Nevada Organic Farmers Consider Private Certification Programs


NEVADA — With the Nevada Department of Agriculture board of directors voting to end the state’s organic certification program on June 30, 2016, local organic farmers are reviewing their options.

According to the Nevada Appeal:

On June 16, a gathering of growers, producers and sellers discussed the feasibility of a private certification program and whether it could be up and running before the program officially closes June 30, 2016. State organic certifications, however, will expire in March 2016, and growers and producers will have a three-month grace period before getting certified with a new organization.

Their options are complicated by the fact that there are no private certification firms located in the state, the paper says, and the expense of using out-of-state firms could drive up costs impacting the ability of small farms to remain competitive.

Virtual Nutritionist and Meal Planner Goes Mobile

Eat This Much app, virtual nutritionist, meal planner
Eat This Much app, virtual nutritionist, meal planner
Photo: Eat This Much

LOS ANGELES, CA — Healthy eating not only requires discipline but a little bit of planning. An automated nutrition and meal planning service from Los Angeles-based Eat This Much seeks to make that effort easier, especially for folks on the go, with the launch of its first app for the iPhone.

“There is a huge barrier between knowing how you want to eat and the iterating on the many steps required to accomplish your goals, such as calorie counting, getting the right groceries, and selecting recipes. Eat This Much takes all the hassle and monotony out of reaching your desired health outcomes,” said Louis Dementhon, Eat This Much CEO and Founder.

According to the company, it has over 180,00 users who have created over 13 million custom meal plans.

Founded in 2013, Eat This Much tailors meal plans to any diet, constantly adapting to users’ tastes and budget by accessing 200,000 foods and more than 1,500 curated recipes. Features also included on the app are the ability to track gluten-free, dairy-free or vegetarian diets, with suggestions for incorporating leftovers and preferred ingredients. The free iOS app can be downloaded from the App Store.

Driscoll’s Expands Organic Strawberry Nursery Plant Production

Driscoll's, organic berries, organic farming, strawberries
Driscoll's, organic berries, organic farming, strawberries
Photo: Driscoll’s

WATSONVILLE, CA — On the heels of news of recent investments in organic farming by companies like Clif Bar & Co. and General Mills, premium berry cooperative Driscoll’s, says it plans to expand production of organic strawberry nursery plants for its independent, USDA certified organic farmers.

“Since our first sales of organic berries in the late 1980’s, we’ve seen tremendous growth in our organic business due to increasing consumer market demand,” said Soren Bjorn, executive vice president.  “We are committed to fully deliver on the spirit of the organic program across all our berries and see this process as a journey to an exciting future.”

According to Driscoll’s, its organic strawberry nursery began seven years ago, and is the only one certified by the CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers). With nearly 10 percent of organic strawberry production at its Watsonville and Salinas farms coming from certified plants, the company says it plans to expand the program to other berries in the coming years.

The Skinny on Virgin Coconut Oil

Skinny & Co., virgin coconut oil
Skinny & Co., virgin coconut oil
Photo: Skinny & Co.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN — Much has been written about the benefits of coconut oil from beauty aids to health boosters, including weight loss and improved brain functions, just to name a few. According to published reports, scientific studies show that virgin coconut oil provides the most benefit.

One Indianapolis, IN-based company, Skinny & Co. Coconut Oil, says it makes the only 100 percent, virgin, raw coconut oil in the world. Their coconuts, harvested by hand in Vietnam, go through a cold-press extraction using the company’s dehumidifying Nutralock System process that removes  moisture without using heat.

Founded by two brothers, Luke and Matt Geddie, the company exports  coconut oil manufactured at its Vietnamese plant back to the States to be sold at its American headquarters run by their mother, Joy Reece.

Clif Bar Aims to Raise $10 Million for Organic Farming Research

Clif Bar, Organic Valley, organic farming research
Clif Bar, Organic Valley, organic farming research
Photo: Clif Bar

EMERYVILLE, CA — Organic farming got a boost with the recent announcement from Clif Bar & Co., maker of the popular energy bar LUNA and other health food and drinks, that it plans to raise approximately $10 million dollars for organic farming research.

