How many fruits and vegetables do we really need? – Harvard Health

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Nutrition
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We often talk about how diets rich in fruits and vegetables are good for your health. But how much do you need to average per day to reap real rewards? An analysis from Harvard indicates that a total of five servings per day of fruits and vegetables offers the strongest health benefits.
The research, published online March 1, 2021, by the journal Circulation, pooled self-reported health and diet information from dozens of studies from around the world, which included about two million people who were followed up to 30 years.
Compared with people who said they ate just two servings of fruits or vegetables each day, people who ate five servings per day had
“Fruits and vegetables are major sources of several nutrients that are strongly linked to good health, particularly the health of the heart and blood vessels: potassium, magnesium, fiber, and polyphenols [antioxidant plant compounds],” explains Dr. Daniel Wang, lead author on the study and a member of the Faculty of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The most effective combination of fruits and vegetables among study participants was two servings of fruits plus three servings of vegetables per day, for a total of five servings daily.
The biggest health benefits came from eating leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach) and fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and beta carotene (citrus, berries, carrots). “These are primary sources of antioxidants that may play a role in preventing cancer,” Dr. Wang says.
Interestingly, eating more than five servings of fruits or vegetables per day didn’t seem to provide additional benefit in lowering the risk of death. Neither did eating starchy vegetables like peas, corn, or potatoes, or drinking fruit juices.
Also, understand that we’re talking about how much you eat on average. If during any particular day you have no fruit and vegetables, that’s fine: you won’t keel over. You can add a little more than usual on other days to raise your average for the week.
And you don’t need to make major changes to your typical meals: just minor changes. For example, breakfast could be a bowl of cereal with some blueberries, or perhaps eggs and sautéed tomatoes, onions, and spinach.
Lunch could be a salad with your favorite fruits and vegetables (perhaps kale and spinach salad with grapefruit chunks, red peppers, carrots, and pine nuts), a cup of yogurt with strawberries, or a smoothie with kale and mango.
At dinner, include a side salad or a large side of vegetables such as steamed broccoli or yellow squash and zucchini. If you haven’t had a chance to eat enough vegetables throughout the day, make your main meal a large salad with lots of colorful vegetables and some chunks of protein, such as grilled chicken or fish.
For dessert: fresh or frozen fruit is a delicious and healthful treat, especially with a dab of frozen yogurt.
If five servings per day is the goal, how much, exactly, is a serving? We spell that out for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in the table below (see “Fruit and vegetable servings”).
This can guide you in planning meals that include your favorites. Aim for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to get the best mix of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial nutrients in your personalized five-a-day plan.
Fruit (and serving size)
Apple (1 fruit)
Apricots (1 fresh, 1/2 cup canned. or 5 dried)
Avocado (1/2 fruit or 1/2 cup)
Banana (1 fruit)
Blueberries (1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned)
Cantaloupe (1/4 melon)
Grapefruit (1/2 fruit)
Grapes (1/2 cup)
Orange (1)
Peaches or plums (1 fresh or 1/2 cup canned)
Pear (1 fruit)
Prunes or dried plums (6 prunes or 1/4 cup)
Raisins (1 ounce)
Strawberries (1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned)
Vegetable (and serving size)
Broccoli (1/2 cup)
Brussels sprouts (1/2 cup)
Cabbage (1/2 cup)
Carrot juice (2–3 ounces)
Carrots (1/2 cup cooked, 1/2 raw carrot, or 2–4 sticks)
Cauliflower (1/2 cup)
Celery (2–3 sticks)
Corn (1 ear or 1/2 cup frozen or canned)
Eggplant (1/2 cup)
Kale, mustard greens, or chard (1/2 cup)
Lettuce (1 cup iceberg, leaf, romaine)
Mixed or stir-fry vegetables (1/2 cup)
Onion (1 slice)
Peppers (3 slices green, yellow, or red)
Salsa, picante or taco sauce (1/4 cup)
Spinach (1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw)
Squash, dark orange (winter) (1/2 cup)
Summer squash or zucchini (1/2 cup)
String beans (1/2 cup)
Tomato or V-8 juice (small glass)
Tomatoes (2 slices)
Tomato sauce (1/2 cup)
Vegetable soup (1 cup)
Yams or sweet potatoes (1/2 cup)
Source: Circulation, March 14, 2021 (published online ahead of print).
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
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Is organic food worth the hype? 8 shocking truths about your fresh produce – CNET

