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  • 25 Years After Federal Organic Foods Regulation, Industry Calls For More Regulation | OEFFA News
    the word organic But the law wasn t perfect It received a lot of public outcry and pushback from farmers for being overly broad and not stringent enough That original set of rules would have allowed in organic production genetic engineering sewer sludge and ionizing radiation says Carol Goland Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association director OEFFA is one of the oldest organic certification agencies in the U S As a result of that backlash those three things are explicitly prohibited in organic today Goland says Eventually those rules were revised and they were released in 2000 By 2002 the federal National Organic Program was created to oversee all organic production and labeling On the northwest side of Columbus Amy Shaw shops at Raisin Rack a natural food store Shaw says she has eaten only organic foods for eight years She thinks it s healthier and better for the environment but she wonders about the labels You have to be wary I m big on whole foods I mean you don t have to worry about the labels or the labeling if you re eating an organic apple Shaw says If you know the farmer and you shop locally you can be pretty sure that you re getting what they say you re getting Agencies like OEFFA certify organic farms for the USDA There are about 50 of them in the U S and they hire contracted inspectors Goland admits agencies are stretched thin OEFFA for example oversees nearly 900 farms and 70 processors across 10 states But the reality is that farmers and organic food processors have to go through the certification process every year Goland says As a whole we are keeping up but it represents an area of growth since organics is growing Goland adds certifiers are

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=2175 (2016-02-17)
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  • Shagbark Seed & Mill is changing the way restaurants use grains | OEFFA News
    a mix of certified organic and Amish who supply the mill with high nutrient organic goods to produce roughly a dozen products including buckwheat flour spelt popcorn stone ground grits and polenta and pinto and black beans Shagbark went from selling 10 000 worth of product its first year to 125 000 the next By 2013 they reached 321 000 in sales It s leveled out a bit Jaeger says but is still on an upward swing This year they ll go through about 150 tons of Ohio bean and grain crop with corn for chips crackers and tortillas making up 60 percent and black beans another 30 percent Much of this growth is owed to Shagbark s ability to diversify products and adapt a wholesale business that distributes product around the state Jaeger and Ajamian created their three ingredient tortilla chips corn sunflower oil and sea salt in 2011 to help one of their favorite restaurants Casa Nueva which didn t have the manpower to make chips in house Now lovingly referred to as their gateway product the chips have become their most recognized creation The chips first attracted Katalina s owner Kathleen Day to Shagbark in 2012 After sampling their chips at a Dine Originals event Day persuaded them to sell her individual sized bags she could serve alongside sandwiches at her Harrison West cafe Once you eat their chips you are a convert for life says Day who also uses Shagbark black beans You can taste the difference in the corn It s what Michael Pollan would call heritage corn It s much more filling and good for you and it s not overly processed It s what real corn chips should taste like Shagbark s latest product is just as everyman friendly corn tortillas which they started producing at the Koki s Tortillas plant in October 2014 Shagbark tortillas stand out not just because organic corn is used but also because the corn is soaked in an alkaline solution before it s hulled an ancient process known as nixtamalization that s been proven in some scientific studies to increase nutritional value flavor and aroma in corn The corn for their chips is also nixtamalized It s also a nod to the way corn has been treated in Mexican culture for centuries Ajamian says The two had a chance to experience this process first hand Earlier this year she and Jaeger traveled to Mexico with the owner of Koki s to visit her family There water was electric blue rich with limestone This is the water in which corn is soaked before it s ground into maize for tortillas When the food culture relocates Ajamian says swiping through pictures of her trip on her phone a lot of people bring the food but not the cuisine We re doing our tortillas the traditional way calcium added into the water and pressed into the tortillas Ajamian says It was a really nice reinforcement of the concept how important

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=2122 (2016-02-17)
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  • Opting out: Farm bill exempts more organic farmers from checkoffs | OEFFA News
