For our Right to Know about GMOs

September 30th, 2011

Join us tomorrow on a march to claim for GMO labeling.

Tomorrow starts the Right2Know March in Brooklyn and it ends in Washington D.C. on October 16th.

As you may know, it essential that GMOs be labeled and the Right2Know March will be working towards making this goal a reality. Europe, Japan, Australia and other governments around the world require that GMOs be labeled as such but the U.S. does not. We need to change that.

http://www.right2knowmarch.org/the-march/route-map/

We look forward to see you!

George Siemon, Organic Valley CEO; a leading example in sustainability and fairness

September 26th, 2011

As you may know, I am a firm believer that US food companies should focus on creating products that are truly better for people, using organic and sustainable practices, and by doing that with integrity; will create an unprecedented amount of wealth.

When considering our food sector, my assumption is that in todays marketplace, profits being the consequence of doing the right things instead the ultimate companys goal; would create a healthier and better America at the same time.

What we do in America is very important, because America is often a global leader in many business practices. For this reason we need strong leadership among US organizations, I would say particularly in the food sector because we are what we eat.

I strongly recommend reading this article about Organic Valleys CEO George Siemon, a true organic and sustainable leader that using hard work, fairness and integrity is creating one of the most trusted and loved brands in America.

Business as social experiment

How George Siemon and Organic Valley are trying to take organic mainstream while staying true to their family farming roots.

Organic Valley Announces Generation Organic “Who’s Your Farmer?” 2011 Tour

September 20th, 2011

Second Annual Tour of Young Farmers Comes to the Pacific Northwest

Tomorrows Sustainable Agriculture Leaders Urge People to Choose Organic Today: Whos Your Farmer? Own Your Food, Drive Your Future!

La Farge, Wis.

August 24, 2011

Organic Valley, Americas largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nations leading organic brands, today announced the Generation Organic 2011 Whos Your Farmer? Tour, which will kick off at Organic Valley headquarters in La Farge, Wis. on September 26 and wind its way through the Pacific Northwest, wrapping up at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Ca. on October 17.

Organic Valleys Generation Organic is a group of young farmers aged 18 to 35 representing a new generation of sustainable agriculture leaders who believe in the power of Organic to change the world. Gen-O farmers will make the three-week tour on a bus fueled by sustainably produced biofuels. Along the way they will urge people toown their food and arm them with knowledge about how personal food choices affect the health of our bodies and our planetand drive their future.

This years crew includes young organic farmers hailing from the West Coast, from towns such as Coos Bay and Scio, Oregon, and Modesto, California. Other Gen-O farmers on the tour are from Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. While many of these young farmers were born into organic farming weeding gardens and tending calves as part of their daily chorestoday, they are helping run their familys organic farms by choice, from creating intensive rotational grazing systems, to applying best practices of sustainability, to overseeing virtually all aspects of production. According to the USDA Census of Agriculture, America has lost approximately 4.5 million farms since 1935, and most of the 2.1 million farms that remain are operated by farmers with an average age of 57. In contrast, the average age of Organic Valley farmers is 44.

Generation Organic gives these young organic farmers an opportunity to share with other youth their vision for a better world, said George Siemon, C-E-I-E-I-O and a founding farmer of Organic Valley. These young people are the future of sustainable agriculturetheir hard work and enthusiasm is inspirational to us all.

It has always been important to me to leave this planet a better place than we found it, says Kelly Mahaffy, a young Organic Valley farmer on the Generation Organic 2011 Whos Your Farmer? Tour. As the mother of three young girls, that feeling has only deepened. I love knowing there are other young farmers out there struggling to farm sustainably, grow a business and raise a family. Through Generation Organic, we connect and share stories amongst ourselves, and with people everywhere who want to know where their food comes from. In 2003, Mahaffy and her husband Pete started River Bend Jerseys, an organic dairy farm stretching more than two miles along the river in Coos Bay, Oregon. Today, with 120 Jersey cows on a 200-acre intensive grazing system, she raises both cows and kids, and grows a massive garden to preserve vegetables for the winter.

The Generation Organic 2011 Whos Your Farmer? Tour will stop at select college campuses, farmers markets, grocery stores and food coops, including key stops at Montana State University, Portland Farmers Market, The Evergreen State College, University of Portland, Oregon Culinary Institute, Oregon State University, University of California-Chico, University of California-Davis, the 2011 Bioneers Conference, and Stanford University.

For the past 16 years, Organic Valley has had a vital presence in the Pacific Northwest, as a steadfast contributor to rural and urban communities from Ashland, Oregon to Lynden, Washington and east to Idaho. Organic Valley currently has 51 farmer-owners and six processing plants in the Pacific Northwest, ensuring fewer miles from farm to table.

