Friday, August 29, 2014

Vermont Food Fight

By Bill Duesing

The month after Vermont governor Peter Shumlin signed into law the country's first genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling bill with a firm effective date, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), the Snack Food Association (SFA), the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) sued in Federal Court to overturn the new law. This law is scheduled to take effect in 2016; there is no trigger clause requiring other states to pass similar legislation before it takes effect.

With foresight, the Vermont legislature established the Vermont Food Fight Fund to help defend the GMO Labeling Law.  A strong defense of Vermont's law should strengthen Connecticut's. You can contribute here. 

Why are these three multibillion dollar lobbying associations, representing the world's largest and most powerful corporations, suing to stop what the citizens want? After all, these citizens are their customers.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thank you for a wonderful weekend at Winvian!


Thank you everyone who attended our Special Culinary Fundraiser and Summer Gathering
CT NOFA had an incredible time at Winvian last weekend! Enjoy this short video and collection of photos to show our gratitude for your support!


Claire Criscuolo receiving the 2014 Organic Leadership Recognition Award    

The Big Picture

By Bill Duesing


We've been traveling around our beautiful country this summer.  Aside from the wonderful natural places, we've seen evidence of incredible wealth and of some big messes we've made and abandoned. 

From Texas west, the drought has dried up lakes, closed parks and seriously impacted forest health and agriculture.  There are so many decaying small towns.  Yet the supermarkets are well stocked, most even with a widening organic selection, and the container ships keep coming from Asia to fill store shelves, homes and the burgeoning number of self-storage facilities.

Center pivot irrigation systems help produce alfalfa, wheat and corn in the desert, until the aquifer dries up.  Long, long trains carry coal east across the top of Texas.  Other long trains there carry shipping containers to fill southern stores. During two days of driving, we passed full cattle trucks heading west and empty ones heading east. Must be to a big distant slaughterhouse. Everywhere there are ads for elaborate hamburgers.

It is clear that this is not sustainable.  We are now using the resources of one and a half Earths each year.  In the Houston area, it seems like they are working as hard as they can to use two Earths' worth of resources.  They are building highways in the sky.

Rock formations and Native American names remind us of the longer history of this land and of the enormous changes that have occurred.

I think that "The Big Picture" written nearly 20 years ago for The Natural Farmer is still relevant and useful in guiding our response to the serious challenges we face. 


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Auction Items for Sale!

We had a very successful silent auction this past Friday night at our Special Culinary Fundraiser! 

We do have a few items left that we are now selling at the minimum bid prices. 

We are selling items from Earth Tones Native Plant Nursery, Audubon Greenwich, the Litchfield Jazz Festival, Griffin Woodworks, Sisco & Berluti, and Lawrence Jeffery Estate Jewelers. 

To Purchase any of these items please call our office at (203) 308-2584

For a more details description of each item are after the jump...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Notable People at Winvian


By Bill Duesing

At the upcoming Winvian event, you will have the unique opportunity to hear from and visit with many notables, including two notable women who are pioneers and leaders in the local, sustainable and organic food movement. I've had the great pleasure of knowing, working with and being inspired by them for decades.

For over 40 years, their work has exemplified the holistic nature of the changes that are needed in our food system if we want a healthy future for people and the environment.  Both these women have inspired CT NOFA members.  They also remind us that this isn't a new or short term problem. 

In 1978, Joan Dye Gussow published her classic book, The Feeding Web: Issues in Nutritional Ecology. She was then and for several decades more the Mary Swartz Rose chair of the Teachers College nutrition program at Columbia University.  Her approach to nutrition was radical at that time and to some extent still is considering the narrow vision of many in the nutrition profession. 

Throughout her career, Joan has connected nutrition to farming, and health to the nature of the food system.  She inspired and educated many of our current food heroes.  Michael Pollen for example, said "Once in a while, I think I've had an original thought, then I look and read around and realize Joan said it first."

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Organic, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Conventional Agriculture: What are the differences?



by Bill Duesing

A recent study found that many people think that all local food is organic.  Others assume that all CSAs are organic, or that all the products at a farmers market are organic, or that IPM and organic are the same. None of this is true. And there's lots of confusion.

The Vegetable Management Guide for the New England Region provides much useful information not only for anyone who grows vegetables, and also for those who want to understand the differences between conventional, IPM and organic methods and produce. (The color photos of pests and diseases alone warrant a visit for anyone who grows vegetables or strawberries.)

The Guide is updated and published two years by the Cooperative Extension Services in the six New England states. A comprehensive guide for commercial vegetable growers, it is available free electronically or as a hard copy for a fee. Click here for details.

The Guide is intended for use by both organic and conventional growers.  It provides encouragement for conventional growers to use IPM practices, many of which can also be used by organic growers.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Going Underground by Bill Duesing, CT NOFA Organic Advocate

CT NOFA's Organic Advocate

Going Underground

By Bill Duesing

The more we understand about soil, the more important how we treat it becomes. 

New understanding and recent research point the way to more fertile soil, healthier crops and healthier people, as well as to a strategy to slow down climate change and adapt to the increasing deluges and droughts it brings. This knowledge may even help us produce better flavor in our crops - a more distinctive terroir or sense of place1.

The focus of this latest research is the rhizosphere, the incredibly active zone around plant roots that is filled with carbon-rich substances given off by roots and with the innumerable organisms - bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes and arthropods - attracted by those substances and organisms.

The best advice for obtaining these benefits: Disturb the soil as little as possible and keep it covered with a diversity of growing plants.