Do organic fruits and vegetables really taste different? Here’s what I found.
The organic label on produce means higher cost. But does it always mean higher quality? 
I spent two summers working on an organic farm near Nashville. During that time, I witnessed firsthand the meticulous cultivation of food as it traveled from the soil to a customer’s hand. I learned how to produce the food that feeds communities across the US. 
Before working there, I’d say I was obsessed with organic food. Trusting that it meant only wonderful things for the human body and the environment, I made sure everything I ate had the organic label. Plus, the process gives farmers more freedom. Even though I’m still a fan, I found that organic food isn’t always healthier. And it’s not always worth the higher price. 
The dirt road crunches under my tires as bales of hay welcome me back to the farm for another day of hard work. 
As part of CNET’s Made in America series, I want to lift the fog on the food that’s being grown in the US. From health to costs, there are a lot of rumors floating around about the concept of “organic” that may seem simple. It required some personal experience and research to find out the truth. According to a 2019 report from the Food and Drug Administration, domestic farmers provide about two-thirds of the vegetables we consume and just less than half of the fresh fruit. 
Here are eight organic food myths and what you really need to know. It could just improve the way you do your weekly food shopping. 
Standards for growing organic produce, a $62 billion industry in the US as of 2020, include a set of cultural, biological and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promoting ecological balance and conserving biodiversity. And yes, studies have found that there are higher antioxidant levels in organically grown foods. There’s also evidence that organic food has lower toxic, heavy metal levels and less pesticide residue, with organic eggs, meat and dairy products containing more good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids.
But that’s not always the case. Even processed foods, snacks and junk food labeled as USDA organic should still be consumed in moderation. The green label doesn’t automatically make a food healthy. For example, organic peanut butter cups still have high sugar and fat content.
Organic advocates insist that organic food tastes superior to conventional. But they’re not always correct. 
Though studies show the higher nutrient and antioxidant levels in organic food may be linked to having a more distinct, signature taste, food production is much more complex. It spans the entire globe, and different places bring different weather, soil and farming methods. Those variables are more likely to bring a vast range of quality and flavor. Rely on personal preference or experience instead of just looking for a label. 
Organic doesn’t mean 100% pesticide-free, but it does mean that any farming substances used must be completely nontoxic and safe. Organic farms rely on the PAMS system (prevention, avoidance, monitoring and suppression) — which is a preventative protocol against pests, disease and weeds — to use as few pesticides as possible, if they have to use them at all. However, if the first three steps aren’t sufficient, farmers can use substances approved by the US Department of Agriculture to ward off unwanted pests, weeds or disease. 
Those substances include pesticides made up of naturally occurring microorganisms and insecticides naturally derived from plants. And there are synthetic substances that are safe to use. See the USDA’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for a deep dive.
There’s also a chance that the type of produce you’re consuming can free you from worry about pesticides. Produce like pineapples, avocados, onions and more are renowned by testers each year for their lack of pesticide residue due to thick or inedible skins that provide a protective layer. These foods are also washed or peeled before testing, which removes most of the pesticide residue. 
Some pesticides can be used in organic food. When in doubt, ask the vendor.
It’s not just produce that you’ll see labeled as organic in the grocery store. You can find the label on things like organic pancake mix, as well as crackers and other snacks. But even though a bag of chips has the green USDA stamp of approval, that doesn’t mean every crumb has organic origins. 
For a processed product to be certified organic, a minimum of 95% of the product (excluding salt and water) must be made from organic ingredients and the remaining portion must be made from USDA-approved substances. These nonorganic additives can be approved by the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for two common reasons. 
First, some nonagricultural additives may be necessary for some foods, such as citric acid or baking soda in chocolate chip cookies. Also, some additives aren’t commercially available in the form producers need them. In that case, a nonorganic alternative can be used instead, but only as long as it’s on the USDA’s list of approved ingredients (like carrot juice coloring or fish oil).
The USDA has distinct criteria for a food to be labeled organic. As a USDA spokesman explained, foods must be: 
The only guaranteed natural strawberry flavor is from the berry itself. 
The USDA has murkier guidelines for items labeled natural.
For meat, eggs and poultry, they must be minimally processed, with no artificial ingredients. Other foods can be labeled natural, but the USDA has no standards or regulations for them. That means it’s up to a manufacturer to assert that its natural products are free from artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, as per the FDA’s general policy on the term.
For example, a strawberry flavored protein bar may be labeled natural but contain actually no trace of real strawberries. 
The bottom line: Natural means nothing beyond producers’ promises — you’ll have to take their word for it. 
Tomatoes are notorious for making the Dirty Dozen list. 
If you’re an avid organic shopper and think absolutely everything has to be organic, think again. Though major stores may sell organic and conventional versions of the same product, sometimes the organic label isn’t worth the extra cents or dollars, especially if you’re on a budget. 
Foods with thick or inedible skins don’t have to be organic because they’ll have little pesticide residue, as I mentioned earlier. And just as the USDA washes produce before testing, so should you at home before eating. Every year, the Environmental Working Group, a third-party organization that conducts annual tests on a variety of foods for pesticide residue levels, reports which have the most residue (the Dirty Dozen list) and the least (the Clean Fifteen). 
A good takeaway: Buy the Dirty Dozen produce organic, and buy the Clean Fifteen food conventionally. That way, you can shop organic where it matters and save money where it doesn’t. 
Though the price gap is closing, organic food typically costs more than conventionally grown products (about 7.5% more in 2018). There are several reasons for this:
Many of the largest grocery chains have their own generic brands of organic products, such as Publix’s Greenwise, Walmart’s Great Value Organic and Safeway’s O Organics. They still have the green USDA seal as independent organic brands, but they generally cost less. So, if you’re on a budget, they’re a good swap to make. 
There are also companies that deliver organic produce and products to your door, like Misfits Market and Thrive Market, at a discounted price. And as I said, buying only from the Dirty Dozen list will keep more bills in your wallet. 
After two summers of selling produce, I’m a firm believer that people of every lifestyle can budget to shop organic — from fresh whole foods to packaged goods. I met regular shoppers of every background and budget. Shopping organic isn’t an exclusive club for the wealthy; it’s for whoever gets there first before the shelves and stands are raided!
Growing lemon balm in my garden the old-fashioned way, and with all-organic soil and seeds. However, it doesn’t brandish the USDA seal.  
Organic agriculture was actually the norm for thousands of years. Over the last century, though, the introduction of synthetic pesticides and genetically modified organisms in agriculture changed farming practices drastically. 
After decades of increasing concern over GMOs, Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990. This created a national standard for organically produced food and materials. 
However, the guidelines for what’s truly “organic” as we know it today were only really established in 2002 when the OFPA board members wrote in finalized rules and regulations. Now there are strict standards a producer must follow to brandish the green seal. 
Whether you choose to buy organic, here are some good general practices to follow when making your trek to the grocery store: 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Proving naysayers wrong: Marquette organic grain business shows ‘it can be done’ – Grand Island Independent

