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News for March 21, 2010

New Global Organic Textile Standard Online Database Lists All Certified Companies

Greenfield, MA -- According to the online database of companies certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) on its web site which was re-launched, approximately 1,500 companies with a total of 2,811 facilities in 55 countries around the world were certified to the organic apparel and textile standard in 2009. That is almost a 40 percent increase over the 1,977 facilities certified to the standard in 2008. The GOTS standard was approved in 2006.

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Inspector General: Organic Monitoring a Travesty

That faint "we told you so" ringing in your ears might be coming from the folks at the Cornucopia Institute, the Wisconsin-based watchdog group that has being saying for years that the United States Department of Agriculture's enforcement of federal organic laws was, to put it kindly, pathetic. According to Cornucopia, the USDA has always clearly favored industrial operators who bent (or broke) every rule they could to compete with small, conscientious farmers who hewed to the letter and spirit of organic policy.

Guess what? Cornucopia and other organic consumer advocates were right. This week the USDA's own Office of the Inspector General came out with a formal report on the UDSA's monitoring of its organic program during the Clinton and Bush years (click here for the PDF). It couldn't have been more scathing.

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Some summer camps make healthier eating part of the fun

Summer camps for city kids can be amazing athletic playgrounds, where TVs are turned off and youngsters are thrust outside to play dodge ball, hike in the woods and swim every afternoon.

Some camps, though, end up counteracting all that great exercise with, as one Los Altos Hills mother puts it, endless streams of "crappy cafeteria food."

Mostly for economic reasons, many camps serve low-cost, carb-rich meals of pasta, pasta and more pasta. That's not to mention the "canteen," where children can buy candy bars and Popsicles every afternoon.

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Kingdom launches farm initiatives

RIYADH: The Kingdom launched on Saturday seven new initiatives for sustainable development in the agricultural sector in the presence of Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf and Agriculture Minister Fahd Balghunaim in Riyadh.

The initiatives include the establishment of a national information center for agriculture, rationalization of water use in irrigation, establishment of one or more bodies for handling and marketing vegetables and fruits, cooperative insurance for the animal sector, marketing of dates, establishment of a breeding livestock company, and establishment of an entity for marketing fish and shrimps both in and out of the Kingdom.

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Is raw, unpasteurized milk safe?

Unpasteurized milk is a curious thing. It costs up to $13 a gallon. It says right on the carton: "WARNING: This product ... may contain harmful bacteria."

Yet people are passionate about it. Almost evangelistic.

So in early December, when the state announced that raw milk from Dungeness Valley Creamery in Sequim was linked with three E. coli cases, the reaction was, well ... emotional.

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Man Sells Raw Milk From Battlefield Mall Parking Lot Legally

There have also been some raw emotions over raw milk lately.

The state is even suing an Ozarks couple for selling the product.

It's legal to sell raw milk on site where it's produced, but it cannot be sold off the farm- without the right paperwork.

In fact that paperwork has been keeping a Stone County couple out of court and in compliance with the law since last August.

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For the food industry, has organic surpassed its sell-by date?

Is organic ag doomed to permanent niche status? Yes, according to this report from the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago.

Based on the article, the summit appears to have been a gathering of food-industry execs and Wall Street analysts. And for this crew, evidently, organic's days of world-conquering growth are over. From the article:

The recession put a halt to the double-digit sales growth organic foods saw earlier last decade. But even when the economy improves, organics are not likely to rebound to such lofty heights as consumers and retailers now have other priorities for spending and shelf space.

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