Show Us the Love – Tell Feds Recirculating Farms Can be “Organic”

Show your love for recirculating farms today – tell USDA – recirculating farms that meet USDA Organic standards should be eligible for the USDA Organic label!

Right now, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) – an advisory body to the U.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA) – on all things “organic” is discussing whether to prevent sustainable recirculating farms from being eligible for the USDA Organic label! It seems unthinkable that hydroponic and aquaponic farms that can not only meet, but in some instances beat existing organic standards should not be labeled USDA Organic! These farms can recycle water and waste, run on solar or other alternative energy, limit the need for antibiotics, fertilizers and pesticides and be located in otherwise unusable spaces for growing – like rooftops, and paved, rocky or small spaces. They prevent depletion of nutrients in soil and are both an answer to resilience in growing in an ever changing climate and contribute far less than other forms of farming to factors that hasten climate change. This all makes them an ideal match with USDA Organic principles. BUT some companies are fighting for their edge in the market and want to keep the organic label all to themselves. Please let the NOSB know you want all farms that can meet USDA Organic standards to be labeled USDA Organic – learn more and sign the petition here!

It’s Gotta Have Soul!

Tony Griffith casualMost black families I know strongly believe the way you season food comes from your soul. It’s the heart and love of the cook that makes the meal special. In my own family, “If it ain’t spicy, it ain’t good.” When I was a little boy, and I would be punished, usually for making too much noise, it was off to a chair in the kitchen, where my grandmother would be cooking for the family. This wasn’t really punishment to me, but it did keep me in one place so I couldn’t get into more trouble. I will never forget what seemed like magic, in my grandmother’s kitchen. There would be a pot on every burner, steam clouds to the ceiling, and always something boiling over (usually rice). My grandmother reminded me (as I look back) of a music conductor. If something steams too much, lower the fire or if something boils over, take the lid off or take the lid off AND lower the fire – you get the gist. In any case, she conducted her cooking and tended to it as seriously as if she was babysitting the most fragile and littlest of her grandkids. Food smoke and cloud puffs filled the ceiling and made for quite a scene. It would literally take her all day to get the entire meal prepared. The gas stove in my grandmother’s house would burn from AM to PM and then some, depending on what was on the menu that day. I recall we always had some sort of bean – red, kidney, white or butter. It was always the main course, over rice, with usually a variety of side meats – pickled, smoked or both.

My grandmother had a small garden in the backyard, before it was trendy, as did most of her neighbors. There she grew peppers, tomatoes and of course chayote (or as we say, mirliton). If she didn’t have something fresh in the garden, a trip to the Circle Food store was needed. This usually involved a series of buses to get across town. Making groceries, then loaded with bags, boarding a bus, and then another, or sometimes more, and then walking about a mile with both arms full of food for the family, to get back home and cook. Worth it? I don’t remember any leftovers!

Celebrate Black History Month!

Slide1President Ford designated February “Black History month” in 1976, but its roots date back significantly farther. The annual celebration came to be largely through the efforts of Dr. Carter G. Woodson. Born in 1875 in New Canton, Virginia, Woodson was one of the first African Americans to receive a doctorate degree from Harvard. He dedicated his career to the field of African-American history and lobbied extensively to establish Black History Month as a nationwide institution. Some say February was particularly chosen to coincide with both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’ birthdays, to acknowledge their roles in the abolition of slavery.  Black History Month is the expansion of an annual week in early February that was previously the time African American history and achievement were highlighted.

Black History Month is an important acknowledgement of African American culture, challenges and most notably, contributions in the United States. In celebration of Black History Month we are featuring a series of blog posts about food and farming from various African American authors. Check back weekly for new posts!

Our first blog post is from our Board President, Anthony “Tony” Griffith.

Hydroponics/Aquaponics – USDA Organic or Not?

slide1This week, the National Organics Standards Board (NOSB), an advisory body to the USDA on all things organic met to discuss whether some hydroponic and aquaponic farms could keep their organic certifications. Marianne Cufone, Recirculating Farms Coalition ED, was on the appointed Task Force that collected information and submitted a report for the NOSB on this matter. There were a number of articles discussing the issue – on the front page of New York Times, and National Geographic – and she wrote an op-ed that ran on CNN.com

What’s your take on the matter? Write in and let us know on Facebook!

Feds Consider Endangered Species Act Protection for Pacific Bluefin Tuna

In June, the Recirculating Farms Coalition, along with various other organizations petitioned the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect Pacific Bluefin Tuna under the Endangered Species Act, because the total population has plummeted to about 3% of its initial size. The effort, let by the Center for Biological Diversity, has resulted in the federal agency publishing a notice that the petition contains important scientific information and the requested action – listing Pacific Bluefin Tuna – may now happen soon. There is a 60-day period, open now, for the public to send in comments. Tell the Feds to save Pacific Bluefin Tuna and sign the CBD’s pledge that also asks restaurants to stop serving this depleted fish.