Organic News for Aug 2008


29 Nations cut-off food exports
While U.S. consumers struggle to cope with steadily rising food and energy costs, a billion rural farmers and low-income families are suffering from what can only be described as a global food crisis. The New York Times reported last week that at least 29 countries have sharply curbed or completely cut-off grain exports to make sure their own populations have enough to eat. According to the article, "When it comes to rice, India, Vietnam, China and 11 other countries have limited or banned exports. Fifteen countries, including Pakistan and Bolivia, have capped or halted wheat exports. More than a dozen have limited corn exports."

Genetically engineered sugar to hit supermarket shelves this year
The Organic Consumers Association’s (OCA) and allies are calling for a boycott of all Kellogg’s products after Kellogg’s refuses to source only genetically engineered-free Sugar. Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready Genetically Engineered Sugar is due to hit stores this year, exposing millions of consumers to untested and unlabeled "Franken Foods" that threaten human heath, the environment and farmers’ rights everywhere.

White House lies to the world about biofuels
A new report from the International Monetary Fund estimates that biofuels are responsible for as much as 30 percent of the global food shortage. Despite this fact, at the United Nation’s emergency food summit in Rome, USDA Secretary of Agriculture, Edward Schafer, defended the U.S. government’s decision to spend billions of dollars subsidizing corn and soybean-based ethanol and biofuel, falsely claiming that biofuels contributed only 2 percent to 3 percent of the overall increase in global food prices over the past year. According to USDA spokesman, Jim Brownlee, Mr. Schafer was unaware that his statistics were off by nearly 90 percent.

Organic farming can feed the world
"The $1.2 billion the World Bank says will solve the food crisis in Africa is a $1.2 billion subsidy to the chemical industry. Countries are made dependent on chemical fertilizers when their prices have tripled in the last year due to rising oil prices. I say to governments: spend a quarter of that on organic farming and you’ve solved your problems."
– Vandana Shiva, an Indian physics professor and Organic Consumers Association Advisory board Member, speaking in Italy in response to the the U.N. food summit in Rome last month, where the World Bank pledged $1.2 billion in grants to help with the food crisis, most of which is earmarked for chemical fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified (GM) crops.

Positive Solutions – from Panic to Organic
While consumers struggle to fuel their cars and put food on the table, oil companies (like Exxon Mobil, BP and Conoco Phillips) and seed companies (like Monsanto, Cargill and ADM) are raking in record profits. In a fiery essay posted on the Common Dreams website and circulated widely on the internet, The Organic Consumers Association’s National Director, Ronnie Cummins, shows how the food, climate and energy crisis are connected and how the time for positive change is now:

"Fortunately, there are hopeful signs that we can move beyond crisis to positive solutions. Connecting the dots in our food-climate-energy crisis, millions of green consumers are voting with their dollars for foods and products that are healthy, locally produced, energy efficient, and eco-friendly. A growing number of politicians, mainly at local and state levels, are also waking up. Organic food and farmers markets are booming. Chemical-free lawns and gardens, green buildings, solar panels, wind generators, "buy local" networks, and bike paths are sprouting. A critical mass of organic-minded Americans are waking up to the fact that we must green the economy, drastically reduce petroleum use and greenhouse gas pollution, re-stabilize the climate, and heal ourselves, before it’s too late." Read the full essay at

How to afford organic food on a tight budget
With increasing food costs and the worst economy in 40 years, many shoppers are questioning whether they can afford to purchase organic foods. One of the quickest ways to reduce your organic grocery costs by as much as 15-20 percent is to buy in bulk. This doesn’t only mean being limited to buying food from bulk bins at your natural food store (although that is an equally effective way to reduce packaging and costs on foods like cereals).

Many people don’t realize that most grocery and natural food stores welcome customers to special order cases of food in bulk. It’s the same premise as buying a 12-pack of soda or juice instead of just buying an individual can. When you think about it, most of the time you grocery shop, you are buying the same foods, so why not make a list of those foods, buy them by the case, save money and reduce your visits to the store? For example, a case of 12 cans of your family’s favorite soup typically costs 20 percent less than what it would cost you to buy those cans individually. Make a list of your favorite foods and go to the information desk next time you are at your grocery store to find out which ones you can buy in bulk.

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