Time to start the day, aka the coffee pot. Now there’s a new reason to rise – the nation’s largest organic farmer-owned cooperative, Organic Valley, has expanded their shelf offerings from the simple, yet classic, half-and-half, to now include certified organic French Vanilla and Hazelnut creamers (and they are dee-lish!). The creamer is a perfect balance of organic cream and whole milk (meaning they’re produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones or pesticides). Then the flavor comes from organic hazelnut and organic, fair trade vanilla, sweetened with only fair trade, unrefined sugar.
Organic growers say that, without safeguards, their foods will be contaminated by genetically modified crops growing nearby. The genetic engineering industry argues that its way of farming is safe and should not be restricted in order to protect organic competitors.
Into that conflict comes Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who for two years has been promising something revolutionary: finding a way for organic farms to coexist alongside the modified plants. But in recent weeks, the administration has announced a trio of decisions that have clouded the future of organics and boosted the position of genetically engineered (GE) crops. Vilsack approved genetically modified alfalfa and a modified corn to be made into ethanol, and he gave limited approval to GE sugar beets.
The announcements were applauded by GE industry executives, who describe their genetically modified organisms as the farming of the future. But organics supporters were furious, saying their hopes that the Obama administration would protect their interests were dashed.
The roosters strut around like they own the place. Tom and Irene Frantzen don't mind.
Their feathered friends are a reason why they love to farm. While agriculture is a business, the Frantzens say the animals and land they care for are more than just dollars to them. They're a way of life.
It's this philosophy, they believe, that will ensure the success of the farm and entire community for generations. Practical Farmers of Iowa like the Frantzens' way of thinking.
The farm organization presented the couple with its 2011 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award in January for "creating vibrant communities, healthful food and diverse farms." Based in Ames, Practical Farmers promotes profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture.
What made me happiest wasn't any new thing (although, Organic Valley wins the best overall booth award because of their summer sausage and because of the two full mugs of hot organic coffee they gave me when I needed it most). What made me happiest was hearing all the talk of uniting and fighting together to protect the integrity of organic and defend ourselves from toxic chemical attack. It was clear that this is a strong, growing, powerful, and united industry that has finally found its voice and learned how to prioritize the issues.
With over 50,000 products in the average supermarket, people don't have the time, or the money, to test every product on the shelves and with 15,000 new products every year consumers need to know what's out there! Phil Lempert does the testing and the tasting for you and gives the product a rating out of 100 so you know what you can expect when you try something new!
Organic Valley's new Hazelnut Half & Half rates 95 points on Phil's 3/16/2011 segment. "A nice clean flavor with no aftertaste makes a delicious combination that you could even drink all by itself! Just the right amount of hazelnut and Amaretto flavors." It's a HIT!
Turns out, the secret ingredient of Pete and Kelly Mahaffy's fertile 200-acre dairy farm - a member of the Organic Valley co-op - is waste product from seafood processors.
Six to eight truck loads a day deliver shells and shrimp husks to their dairy farm on the Coos River during crab season's peak.
It's a nutrient-rich, slowly decomposing fertilizer the couple spreads thinly over pastures during the rainy months.
Sunny Cove Organic Farm located on Randolph Road won fourth place, $2,000 in the nationwide Grant-A-Wish contest sponsored by Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm.
The Grant-A-Wish contest asked organic farmers to submit ideas to help their farms maintain sustainability for a chance to win a top prize of $10,000. Two $7,500 and three, $2,000 prizes were awarded. There were 72 entries from 17 states stretching from Maine to California and the Sunny Cove plan was the only one chosen from western New York as a finalist. Sunny Cove Farm is operated by Jerry and Dottie Snyder and their eight children and has been organic since 2002.
An eastern Guilford County farm is the grand winner of a national contest sponsored by Stonyfield.
Reedy Fork Farm, operated by the Teague family in Elon, won the Stonyfield Organic Farmers Grant-a-Wish Program. The Teagues will receive $10,000, which they will use to build a new, energy efficient feed mill to process organic grains for other organic dairy farmers in the southeast, as well as livestock growers and small farmers looking for local, organic feed.
"There's reality and there's perception," says George Siemon, CEO of Organic Valley, one of the country's biggest organic food companies. "And the perception is, consumers are saying they don't want any pollution in organic products. And whether that's realistic or not is another matter. But for sure, consumer perception is a real concern." Siemon cited a survey in which 77 percent of organics consumers said they would stop buying organic food if it contained GMOs.
Jerry and Dotty Snyder of Sunny Cove Farm in Alfred are national finalists in the Grant A Wish contest, sponsored by Organic Valley and Stonyfield Farm.
The Snyders are one of six organic dairy farm finalists in the running to win $10,000 to fund a “dream” project to make their farm more environmentally sustainable.