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HAPPY 4th 2014 – Putting it out to the Universe

Last week I had lunch with friends from Argentina. When I
asked why they came to the US, they explained that one morning they woke up and
all their money (in their bank account) was gone. Yep. You read that right.
They went on to explain that there had been 5 Presidents in a 2 week period. The country was in an insane
mess and the Presidents were taking the money of the people directly out of
their personal accounts. Then the Presidents left town. With the money.
I can’t even imagine.
So – while I am furious with the male-centric Supreme Court
(and send supportive thoughts to those 3 women on the Supreme Court) and while I resent
the waste of our resources by the US Congress, I am thankful that we have the
Constitution and a government structure that would never allow the sort of
devolution that happened in Argentina. I am grateful to all the men and women who fought to gain and protect the rights laid out in that rather amazing document that allowed this country to become America, home of the brave, land of the free.
Now we have an obligation to repay all of those who came before us: we need to get active and
demand action through the voter’s booth. We can get the Congress back on
track! Okay – so I’m being a little over optimistic. Maybe we can push harder and make a few changes and nudge the balance into a direction of compromise? Thoughtfulness? Problem solving discussion?

Happy 4th of July. Let’s all take greater care of
our country. Vote, write emails, make phone calls. Act within your rights as a
citizen. Let’s get better at being free.

Certified Organic Is Non-GMO . . . by Law. Wow!

I’ve had
enough. Organic Certified Products are so
much better in so many ways
than Non-GMO. I am appalled and saddened at the
confusion I read on the Internet and hear from consumers. Disclaimer: I absolutely believe that anything that contains GM ingredients should be labeled. Go labeling laws! Informed consent!
            Confusion # 1 – if it says organic, ALL of the ingredients for a finished product and all of the farm inputs (that means fertilizer and pest management tools) are reviewed because GMO sourced ingredients are prohibited under law. 
            All Organic producers are inspected
annually. I did an inspection in which the applicant had an affidavit that the
Vit. E they were adding to their product was “non-GMO” (this is what the
Non-GMO Project accepts – an affidavit signed by God knows who).  When I looked at the box on the shelf of the
factory, it said “Vitamin E in Soy Oil, product of USA”. Over 90% of the soy
produced in the US is GM – so….no, it was not non-GMO. They had to find a
compliant source of Vitamin E because I saw what they were doing.
            Organic certifiers are required by
the National Organic Standard (7 CFR Part 205.105 (e)) to screen ALL inputs for
farming and organic production for “Excluded Methods” which are defined in the
Definitions Section of the organic regulations as “genetically modified”. This
means a document signed by the manufacturer of the ingredient that is was not
made from a GM source – and in the case of farms, where seeds are being
planted, there is random testing required by the National Organic Program. If these
affidavits are signed fraudulently or intended to deceive, it is punishable by
            The bottom line here is that
anything agricultural making an “Organic” claim is required by Federal law to be
non-GMO. It has the added benefit of being produced using environmentally
sustainable practices (no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers poisoning our
water, soil and air). Plus – it has the force of law…if someone lies, they
can be fined and even go to jail. 
Non-GMO Label ≠ Organic
            Non-GMO products may be tested for
GM ingredients, but they are also often produced using pesticides,
petro-chemically based fertilizers, all sorts of food additives, colors, fragrances,
flavors, etc. Their Standard is about GMs, not about organic production. Don’t be fooled. Plus – the Non-GMO Project is a private standard. If someone cheats…who’s
going to do anything?
           Ask yourself: why is this product NOT labeled as organic? Because it isn’t organic. Duh.

            If you are going to trust something,
trust a regulations that gets “boots on the ground” every year to inspect how your
food and other organic products are made
. Trust “USDA – Organic”, not some private, non-profit that is
accountable to no one. Organic food has 40 years of rule making behind – it started in Calif. in 1976 with the first regulation and we are still working on law today at the Federal level as we improve the organic regulation. Support Organic. Support your own health. Support the planet.
            And write your Congressman and demand that all GM containing products be labeled, not the other way around.

Toxic Chemicals: Why Do Moms Always Have To Clean Up?

This past week I attended a conference that talked about the toxic chemicals
allowed for use in the U.S. They effect all of us, especially our children. 