The company teamed with the 1,800 member organic farming cooperative Organic Valley to create a first-of-its-kind endowed chair at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that will study the development of crop varieties for organic farming. The organizations started with a $1 million investment that was matched by UW graduates John and Tashia Morgridge.

Clif Bar says it plans to raise $10 million from additional partners by 2020 to fund a total of five endowed chairs across the country.

“We can no longer depend on an agricultural system that is reliant on toxic chemicals,” Kevin Cleary, CEO of Clif Bar said in a statement. “We must instead invest in our organic future by spurring innovation and diversifying away from these temporary spray-on solutions. Today’s endowed chair is an important first step toward this goal.”

Google Reveals Wearable Device for Medical Research

Google x wristband, wearable device, health tracker
Google x wristband, wearable device, health tracker
Photo: Bloomberg/video capture

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA — Google recently revealed a wearable device similar to Fitbit but aimed at the medical research market, not consumers, according to published reports.

The health-tracking wristband will “measure pulse, heart rhythm and skin temperature, and also environmental information like light exposure and noise levels,” Bloomberg says.

The device was created by the life sciences division of Google’s super-secret lab, Google X.

Amy’s Kitchen Shakes Up Fast Food Market with New Drive-thru

Amy's Drive Thru, Amy's Kitchen, organic food, vegan drive-thru
Amy's Drive Thru, Amy's Kitchen, organic food, vegan drive-thru
Photo: Amy’s Kitchen

ROHNERT PARK, CA — Amy’s Kitchen, maker of frozen vegetarian and vegan meals, is set to open its first fast food spot — Amy’s Drive Thru — in July. The new restaurant will be located in Rohnert Park, CA.

According to the company, the menu will feature fast food classics, served vegetarian style. Typical fare will include: veggie burgers, shakes, and fries made with organic and non-GMO ingredients.

But it’s not just the food that will be different from the typical drive-thru. The restaurant will also have solar panels, a living roof, and workers will wear fair trade, organic cotton uniforms.

Microsoft’s Urban Farming Featured at Milan Expo 2015

Microsoft urban farming, milan expo 2015, USA Pavilion
Microsoft urban farming, milan expo 2015, USA Pavilion
Photo credit: Milan Expo 2015/USA Pavilion

MILAN, ITALY — The Milan Expo 2015, which opened May 1 and runs through October 31 in Milan, Italy, has already had its fair share of well-known visitors, including First Lady Michelle Obama. And many more visitors and tourists are expected during the next six months.

The main theme of this year’s Universal Exposition is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” The focus of the expo is on the future of the global food system as well as sustainability. The USA Pavilion expands on that thought with its supporting theme: “American Food 2.0: United to Feed the Planet,” highlighting the innovation in the American food market as well as environmental technology.

On June 9 in the USA Pavilion, Mark Freeman, the senior manager of Microsoft’s Global Employee Services, discussed the company’s urban farming program at its Redmond, WA, headquarters, which serves 40,000 meals daily. According to Freeman, 60 percent of its produce needs are sourced locally through relationships with area farmers. However, the company expanded on those efforts by launching an urban farming center to produce additional vegetables with hydroponic systems.

Up next at the USA Pavilion on Friday, June 19 is the “Urban Farming, Sustainability, and Nutrition” event featuring Will Allen, Urban Farmer, Founder and CEO of Growing Power; Nicolas Jammet, Co-CEO, Sweetgreen; and Dr. Risa J Lavizzo-Mourey, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition.

Fitness Tracker Fitbit Has Healthy Debut On Wall Street

fitbit surge, fitness tracker, wearable device
fitbit surge, fitness tracker, wearable device
Photo credit: Fitbit

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Tracking fitness is not only trendy but profitable as the wearable device leader Fitbit burst onto Wall Street with a healthy debut.

Trading under the symbol “FIT,” the company offered 36,575,000 shares of its Class A common stock in its New York Stock Exchange opening. According to the Wall Street Journal, shares for its initial public offering (IPO) jumped to $30.40, 52% above its expected  price of $20.

Founded in 2007 Fitbit, which sells a variety of activity trackers and wristbands and the Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale, has a number of high-profile admirers including President Barack Obama who was spotted wearing the Fitbit Surge in March of this year.