Grain Place Foods provides a large variety of organic and non-GMO products such as oats, popcorn, and even honey. The Marquette business has worked to make what seems impossible, possible, including innovating their processing machinery.
MARQUETTE — Time and time again, Grain Place Foods in rural Marquette has heard the phrase, “It can’t be done.”
It’s a phrase tossed at the company by potential clients for years, but Grain Place Foods has taken up the challenge and shown that yes, it can be done.
It began with a farm (that still exists) in 1954, when CEO David Vetter’s father started converting to organic crops. Several years down the road, in the 1960s, Vetter’s father had a recurrence of malaria contracted during World War II. “He spent most of 1960 in the VA hospital, so he had to quit farming. I came back after graduate school and then started farming in 1975. And then we started converting foreign backed organic grain.”
A short time later, Vetter decided there must be a better way than farming a small number of acres (the farm still exists as “The Green Place”). “We weren’t in it very long, realizing that if we were going to make it work on a small farm, less than 280 acres, I think, we were going to have to find a way to add value. So we started putting together a cleaning operation.”
David Vetter, CEO of Grain Place Foods in Marquette, tells the story of his company, which started out as a small-scale organic farm. In the backgroud hangs a map showing the corners of the world where Grain Place Foods products have been distributed. 
At that time, there were few options for this that served organic operations, and getting the raw product ready for customers was an endeavor, Vetter said.
“We hauled all around the area driving two hours one way, cleaning truck load, loaded by hand, haul it back, unload it, load the truck back up and do it again the next day to get orders ready for our customers.”
Their first customer was a company that owned a product commonly seen in grocery store refrigerator cases.
“Our first big customer was a little company known as White Wave. You’re probably familiar with them now.”
At that time, White Wave was the original company behind Silk non-dairy milk, like oatmilk and soy milk.
“We were among the first soybean suppliers to White Wave company back in 1977,” Vetter said. “In less than five years, his company’s growth was so great he couldn’t stay in business.”
The White Wave owner sold the company in the late 1990s.
In the mid-1980s, Grain Place Foods took advantage of a trend in food consumption, Vetter said.
“That was at a time when the craze was oats and oat bran. We decided we were going to do organic rolled oats and oat products, so we did oat bran and we did rollouts of a couple of different varieties, and have partnered with another small company up in the Dakotas to do the dehulling and bring them down here for us,” Vetter said. “We use a different process for traditional steam cooking process.”
The processing center for Grain Place Products contains top-of-the-line grain cleaning and storage equipment, such as this machine that is able to separate grains automatically by detecting color variations.
Grain Place Foods consulted with someone in the industry, who said the oats couldn’t be processed that way with Grain Place Foods’ machinery. Again, Vetter and Grain Place Foods proved it could be done.
“Now we’ve been doing that for almost 30 years.”
In the beginning, The Green Place supplied the grains for Grain Place Foods’ production — about 85-90%, Vetter estimated. Now, he said, the farm supplies only about 1% of raw product. Crops handled by Grain Place Foods today include red and white winter wheats, barley, whole grain rice and rolled grains like rolled oats.
“Early on for us our big market was whole soybeans, popcorn and corn and wheat,” Vetter said.
In 1990, the company was approached by Greg Harrison of C.J. Foods about organic bird food, Vetter recalled. “He told me what he wanted to do. He said, everybody else we’ve talked to you says it can’t be done. And then he said, ‘Can you do it?’ Looking at it quite a bit I said, ‘Well, number one, I don’t understand why it can’t be done. But number two, I don’t have a clue how to do it. But if you’re willing to help us figure it out, we’ll try it.’”
It turns out, it could be done.
“We’re making about 2 million pounds a year,” Vetter said.
“Probably now about half of our business is high value, pet foods,” Vetter said. “We make a line of companion bird diets for a company based in Tennessee.”
Grain Place Foods CEO David Vetter’s goal at the company is to provide customers with organic grain products that are grown in an ecologically regenerative manner. He says Grain Place Foods likes to work with businesses with the highest of standards.
That includes bird “cake mix,” Vetter said. “It bakes like a cake. It works great in a cupcake tin or a small loaf tin. It’s really amazing product because that’s the only product that macaws from the wild can eat. When they are put on a good diet they can raise their own young in captivity, but it’s also probably the most expensive on the market.”
