Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chef Michel Nischan

        Chef Michel Nischan has pioneered the sustainable food movement in Connecticut and beyond.  He is owner and founder of Dressing Room: A Homegrown Restaurant in Westport, CT. He is also President and CEO of Wholesome Wave Foundation whose mission is to increase access to fresh, affordable, and locally grown food. Author of three cookbooks, Michel was recently interviewed by Maria Rodale, CEO and Chairman of Rodale, Inc., a publisher with more than 26 million active customers, including readers of Men’s Health, Women’s Health, and Organic Gardening. In the interview, Michael is asked where he gets his news from. You know what his first answer is? Regional NOFA newsletters!   Please take the time to read this article. You can find it here -  
        Thank you Chef Michel Nischan for all of the hard work you do...and for the shout out!  
        Gleanings, CT NOFA's monthly newsletter, currently reaches almost 3,500 subscribers. If you would like to sign up, please visit our homepage It's free! All you have to do is type in your e-mail address on the right side of the homepage. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Q&A with Bill Duesing

Recently, CT NOFA's Executive Director, Bill Duesing, was in contact with a senior at Syracuse University. This student is completing a project for a class and decided to get in contact with Bill to get his expertise.

Dear Mr. Duesing,
I was wondering if you could answer some questions about organic foods versus conventional foods for a project I am doing for my Science and the Media class.
If so, here are the questions:
1. What are the nutritional benefits to eating organically versus not?
2. What are the primary negative effects to not eating organically?
3. When is it best to eat organically (if it isn't best to eat organically all of the time)?

Nice to hear from you.  Thanks for your questions. I'll try to answer them, but I'm not sure they are the right ones to be asking if you want to get to the value of organic agriculture.
      1. Among the main reasons for organic agriculture are the health of the environment and the health of farmworkers, who are otherwise often exposed to lots of pesticides. Two other reasons for organic agriculture that are increasingly important are because it does more to encourage biodiversity (we are losing that fast!) and because organic soil management fights climate change whereas conventional soil management and fertilizers make climate change worse.
What kind of organic food are we talking about out?  Organic fruits flown in from Chile, organic lettuce shipped across the country from California, organic frozen vegetables shipped from China, or the organic vegetables fresh picked from your garden or bought at the local farmers market?  There is probably a different story about nutritional benefits for each of them with various effects of age, packaging and transportation, and perhaps different enforcement of organic regulations in places like China.  Or are we talking about organic cookies? --Probably better to eat most any kind of fruit or vegetables. There was recently some research out of California about organic strawberries having more of some kinds of nutrients.  Other studies in Europe have also found more nutrients in some organic food.  At least some of that is related to the quality of the soil where they are grown. Commercial organic farms have better fruit and soil, lower environmental impact, study finds
      2. There was a study of children done on the West Coast.  Most had breakdown products from pesticides in their urine.  After some period of eating only organic food, those pesticide products disappeared from their urine.  Since many of the effects of pesticides, especially those which mimic our hormones (the endocrine disrupters) are subtle and may take a long time to show up, it is hard to identify a specific effect with a specific exposure. Another area of possible interest is the fact that many processed foods (up to 60 % of supermarket foods) are made with genetically modified ingredients, largely corn and soy.  There is a growing body of worrisome research about the effect of genetically modified foods on health.  GM foods are prohibited in organic.
The organic center is a good source of information,  They reference the strawberry study I mentioned as Today's Science Insight.  There are also things under the State of Science tab.
      3. As for your last question.  I'd say that meat and dairy products may be among the most important to buy organically raised since the industrial farming conditions are so horrible-crowded conditions, GM feed, often very inappropriate feeds (animals wastes and bi-products) and antibiotics.  I imagine that this is especially important for pregnant and nursing mothers and young children. The Environmental Working Group ( and has a list of the vegetables that are most contaminated with pesticides.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions.
-Bill Duesing

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

NOFA OLC's Annual Gathering

Corridors to Sustainability: Designing Within the Natural Context
The 2010 NOFA Organic Land Care Annual Gathering
Featuring Keynote Speaker Doug Tallamy

Come join the NOFA OLC program for their largest event of the year! 
The NOFA Organic Land Care Program will hold its Annual Gathering on Tuesday, December 7th, 2010 at the Student Union Building on the UCONN Campus in Storrs, CT from 8:00am - 4:30pm.  This is NOFA OLC's largest event, bringing together many of NOFA's Accredited Professionals and the public for a full day of informative speakers, collaboration, and networking.

