The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.


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Cooperative Economic Model Cont.’d

In a speech in honor of October as National Cooperative Month, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak lauds the cooperative economic model:

“Agricultural cooperatives are a driving force in the nation’s thriving farm economy. Because they are farmer-owned and operated businesses, the sales dollars and income generated are much more likely to be returned and spent in rural areas and communities,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Ag cooperatives are also vital to the rural economy because they support 185,000 full- and part-time jobs, and are often the major employer in many rural towns.”
Secretary Vilsack has signed an October 2013 National Cooperative Month Proclamation that salutes not only agricultural and fishery co-ops, but the entire co-op sector – which includes utility, financial, food and many other types of co-ops – for helping to boost the economy and create jobs.
Reading from the proclamation, Secretary Vilsack said: “Cooperative businesses, arising from a sense of community and common cause, are the ultimate economic self-help tool, helping member-owners market and process their crops and other products, obtain needed services and acquire high-quality, affordable supplies.”
 

 


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US-Japan agree to make it easier to import each other’s organic products

The Associated Press announces a new US-Japan deal that could lead to more organic options.

The United States and Japan have agreed to make it easier to import each other’s organic products, the latest step in a global effort that could give consumers access to more — and cheaper — organic food.
The Agriculture Department announced an agreement Thursday between the United States and Japan that will allow organic products to be certified in one of the countries and be sold as organic in both. The agreement will allow producers to sell their products in both countries without going through the lengthy process of getting certified twice.
The agreement is similar to a 2009 deal with Canada and a 2012 deal with the European Union. Agriculture officials say they are looking at agreements with other countries — South Korea, and possibly India, Brazil and Mexico down the road — that could also make it easier for U.S. organic farmers to sell abroad. Continue reading


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Big Foods Takeover of Organics

How many times has something unique and forward thinking been co-opted, then destroyed, by people with no imagination, but a lot of money? Welcome to the Big Organics Industry.  I’ve posted the entire New York Times article about how Big Food has predictably and depressingly taken over organics and turned it into a profit center for themselves.

Has ‘Organic’ Been Oversized?

By STEPHANIE STROM

Michael J. Potter is one of the last little big men left in organic food.

More than 40 years ago, Mr. Potter bought into a hippie cafe and “whole earth” grocery here that has since morphed into a major organic foods producer and wholesaler, Eden Foods.

But one morning last May, he hopped on his motorcycle and took off across the Plains to challenge what organic food — or as he might have it, so-called organic food — has become since his tie-dye days in the Haight district of San Francisco.

The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store. The industry’s image — contented cows grazing on the green hills of family-owned farms — is mostly pure fantasy. Or rather, pure marketing. Big Food, it turns out, has spawned what might be called Big Organic.

Bear Naked, Wholesome & Hearty, Kashi: all three and more actually belong to the cereals giant Kellogg. Naked Juice? That would be PepsiCo of Pepsi and Fritos fame. And behind the pastoral-sounding Walnut Acres, Health Valley and Spectrum Organics is none other than Hain Celestial, once affiliated with Heinz, the grand old name in ketchup.

Over the last decade, since federal organic standards have come to the fore, giant agri-food corporations like these and others — Coca-Cola, Cargill, ConAgra, General Mills, Kraft and M&M Mars among them — have gobbled up most of the nation’s organic food industry. Pure, locally produced ingredients from small family farms? Not so much anymore. Continue reading