    such as sanitizing agents on a production line or milk processing line Carol Goland executive director for the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association said the USDA s proposed rule change corrects the 2002 rule s inequity in defining different types of organic operations In a sense what this farm bill does is better define the multiple foods and crops of organic as a single commodity Goland said adding that OEFFA fully supports the proposed rule change Public comment A number of conventional commodity organizations including the United Soybean Board and the Almond Board of California have requested the USDA extend its 30 day public comment period due to the complexity of the issue Organic checkoff option The 2014 farm bill grants the USDA authority to not only expand the organic exemption in the 2002 farm bill but to also explore options for an organic specific checkoff order Maggie McNeil director of media relations for the Organic Trade Association said the organization has been working on the framework for such a checkoff for three years McNeil said they hope to have the application out within the next two months If accepted by the USDA it then has to go through a comment period and a referendum an actual vote of all organic stakeholders in the industry A lot of people know the word organic but don t know really what it means said Clutts who also sits on the board of the Organic Trade Organization It is based on a very specific criteria like no other food process anywhere I think the collective pool could do something bigger to promote organic agriculture Gaining majority support for an organic checkoff order however could be challenging Goland said OEFFA recognizes the need for organic research and promotion and feels the organic sector

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=1869 (2016-02-17)
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  • Does Fracking Threaten Future of Ohio Organic Farms? | OEFFA News
    in a quandary about the production on my farm being of good quality says Luber Do I lose my business I ve put 30 years into this soil to make this soil grow You don t just go someplace and oh well it s bad here I ll just go over the hill If prohibited substances including some fracking chemicals are detected on a certified organic farm the producer may have to wait at least three years before becoming eligible for recertification Ohio is home to more than 700 certified organic operations and nearly 57 000 acres of certified organic land Luber says an air quality monitor showed high levels of particulate matter on his farm He says one time he discovered water running white from springs coming out of a well pad near his land The Ohio EPA had a 165 day investigation supposedly and said there was no problem says Luber But from my estimation somehow they fractured the rock structure so that anything spilled on that well pad site will get into that water and flow down through the stream Besides drilling sites there are pipelines used to transport gas and injection wells that store fracking waste throughout the state In the event of an accident or spill Luber says it s impossible to know the full extent of the danger What they re doing is a bad idea he says Any cement you put in is going to crack sometime So all these wells are eventually going to leak And if they have all these chemicals in these wells they re going come up and they re going to affect the groundwater and they re going to affect people s health Supporters of hydraulic fracturing say it is an economic boon for the state but opponents

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=1867 (2016-02-17)
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  • Cost-Share Assistance Available for Growers and Handlers of Organic Agricultural Products | OEFFA News
    up to 75 percent of an individual producer s certification costs with a maximum of 750 per certification scope crops livestock handling wildcrops Grant funding is provided by USDA s National Organic Certification Cost Share Program Approximately 11 5 million is available nationwide for organic certification cost share assistance making certification more accessible for certified producers and handlers The department is working in partnership with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association OEFFA to verify the certification of organic operations and to manage reimbursement requests Those interested in applying for cost share assistance may do so directly through OEFFA Applications must be postmarked by November 15 2014 For more information on cost share program guidelines or to apply visit http certification oeffa org costshare or call OEFFA directly at 614 262 2022 Post navigation Previous Post From Market to Farm One couple s commitment to cultivating connections on Ohio s largest certified organic blueberry farm Archives Select Month February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=1703 (2016-02-17)
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  • Organic Certification | OEFFA News | Page 2