Bird food is the predominant product of Grain Place Foods that goes to Japan, though rolled hot breakfast cereals have also proven popular.
Popcorn is another staple put out by Grain Place Foods. Organic microwave popcorn — both white and yellow varieties — are packaged on-site, and a lab dedicated to popcorn testing is filled with measuring and analyzing equipment, a testing popcorn popper and a delicious aroma. Popcorn was one of Grain Place Foods’ first products, when there were multiple small popcorn outfits scattered across Nebraska, Vetter said.
“There were probably 30 little popcorn companies scattered around the state, oftentimes set up in old wooden grain elevators. We worked with a couple of those. They took their portrayed popcorn that didn’t pop well and sold a lot to companies that ended up in cornmeal. We shipped a lot of that into into Lebanon.”
Their Lebanese customers in the 1980s had special packaging requests, however, Vetter said. “The big Middle East warzone was Lebanon. Popcorn was shipped in 50 pounds burlap bags that were lined.” Why? The empty bags were re-purposed into sandbags to help fortify locations in the war-torn nation.
Penny Davis of Grain Place Foods watches over the belt conveyor system used to package bags of microwave organic popcorn.
Grain Place Foods also helped Quinn Snacks get off the ground, Vetter said. “We worked closely with Quinn to help them get started. Kristy Lewis formed that company and she started with an idea while she was pregnant with her first kid. We helped her get started. Great, great, great, great, energetic young woman to work with. She’s pretty amazing.”
Vetter said the outlook for organic grains is full of potential.
“I expect to see growth. We have a shortage right now,” he said, citing the organic soybean market as an example. “There are some big trade disputes going on with the supply of organic soybeans coming out of India, which it looks like have been artificially price supported. They really undercut the market and the price for domestic growers — at one point about 60%, I believe, with the highest number of the soybeans that were used to make organic feed or feed ingredients in processing are imported, because when there wasn’t enough domestic supply when it could have been grown here.”
Vetter also said organic product companies seem to have an especially high standard for what goes into their products.
“We’ve got companies that are committed that we do work with to using high quality ingredients, and they’re willing to pay what it takes to do that. They’re willing to pay a fair price, but their standards are high and they demand a lot. Sometimes they’re frustrating to work with, but that’s the kind of company you want to work for.”
While Grain Place Foods has been an immense success in terms of pounds and production, for Vetter it’s something else he finds most satisfying.
“The most rewarding thing is figuring out how to do stuff people said we couldn’t do. We have a couple of customers right now because everybody else they talked to said it can’t be done, so I kind of like that piece. Right now we’re making it work great.”
jessica.votipka@theindependent.com
Jessica Votipka is the education reporter at the Grand Island Independent. She can be reached at 308-381-5420.
Where to find its products:
Grain Place Foods: 1904 Highway 14 (south and east of Marquette), 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; facility tours available; 888-714-7246;
Aurora Mall: 1320 16th St., Aurora
Natural Food Products: 707 W. State St., Grand Island
Online: https://grainplacefoods.com/
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Jessica Votipka is the education reporter at the Grand Island Independent. She can be reached at 308-381-5420
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Grain Place Foods provides a large variety of organic and non-GMO products such as oats, popcorn, and even honey. The Marquette business has worked to make what seems impossible, possible, including innovating their processing machinery.
David Vetter, CEO of Grain Place Foods in Marquette, tells the story of his company, which started out as a small-scale organic farm. In the backgroud hangs a map showing the corners of the world where Grain Place Foods products have been distributed. 
The processing center for Grain Place Products contains top-of-the-line grain cleaning and storage equipment, such as this machine that is able to separate grains automatically by detecting color variations.
Grain Place Foods CEO David Vetter’s goal at the company is to provide customers with organic grain products that are grown in an ecologically regenerative manner. He says Grain Place Foods likes to work with businesses with the highest of standards.
Penny Davis of Grain Place Foods watches over the belt conveyor system used to package bags of microwave organic popcorn.
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Canning Soup? Watch Out for These Common Pitfalls – Lancaster Farming

