later on the top mistakes, misstatements and misdirections in the consumer group campaign to prevent pro-local food amendments to S.510.
- Big agribusiness lobbyists like David Acheson, who, while head of FDA under the Bush Administration called for “zero tolerance” of pathogens in all foods, and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, are insisting that all producers meet the same standards, regardless of size, market, or risk. http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/04/farmers-make-gains-in-senate-battle/
So this campaign is not over, and we all must stay engaged.
Heroes in the Fight
I want to single out Chris Hardin, John Vollmer, Harry Hamil and Debbie Hamrick for thanks for their work on this issue.
· Chris wrote an excellent opinion documenting the compliance costs of S.510 for a small producer (it’s in Appendix II of CFSA’s report “Hurting NC’s Local Food Harvest: The Unintended Consequences of Federal Food Safety Legislation on North Carolina’s Small Agricultural Enterprises”, on our website here).
· John’s voice as a past-President-of-the-NC-Tobacco-Growers-Association-turned-organic-farmer carried tremendous weight with Senate staff.
· Harry’s research and advocacy have exposed the dangers of S.510 to thousands of influence-makers across the country.
· Debbie’s tireless criss-crossing of North Carolina to solicit small farmers’ views on reasonable food safety practices has provided crucial data for regulators.
Work Left to Do
Here’s what still needs to be done:
1. Keep up the pressure on the Senate. Call NC Senators Burr and Hagan, and SC Senators DeMint and Graham to tell them you support the Sanders, Bennet, Boxer, Stabenow and Tester amendments to S.510. Thank Sen. Burr for supporting the Sanders, Bennet, Boxer and Stabenow amendments and for supporting local food producers on the traceability issue. Here are the phone numbers:
Sen. Burr (NC): (202) 224-3154 Sen. Hagan (NC): (202)-224-6342
Sen. DeMint (SC): (202) 224-6121 Sen. Graham (SC): (202) 224-5972
2. Call your U.S. House Representative to tell them that S.510 is far superior to HR.2749, the food safety bill the House passed last year. Ask them to support the Senate Bill in negotiations between the two chambers. Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard, (202) 224-3121, to be connected with your Representative’s office.
3. If you see articles and statements claiming that “special interests” are watering down the bill with “exemptions for small farms,” set the record straight. Make comments, blog, tweet, Facebook (is that a verb?)… whatever channels you use to connect with your community, help us get the healthy food story out there.
4. Share CFSA’s report, Hurting NC’s Local Food Harvest, with media and decision makers in your community, to let them know how much is at stake in the fight for commonsense food safety rules.
As with the 2008 Farm Bill, the sustainable agriculture movement is elbowing its way to the table to protect and promote healthy food and farming for all. Your support is what makes these successes possible. Thank you.
4/30/10 UPDATE: Sen. Hagan has now endorsed the Tester proposals! Thanks to Sen. Hagan for stepping up on this important issue, despite the complaints of Big Ag.
This year’s Piedmont Farm Tour, April 19-20, features one of those organic dairying success stories that NCDA and Farm Bureau seem to have missed (http://www.carolinafarmstewardsblog.org/?p=7). Lindale Organic Dairy in Snow Camp is the first organic dairy in Chatham County and you can see first hand the incredible work and dedication that Neill and Cori Lindley have put in to convert their formerly conventional operation to organic by visiting them during the tour. The LindleysÂ have become incredible ambassadors for this kind of dairying and it’s positive impacts on their animals, their pastures, and the families they serve with their milk.
The farm is a member of the Organic Valley CROPP cooperative (http://www.organicvalley.coop/), and Organic Valley is so impressed with the operation that the companyÂ is bringing its chain grocery customers to the farm later in April. (CFSA will be taking advantage of the opportunity to present Organic Valley with our 2007 Business of the Year award, http://chatham.ces.ncsu.edu/index.php?page=news&ci=EXCE+2.)
Piedmont Farm Tour visitors will get a unique opportunity–first of it’s kind in the entire Southeast–to see an organic dairy in operation and learn how the Lindleys cope with the challenges of our climate to manage a dairy herd without antibiotics or hormones, while adhering to Organic Valley’s strict pasture requirements (more strict than the USDA’s). Please, when you visit, make sure to pay attention to biosecurity measures we’ll have in place and do your part to help protect the Lindale herd and our food supply!
It looks to be another great tour. Hope you can join us.