    nearly 240 studies over the last 40 some years that compared organic and conventional foods While the organic foods did not prove more nutritious the researchers noted that organic fruits and vegetables pose a lower risk of exposure to pesticides and antibiotic resistant germs That the pesticide amounts in the conventional produce were within what are considered safe levels is little comfort to Vincent resident Amanda Hearn 29 Just because they meet FDA regulations doesn t mean it s healthy said Hearn who writes a green living blog at theecofriendlyfamily com These things are neurotoxins They re designed to kill organisms Joe Pedretti organic education specialist with the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service a nonprofit organization promoting organic and sustainable agriculture said individual pesticide residue may be at safe levels but some produce is exposed to more than one type So the issue is really what are the effects of exposure to multiple pesticides he said Hearn said she and her family try to buy organic food when they can out of concern for their own health as well as the environment Chemical fertilizer can affect plants and wildlife as well she said noting she even feels some apprehension about eating venison from deer her husband has hunted It s organic meat but at the same time they may be eating crops that are GMO genetically modified organisms she said Pedretti noted that organic farming doesn t expose farmers and workers to the chemicals in some pesticides and fertilizers He questioned other aspects of the study including the lack of uniformity between studies It s only been 10 years since a national standard was established for organic farms so what was considered organic in some studies may not have qualified in more recent ones I think ultimately what the organic industry is trying to say is we need more new research Pedretti said He said the Stanford study did note more of a nutritional advantage in organic milk and other studies have found more of some nutrients like vitamins and antioxidants in organic items Farmers must go through an extensive process to receive the federally approved organic certification Gary Smith president of the River City Farmers Market said none of the people who sell produce at the market Saturdays at the Washington County Fairgrounds have that certification but many of them avoid the use of chemicals Smith is among those saying the potatoes tomatoes peppers sweet potatoes and more from his garden in Lowell are grown with chemicals 90 percent of the time He only uses them when he can t overcome a pest problem or other challenge in another way If you don t use the chemicals it s got to be better Smith said One of the doctors that conducted the Stanford study told the Associated Press there are other reasons people may choose to buy organic including environmental concerns and taste preferences Bucky Lee co owner of Food 4 Less said those are among the factors customers consider when they buy organic items at the Marietta grocery store It depends on the consumer what they feel safe eating and what they feel comfortable buying he said A lot of people are concerned about what chemicals they re putting in it Price is also a consideration with Lee saying he only orders organic items when the price is close to that of conventional products Chris DePugh with the Vienna W Va based catering company The Staged Fork said she knows from experience at culinary school and working in food services at Camden Clark Medical Center that organic food doesn t really boast a higher nutritional value than conventional food Her focus when purchasing food for the business is on buying local rather than buying organic I feel that s better to support our local people she said About the study The study by Stanford researchers examined English language reports of comparisons of organically and conventionally grown food or of populations consuming these foods Two studies reported significantly lower urinary pesticide levels among children consuming organic versus conventional diets but studies of biomarker and nutrient levels in serum urine breast milk and semen in adults did not identify clinically meaningful differences Phosphorus levels were significantly higher than in conventional produce although this difference is not clinically significant The risk for contamination with detectable pesticide residues was lower among organic than conventional produce but differences in risk for exceeding maximum allowed limits were small Escherichia coli contamination risk did not differ between organic and conventional produce Bacterial contamination of retail chicken and pork was common but unrelated to farming method However the risk for isolating bacteria resistant to three or more antibiotics was higher in conventional than in organic chicken and pork The conclusion was that published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic resistant bacteria Source Annals of Internal Medicine annals org Living Organically Peach Mountain Organic Farm August 21 2012 OEFFA in the News Organic Certification Sustainable Agriculture in the News Lauren By Bryn Mooth Photographs by Julie Kramer Edible Ohio Valley Summer 2012 Above Doug Seibert and Leslie Garcia stand in front of the barn on today s Peach Mountain Farm The Silo is covered in Virginia Creeper a vine that creeps into their barn and prep area Below Leslie Garcia shows us one of the last strawberries of the season Doug Seibert inspects beneficial insects in a cover crop of