What’s New in Michigan Organic

March 25- April 10, 2007



1.     Work on an Organic Farm!

2.     Organic Seed Sourcing: Researching Better Growth

3.     Green alert! Aphids already spotted

4.     Supermarkets see green in going green

5.     Buying organic

6.     Here's the real VMD diary, and the real title is "Pissed Off Farmers Fight Back."

7.     Yes, You CAN Test Every Cow For Mad Cow... Maybe

8.     Michigan Farmers Resist NAIS


10.                        Is organic food the real deal?

11.                        Whole colonies are vanishing across the country

12.                        Companies Offer “Farm Codes” Saying Where/How Organic Food is Grown.

13.                        Farmers discuss impact of milk bill Some say profits could more than double; others say it's a niche market

14.                          E. COLI PROBE FAILS TO SOLVE OUTBREAK

15.                        Antibacterial soap ingredient triclosan may be harmful to humans <;_ylc=X3oDMTJxb2VjMzJiBF9TAzk3MzU5NzE1BGdycElkAzE0OTEzOTg0BGdycHNwSWQDMTcwNzIzNDU3OARtc2dJZAM4NTAEc2VjA2Rtc2cEc2xrA3Ztc2cEc3RpbWUDMTE3NDY0MDA4MA--> 

16.                        The Big Fix: Secret Letter Exposes Major Organic Dairy Brands Lobbying 
USDA to Eliminate 30% Pasture Feed Requirement

17.                        COLLAPSING COLONIES Are GM Crops Killing Bees?


18.                         Statewide Hunger Conference-Blueprint To End Hunger in Michigan Tuesday, May 22, 2007

19.                        Permaculture Design Course 2007 in the Ohio Valley* July 6-14 & Aug 24 – Sept 1

20.                        MOFFA ANNUAL MEETING Saturday April 14, 2007, 5-7 PM

21.                        Food Labeling Workshop The Henry Center · July 19-20, 2007 · Lansing, Michigan

22.                        Slow Food Red Cedar Wednesday, April 18 at Student Organic Farm, Michigan State University Horticulture Research Farm, College Rd





1. Work on an Organic Farm!


Henry's Farm is looking for farm interns for the 2007 season.


Live and work on this beautiful organic vegetable farm in central Illinois and participate in every aspect of farm life from working in the fields planting, weeding and harvesting to selling the produce at the Farmers Market. And you'll get to eat the freshest, healthiest most delicious fruit, veggies, eggs, goat milk and meat on the planet-even more delicious because you helped grow it!


After one season on Henry's Farm, you'll know whether or not farming is really for you and you'll be close to having all the knowledge and experience you need to start your own farm someday.


Visit http:// < <> > to learn all the details.


2. Researching Better Growth

by Catherine Erhard
Organic Producer

With a new facility in the works, and new research underway, they are expanding and improving organic seed production in order to be a reliable source of quality seeds.  They offer great sales and services to organic farmers, while promoting and assisting organic agriculture.  Blue River Hybrids recognizes that organic farmers have different needs when it comes to growing with hybrid seed. Some brands of corn would have problems growing without pesticides and herbicides.  By selecting hybrids with natural insect tolerance and fast growing plants, this helps organic farmers control pests and weed growth. 

New seed products are being researched aggressively under organic conditions. Innovation is brought to the organic seed industry by offering Natural II seed coating to optimize performance. This product allows farmers to obtain a full season of growth.  The use of Natural II was reviewed as part of Blue River's organic certification by OCIA and was found to be eligible for use on organic seed.  Natural II is a seed coating designed as a pre-plant application to substantially improve the uniformity of growth and development, which ultimately results in better yields.  Blue River Hybrids is searching for more ways to improve the organic seed industry.  Current products available are field corn seed, alfalfa, soybeans, red clover, brown mid-rib Sudan grass, and grain sorghum varieties.  Of the many varieties, each is composed of various qualities such as high yielding crops, good emergence and stand-ability, early maturity, high stress tolerance and good performance under stress conditions.  The researchers are constantly looking for new genetics, and bringing new products to the organic market for enhanced seed performance and protection. 