The convenience of canned soup makes cooking and meal preparation easier on busy days. Ingredients and preparation techniques determine the safety of home-canned soup. Many food preservers would like to replicate soups found in the deli or supermarket. However, there are some commercially prepared foods that just cannot be reproduced safely by the home canner. Creamed soups are not suitable for home canning because their ingredients interfere with the proper transfer of heat during the processing step and can result in food-borne illness. Freezing soups with problem ingredients is a safer option.
Let’s look at some problem ingredients in home-canned soup. Flour and other thickening agents prevent heat from penetrating to the center of a jar and interfere with the destruction of bacterial spores that cause botulism. Never add thickening agents to a home-canned product before processing. Wait until you are ready to prepare the food for serving to add flour, cornstarch or other thickening agent. The only exception to this rule is when a scientifically research-tested recipe calls for Clear Jel, as in pie fillings or small amounts of thickener in a few relish recipes. So, the exception does not apply to soups.
Foods high in starch interfere with heat processing. That eliminates the use of noodles, alphabet noodles, spaghetti or other pasta, rice, barley, etc. in home-canned soups. Therefore, avoid canning chicken noodle soup, minestrone soup or beef barley soup. Add noodles or any type of pasta, rice or dumplings to canned soups or stews at serving time.
Butter, milk, cream cheese and other dairy products are low-acid foods that should never be added to home-canned soups before processing. Add butter and milk to soup just before serving.
We already eliminated condensed soups with thickeners and dairy products. But avoid canning a condensed vegetable or chicken corn soup. Only fill a jar half full of solids. Add broth or other hot liquid to fill jar, allowing 1-inch headspace. There needs to be space for the hot liquid to circulate between the particles of food.
Never can soup in half-gallon jars. The jars are too large for heat to be evenly distributed throughout the jar, and pressure canners are too shallow to accommodate the height of the jar. Also, there are no research-based protocols developed for using half-gallon jars for low-acid foods.
Thickened or cream of tomato soup should not be canned. Instead, can tomato juice, tomato vegetable juice blend or crushed tomatoes (without added vegetables). When you want to make the soup, open the jar of tomato product and add whatever seasoning vegetables and thickeners desired. A good cream of tomato soup is made by pouring the heated tomato mixture into a heated white sauce.
Other soups to avoid canning are pumpkin, winter squash, broccoli or cauliflower. These vegetables pack together and the soups contain ingredients that interfere with safe processing. There are not scientifically research-tested recipes for canning these soups. Instead, freeze them.
Vegetable soups in a broth base may be safely canned using the processing time for the ingredient that takes the longest process time as an individual ingredient. Sometimes a research-tested recipe will reduce this time. Most soups will take 60 to 90 minutes to process in a pressure canner depending upon jar size and ingredients.
Traditional vegetable soup can be safely canned. It is made with cut-up pieces or small vegetables in a broth base. Choose your favorite vegetables and prepare each as you would for a hot pack method if canned. Cooked meat or poultry without fat can also be added. If dried beans or peas are used, they must be rehydrated first. Combine the prepared vegetables, cooked meat, if desired, and enough hot water, broth, tomatoes or tomato juice to cover. Boil 5 minutes. Add salt to taste, if desired. Fill hot jars halfway with the solid (vegetable) mixture. Continue filling with hot liquid, leaving 1-inch of headspace. Remove air space. Wipe jar rims and adjust lids. Process pints for 60 minutes (or quarts for 75 minutes) in a dial-gauge pressure canner at 11 pounds pressure, or in a weighted-gauge pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure. If cooked seafood is added as part of the solid mixture, processing time must be 100 minutes. Adjust pressure for higher altitudes.
If you have food preservation questions, a home economist is available to answer questions on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., by calling 717-394-6851 or writing Penn State Extension, Lancaster County, 1383 Arcadia Rd., Room 140, Lancaster, PA 17601.
The Well Preserved news column is prepared by Penn State Extension.
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Potato lovers don't have to worry: Researchers are trying to produce a climate change-resistant vegetable – Economic Times

