The Cornucopia Institute

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Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Wednesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Eating organic produce, meat and dairy is healthier for your family and the environment (and it tastes better).  

Here are some money saving tips to help you eat healthier and stay within your budget:

Comparison Shop. You may be able to find less-expensive alternatives at different stores. Many major chains are coming out with their own organic brands but make sure it’s certified organic. According to Mark Kastel, the senior farm policy analyst at The Cornucopia Institute, “Major food processors have recognized the meteoric rise of the organic industry, and profit potential, and want to create what is in essence ‘organic light,’ taking advantage of the market cachet but not being willing to do the heavy lifting required to earn the valuable USDA organic seal”.

Grow One Thing. Unless you have a lot of land, you’re probably not going to feed your family only from your home-grown harvest, but you will find that growing a tomato plant can be incredibly inspiring. And it’s not as intimidating as it seems. So pick one thing to grow – you can do it.

Cook More. The more convenient the food is, the more expensive it is. For example, buying an organic frozen dinner may save you time in the same way a conventional frozen dinner would, but it costs quite a bit more than its non-organic counterpart and much more than a homemade meal. Buy organic items that are lower in price (such as produce), and make your own dishes from scratch.

Stock Up. Stock up on your favorite items when they go on sale. Or try something new that is on sale or is priced well, and you may find a new favorite.

Buy in Bulk. Buying in bulk will keep costs down. Look for many pantry staples often available in bulk, such as beans, legumes, rice, flour, nuts, chocolate chips, and much more.

Organic Coupons. Keep an eye out in the Sunday paper and grocery circulars for coupons and, again, stock up to take best advantage of the savings. Organic bargains are everywhere so click on About.com’s Frugal Living page where you will find All Organic Links.

Shop in Season and Buy Local. Shop farm stands and farmers’ markets for the freshest, most-delicious produce while supporting local farmers. Purchasing in season produce from your grocer may also keep costs down. And you can also save money by becoming a member of a local farm by joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

In the Fargo/Moorhead and surrounding areas:

  • Bluebird Gardens offers a couple of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) options with drop off locations in North Fargo, South Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead, Underwood, Battle Lake, Otter Tail, Perham, Breckenridge, Wahpeton, Fergus Falls, Dilworth, Rothsay, Barnesville, Frazee, Vergas, Pelican Rapids and Detroit Lakes. Visit www.bluebirdgardens.net for more information.
  • Sydney’s Health Market boasts the areas only all organic farmer’s market. Available Fridays during the growing season. They also have organic produce available in the store, delivered fresh every Tuesday. Visit www.sydneyshealthmarket.com or call 218-233-3310 for more information.

Be Selective. Decide to only purchase organic milk and produce. See the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” for the most-contaminated produce and tailor your decisions based on these:

EWG Shoppers Guide

Bring Your Own Bag. Many stores offer a discount when you bring your own bag. It’s usually around 5 cents per bag,

Eat With Friends. Last but not least, make it fun! Choose some like-minded friends and get together to each prepare an organic dish—a great way to add variety to your organic diet while keeping your own purchases down. Get together for a weekend potluck—or, during the week, arrange a food swap to minimize cooking and maximize eating organically.

Source: Organic.org and Healthy Child Healthy World

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

eat the seasons
eat the seasons aims to promote an understanding of food seasons. Each week they list the seasonal foods that are at their peak, and share enlightening facts, useful tips and enticing recipe ideas picked from the web and their favorite books.

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By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP:  When buying organic dairy products, make sure you get what you pay for.  View your milk’s organic dairy rating. 

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The Cornucopia Institute, an organization that promotes economic justice for family-scale farming, is thankfully on top of an United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed organic pasture/livestock rule that could force organic family livestock farmers out of business.

They report that “after eight years of political debate, legal wrangling and protests within the organic community the USDA on October 23 finally published a draft rule intended to clamp down on giant factory farms milking thousands of cows that have been abusing the spirit and letter of federal organic law by primarily confining their cattle to feedlots.”  Can you say Horizon (Dean Foods)?

“The USDA could have made minor regulatory language changes to the current rule that would have clarified and forced the grazing of cattle.  Instead, the USDA completely rewrote the complicated organic livestock standards without input from the organic community or the National Organic Standards Board.  And they have given the organic community—farmers, consumers, retailers and processors—just 60 days to digest the sweeping changes and submit comments to government regulators.” 

Why does the federal government have to make things more difficult and complicated than they should be?

“While the draft rule that the USDA presented would effectively clamp down on factory farm scofflaws, it would also probably put out of business the majority of all family-scale livestock farmers in the United States.  This is unacceptable.”  Completely unacceptable.

“Certain industry players, including the dairy giant Dean Foods and Aurora Dairy, the nation’s largest private-label producer of organic milk (Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, Safeway, etc.) have based their business model on exploiting the trust of the organic consumer and violating both the spirit and letter of the organic law (full documentation available).”

So, clearly there needs to be some changes to the current regulations because unethical mega “organic” dairies are taking advantage of consumers.  Again, completely unacceptable.  If the USDA runs all the organic family-scale livestock farmers out of business, what are the farmers supposed to do for a living?  Where are we supposed to purchase our real milk, grass-fed beef and raw cheeses? 

We need this high quality food so our children can grow up healthy and well-nourished.  The Cornucopia Institute continued, saying “a growing body of scientific literature illustrating the nutritional superiority of milk and meat from organic animals that are grazed on fresh grass, including higher levels of antioxidants and beneficial fats, like omega-3 fatty acids, that protect against cancer and heart disease.” 

The organic farmers that I’m acquainted with do what they do, not for financial gain, because they take pride in providing nutritious food to their communities while engaging in humane and sustainable farming practices.  They know their animals by name.  They keep them healthy and comfortable because they love what they do and care about the animals, the land and the end product.  Can Horizon (Dean Foods) say the same?

The Cornucopia Institute concluded by adding, “It is incredibly important that we get this rule right as the future of so many ethical organic livestock producers, and access to legitimately produced organic food products, are at stake.”

Make your voice heard.  Go to the institute’s website and take action!

Be Loud.  Be Green.

Organic? photo and Organic! photo, courtesy of The Cornucopia Institute.

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