3. Green alert! Aphids already spotted

Soybean Aphid Update - aphids emerging


Bob ONeill from Purdue reports aphids emergence on buckthorn in IN (3 sites), OH & MO.


In Michigan, yesterday I found tiny nymphs SBA at two locations near East Lansing.


Although we can't positively 100% ID these as soybean aphids yet (there is a sister species, the buckthorn aphid, that also overwinters on buckthorn), the sites in IN, OH, MO, and MI all had SBA on them in fall of 2006 - so some or all are likely SBA





Dr. Christina DiFonzo

Field Crops Entomology Program

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI   48824

4. Supermarkets see green in going green

Chain grocers boost organic offerings to meet customer demand

Jennifer Youssef / The Detroit News


Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News

Supermarkets are stocking their shelves with more organic products to meet growing demand from customers. Previously, organic food was sold primarily at specialty stores. See full image <javascript:NewWindow(600,600,'/apps/pbcs.dll/misc?url=/misc/zoom.pbs&Site=C3&Date=20070409&Category=BIZ&ArtNo=704090335&Ref=H3&Profile=1001');>  

5. Buying organic

Q: What does "organic" mean? 
A: The U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a program in 2002 that regulates the way food must be produced to bear the organic label. According to the USDA standards: 

  Organic food is produced with an emphasis on renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water. 

  Organic food is produced without conventional pesticides, fertilizers that use synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, genetically engineered components or ionizing radiation. 

  Organic meat, eggs and dairy items come from animals fed an organic diet and free of antibiotics and growth hormones. 

  Organic food producers must be certified by a U.S.-approved inspector. So must companies that process organic foods. 
Q: What do the labels mean? 
A: The USDA regulates the use of the term "organic" on food labels and packages. It doesn't regulate the terms "natural" and "all natural," except for meat and poultry, so those are no guarantee that a product is organically produced. Here are the USDA's organic labels: 

  100 percent organic: May only contain organically produced ingredients, with the exception of water and salt. These products can bear the green-and-white "USDA organic" seal. 

  Organic: Must be made of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. The remaining 5 percent must come from a USDA list of items that are not available organically -- cornstarch and baking soda, for example. These products also can bear the green-and-white "USDA organic" seal: 

  Made with organic ingredients: Must be made of at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients. 
Q: Where can I find more information? 
A: The USDA National Organic Program: <>  
St. Petersburg Times 

TROY -- Five years ago, Trudi Fornasiero of Shelby Township would spend all day scouring traditional grocery stores for organic products. If she did find them, the choices were few.

That's not the case anymore, as mainstream grocery stores -- among them Kroger, Farmer Jack and Meijer in Metro Detroit -- jump on the fast-moving organic bandwagon, responding to growing consumer demand for all things natural and chemical-free.

Large grocers are highlighting organic products in their weekly advertising circulars, giving organics more and better display space, and adding new products to keep customer interest strong. Three weeks ago, Meijer Inc. started selling its own brand of USDA-certified organic food, and last year Wal-Mart stocked all of its superstores with organic products.

"The amount of organic foods sold at Kroger has increased tenfold in the past five years," communications manager Dale Hollandsworth said. "It's the fastest-growing area in the store."

Sales of organic food have literally skyrocketed, jumping 15 percent to 20 percent each year since 1997. And "it's showing no signs of slowing down," said Bill Greer, spokesman of the Food Marketing Institute. "I think it's here to stay."

The challenge, he says, is for grocers to properly educate consumers about organic food, understand who their customers are and what they want and devise a marketing strategy to set themselves apart. Many stores have begun positioning themselves as health and wellness centers, setting up informational kiosks about nutrition and having health professionals on staff to talk to customers about dietary concerns.