United Nations has declared 2010 the "International Year of Biodiversity" in the face of the alarming loss of the Earth's biodiversity.  In support of this effort, the NOFA OLC Program has decided to focus its Annual Gathering on ways that land care professionals and others can fight this loss in the way they care for landscapes. Landscape related threats to biodiversity, such as habitat loss, alteration, and pollution from excessive pesticide use, as well as the widespread use of foreign plants
will be covered. 
Now more than ever, we as landscapers and land owners have an obligation to preserve habitat while enhancing the aesthetics of the landscapes we live in.  This year's conference will address how to preserve biodiversity as we design our landscapes.
Speakers for the day will include Dr. Michael Klemens (Ecological Thinking), Dr. Claire Rutlage (Emerald Ash Borer Update), Carolyn Summers, author of Designing Gardens with Flora of the American East (Gardens Filled with Life), Catherine Zimmerman, author of Urban and Suburban Meadows (Meadowscaping), Dr. Kim Stoner (Pollinators in the Landscape), and the Keynote Speaker, Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home; How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in our Gardens (Maintaining Curb Appeal). There will also be a 45-minute panel discussion with all speakers at the end of the day.

You can register for this event by calling (203) 888-5146. $85 for NOFA Accredited Professionals, $95 for the public. Lunch will be provided. For more information about the Annual Gathering and the NOFA OLC Program, please visit
The NOFA Organic Land Care Program is an environmental project of CT NOFA, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut.  It's mission is to extend the vision and principles of organic agriculture to the care of the landscapes where we live, work and play. 

 Please DOWNLOAD and pass along our:
Event Brochure
Full Press Release

Monday, October 25, 2010

Marble Valley Farm - Kent, CT

             Located at 170 Kent Road, the Marble Valley Farm is one of Connecticut’s many farms (organic certification pending).  Started in 2006, the farm is owned by the Kent Land Trust and operated by Megan Haney – pictured below.  
While the farm is only a few acres, it provides Litchfield County residents with salad greens, tomatoes, garlic, potatoes, winter squash and other vegetables, herbs and flowers through a CSA program and weekend Farm Stand.
            The CT Post recently featured a story on an artist (George Wittman) who will be spending a year painting various scenes on the farm. It’s nice to see even the small farms getting the recognition that they deserve! To read more about the project, follow this link -

Be sure to check out CT NOFA’s 2010-2011 Farm & Food Guide, an annual directory of organic and sustainably grown food in Connecticut. You can download it for free here -

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Organic Valley Gen-O Tour Stops in New Haven

Organic Valley is a farmer-owned cooperative of over 1,630 farm families across the nation.  Based on a profit sharing model (45% to farmers, 45% to employees, and 10% to the community), this “un-corporation” lists its goals as follows: Cooperatively marketing certified organic food, establishing farmer-determined food prices, encouraging an ecologically and economically sustainable future, enabling healthy living, practicing environmental awareness and cooperative principles, and promoting a respect for the interdependence of human, animal, plant, soil and global life.
 Focusing on local, organic produce, Organic Valley is connecting young farmers across America. Recently, the Generation Organic 2010 Tour stopped at Yale University for a Sustainable Farming presentation, tour of the “Gen-O” bus, and pizza social. You can read about it here -
 The bus is finishing up its tour in Washington, D.C today and heading home tomorrow!

Ripe Plates

Recipes in prose. It’s not something you hear about all of the time, but it’s a great idea. Life isn’t always about following a strict plan, so why should all of our recipes be? Kathryn writes with such ease that the recipes are easy to follow, but challenging at the same time. She tackles cooking with a cast iron skillet, baking sourdough bread, and making a “real” chicken soup. She even explains brewing tea!

 Doesn't that looks delicious? You can find the recipe for this Lamb Stew here -

 Be sure to check out the rest of her blog as well -