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Part 1: The organic food industry's rejection of modernity – Genetic Literacy Project

The rapid advance of technology has enriched our daily lives. We can take pictures and videos with a cell phone, we can surf the internet, organs can be transplanted, genetic engineering can be utilized to develop vaccines, while windmills and solar panels are altering the way we generate electricity, 5G will revolutionize telecommunications, streaming services allow us to watch movies in our own homes and robots and artificial intelligence are changing the workplace. 
There is only one group that rejects the onrush of modernity and technology and that is the organic community of farmers, processors, retailers and marketers (as well as their lobbying organizations), which believes the old ways are the better ways and wishes to turn back the clock to a supposedly idyllic time where small family farms proliferated and produced most of the food we consumed.  

This is the first part of a two-part series. Read part two here: The hypocrisy of opponents of genetic engineering for food


Farming has always been a very difficult business, particularly given the vagaries of the weather and crop prices. But it has only been through the application of science and new technologies that farmers have been able to steadily increase productivity and produce more food at a time when the number of people engaged in farming has plunged. This is one of the major reasons organic farming is less productive than “conventional” farming. It rejects the application of new innovative technologies such as biotechnology which has allowed the expansion of food production. 
Many proponents of organic farming even reject hydroponics–crops grown solely in water–because they are not grown in soil. In May 2021, the Center for Food Safety and a group of organic farmers appealed a court ruling that the USDA did not act unreasonably when it refused to prohibit the organic certification of hydroponic agriculture. They claimed the USDA is in violation of the Organic Foods Production Act because hydroponic agriculture “undermines the law’s stipulation that organic farming enhance soil fertility.”           
There is no reason why organic farming cannot adopt modern biotechnology methods other than stubborn adherence to “orthodoxy,” which in the long run will undermine the entire industry. This is because organic farming will not be able to compete with the crops that will be grown via genetic engineering, which hold out the promise of creating crops that are insect, browning and drought resistant, make their own nitrogen, are more nutritious, colorful and tastier and have a longer shelf life. These crops can only be created in the laboratory and not through conventional breeding methods. 
Pairwise, a biotechnology agriculture company, based in North Carolina, is working on developing via genetic engineering seedless blackberries, pit less cherries and tastier greens. 
Calyxt, headquartered in Minnesota, has developed a gene-edited soybean oil that contains approximately 80 percent oleic acid and up to 20 percent less saturated fatty acids compared to commodity soybean oil, as well as zero grams of trans fat per serving. 
In 2019, Cibus, another agriculture biotechnology company, headquartered in California, developed via gene-editing three new traits for canola that can increase crop yields and reduce harmful environmental impacts.  According to a company press release:
“The new traits precisely edit the canola genome to reduce pod shatter, the tendency of canola seed pods to open pre-harvest that can reduce yields by as much 40 percent, build resistance to Sclerotinia, a disease called white mold, that can reduce yields by as much as 50 percent, and introduce an improved weed control system, as competition with weeds for nutrients and sunlight can reduce yield of canola.”
The Camelina plant has been genetically modified to produce omega-3 which are normally sourced from fish oil. This development might help to ease overfishing. 
Genetic engineering will be able to produce disease resistant crops by manipulating the genetic make-up of plants. The papaya industry in Hawaii was saved from being decimated by ringspot virus by a genetically modified variety that is resistant to the virus. CRISPR/Cas 9 technology has been used to confer late blight resistance to potatoes. Genetic engineering may be the only means of saving the Cavendish banana from being decimated by Panama disease and oranges from citrus greening.
An article in the Phytologist journal entitled, “Genetic modification to improve disease resistant crops, noted:
Plant pathogens are a significant challenge in agriculture despite our best efforts to combat them. One of the most effective and sustainable ways to manage plant pathogens is to use genetic modification (GM) and genome editing… expanding the breeder’s toolkit.”
Genetic engineered solutions to the scourge of crop diseases that cost farmers billions of dollars of losses would not be available to organic farmers because of the rejection of the use biotechnology in cultivating their crops. 
Organic farmers will also not be able to avail themselves of using animals for dairy and meat that have received genetically engineered vaccines. About 20 percent of cows and other livestock are lost to disease every year.   
A 1988 article from Critical Reviews in Microbiology that could now be considered a classic entitled, “New approaches to animal vaccines utilizing genetic engineering”, stated:
Control of infectious diseases in livestock is an important determinant in the success of a nation’s effort to efficiently meet its need for animal products. Genetic engineering offers many new options in the design of animal vaccines. Monoclonal antibodies, DNA cloning, recombination, and transfection are examples of techniques that facilitate innovative strategies in antigen identification, production, and delivery.
The organic industry will also not be able to take advantage of using animals that have been genetically engineered to be heat tolerate, grow faster like the GMO salmon, and develop more muscle mass. 
In December, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration approved genetically engineered pigs for use in food and medical products. The pigs, developed by Virginia-based Revivicor, can be used in the production of drugs, to provide organs and tissues for transplants, and to produce meat that’s safe to eat for people with meat allergies. 
Meanwhile, a Japanese company is selling a genetically engineered red sea bream that has 20 to 60 percent more meat and whose feed utilization efficiency is 14 percent greater than conventionally grown bream.
In a world in which plant-based “meat” will garner a growing share of the meat market, the organic good industry will not be able to fully participate in providing basic ingredients, such as soybeans, potatoes and peas, because many of the processes involved in creating such “meat” use genetic engineering. Impossible Burger, for instance, uses GMO technology to create a soy-based heme which makes its burgers bleed.     
An article by IDTechEx Senior Technology Analyst Michael Dent,  “Emerging Technologies Set to Shape Next Generation of Plant Based Meat,” noted: 
Genetic engineering technology has great potential for producing new proteins and allowing animal-free production of ingredients usually derived from animals. Perfect Day is using recombinant technology…to create vegan dairy products that contain the exact same proteins as their animal-derived counterparts, creating realistic tastes and textures. Clara Foods is taking a similar route, using genetically engineered yeast to produce vegan egg white proteins. Beyond this, genetic engineering technologies such as CRISPR and TALEN could help create crops optimized for plant-based meat production, such as increased protein content, fewer off-flavors, or boosted nutritional profiles.
The organic food industry remains steadfastly opposed to the use any form of genetic engineering to grow crops. In 2019, for example when U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary Greg Ibach suggested that gene-editing should be considered for use in organic food production, The Organic Trade Association issued a statement that said it  “maintains its long-held position that any gene-editing techniques not be allowed in organic production.” Harriet Behar, the chair of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) chair, said, 
We’ve made it very clear, and the organic community has public comment that gene-editing and CRISPR should be an excluded method…The organic community works with natural systems, and we don’t feel the need for this type of genetic engineering.
Despite the long-held and vigorous opposition to genetic engineering, the organic food industry may ultimately have to reassess its position or else it will be digging itself into a grave of obsolesce. Prices for organic food are already much higher than for conventionally grown food. As a result, it has only been able to capture a small percentage of the food market. According to the Organic Trade Association, “nearly 6% of all food sold was certified organic” in 2020. One of the reasons for the higher costs is the low productivity of organic farming. 
A plethora of crops developed by means of genetic engineering will come to the market in the near future that are nutritional, taste and color enhanced, drought tolerant and browning and disease resistant, all of which organic produce will not be able to compete with. The organic food industry needs to set aside its orthodoxy and its devotion to dogma against genetic engineering or else it will never break out of the small niche share it has in the food market and might even slip into irrelevance.  
Steven E. Cerier is an international economist and a frequent contributor to the Genetic Literacy Project.
The GLP featured this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. The viewpoint is the author’s own. The GLP’s goal is to stimulate constructive discourse on challenging science issues.
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Nantaise carrot from Grasseval: a new organic variety – FreshPlaza.com

