Organic Aquaculture

It’s no secret that consumers are becoming interested in organic foods.  Concerns over disease, GMOs, pollution and contaminants are causing a bigger demand for sustainable, organic, nature friendly alternatives.  However, it may be surprising to know that in 2007, organic aquaculture accounted for just 0.1% of total aquaculture.  There has been a rapid increase in this figure since then, but there are still massive hurdles that need to be jumped before the industry can have organic certification as accurate and reliable as agricultural produce. Currently, seafood is the only major food industry that has insufficient organic standards, or in some cases, lacks them completely. Although aquaponics was addressed from the agricultural perspective, The U.S. did not propose any standards specific to aquaculture until 2008. Canada didn’t set theirs until 2010, but the contradictions between the two countries create an even bigger headache for importers and marketers.  That hasn’t stopped anybody from selling “organic” fish, however.  “Organic” salmon has been on supermarket shelves since the early 2000’s, years before the U.S. even put any standards in place.  According the the USDA, that is not their problem.  As long as they don’t put a USDA organic label on it or imply that it meets U.S. standards, no rules are broken. The main problem lies in the fact that in order to have a certified organic animal, you have to feed that animal organic food too.  Since it is impossible to know what fish eat in nature, wild fish are unable to get certification.  The only other option lies in land based aquaculture.  However, until organic alternatives to fish meal, and fish...

Jo Robinson Essay Series: Super Natural Milk

Super Natural Milk By Jo Robinson Most cartons of milk in the supermarket show a picture of cows contentedly grazing on grass. In reality, 85 to 95 percent of the cows in the United States are now being raised in confinement, not on pasture. The grass they eat comes in the form of hay, and the ground that they stand on is a blend of dirt and manure. The reason for confining cows in feedlots and feeding them grain rather than grass is that they produce far more milk under these unnatural conditions. If you also inject them with bi-weekly hormones, standard practice in the dairy industry, they produce even more. Milk them three times a day instead of two and you have the tried and true formula for today’s Super Producers. On average, cows raised in confinement produce more than three times as much milk as the family cow of days gone by and 15 times the amount required to raise a healthy calf. But with so much emphasis on quantity, the nutritional content of our milk has suffered. One of the biggest losses has been in its CLA content. CLA, or “conjugated linoleic acid,” is a type of fat that may prove to be one of our most potent cancer fighters. Milk from a pastured cow has up to five times more CLA than milk from a grain-fed cow. To date, most of the proof of the health benefits of CLA has come from test tube or animal studies. But a few human studies have produced encouraging results. For example, French researchers compared CLA levels in the...

Ann Cooper and the Lunch Box

Ann Cooper and the Lunch Box Ann Cooper has a vision. Her vision is to “transform how we feed our children in school each day, from highly processes to highly nourishing food – one school lunch at a time.” She is widely known as “The Renegade Lunch Lady,” is an accomplished chef, and coordinator of a movement to provide parents, schools, and students with the tools to make their school food both healthy and delicious. The result of the latter has been www.thelunchbox.org . This site provides resources geared toward each individual audience and has featured articles, recipes, and links to a support community so that everyone and anyone can get involved in making a change in their own communities! Among the resources available are downloadable guides for Lunch Box initiatives. One of their most popular initiatives is Rainbow Days. This program sparks children’s excitement and interest in eating fruits and vegetables by getting them engaged in the process of eating. Students are encouraged to pick a “rainbow” of food from the salad bar. They can choose foods such as strawberries (red), carrots (orange), corn (yellow), avocado (green), blueberries (blue), and grapes (purple). Volunteers are stationed at the trash to hand out “I Made A Rainbow” stickers to those who finished eating their entire rainbow. Activities such as this one are innovative ways that Ann has been successful in changing kid’s ideas about their food. With this kind of direct engagement, Ann has seen so much success. Another of her projects is called Lets Move Salad Bars to Schools. This project has installed 1,414 salad bars in schools and...

Headlines 6/21/12

Our Introduction to Indoor Sustainable Agriculture class is going wonderfully this week, and it’s keeping the staff here very busy!  I spent yesterday teaching vermiculture, pest management and harvesting techniques to a wonderful group of entrepreneurs.  The day was done before I had time to post the headlines, so here they are today. Global Resources Stock Check A good visual on how quickly we will deplete our natural resources.  According to this BBC article, by 2030, the Arctic will be completely ice-free during the summer, and by 2050, one third of all land plant and animal species will be extinct due to climate change. Last Chance to Stop Sub-Sahara Food Crisis It’s the last chance to stop a great many things…  “As many as 18 million people are being hit by a growing food emergency in the Sahel region of Africa, international donors and campaigners said on Monday, calling for urgent action to prevent mass hunger in the vast area south of the Sahara desert.” The Seeds of Survival A fantastic article on the seeds freed slaves saved and planted…  “Ms. Hambrick-Jackson, 54, likes to recall what happened when she asked a group of second graders, “If you were going to free yourself and leave this plantation tonight, what would you bring with you to eat?  One of them said, ‘a bag of potato chips,’ ” Ms. Hambrick-Jackson said. “And I said: ‘No, this was the year 1810. They weren’t invented yet.’ Then they started to say hamburgers and hot dogs. I said no, no, no.” Illinois Dry Spell Could Kill Harvest “We’re walking the line between a disaster and...

Pardon our dust! We are a work in progress…

It’s been exciting to see more and more people visiting our site every day, and we thank you for your patience as we update and make changes.  You’ll notice that this site isn’t perfect yet, but bear with us as we work with our new formatting.  We are working hard on uploading our great original content to share with you.  Very soon you’ll be able to find videos, articles, podcasts, webinars and education opportunities on everything from aquaponics to sustainable ranching.  Keep checking back with us and share your feedback – we appreciate it! Best, Ariel...