Last October, the first Generation Organic 2010 Whos Your Farmer? Tourtook place in the Northeast, stopping at key colleges and ending in our nations capitol.

For a full schedule of events and to follow the tour, please visit us athttp://ov.coop/GenOtour, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GenerationOrganicor on Twitter @GenOrganic

Organic Valley Family of Farms: Independent and Farmer-Owned

Organic Valley is Americas largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nations leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,643 farmers in 35 states and three Canadian provinces, and achieved $619 million in 2010 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, yogurt, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. The same farmers who produce for Organic Valley also produce a full range of delicious organic meat under the Organic Prairie label. For further information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit www.organicvalley.coop,www.organicprairie.coop and the cooperative’s farmer website, www.farmers.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter @OrganicValley and Facebookwww.facebook.com/OrganicValley.

http://www.organicvalley.coop/newsroom/press-releases/details/article/organic-valley-announces-generation-organic-whos-your-farmer-2011-tour/

The Cheap Disease (part 1 of 2)

September 19th, 2011

by guest blogger Alberto Gonzalez, founder and CEO of GustOrganics.



U.S. food consumers are somehow programmed to buy food cheaply. Our national motivation to pay less seems to be in our social DNA. We suffer what I call The Cheap Disease.

This national sport has created a cancer that’s been growing out of control inside our food system and our society. Consumers’ consumption represents about 2/3 of the GDP in our country, therefore, whatever we buy is big business–and keep in mind that we all eat every single day.

As consumers, we are very vulnerable to marketing messages. When companies spend big money on advertisement and social media, we simply obey. We have been bombarded for years with messages prompting us to pay as little as possible for food. The idea is simple: The less we pay, the smarter we’re supposed to be.

Even today, most food advertisement on TV focuses on promoting cheaper prices. The “to-be-smart” message to pay less for food is always present. In other words, we have simply been brainwashed for years because, in fact, cheap food means lack of good nutrients, with huge amounts of artificial and chemical contents, leading inexorably to bad health and, of course, an obscene amount of environmental damage. While chasing the cheapest possible food, we have opened the door for the key decision makers in our food system to transform it into the oil/chemical monster that it is today, and at the same time, our collective health has deteriorated to a point beyond belief.

It is fair to say that cheap food does not exist. When we buy cheap, in reality we are paying a very expensive price because we are–or will be–paying the difference saved at the cash register with our health and with extraordinary damages to our environment, which also means that we are seriously compromising the health of future generations.

The companies providing us with the cheap food are in reality externalizing the true cost of those foods.

The “cheap” food disease is not only affecting our health, but also that of farmers, animals, soils, water, and air. Factory-farming and the huge level of consolidation in the agricultural sector (the main culprits for our Cheap Disease) are putting family farmers out of work at an alarming rate. According to Farm Aid, 330 farmers leave their land every week. This is more than 47 farmers per day.

I know it’s awkward to discover that we have not been smart at all but simply manipulated by Food Corporations and agribusiness, and in fact, our food-purchasing decisions during the last 50 years have resulted in very poor choices. Also, collectively speaking, we have become very sick.

Although, on more than a few occasions, many people pay high prices for food in restaurants, in general those prices are related to value created by the location, style, or chef; however, the ingredients are generally coming from factory-farming, so the economics of dining out are actually contributing to The Cheap Disease. In other words, the higher prices paid translate to better margins for the businesses, but don’t contribute to consumption and support of true organic and sustainable farming.

In this country, most people do not make the connection between food, health, and happiness. The most obvious connection that I am sure everyone immediately detects is the one between money and happiness, hence, through this paradigm, “cheap” seems to be the main virtue in our food system, and it has proven to be a recipe for disaster.

To put it succinctly, while pursuing the illusion of cheap food, America became the sickest country on the planet.

What we eat matters big-time. Food is who we are, food cleans, food creates positive jobs, helps local communities, food incentivizes life but also death, destruction, and wealth for just a few. The choice is all ours.

Let’s cure our Cheap Disease, now.

For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.

Queen of the Sun

June 11th, 2011

Almost by chance I landed at Cinema Village, a very convenient movie theater for me not only because the smarts films they choose to play, but also because it is very close to GustOrganics, where I work.

I saw this beautiful, very inspiring and educating movie named Queen of the Sun.