Experts also say that because organic food sales are so healthy and expected to stay strong, there's room for the big grocers to join the game without squeezing out smaller specialty stores such as Metro Detroit-based Nino Salvaggio and national chain Whole Foods.

There's ample evidence that organic products are big sellers and getting bigger all the time. Organic food sales in the United States climbed 285 percent from 1997 to 2005, to $13.8 billion, according to the Organic Trade Association.

And more of that food is being sold at mainstream grocery stores.

A survey taken by the Food Marketing Institute last year showed that 53 percent of shoppers got their organic items from traditional grocery stores in 2006, up from 43 percent in 2004.

The trend caught the attention of officials at Grand Rapids-based Meijer. Three weeks ago, the company launched its own brand of organic foods such as ice cream, pasta and sauces.

"At this point, it's clear to us that our customers want organic," spokeswoman Stacie Behler said. "We wouldn't invest in our own brand if we didn't see growth potential."

Sterling Heights resident Sandra Bunn used to go to Trader Joe's in Royal Oak or Whole Foods Market in Troy to get her organic produce and dairy products. She was thrilled to discover that Meijer, which is closer to her home, sold some organic produce and now has its own brand of USDA-certified organic food.

"Now I don't have to drive all the way out to Oakland County," said Bunn, a homemaker. "I mean, of course I'll do it if my children's health is at stake, but it's nice to be able to go just about anywhere to get organic."

Success at big stores

At Kroger stores, employees can hardly keep organic items on the shelves before the next truckload comes in. Kroger has been selling organic food for several years, but not as much -- or at the same rate -- as it is these days, Hollandsworth said.

He said Kroger will keep offering new organic products if shoppers ask for them. After all, grocery stores are successful only if they give customers what they want, he said.

Customer interest and sales of organic products have steadily grown over the years at Farmer Jack, spokeswoman Angie Bournias said. "There's been a dramatic increase in the number of (organic) things available at the stores," she said.

Besides advertising organics in its weekly circulars, Farmer Jack tries to grab customers' attention by tagging organic items and placing signs throughout the store.

Plenty of customers

There's enough demand for organic products that smaller stores don't have to worry about chain grocers luring customers away, industry professionals said.

Ever since Lucy Kohn came to Michigan from her native Argentina seven years ago, she has bought only organic foods or foods grown at local farms. Kohn, 32, usually goes to Whole Foods Market or Nino Salvaggio to buy her food, but she's noticed that other stores such as Costco -- where she goes to get nonfood items -- have started selling more organic foods recently.

Still, Kohn prefers going to a specialty store or small grocer where someone can tell her where her food is coming from.

"I like getting vegetables from Nino Salvaggio because they work with small farmers and you know they don't use so many chemicals," said Kohn, of Rochester Hills.

Now that the mainstream grocers are aggressively going after the organics market, Troy-based Nino Salvaggio plans to make more noise about the hundreds of organic items it sells, said Fred Rayle, director of operations.

The grocer even sells 42 kinds of organic wine.

"We've been offering organic foods for a long time," Rayle said. "We just haven't gotten behind it and shouted about it."

The company is always putting new organic products in its four stores, Rayle said. Some newer items are organic sugar, lip balm and egg whites.

With a 25-year history of selling organic food, Whole Foods already has a solid reputation in that category, public relations specialist Kate Klotz said. The company differentiates itself from larger grocers and other specialty stores by offering a wider variety of organic items, special programs such as cooking classes and dietary programs for customers with medical issues.

In fact, Whole Foods Market welcomes the chain grocers' increased interest in organics, Klotz said, because they are reaching a bigger audience and creating a bigger market for organics.

"We don't see it as a threat at all," Klotz said. "It really just helps our business."

You can reach Jennifer Youssef at (313) 222-2319 or [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]> .



Vicki Morrone

Organic Vegetable and Crop Outreach Specialist

Michigan State University

C.S. Mott Sustainable Food Systems

303 Natural Resources Bldg.

East Lansing, MI 48824


517-282-3557 (cell)

517-353-3834 (fax)