NPR: How to Define ‘Organic’

Organic farmers aren’t allowed to plant GMO seeds. But most conventional corn in America is genetically modified, and among all grains, corn is perhaps the most promiscuous cross-pollinator, so its genes often migrate into organic fields via windblown pollen that lands on the tassels of organic corn.

As a result, most organic corn in the U.S. typically contains anywhere from half a percent to 2 percent GMOs, according to companies that sell such corn to organic dairies or poultry farmers. It has been that way since genetically engineered corn and soybeans became popular, more than a decade ago.

Read more at NPR, or listen below.

Podcast: Farming, Economics, and Government Involvement

From this week’s Just Food CSA Newsletter:

As a CSA member, you are probably lucky enough to know your farmer, how they grow their crops, and you can be confident that your payments are helping a small farm to be both environmentally and economically sustainable.

But what about the large-scale farms that produce most of our food in this country? Where does the money for this kind of agriculture come from, and how well is that system working?

The environmental news & commentary blog Grist recently posted a podcast featuring an interview with “local food economist” Ken Meter to discuss this issue. In the podcast, Meter and host Tom Philpott look at the history of agricultural loans and subsidies, government programs for farmers that have been lost, and lessons that we should have learned from previous economic disasters. The second part of the podcast, in which Meter and Philpott will discuss alternatives to this system (like CSA) that help keep wealth in our communities, will be posted next week.

To listen to Part 1 the podcast, click here.

Lo-Down: Henry Street’s Workforce Development Center

The Lo-Down did a nice write-up today about the Workforce Development Center at Henry Street Settlement, our partner in providing CSA shares to low-income families.

They help applicants create resumes, practice job interview techniques, find vocational training and locate job opportunities. Over the years, they’ve built up many relationships with businesses throughout Manhattan, but especially here on the Lower East Side. The center is able to deliver quality, pre-screened applicants to a wide variety of businesses, a service time-strapped hiring managers have come to appreciate.

Read more at the Lo-Down.

NYT: Slaughterhouse Bottleneck

Push to Eat Local Food Is Hampered by Shortage

In what could be a major setback for America’s local-food movement, championed by so-called locavores, independent farmers around the country say they are forced to make slaughter appointments before animals are born and to drive hundreds of miles to facilities, adding to their costs and causing stress to livestock.

As a result, they are scaling back on plans to expand their farms because local processors cannot handle any more animals.

Read more at the New York Times.

NYT: Spot Tests of Organic Foods

U.S. to Ensure Spot Tests of Organic Foods

The Department of Agriculture will begin enforcing rules on testing organically grown foods for pesticides, after an audit exposed gaps in the National Organic Program.

Spot testing is required by a 1990 law that established the basis for national organic standards, but in a report released on Thursday by the office of Phyllis K. Fong, the inspector general of agriculture, investigators wrote that regulators never made sure the testing was being carried out.

Read more at the New York Times.