THE READER
September 2005

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Cover

Customer Comments

General Manager's Report

Board Report

Election Information: Board Candidate Statements and Proposed Budget Details

2005 Annual Membership Meeting Recap

Produce News: The Effects of Chemicals on Our Foods

Specials Information

Eating Well, Being Well and Having Fun While You're At It!: The Food for Thought Festival

Book & Housewares News

Health & Wellness News: Teas

Recipes & Drink Recommendations

Organics: In Our Beds, On Our Bodies and On Our Minds

Producer Profile: Rishi Tea

Putting Your Organic Garden to Bed

Member Services News: Our Annual Farm Tour

Newsbites

Community Calendar

NEWSBITES

information gathered from the Organic Consumers Association

Organic and conventional farming face-off in 22-year study
The July issue of the journal Bioscience reviewed a 22-year-long field study by the Rodale Institute which compared organic and conventional farming on similar plots of land with similar crops. The study found that in the initial five years of the study, the conventional crops (i.e. crops grown with pesticides and synthetic fertilizers) had slightly better yields than the organic crops. But during that same initial period, the organic farming practices were building up higher levels of soil mass and biodiversity which then allowed the organic land to generate yields equal to or greater than the conventional crops. The conventional crops collapsed during drought years, while the organic crops fluctuated only slightly, due to greater water holding potential in the organic enriched soil. The conventional crop also had pesticides leaching into the water at levels exceeding the EPA’s safety limits. Over the 22-year period, the organic crops used 30% less fossil energy inputs than the conventional crops.

One county gives tax incentive to organic farmers
Woodbury County, Iowa, has become the first in the nation to offer tax incentives to organic farmers. County Supervisors approved $50,000 for helping farmers convert from conventional to organic agriculture. “We think domestic (organic) food manufacturers are going to want a reliable domestic supply,” said Woodbury rural economic director Rob Marqusee. “We know that people are making money. It might as well be us, too.”

Consumers beware: teflon can give you cancer
After ignoring numerous warnings from independent scientists for years, the “nonstick” chemical used in Teflon has now officially been categorized as a “likely carcinogen” by the U.S. government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA scientists found four different types of tumors in lab animals exposed to the chemical. The agency announced it plans to collect millions of dollars in fines from DuPont, the maker of Teflon, for concealing studies indicating related health and environmental risks for over two decades.

Banning local democracy
Consumers and farmers in California and New England have been taking action over the past year to protect their local communities from genetic pollution by passing local, city, and county ordinances banning genetically engineered (GE) crops. Cities, counties and townships that have passed such laws say this regulatory need stems from the fact that organic farmers and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) farmers have been increasingly losing money every year as GMO pollen from neighboring fields contaminates their crops. In response to these ordinances, the biotech industry and corporate agribusiness are striking back with a vengeance. At least 12 states have recently passed “Monsanto laws” taking away the rights of cities and counties to ban GE crops. Now legislators in California, the nation’s most important agricultural producer, are responding to the lobbying power of the biotech industry and are threatening to pass a controversial law that would take away local rights to regulate GMOs. The OCA is actively involved in trying to stop these “Monsanto Laws” from being passed. Get involved: http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge-free.htm.

Help wanted: organic farmers
Consumer demand for organic milk has exceeded what organic farmers are able to supply. In response the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service has launched a “Help Wanted: Organic Farmers” campaign to help increase the number of organic dairy farmers.