flowering cilantro that is roughly four feet high He is conscious of not seeing bare ground on his land and cover crops grow in any row that is not currently in production An easy to miss driveway juts off a county road north of Spring Valley Ohio The gravel lane leads to a modest house tucked in amid tall shade trees Across the yard stands a barn that s seemingly held together by its contents old machine parts stacks of plastic nursery pots seed packets bags of soil amendment A stooped yet graceful white haired woman pushes a walker slowly down the pebbly drive taking in the cool morning air This 17 acre Greene County spread is home to Doug Seibert and Leslie Garcia along with Garcia s 93 year old mother and a big ol farm dog On seven acres the pair business and life partners since 1991 cultivate a huge variety of vegetables and cut flowers under the Peach Mountain Organics banner Their farm certified organic by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association OEFFA produces enough for Seibert and Garcia to create a simple sustainable lifestyle on the land The farm s bounty also graces dining tables throughout Montgomery and Greene counties Seibert and Garcia sell to restaurants in nearby towns including the popular Winds Cafe in Yellow Springs and The Meadowlark in Dayton Their ever changing salad mix is a must buy at the Saturday morning Yellow Springs farmers market Peach Mountain sells out of its offerings in an hour or two I once saw a woman in high heels running across the parking lot to get the last bag of our salad mix before we sold out Seibert says laughing Peach Mountain is surprisingly productive last season they harvested just under a ton of salad mix More than a thousand bunches of kale we did kale before kale was cool Garcia says More than 4 000 pounds of tomatoes came out of just one greenhouse Last fall they planted 1 000 pounds of garlic which this summer will yield perhaps five times that Squash greens of all kinds onions strawberries herbs potatoes the list goes on Organic certification requires detailed record keeping of every input seed soil amendments pest control planting dates and output The Business of Farming Think about the business model for a moment About 22 tillable acres Garcia and Seibert have a nearby property with 15 acres under cultivation The expenses of organic seed soil amendments and pest management Two highly limited sales channels a single farmers market stand and a handful of restaurant accounts A seasonal production cycle How in the world can anyone make even a bare bones living raising vegetables organically The secret says Seibert no debt By purchasing their land outright the latest parcel at auction for a favorable price buying used equipment and a secondhand greenhouse deconstructed moved and rebuilt by Doug and keeping their staff to a minimum two full time summer employees Seibert and Garcia have withstood the variability of weather and the volatility of expenses They haven t raised their market prices since 1991 To be sure the couple have a huge soft investment in the farm namely in their own labor Farming organically or not is a 24 7 venture pretty much year round The couple seems content to take no more than they need maintaining a simple lifestyle and even managing to put away a bit of money to buy a small farm property in Washington State near Seibert s grown son They have a tidy nest egg what s left of any profit is reinvested in the farm We ve never had a losing season Garcia says Our worst season we each got about 365 It s never been about the money Seibert says What it is about though is satisfying customers and being good stewards of the land Standing in an open field behind a large triple greenhouse her salt and pepper hair in two braids Garcia says she and Seibert never for a minute considered farming conventionally I read Silent Spring she says I saw what happened in Bhopal India How many clues do people need At 59 she s a veteran of organic agriculture Wary of the dangers of agri chemicals and dismayed by the conventional teachings of the Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture where she spent a year Garcia began organically farming a few acres in Adams County in her early 20s That farm was near Peach Mountain reputed to be Ohio s second or third largest peak depending on you you ask and it lent its name to the current operation Neither Garcia nor Seibert come from farm families Seibert 62 is a Cincinnati native who attended Wilmington College where he lived off campus in a shack with a big garden His early career as a machinist comes in handy someone s gotta build the hoop houses and keep the tractor running In a large greenhouse and several smaller structures Seibert and Garcia start nearly all their crops from seed then transplant directly into the ground in hoop houses or open beds In addition to the salad mix and Garcia s gladiolus which Peach Mountain is well regarded for and a whole host of organic produce the farm sells vegetable and herb plants Until a few years ago Garcia also grew bedding plants for retail sale while that was profitable business the work was exhausting and the two decided to scale back Fooling Mother Nature On a cool May morning rows