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Healthy Eating

Entries in organic produce (3)


2014 Growing Green Awards Winners Honored For Holistic Food Production & Conversation

Winners in four categories have been selected for the 2014 Growing Green Awards, sponsored by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in cooperation with the Berkeley Food Institute (BFI).

This is the sixth year the awards have been held, honoring individuals pioneering innovations and education in sustainable food systems, as well as working toward policy changes and grassroots efforts in conservation.

The award categories were in: sustainable livestock production; regional food leadership; pollination protection; and sustainable food and farm education.

Peter Lehner, executive director of the NRDC, talked about the importance of highlighting innovators, including those focusing their efforts on changing the conventional agricultural system that he calls unhealthy, saying, “On conventional farms, crops and fields are doused with chemical pesticides and herbicides, many of which have been linked to cancer and other serious illnesses.”

Lehner talked more about the vicious cycle of chemical use in conventional agriculture, saying chemical fertilizers drain the soil of nutrients, which then requires the use of more chemicals, “leaving the soil dry and lifeless.”

Lehner also discussed the wider environmental impacts, explaining that, “Excess fertilizer washes off into the water supply, creating ‘dead zones’ in the oceans, and enters the atmosphere, where it is a powerful global warming pollutant.”  

Other areas of focus that were highlighted by the winners’ efforts were the effects of agricultural chemicals on pollinators like butterflies, and the consequences of chemical fertilizers and the overuse of antibiotics in livestock feed.

The 2014 Growing Green Award winners were:

Sustainable Livestock Producer Award Winner

Will Harris, White Oak Pastures Farm, (Bluffton, GA.)

Will Harris received the award for his organic and holistic approach to reinventing his family farm that his family has owned and operated for five generations. The farm humanely raises grass fed, pasture roaming, antibiotic free livestock including cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, rabbits, turkeys, guinea fowl, and ducks.  The farm doesn’t use pesticides or chemical fertilizers.

This approach is a full reversal from the farm’s more conventional industrial methods practiced just over a decade ago. “What saved our farm was returning to the old holistic farming ways, the ways that my great-grandfather used,” said Harris.

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Organic Produce From The U.S and Japan Now Has Equal Status With New Trade Agreement

If your New Year’s resolution was to start eating healthier, then a new agreement between the United States and Japan has just helped broaden your healthy eating options.

Image courtesy of mnn.com.

The trade agreement, which went into effect on the first of the year, gives equal exchange status for organic produce between both countries.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said that the new agreement will streamline the trade process, reduce bureaucracy, and increase year-round access to more diverse organic produce for consumers in both countries.

The USDA said that prior to the equivalency agreement, organic farmers and businesses that wanted to sell products in either country had to obtain separate certifications to meet each country’s organic standards.

This typically meant two sets of fees, inspections, and paperwork. The new trade agreement reduces costs, providing more access for producers and more buying options for consumers.

The new equivalency agreement specifically relates to plant and fungi-based products. This agreement is only for products that were either produced within the U.S. or Japan, or products whose final processing or packaging occurred within either country.

For U.S. organic imports, the produce will be required to meet Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS) for organic certification and meet all USDA organic labeling requirements (including compliant use of the USDA organic seal). Organic produce will also need to travel with a U.S. import certificate signed by a certified agent accredited by the USDA or Japanese government.

Likewise, for Japanese organic imports, the produce will need to be USDA organic certified and meet all Japanese organic labeling requirements (including compliant use of the JAS organic seal).

There are though some differences in this agreement. Non-JAS eligible products, such as meat, dairy, and alcoholic beverages that are certified organic by the USDA can still continue to enter the Japanese market as organic, but can’t use the JAS seal.

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Conventionally Grown Apples Top 2011 List of Fruits and Vegetables High in Pesticides

Informing consumers about the amounts of pesticides sprayed onto conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, and their potential effects on the human body (especially children), the Environmental Working Group has come out with its seventh annual “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.”

Photo courtesy of arch1design.com.

The shopper’s guide updates information on 53 fruits and vegetables, highlighting the worst pesticide offenders with its “Dirty Dozen” list and the cleanest conventional fruits and vegetables with its “Clean 15” list.

The six worst offenders of the dirty dozen (from highest pesticide levels to least) are: apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, and imported nectarines.

The rankings were synthesized by analysts at the EWG and based on data collected from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from 2000 to 2009.

The produce was ranked on a composite score, weighing factors including: the percent of individual produce tested and found to have detectable levels of pesticide on them; and the percent of individual produce with two or more pesticides on them.                                        

Of the apples tested, 97.8 percent had detectable levels of pesticides on them, and of those with pesticides on them, 92 percent contained two or more pesticide residues, according to the findings.

To make matters worse, most samples were washed and peeled prior to testing, so the rankings reflected the amount of chemicals likely present on the foods when eaten.

Celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, lettuce and greens (kale and collards) were the vegetables most likely to retain pesticide contamination.

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