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Reflecting Back on the Highlights of 2017

(Maria Rodale, CEO and Chairman of Rodale, Inc., at the 7th Annual Organic Pioneer Awards dinner)

While there are plenty of things still to achieve in the organic industry, 2017 did provide many, many positive developments.

So, I wanted to take this week’s newsletter and reflect back on a few highlights from the past twelve months.


* Organic sales hit a record $47.7 billion, with organic fruits and vegetables representing approximately 15% of all fruits and vegetables consumed in the U.S.

Overall, organic food now accounts for 5.3% of the total food sales in the U.S., and organic items can be found in 82% of American households.

* Regenerative agriculture had a very big and important year, with awareness and activity never being greater.

The Regenerative Organic Certification was officially launched at Expo East in September, the first Regenerative Earth Summit was held in Boulder last month, and Kiss the Ground just got published a few weeks ago.

(The audience at the Regenerative Earth Summit in Boulder, Colorado)

* The surging value of the direct-to-consumer business model has led to massive fundraises and successful new companies, which benefit organic consumers all over the country, regardless of whether they live near an organic market or not. Some key players who have gained real prominence are Thrive Market, Green Chef, Sakara Life and Daily Harvest.

* The bipartisan support for organic in Washington, D.C. continues to expand.

As noted below in First Course, Rep. John Faso (R-NY), backed by dozens of his colleagues, has proposed doubling the USDA’s budget to help fight organic fraud.

Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) introduced the Organic Agriculture Research Act to increase the funding for organic research activities to $50 million per year.

Also, Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced nearly identical versions of The Homegrown Organic Act of 2017 to the House and Senate, respectively. This bill will help new or existing farmers transition to organic.

* While President Trump appears to care very little for organic, his disdain for regulations has made the proposed organic fish standards incredibly unlikely. This is a big win because the proposed standards were horrible.

* Thanks to the amazing leadership of Once Upon a Farm’s CEO/Co-Founder John Foraker and the awesome generosity of many participants in the organic industry, “Gangsta Gardener” Ron Finley’s operation in South Central LA was saved from eviction.


* One of this year’s highlights for me was going to the Common Ground County Fair put on by MOFGA (Maine Organic Gardeners and Farmers Association). I will definitely be going back in 2018.

(The heirloom apple exhibit at the Common Ground County Fair)

* Despite living only a few hours away, I had never visited Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania — the birthplace of organic in the U.S. — until this past fall.

In September, I got a farm tour and attended the 7th Annual Organic Pioneer Awards dinner where Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard, Lady Moon Farms’ Tom Beddard, and Iowa State’s Dr. Kathleen Delate were all honored. What a magical place and what a special day.

* I am still thinking about Chicas Tacos, an organic taco joint in downtown Los Angeles that I visited last month.

(Chicas Tacos in Downtown Los Angeles)

* Lastly, I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to you — the subscribers and readers of Organic Insider.

Putting out this newsletter each week has been one of the highlights of my organic food career, and without the amazing support of so many individuals and companies, this would not be possible.

With Organic Insider having just hit its first anniversary, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and look forward to continuing this newsletter for many years to come.

Wishing you a great 2018!

Max Goldberg, Founder

This Week's News Items

Weekly News Summaries

First Course
The Washington Post

With Organic Fraud a Concern, A Proposal to Double Funding for Oversight

By Peter Whoriskey

With 33 backers and bipartisan support, a bill introduced by Rep. John J. Faso (R-NY) aims to double the budget for the USDA’s oversight of the organic industry.

Business Insider

Whole Foods' 365 Private-Label Brand on Amazon Has Been a Massive Success

By Hayley Peterson

In just four months, Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value private-label brand has racked up $10 million in sales and is experiencing 9% weekly growth.

Center for Biological Diversity

Bee-Killing Pesticide To Be Sprayed on 165 Million Acres of U.S. Farmland?

By Lori Ann Burd

The EPA is now considering approving the bee-killing pesticide thiamethoxam, which would be sprayed on 165 million acres of wheat, barley, corn, sorghum, alfalfa, rice and potatoes.

The Washington Post

Was the USDA's Investigation into Aurora a Complete Sham?

By Peter Whoriskey

The USDA's lack of transparency into the complaints about Aurora operating as an "organic factory dairy farm" is very concerning.

Second Course

India Has Introduced a Certified Organic Logo

By Rupsa Chakraborty

As the market for organic food continues to explode, The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has introduced the Jaivik Bharat logo to help customers identify authentic organic food.

Food Navigator

Organic Flavors Pioneer Gets Acquired

By Elaine Watson

Firmenich, the world's largest privately-owned fragrance & flavor company, has purchased New Jersey-based Natural Flavors, a pioneer in organic flavors.

Organic Consumers Association

More Cancer-Causing Lawsuits Filed Against Monsanto

Representing more than 50 California residents, lawsuits have just been filed against Monsanto, claiming that its Roundup herbicide caused them to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Food Navigator

Bigelow Sued for its "All-Natural" Tea, Which Contained Glyphosate

By Elaine Watson

Promoting its tea as "all natural", Bigelow is now facing a class action lawsuit because the product contained cancer-causing glyphosate.

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