Stoughton’s dream of a co-op comes true

Yahara River Grocery Cooperative (YRGC) opens March 1st completing the dream of a co-op in Stoughton. The dream began in September 2006, when citizens discussed opening a small town store to replace Main Street Market. About 200 members joined at YRGC’s “make it yours” kickoff on April 29th, 2007. By August they had reached our fundraising goal of $100,000 and we currently have 551 members.

Their friendly neighborhood store is at 229 East Main Street in the heart of historic downtown Stoughton. If you’re looking for more information please visit www.yaharagrocery.coop


Largest organic farming conference in the US held in La Crosse in February

Each February thousands of farmers and farming aficionados descend on La Crosse to participate in the largest organic farming conference in the country. Sponsored by the Wisconsin-based Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES), the conference is celebrated as the foremost educational and networking event in the organic farming community.

The 19th annual Organic Farming Conference will be held at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin, from February 21–23, 2008. The conference commences with a general session on Thursday evening (not to mention a really yummy organic supper!) followed by musical entertainment. On Friday and Saturday, the conference is packed with workshops, a lively exhibit hall, lots of local and organic food, and just plain good folks to talk to.

With over 60 different workshop sessions and 130 exhibitors, there is something of interest for everyone. Workshops are often led by farmers themselves— the farmer-to-farmer approach is appreciated by those attending. For those interested in one specific topic, the Organic University is held on Thursday, with intensive, day-long courses in ten different areas of organic farming. And for the first time in 2008, the conference will be hosting the Organic Research Symposium where current research on organics will be presented. This will be a fantastic opportunity to get the latest information from cutting-edge researchers who are showing the world the real, positive value of an organic approach to farming. Each Research Symposium session will include an open discussion with the presenters in their specific area of research interest.

Keynote speakers this year will address various aspects of organics and how to find good food, food truth, and justice for all. Thursday’s general session will feature several young organic farmers and researchers talking about what the next generation of organic farmers will look like from their perspective.

If you register by February 6, the cost to attend the conference is $175; this includes breakfast, lunch, snacks, workshops, general sessions, research symposium sessions, admission to the exhibit hall, and evening entertainment. Supper is available at the conference for $15. For those who want to attend the in-depth Organic University sessions on Thursday, February 21, the cost is $140. There are activities for children and teens on Friday and Saturday—registration for children under 18 is $76. Volunteer opportunities abound at the conference for those who want to lend a helping hand and get involved. The MOSES website, www.mosesorganic.org, is quite extensive and a great place for more details—plus, you can register online.

Formerly known as the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference, this farmer-centered event is the largest organic farming conference in the U.S. Last year, in spite of a major snow storm, more than 2,200 people attended the conference, an impressive demonstration of its importance and lasting value.

To request a conference flyer with complete information, contact the MOSES office. Email: info@mosesorganic.org, or call 715-772-3153. All information and registration details are also available at www.mosesorganic.org.



Pelosi leads the House to go organic in its cafeterias

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have left her progressive instincts at the barn door when she drove a

starch-, sugar- and fat-bloated bill that all but left out organic farmers through the House last summer, but when it comes to food for Congress, it’s out with high-fructose corn syrup and in with uncaged hens and hormone-free milk.

Under Pelosi’s signature “Green the Capitol” initiative, the House cafeterias got a full-blown makeover in mid-December to the very latest in organic and locally grown cuisine under a new contract with Restaurant Associates, caterer to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The vast House food service operation that feeds the belly of the beast—more than 2.5 million meals a year for members, staff, tourists, lobbyists, lawyers, journalists and other highly regarded species that inhabit the Capitol—is switching to locally grown, organic, seasonal and generally healthy food. It will be served in compostable sugar cane and corn starch containers instead of petroleum-based plastics. Even the knives and forks will be biodegradable.

The Senate, the last place in America to abandon elevator operators and smoking in the hallways, is sticking to its fried okra and Styrofoam. -Organic Consumers Association



Sara Lee accused of whole grain whitewash

On several Sara Lee websites, the company muses about how consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that many “whole-grain” breads are actually more like whole wheat bread than white bread, and chides its competitors for not being “100 percent whole-grain.” Yet Sara Lee helps foster that confusion by marketing a “Soft & Smooth Made with Whole Grain White Bread” and falsely claiming that it is as nutritious as whole wheat bread. In mid-December the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest served the company with formal notice that it will file suit against the company if the misleading claims continue.

Sara Lee claims that its Whole Grain White Bread has “the taste and texture of white bread with the goodness of whole grain,” and “whole grain goodness with all the mouthwatering pleasure of scrumptious, soft, white bread.” By claiming “an exciting innovation” in white bread, the repeated “whole-grain goodness” claims are particularly misleading because some new breads are in fact, made with a white whole-wheat flour that is, in fact, whole wheat. And one version of a label for the Sara Lee product at issue made the patently false statement that “Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Made with Whole Grain White [bread] = 100% Whole Wheat.”

“This ‘whole-grain’ bread is mostly refined white flour, the kind of flour that health authorities recommend Americans eat less of,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “Sara Lee is attempting to put a whole grain halo on a bread that is not whole-wheat. I call that a whole-grain whitewash.”

On breadrules.com, a web site operated by Sara Lee, a press release for a genuinely 100 percent whole wheat Sara Lee bread regretfully ruminates that “seven out of 10 consumers mistakenly believe their wheat bread is 100% whole wheat,” and that “50 percent of traditional wheat bread consumers mistakenly believe their bread is the best nutritional choice.” Another Sara Lee site, thejoyofeating.com, lets consumers test breads by Arnold, Nature’s Own, Pepperidge Farm, on a “Whole-Grain-o-Meter” to see if the product is 100 percent whole grain or not. While the meter rates several Sara Lee breads, its Whole Grain White Bread is tellingly absent.

A patronizing pledge form on that site gives the impression that switching to a Soft and Smooth whole grain bread is an act of nutritional virtue. But in fact, only 30 percent of the grain in Sara Lee’s Soft and Smooth Whole Grain White Bread is whole grain, and the rest is refined white flour, according to news reports. In fact, there is more water in this product than whole grain.

“It would be more accurate to say that this Sara Lee product is brimming with the wholesome goodness of white flour and water,” said CSPI litigation director Steve Gardner. “The intent is to confuse consumers, who are denied the nutrition they think they are paying for. It’s hard to see how a judge or jury would let a company get away with such an obvious fraud.” -Center for Science in the Public Interest