I was invited by Taggart Siegel, the movie director, and when I met him, I immediately knew this person was into something great. Do not ask me why, I just simply felt it.. I guess it was his vibe…

I dragged two of my friends to the movie theater. The movie is about honeybees and their probable extinction if we do not do something about it. However for me it was an eye opener about our food system and one more confirmation that the chemicals and GMO’s in our food are not only poisoning our communities but also threatening the mere existence our food sources to the point beyond belief.

We all left fascinated by this beautiful movie that is particularly sensitive to many issues that are social and ecologically crucial and important to us. Also I always like to tell that I collect people (yes, I have spent my entire life collecting great people…) and I was extremely impressed by the amazing collection of characters that Queen of the Sun has.

I strongly recommend to check this amazing movie about honeybees or better said about our food system: http://www.queenofthesun.com/

Frankenfood or Real Food?

May 26th, 2011

America is an overfed and undernourished country.

About 80 percent of the population is considered overweight, and almost one-third is obese. According to the National Cancer Institute, serious diseases that are linked to what we eat kill an estimated three out of four Americans each year. These diseases include heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some types of cancer, and diabetes.

So food is killing more people than anything else in America.

What is going on? Who is responsible for this gruesome situation?

For years, we have inadvertently been in a collaborative mission along with food and agrochemical companies to get cheaper and bigger foods, and we all did a simply terrific job. By making “Cheap” the main virtue in our food system, we dedicated our dollars to feeding ourselves in a totally wrong way that has deteriorated our collective health but also created a monster food system. Our behavior as consumers was, in my opinion, a key success factor in creating a Frankenstein that took over the health and destiny of most Americans.

What we eat has been the problem, and I think we now have a great opportunity to transform it into the solution. The best starting point to properly solve a problem is to clearly define it; therefore we should take a look to some definitions.

Real Food: I define it as food that is free of synthetic hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Food produced with integrity, using clean and fair farming practices, developed and harvested by socially and ecologically responsible farmers. Today, these transparent food systems represent less than 2 percent of total U.S. agriculture.

Frankenfood: It is an obvious metaphor in reference to Frankenstein, which means food that is engineered and processed to be more appealing and profitable. I consider Frankenfood to be any food that is not Real Food. Today, Frankenfood represents about 98 percent of the food produced and consumed in America.

Mercenaries: For the purpose of this article, I call all marketing people using their talents to create distribute and promote Frankenfoods in any way mercenaries. Many of them are highly educated, from world’s best universities; therefore, they are extremely smart about achieving their goals while disguising their real intentions. As consumers, to be engaged in the food system, we must be very aware of them.

Food: Any substance or material eaten or drunk to provide support for the body or for pleasure. Usually of plant or animal origin, it contains essential nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals, and is ingested and assimilated by an organism to produce energy, stimulate growth, and maintain life.

It might be a good idea to ask ourselves, what is left from the previous definition in most food available today?

The problem we face as consumers is that Frankenfood is everywhere. No matter where we go, for the most part, that is all we find. When it’s about food, America seems to be a country of huge contradictions. We use our tax dollars to subsidize food that is poisoning us and our children, also mortgaging the future of the next generations.

We go even further, taking our own money–yes, what’s in our pockets–and giving it to food companies full of mercenaries that are producing Frankenfood just to maximize their profits. They also use the cash we give them to block any kind of change in agricultural policies, perpetuating the system to simply keep making money.

In case you did not notice it, fast-food companies are the great masters of Frankenfood, engineering and processing their products to taste and look great.

These companies are mainly powered by agrochemical corporations with big pockets, and their army of effective lobbyists in Washington is devising strategies to keep our subsidies and continue promoting more of the same products that have been contaminating our health for the last 50 years.

It is good to remark that the amount of food that we buy daily in the U.S. is so significant that at the same time that our collective health keeps deteriorating, we are also polluting the air as never before, contaminating our water streams in an outrageous way, and generating a tremendous impact in the environment overall.

Frankenfood companies have always had lots of marketing resources, so they have led us to believe almost everything they wanted.

I know it is awkward to discover that as food consumers, we have not been smart at all: We have been manipulated by the food corporations and agribusiness during the last 50 years, and in fact, our food-purchasing decisions resulted in very poor choices. However, we must now face this reality if we want a different future.

The good news is that what we eat matters big-time. Americans spend around $1.6 trillion annually in food; this is about 11 percent of the GDP.

Food is who we are. Real Food cleans. Real food creates positive jobs, helps local communities, uses sustainable resources, and most importantly, Real Food incentivizes life and well-being. The most effective and peaceful way to change the industrialized agriculture system that is killing our people is to simply stop buying Frankenfood and start supporting Real food.