The conversation went like this:

      Chemical manufacturers: “We are not doing anything illegal. 
                                                We are
giving consumers what they
 ask for.”

      Toxicologists:                  “Consumers do
not know how toxic this stuff is 

                                                and we need green chemistry alternatives”. 

These are all technically accurate statements, but there are no real solutions offered by either side.

Take away – if we want a healthier planet, we seriously need to push regulators for
safer chemical solutions. Check out
Watch the 15 minute modules on the families of chemicals that we need to get
out of our homes and off the planet. Get informed and get busy. 

Email your representatives. 

Make a phone call. 

Get mad.

I am. 

Org. Certification for Cosmetic Ingredients: Be Careful

your ingredient certifications…

There are 2 types of certifications for org. ingredients that we use in
– PUBLIC: these are regulations enforceable under law and
– PRIVATE: these are standards owned by organizations that are not part
of a government.
Examples of PUBLIC STANDARDS are certificates that show that a product
is certifed to the USDA-NOP Regulation, 7 CFR Part 205 or the EU Directive
EC-Regulation No. 834/2007 and 9889/2008 and COR – the Canadian Standard. If
these numbers and/or standard descriptions do not appear on the certificate,
the product is not considered oganic in the U.S.
Examples of Private certificates are NSF, NaTrue, EcoCert Greenlife,
Cosmos, Soil Association Organic Cosmetis Standard. These standards are used in
the EU to certify both cosmetic ingredients and finished products.
I know this is a royal pain and we need to find a way to fix it – but if
you are a national brand (or want to be a national brand), you really need to
understand the regulation differences. Unfortunately, there are many
distributors who are new to organic and they don’t really know about these
differences. Don’t formulate anything in until you have seen the certificate
with your own eyes and you know which standard it meets and if that standard is
accepted by your certifier.
Happy New Year!

The CIA, You & Organic – Back to Work!

Okay – so this is not overtly about organic but…the more I read the news the more I believe that extramarital affairs are as old as human kind and what has really changed here is communication.

We are so very attached to “devices”. Computers, cell phones, iPads, and the “Cloud” have clouded our minds. If you write things down in an open forum, they are out there for all to see.

I never write anything without a thinking to myself: do I care if anyone else sees this? And basically, I don’t care. I talk in person or on a good old land line to the people I love. Everything else is connected to my passion for increasing sustainable production or my business (or my kids’ activities) and all of those things are transparent.

People will always do stupid things driven by their (as my mom used to say) gonads or pure stupidity. Let’s hope they keep it private. I really don’t want to know about other people’s sex lives or about their betrayals or even about their religion or politics.

Life is short and precious and I want a healthy nation, a planet that is solving the problems we humans have created and a loving community.

Let’s pay attention to solving shared problems and let individuals solve their own, personal problems.

We need to get back to work on demanding labeling on GMO products and (newish one) demanding labeling on household cleaners. Lots to do.

I am thankful for people who are discrete. Happy Holidays – coming at ya’!

Aveeno: Losing Organic Certification!

You may have read recently that Aveeno lost organic
certification for a product and subsequently seems to have pulled the entire
line. The line was Aveeno Baby Organic Harvest (a horrible name anyway – it
sounds like someone is out in a field harvesting babies off of plants. Who
thought of that?)
How in the heck did this happen?
Well – we know that the USDA – National Organic Program did
an “investigation”. They only do that if a complaint has been filed. I can say
having looked at the ingredients statement on the lotion that it was obvious to
me that they used a non-compliant preservative. The real question is why didn’t
Aveeno/Johnson and Johnson know it? Were they ignorant or did they deliberately
mislead the certifier? Why didn’t the certifier know it? Were they ignorant or
just greedy?
We can’t really know answers to those questions but I can
repeat – READ THE DAMN LAW. If you want to be certified to the NOP regulation,
a food regulation, but you make cosmetics, you need to read the law or hire
someone (shameless plug for self here) who knows the law.
It was inexcusable for a major corporation to have made a
mistake of this size. The cost of product and market development, the deception
of consumers  (baby products no less),
and the cost to make the line disappear – well, it is probably more than my
whole business is worth.
Folks – this is not rocket science. It says in the NOP
regulation exactly what ingredients you can use. It should never have gotten by
the certifier – but then I’ve had a problem with organic food certifiers
certifying cosmetics all along, I still don’t believe they know what they are
looking at, and this proves it.