of healthy tomato plants reach nearly four feet high in a greenhouse The farm uses a clever rope and pulley system to corral the vines As the tomato plants grow taller the rope is lowered so the heavy bottom stems coil on the ground containing the plants and keeping the tomatoes in easy reach for harvesting Growing tomatoes under cover is expensive Seibert says because the close conditions are heaven for aphids which must be controlled by introducing insects that feed on them In a creekside field near the main farm Garcia picks flowers to arrange for a weekend wedding Rows and rows of hardneck garlic planted by hand in the fall are already sprouting their springtime curlicue scapes Seibert walks past a patch of cilantro that he let go to seed as a bee pasture the tall spindly plants are recognizable only by their strong scent and they re humming with insects Seibert and Garcia use plants like clover vetch and field peas for all season cover to add nutrients to the soil I don t like bare ground Seibert says You want that microbiology going on in the soil all the time Organic farming is a carefully managed ecosystem and while it tries to work within the natural order of things it s also a constant battle against nature They tried raising chickens a couple of years ago Garcia says but the raccoons systematically picked off the flock She points to a bed of lettuce that s speckled with maple sproutlings thanks to the huge trees that frame the farm Mother Nature wants to take over all the time she says We try to have a lot of crop diversity but in the end farming isn t all that compatible with nature Trial and error and sharing knowledge help Seibert and Garcia in this constant struggle to both sustain and control natural forces Their success with the former and generosity with the latter have earned the two recognition and admiration from their fellow farmers In February OEFFA awarded them the Stewardship Award its highest honor Growers throughout the region cite Seibert as a mentor People ask me questions all the time and I m always happy to share what we ve learned Seibert says Market Ecosystem On a warming Saturday morning there s a line at the Peach Mountain Organics booth at the Yellow Springs farmers market Seibert has pulled up a panel truck full of produce customers snatch up salad mix and other seasonal goodies This single market pulls in three fifths of Peach Mountain Organics annual revenue When we first started farmers markets were at the bottom of a downward trend Seibert says They ve taken a calculated risk by investing in a single retail venue rather than participating in multiple markets or launching a CSA program which they feel would compete with their Yellow Springs presence We do one market and we do a big deal he says We spend two days getting ready for Saturday Customers are loyal to Peach Mountain because of their organic high quality product Like the environment a farmers market is its own ecosystem with vendors working in concert to draw big crowds that benefit everyone Too few farmers and customers don t come too little variety and the farmers compete Seibert and Garcia are always evaluating what to grow in what quantity and how much to bring to market They raise cost intensive crops like herbs and greenhouse tomatoes because they know demand is high A farmer can t stand there all day and sell 100 worth of produce Doug says We want to sell out It s a fragile balance Bryn Mooth is an independent journalist and copywriter focused on food wellness and creativity and she shares recipes on her amazing consistent and timely blog Writes4food com Cultivators is her standing column in Edible Ohio Valley where she brings you the stories in words and pictures of the growers producers bakers cooks and vendors who bring great local food to our Ohio Valley tables Bold fresh and organic Cadiz farm acquires organic certification August 21 2012 OEFFA in the News Organic Certification Lauren Times Leader Online July 18 2011 By Glynis Valenti CADIZ Many people have a sense of history about their families ancestry old photos memories of grandma s house Holly Herbold is living her history It feels like I belong here like home It s come full circle She says this from the porch of a large old farmhouse overlooking one of her newly certified organic gardens In 1805 her great times four grandparents acquired this family farm under the Land Act The farmhouse was moved from a rise bringing it about 50 yards closer to the spring house from which the women folk carried buckets of water for washing cleaning and cooking Holly s earliest memories begin here Her grandparents lived in the house and her parents fashioned the former granary into living space I picked daisies I remember riding in the horse and buggy My mother drove the horse and buggy everywhere She took me to school down the road Holly Herbold and dog Corso take a break on the farmhouse front porch My grandmother used to sit in that corner and rock and my grandfather sat on the steps Holly moved to California when she was eight and to Hawaii when she was 20 where she surfed worked at a Four Seasons hotel and began really learning about food A move to upstate New York in 2002 furthered her food career