Consumers’ consumption is one of the greatest ways to evolve capitalism. Profits can make miracles in the corporate world. This is true change coming from within, and it is very handy, we just need to use it. If we demand food that is free of chemicals, the chemical companies devoted to agribusiness will starve and disappear in the same way rats abandon a building that is empty of all sources of food. At least they will be forced to reinvent themselves in a sector away from our food and bodies.

The revenue that we provide through our purchases is to Frankenfood corporations or to Real food farmers what blood is to the human body. Those who make it or break it depend exclusively on our food choices.

I believe that as consumers we must nurture a new generation of food producers that will eventually take care of us, in the same way a mother gives birth to a baby that at some point in life, when grown, will take care of her. Conscious food consumption is not only a great way to change our health and preserve our planet, but also a chance to generate new meaningful jobs in a very powerful industry. This is a precious opportunity to activate our economy through true, sustainable development.

Many people go to Washington to petition for change in food policies. I think that helps, however, I am inclined to believe that the current administration has some other urgent matters to deal with. Politics is the art of the possible, and in the current economic situation, what is possible for this administration seems to be very limited, so I will not have high hopes for significant food policy changes at the speed we need.

On a separate note, I know many people will argue these organic and sustainable ideas with phrases like: “How are we going to feed the world with organic agriculture?” so I say, a) organic agriculture seems to be more productive than conventional agriculture if we take into consideration all the real costs involved. And b) aside from this, shouldn’t we start focusing on doing a better job of feeding ourselves before we try to feed the world? By the way, it looks like we have not been doing a good job so far, have we?

I feel that as consumers, we have somehow co-created this Frankenstein that is living among us. We should stop Frankenfood because we all deserve Real food. It looks like we now have the responsibility to pass the baton that we once gave to Frankenfood companies to the Real Food farmers.

Thinking about this food problem, I thought of this appropriate quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I find that the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” I would love to set our goal as a nation to transform together America’s food system from Frankenfood to Real Food at pace of 2 percent per year. We should all be active part of this productive change, and we will surely live healthier and happier and be able to leave a better world for the future generations.

For Maria Rodale by guest blogger Alberto Gonzalez, founder and CEO of GustOrganics,gustorganics.com, theworld’s first certified-organic restaurant, and one of the greenest and most progressive restaurants on the planet

Organic versus local

January 25th, 2011

Please check this clarifying piece related to “organic versus local”
http://livingmaxwell.com/local-vs-organic

I personallychoose both whenever possible!

Enjoy!

Alberto

How big, cheap and fast do we want to be?

December 29th, 2010

This postwas writen byAlberto Gonzalez for Maria Rodale.

We live in the most powerful country in the world; however Americas food system is probably one of the weakest on earth. Why is that?

We live in a country where about 80% of the population is overweight and almost one third is considered obese.

This is the first time in the history of mankind that babies born in America have a lower life expectancy than their parents due to obesity.

In 1930 Americans used to spend 24.5% of their income on food and in 2004 that number went down to 9.5%. There are other things involved in this ratio; however this clearly shows that people were not really spending much in food.

I have to say that we were probably trained to save money on food by the most professional marketing people in the world. The fast food companies have persuaded us for years to do just that. They were fighting among each other for market share and at the same time we were deteriorating our collective health.

Read the entire post at The Huffington Post

Organic Carts NYC / Alberto Gonzalez Guest blogger @ Maria Rodale blog

November 9th, 2010

Organic Carts NYU is a very promising venture that I had in mind for quite some time.

It was a pleasure for me to be a guest blogger at Maria Rodale blog to write about Organic Carts NYC and my vision reelated to the street food in New York City.

Maria Rodaleis tha author of the great booktitled “Organic Manifesto”. If you did not read it, I strongly recommend you do.

Please read the entire post on Organic Carts NYC

Organic regards!

GustOrganics organic cart featured on LunchNYC at 8:30 pm on NYC life (Channel 25)

November 4th, 2010

Gustorganics is highlighted on tonights episode, entitled Good Food Quickly.

LunchNYC is one of ten new episodic shows to join the primetime lineup this Fall. Each week, the show invites viewers to take a bite out of the Big Apple, and explore a healthy New York City. Experts and organizations offer quick and inexpensive ways to upgrade your diet and get the most out of your exercise. LunchNYC helps New Yorkers live healthier lifestyles one lunch at a time.

http://www.organiccarts.com/

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/change

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20100913/SMALLBIZ/100919953#

http://organicconnectmag.com/wp/2010/09/sidewalks-of-new-york-big-apple-goes-organic/

http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/10/15/nyc-street-food-green-makeover/