What if Prop 37 Passes?

Will you need or want to
re-formulate your products to meet either the new law or newly inspired
consumer demand? Here’s the screen to use:
1 – Q: Are your products
certified organic?               
      A: No worries.
2 – Q: Not organic? Call your products “natural”?   
      A: You need to verify that none of your
ingredients are from GM raw materials.
do you know what ingredients are at high risk of being made from genetically
modified derived raw materials?
– you really need to know how the ingredient was made. If it is something
simple like flour or oil – then all you need is a signed affidavit from the
manufacturer (not the distributor) of the ingredient that the source of the
grain or seeds used were not genetically modified. The plant origins of concern
are corn, soy, canola, and sugar beets.
it is a more complex ingredient, like a vitamin or some sort of processing aid
(citric acid) or something else like that, then you need to know exactly what
the source raw material was and whether or not it was GM. Who made it? How was
it made?
not, unless you are buying grain or flour (only those 2 ingredients), accept a
“PCR” test or a statement that a test shows that the product “negative”. You
need to know the source of the raw materials used to make the product if it is
a processed. Tests don’t count if the product is heavily processed.
all else fails, you can hire us.
YES ON PROP 37! (Not because we need more work but because no one can make an
informed decision if they don’t have the information!)

Tilth – CCOF Merger Voted Down

Yesterday, by an undisclosed number of votes, the merger of
Oregon Tilth and CCOF was voted down by the Tilth membership. No idea what will
happen on the CCOF side – they count their votes Oct. 15th … but it
doesn’t really matter now.
Based on what went on at the Tilth membership meeting, lots
of changes coming. I believe they need new leadership on the Board and they
need solid advice on how to balance the financial pressures of certification
versus the services people want. You think it is a pain to get certified? Try
being an accredited certifier answering to the USDA-NOP. Accreditation is lots
of work, lots of paper, and cost lots of money.
I have been certified by Tilth for 2 years and in that time
have come to profoundly appreciate the good service and fair prices they offer.
They are responsive, fast and nice.
I was a founding member of the CCOF Processor Chapter back
in 1993. I went on to serve as the President of the Chapter for something like
12 years and was Secretary of the CCOF Board for 11 years. I know them fairly
well. They do an okay job, but I don’t think their service is as good as
Tilth’s and I don’t think they have the same general attitude about serving
their members that Tilth does.
I was happy to hear that, for now, things will stay the way
they are for Oregon Tilth and their members and fans!

GM Crops: “Single Point of Failure”

Over a holiday BBQ with friends in the computer industry, I
was describing my concern that GM crops in the US represent a threat to food
I explained my suspicion that if we limit the number of genetically
unique seeds sold as GM corn and GM soy crops in the US that it makes the crops
vulnerable. It is my understanding that there are only a few genomes from which
these crops were originally engineered.
I was thinking of this because of the “Great Potato Famine”
of Ireland. They ended up with a single type of potato that was the primary
food source for people and for the cattle and cows in Ireland. Then a disease
attacked that potato and it was disastrous. We use corn for food, animal feed,
and fuel. And soy is in virtually everything. They only had 5 million to feed
to feed at the time of the “Great” Famine. A million people left Ireland. We
have 311 million plus people. Where the heck would we go?
A single crop with limited diversity–characteristics can be more
easily destroyed by a pest or by weather – because there is not sufficient
diversity to create strong and resistant strains that thrive in the vast number
of microclimates around this nation. Even old numbers from the PEW Institute
indicate that at least 90% of all corn and soy (and cotton) in the U.S. is now
from GE seed.
I support Prop 37 – the requirement to label GM crops –
mainly because of the above. I believe that a few corporations have ignored
this essential point of food security in the interest of profit over sanity.
When I finished stating my concerns, one of my friends (remember the first
paragraph?) used the term ”single point of failure” – and I thought it summed
it up beautifully. It is, I gather, an engineering term that means exactly what
it says, that a single action can bring down an entire system. It is what the
U.S. GM crops of corn and soy are building to – a single point of failure. We
are all at risk.