Bio Loire Océan, an organization of 70 producers of organic fruit and vegetables, is launching a new variety: the Nantaise carrot from Grasseval.

Created by Nicolas Oran, organic producer in Corné (Loire-Authion), under the aegis of Bio Loire Océan, this new variety is the result of a long selection process on farmers’ seeds. It required nearly 15 years of research, in collaboration with Agrocampus West IRHS (Research Institute in Horticulture and Seeds) and the “Carrot and other Daucus” network.

Semi-long, crunchy, slightly sweet, smooth and with a juiciness of the “Nantaise” type, it bears the name of the small township where it was created, on the farm of Nicolas Oran and Camille Sourdin.
For more information:
Association Bio Loire Océan
bioloireocean.fr
 
© Association Bio Loire Océan
Publication date: Mon 29 Nov 2021

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Organic almonds net higher price, but transition is risky – West Side Index & Gustine Press-Standard

Areas of dense morning fog. Sunny. High 69F. Winds light and variable..
A clear sky. Areas of patchy fog. Low 42F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: November 30, 2021 @ 5:35 am
Organic almonds bring in more money but are difficult to grow, leaving some farmers pondering a switch to natural production.
Organic almonds bring in more money but are difficult to grow, leaving some farmers pondering a switch to natural production.
Lower market prices for conventional almonds may motivate more growers to consider going organic, which still commands a premium. But production challenges and other economic factors continue to make the transition a risky endeavor for some farms.
Demand is still increasing for organic almonds, marketers and others in the business say. But state production remains tiny—and has been for years. Organic almonds represent about 1% of total state production of the nut, with bearing acreage in 2019 at 15,206, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Because supplies are small, Big Tree Organic Farms in Stanislaus County, which markets organic almonds, has consistently looked to sources outside California, often overseas, to satisfy demand, said Susan Cook, a sales representative for the company.
California remains the world’s top almond producer. But with farmers removing their trees due to water shortages, Cook said she expects state organic almond acreage will drop.
Limited state production has hampered growth, she said, as it has resulted in pricing volatility. Some food companies looking to use organic almonds have been reluctant to do so.
“The market could go sky high,” Cook said. “The demand could go even further, but a lot of these larger companies say the production is not stable enough for them.”
That may be changing, however. With conventional almond prices less profitable for farmers in recent years and organic almond prices remaining “relatively stable,” Joe Gardiner of Treehouse California Almonds in Tulare County said he’s seen more grower interest in producing organic almonds. He said he expects to see “significantly more” organic almond acreage come online in the next few years as new plantings enter into production.
“When you’re looking at $1.50 (a pound) return for conventional almonds compared to a $4 return on organic, it starts to incentivize growers to say, ‘Maybe I should do a little bit into organic,'” he said.
Gardiner’s business grows and handles organic and conventional almonds. His family jumped into organic “rather heavily” five years ago by converting several hundred acres, which he said will be tripled by next year. The transition represents a substantial, long-term financial investment, he said, with expectations of lower yields and higher production costs and questions about whether stability of organic pricing will hold.
Learning how to apply organic fertilizers and get nutrients to the trees remains a struggle, he said. Dealing with increased disease pressure is another.
“I think there’s still quite a few unknowns that make it a risky transition or not a very comfortable decision” for growers, Gardiner said.
Steve Koretoff of Purity Organics in Fresno County, which grows, processes and markets organic almonds, said he’s also seen more growers transitioning to organic during the last several years because of the “potential for slightly higher profitability per acre.” He said he thinks organic almond production is now “pretty close” to market demand.
But he acknowledged production challenges remain, with 25% to 30% lower yields for organic compared to conventional. Getting enough nitrogen to the soil represents one of the biggest challenges to organic production, he said.
Even though organic almonds continue to earn a premium to help offset the lower production, Koretoff said grower prices last year “dropped significantly” along with conventional prices due to the larger crop. The decline in price made it “very difficult for a lot of growers to make a profit,” he said.
Though prices are expected to rise this year, he said growers now face soaring production costs in fuel, labor, materials and transportation.
One of the best ways to bolster organic production, Koretoff said, is for growers to be successful. But with California agriculture facing water shortages and other challenges, organic may not be the right choice for every farmer.
“At the end of the day, the price really makes the decision,” Koretoff said. “Until we get the water situation in California figured out, I think we’re going to actually see a decrease in acreage.”
Some progress has been made to help farmers grow organic almonds, said Brent Holtz, University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor in San Joaquin County, who authored a cost study on organic almond production. For example, mating disruption tools now represent a viable pest control option to combat the destructive navel orangeworm, with a couple of products available for organic production. But farmers still need better and more cost-effective ways to control weeds and address crop nutrition, he added.
His general advice has been for growers to start their orchard conventionally for the first two to three years so they can control weeds, soil-borne diseases and other problems that can severely stress young trees and reduce their growth. They can then make the transition to organic the next three years and be certified by their fifth or sixth year when the trees begin to reach peak production.
“You’re not going to have a crop your first two years anyway, so I’d concentrate on growing that tree,” Holtz said.
Historically, very little investment has gone into organic agriculture compared to conventional, said Houston Wilson, director of the University of California Organic Agriculture Institute, which was formed last year. Because of the lack of research in this area, he said, growers need help across the board, though their top two priorities are crop nutrition and weed control.
Wilson said he thinks lower yields and higher costs are not inherent in organic agriculture per se. But that may be the case now due to historic underinvestment in the sector.
“Organic production in its current form definitely has not had a chance to be optimized,” Wilson said. “If you measure the amount of effort and investment that has gone into the development of these conventional systems compared to organic, it’s way out of sync by orders of magnitude.”
Establishment of the institute, he said, represents an effort to address organic growers’ needs—so that they have a “more reliable set of technical practices in place” for their cropping systems.
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Root veggie soup with coconut complements chardonnay – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

