Organic Check-off? — Marty Mesh, FOG and Melody Meyer, UNFI

Growing the organic industry, from farms to tables, will require more research and better communications with consumers who are often confused by misleading food marketing strategies. To do the job right, there needs to be a system to raise funds from the industry. Marty Mesh the Executive Director of the Florida Organic Growers and Melody Meyer, Executive Director of UNFI believe that the answer is a national “check-off” program with assessments collected from Organic farmers and companies on the certified organic products they produce and market.

Vermont or Federal GMO Labeling?–The Facts

Vermont has passed a GMO Labeling law, “produced with genetic engineering”, that is to go in effect July 1. US Senators Stabenow (D) and Roberts (R) are introducing legislation that would pre-empt the Vermont law by enacting a national disclosure standard for “bioengineered foods”. Before you get overwhelmed with the opinions on both sides, listen to our Farm To Table Talk podcast to hear what will be proposed in the Senate bill and what is in the Vermont law. Would there be “technological challenges” to consumers to “bioengineering disclosure” through electronic or digital methods?

Urban Farms — Rachel Surls, Sustainable Food System Extension

Urban Agriculture: production(beyond just home consumption), distribution and marketing of food is happening within the core and fringes of metro areas. LA based, Dr. Rachel Surls, is on the frontline of this movement for the University of CA Cooperative Extension Service. Rachel is also co-author with Judith Gerber of the book “From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles.” (http://www.angelcitypress.com/products/c2co) Food production is coming back in LA, the number one Ag producing County in America for much of the last century.

Raising Livestock Standards — Miles McEvoy, USDA Organic

New rules proposed for the USDA Organic Standards will raise requirements for organic livestock production. The Deputy Administrator of the USDA Organic program, Miles McEvoy explains how livestock are to be treated if the changes go in to effect. The continued growth of Organics is taking place globally with implications for imports and exports of organic foods. Conventional farmers converting to Organics are generally enthusiastic as they start down the transition road.

Responsibly Grown–Edmund LaMacchia, Whole Foods

Consumers, especially Millennials, want their food to be “responsibly produced”. Whole Foods Markets are taking more steps to meet that demand at their over 400 stores and their brand new “365” store format. The Global VP of Perishables, Edmund LaMacchia explains the Vision, lessons learned and future of providing shoppers with truly responsibly produced food, Organic and Conventional if it meets 8 criteria. Communications and marketing of “responsibly grown” will continue to improve and to be a focus.

To Kathmandu — Katherine Parker, United Mission to Nepal

A large share of the people in the world cannot take farm to table for granted. Food security is an issue, especially recovering from disasters such as the deadly Earthquake last year in Nepal. Katherine Parker is on the font line helping solve problems, connecting farmers and markets and still finding time to enjoy local food and friendships. She has worked with communities and their farmers in Japan, Iowa, Cambodia and Nepal. Listen to the podcast and follow her on facebook.com/bokashi or read more stories on her blog, bokashi.blogspot.com

USDA & Food Truth — Craig Morris, Ag Marketing Service

Consumers may wonder if what is said about their food and how it is produced, is truthful. The Agricultural Marketing Service of the USDA has oversight and certification programs that verify specific claims, such as “antibiotic free”, cage free or country of origin. AMS Deputy Administrtor Dr. Craig Morris explains “checkoff” programs fund farmer/rancher promotion to consumers. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is still in effect for all commodities, except for beef and pork. Future areas of attention may relate to false claims on menus or farmers market about farm sources.

A Healthier (FNV) America — Drew Nannis, Partnership for a Healthier America

Solving the childhood obesity crisis is being tackled by a public/private partnership that finally brings true marketing power to the effort. From the honorary Chairman, First Lady Michelle Obama to celebrities like MVP Steph Curry, important goals have a better chance to deliver than ever before. The Chief Marketing Officer of the Partnership for America, Drew Nannis, explains the FNV campaign (Fruits and Vegetables)and why a rock solid marketing effort will lead to a Healthier America!

Food Progress — Michael Jacobson, CSPI

Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest has not been bashful about criticizing the food industry when change is needed, but he also speaks up when he sees progress. Today he sees results and areas where progress is being made on the big three issues of trans fat, sugar and salt. Successful changes have featured cooperation and engagement of all levels of the food chain, from farmers to manufacturers and brands.

Banning Hot Dogs — Carrie Clyne, Physicians Committee

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine believes that you should not eat hot dogs, or any processed meats. To make that point, Carrie Clyne and her colleagues offered Banana Hot Dogs to visitors at their booth at the Partnership for A Healthier America. Carrie explains why this organization of 150,000 physicians, scientists and concerned citizens feel strongly about that hot dogs are to be avoided.