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1200 organic farmers meet in California

  • Subject: [cg] 1200 organic farmers meet in California
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006 13:57:46 -0800 (PST)

Santa Cruz Sentinal, Santa Cruz California
January 27. 2006

Nearly 1,200 organic farmers turn out for Pacific
Grove conference


More than 1,000 farmers, organic and conventional,
showed up at the 26th annual Ecological Farming
Conference on Thursday to brainstorm different methods
of growing and meet their agricultural equivalents.

A plethora of professors, farmers and researchers
talked in depth about the biological alternatives to
the controversial and ozone-depleting methyl bromide,
the pending 2007 farm bill, managing pests, and
contemplated the problem of the high prices of organic
food and how to rein them in without having to
compromise the end product.

But perhaps the most enlightening of the dozens of
lectures that took place on the Asilomar Conference
Grounds was that of Marion Nestle, a nutrition expert
with an assortment of degrees and the author of
numerous books on the politics behind the food

In a PowerPoint presentation to hundreds, she walked
the audience through grocery store aisles and pointed
out how several cereal companies misrepresent their

Even though it would appear that some of them have the
backing of the American Diabetes Association, the
reality is some cereal companies merely endorse the
association, and in return for their financial
contributions receive the privilege of using the
sticker even though the amounts of sugar within would
be more of a detriment to diabetics.

But the bottom line, she said, is that obesity is a
big problem in the United States and there's a reason
behind it: Bigger portions are available in a world of
Big Gulps and super-sizing, and it benefits the food
industry, which invests billions of $36 billion
annually in advertising.

"The deep dark secret is that the United States has an
overabundant food supply," said Nestle, who couldn't
help but pitch her upcoming book, "What to Eat," which
will be published in May.

It was these kinds of speeches, combined with a common
goal among many in the audience  to produce quality
food grown organically  that has made the conference
a success.

It attracts participants from the four corners of the
country  and beyond.

And then there were the locals like Jen Griffith and
Johnny Wilson, Santa Cruz residents and former UCSC
agricultural apprentices.

At a time when large corporations are co-opting the
word "organic" and capitalizing on the nutritional
value associated with the term, the pair said it's
important to make sure organic growers live by the
book, and follow what Griffith referred to as the
"original spirit of the movement.

"Everything should be community-based," she said. "The
food should be grown locally, and everything in the
end should be socially just and environmentally

Wilson hopes to start an educational gardening program
behind Waldorf School in Santa Cruz, where he and a
pair of like-minded friends will teach the children
how to grow and eat from the garden, while Griffith
will attend Camp Joy, an organic farm in Boulder Creek.

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