One of the most beguiling qualities of our wine of the week, Marine Layer, 2018 Aries Sonoma County Chardonnay ($40), is its hint of salt, a briny flourish suggestive of ocean mist, marine fog and wet rocks. This quality is foundational, with tropical fruit — pomelo, kiwi, mangosteen and white pineapple — rising above it. It continues to reverberate on the wine’s lingering finish.
The wine shows a fair amount of oak, toast and vanilla, too, with suggestions of lemon zest on first sip. It is ripe, luscious and mouth-filling. It is easy to pair with fall foods, from root vegetables and winter squash to shellfish and turkey, especially white meat. Corn is a good companion, and a dressing of cornbread would make a match with turkey soar. Sweet potato souffle, mashed parsnips and potatoes with brown butter, mashed celery root with Estero Gold cheese, gnocchi with winter squash and walnut sauce and chanterelle strudel all welcome this wine alongside.
Risotto is an outstanding match, too, when carrots and cream, corn, winter squash, beets, cabbage or mushrooms are a primary ingredient.
For today’s recipe, I’m inspired by the coconut and ginger in this lovely soup. The light toasting of the coconut engages beautifully with the wine’s oak, and the ginger connects with the hints of vanilla in a way that sends the wine to new heights.
Roasted Carrot Soup with Toasted Coconut
Makes 4-8 servings
1 pound organic carrots, preferably Nantes variety, trimmed and peeled
1 parsnip, trimmed and peeled (see Note below)
3 shallots, trimmed and peeled
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper in a mill
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander seed, crushed
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
4 cups homemade chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons very thinly sliced spearmint
3 tablespoons sliced dried coconut, lightly toasted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Put the carrots, parsnip and shallots in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet; drizzle with a little olive oil; and toss to coat them thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Set on the middle rack of the oven and roast until tender when pierced with a fork. This will take about 45 minutes, a little less if the carrots are small, a bit longer if they are very big. Turn the vegetables now and then so they don’t burn.
When the vegetables are tender, remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool. When they are easy to handle, cut the shallots into small dice and cut the carrots into thin slices.
Put the coconut oil in a large saucepan or soup pot set over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic and ginger and saute for 90 seconds. Add the cumin, coriander and cardamom and season with salt. Stir in the carrot mixture, add the stock and simmer gently over low heat for 15 minutes.
Stir in the coconut milk and lime juice, heat through and remove from the heat. Let cool for 10 minutes and then puree with an immersion blender.
Season the soup very generously with black pepper. Taste and correct for salt.
Ladle into soup plates, garnish with mint and toasted coconut and enjoy right away.
Note: If the parsnip is particularly fat, cut it in half lengthwise; some may even need to be cut into lengthwise quarters to be done at the same time as the carrots.
Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date. Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com.
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