She opened a health food store and added a cafe which then became a successful restaurant featuring local foods Among all of this activity she managed to acquire three degrees in anthropology deaf studies and teaching but whenever she visited the family farm in Ohio she dreaded saying goodbye Holly took an opportunity to return to her roots in 2009 and hasn t looked back Her interest in actually farming the land grew when she began working for neighbor Mick Luber owner of Bluebird Farm He s amazing I ve learned so much from him He s always encouraged me to succeed The next year she decided to grow some produce on her own and is now in her second year as Her Bold Farm Starting small she has developed two acres for planting using one at a time But there are thousands of plants vegetables herbs and flowers that Holly and employee Ellie Myslinsky tend and prepare for sale Tomatoes beets peppers potatoes onions garlic basil dill radishes carrots okra kale Swiss chard peas really good lettuce gladiolas cosmos zinnias pumpkins and squash a partial list of more than 70 items that will make appearances at her market booth this year It isn t just beets for me I have five kinds of beets I like the variety People ask

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?cat=10&paged=2 (2016-02-17)
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  • Advice offered on effective advocacy | OEFFA News
    phone call to a legislator be sure to research any existing stance of the legislator on the topic try to make some connection with what the legislator views as a priority and be very specific on the policy or pending legislation Lipstreu said In some cases as few as 10 calls can make a difference on legislation In addition take advantage of any opportunity to meet the legislator in one s home district Lipstreu stressed When making the contact point out that you are a constituent of the legislator identify any organization memberships that you have and tell your story on why the legislator should act in a certain way she stated Writing letters to the editor can also be effective Lipstreu said She noted that the OEFFA s website has a page with guidelines on how to write such a letter Importance of advocacy As farmers gardeners and educators the groups who make up most of the membership of the OEFFA it is important both from a historical perspective and on pending current relevant issues to engage in advocacy for one s beliefs Lipstreu emphasized Lipstreu cited the effectiveness of advocacy in creating the national organic production certification program 35 years ago She said advocacy also includes trying to get large institutions to make corrections in existing practices or policies and that advocacy does not necessarily result in conflict or confrontation Advocacy also applies to arranging community meetings or forums that lead to setting goals and setting strategies on ways to approach problems She also suggested that advocacy should not take the form of a partisan political stance Topics for advocacy In Ohio and other states some of the current topics suited for advocacy are frac sand mining the labeling of foods for genetically modified organisms crop insurance and

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=2182 (2016-02-17)
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  • What’s in a Label? You May Not Know with DARK Act | OEFFA News
    animals are all being fed GMO feed The bill also would ban states from regulating food labeling which supporters say would stop a patchwork of conflicting laws While it would set up a voluntary national labeling system Taylor argued that most companies that actually use GMO foods are not going to advertise it The legislation passed in the U S House with only two Ohio lawmakers voting against it The Senate could introduce the measure soon Taylor contended that the bill undermines existing businesses like his that sell non GMO products For the past eight years he said Snowville Creamery has been breaking even and recently received a game changing offer that would have paid the company a premium for its non GMO milk but the deal didn t last because of the labeling act The day the DARK Act passed the House of Representatives a week later they called me from the cheese plant and rescinded their offer because all cheese in America became non GMO according to the DARK Act if it passes the Senate this month he said Snowville Creamery is like a cat hanging on a wall right now There are global economic concerns Taylor said At least 35 countries have laws that impose labeling or import restrictions on GMO foods Taylor said America s non GMO producers will suffer without proper labeling The purpose of the DARK Act is to not give the American people the GMO labeling that every other industrialized democracy and Russia and China have he said but rather to assure that the American people will never be able to make an informed choice A poll this year found that 87 percent of Ohioans surveyed support the labeling of genetically engineered foods Details of the legislation HR 1599 are online at congress

    Original URL path: http://www.oeffa.org/news/?p=2156 (2016-02-17)
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