ChewsWise Blog

ChewsWise Blog

California Recipe: Strawberries with a dose of Methyl Iodide

image from

Several years ago, looking into the differences between organic and conventional farming methods, I focused on strawberries as a case study.

At the time, conventional growers depended on methyl bromide, a potent neurotoxin that is injected into the soil to kill pests and diseases. The applicators wore full body suits with gas masks. The ground was covered in plastic to help keep the toxic gas contained. These fields looked like something out a futuristic moonscape, covered in plastic with workers in full hazmat suits. It was just one of the many toxic chemicals used in the conventional strawberry regime. I described all this in a chapter of my book Organic, Inc. Many people told me that after they read that chapter they never bought a conventional strawberry again.

Methyl bromide was always particularly controversial. Law suits were filed because of drift of this pesticide to nearby public schools on the central coast of California, the heart of the strawberry industry. The issue for the courts: Was the drifting chemical at sufficiently low levels to be safe?

You had the usual sides drawn, with growers who feared losing a cherished tool and farmworker and environmental advocates worried about toxicity. The result was that the state set what it considered a "safe level" of use, with widened buffer zones and requirements on when the chemical could be sprayed. But I found the evidence of a "safe level" less than convincing. Knowledge about the effects of chronic exposure to the chemical were not iron clad and a panel that explored the issue was split. 

Organic growers avoided nearly all chemicals and relied on crop rotations, beneficial insects and vacuums to suck up the bugs. (A  NY Times article explains organic methods here). Though their yield was lower, organic farmers were successful because of the premium paid for organic. 

Methyl bromide eventually was phased out under a UN treaty, because it contributed to a hole in the ozone layer. Growers got extensions for years to keep using the chemical but they knew the end was in sight and so turned to other chemicals. Methyl iodide was the most promising, though even conventional growers told me that they thought the chemical was more toxic than methyl bromide. Its saving grace -- no ozone depletion in the atmosphere.

This week, California, which has among the most rigorous pesticide regulations in the nation, approved methyl iodide for use. This came despite the unanimous findings of its own scientific panel against approval of the chemical. California Watch quoted a member of this panel.

"It is my personal opinion that this decision will result in serious harm to California citizens, and most especially to children," wrote panel member Theodore Slotkin, a professor of pharmacology and cancer biology at Duke University.

But the state overruled the panel and found that, based on a risk assessment, the pesticide could be safely used. In doing this, they followed 47 states. Had they outlawed it, California growers no doubt would have argued they were no longer competitive.

Like methyl bromide, methyl iodide is most hazardous to those who use it in the fields and to those who come into contact with its drift. It does not linger, like other pesticides, on the fruit itself. I wonder, if the state or even the EPA, would have thought differently about the pesticide, if there was a consumer risk. Farm workers and farm communities tend to be abstract and distant -- we don't know who these people are. Often, because they are immigrants, they remain silent. We don't attend the schools abutting the fields. I just wonder, if we did, whether the outcome would have been different.

- Samuel Fromartz

Image source: UW Farm blog, "New Study Weighs in on Organic vs. Conventional Debate"

GMO advocates walk out of sustainability standard talks

In an interesting development, advocates of genetically engineered crops have walked out of talks aimed at creating a standard for sustainable agriculture, according to Sustainable Food News.

Apparently, they felt the effort was dominated by "environmental groups, certification consultants, agro-ecology and organic farming proponents."

This tension was present from the beginning of this effort, which aimed to define what "sustainable agriculture" meant. When I first talked to participants a couple of years ago, they felt the talks were important because companies were already using the words without any precise meaning.

Those standards exist for organic food, based on law and regulations, but they are virtually meaningless when it comes to "sustainable agriculture." Obviously, the big questions were whether genetically modified crops, along with organic methods, should be included. It seemed like an untenable divide to bridge.

The "mainstream agriculture" crowd didn't think they were getting sufficient clout in this agicultural standard, so 10 of them withdrew from the effort. They were supported by a bevy of industrial agriculture proponents -- from fertilizer and chemical companies to the Farm Bureau. But here's the thing: 50 people remain.

It will be interesting to see where this effort now leads.

- Samuel Fromartz

What do you do with a whole Salmon?


Washington SeaSA, my little venture buying sustainable seafood direct from fishermen for a group of about 10 families in DC, is now in year two. Latest on the menu: sockeye salmon from Bill Webber, who fishes the flats off the Copper River in Alaska. This followed an  oyster shucking party, with the farm-raised bivalves from Rappahannock Oyster Co. They were excellent.

I first met Bill last year, when I made the trek up to Alaska to see the fishery. It didn't take me long to ask Bill if he'd ship direct to us and he said he would, as long as we met his 50 pound minimum. Which is why I corralled up my friends. It wasn't a hard sell. 

Bill sends us whole fish, headed and gutted. He also bleeds the fish on his boat, which he argues makes for a much fresher fish. Blood begins to decay once the fish dies and that in turn degrades the flesh, so if you remove the blood -- with a special pressure tube he developed -- you can slow down the clock. He then ships the fish to us in a chilled pack and I drive out to Alaska Airlines' cargo dock to pick it up.

Now, when you buy salmon in the store, you only get the fillet. Getting the whole fish is a different story. I fillet the salmon on our kitchen counter (with an excellent sashimi knife I got from Japan). Aside from the fillet, I'm left with the rich belly meat, which is the bacon of salmon and is excellent fried in a pan. (What can I say, pork belly, salmon belly, it's all good). Then there's the carcass which usually has about a pound of meat on it. These "waste products" amount to a lot of food.

So what do you do them? 

With our last fish, I made stock, layering sliced onions and thin fennel stalks and drizzling them with olive oil. Then I placed the 2-1/2 pound liberally salted carcass on top, covering and then sweating the fish on a low flame for 20 minutes. I then added water and a cup of dry white wine to cover, simmering it for another 20 minutes. Finally, I took it off the heat and let the fish sit for an hour to release its essence. This follows Rick Moonen's method in Fish Without a Doubt: The Cook's Essential Companion, which is now my go-to fish book. Like many chefs he does not recommend using salmon for stock, which is a shame.  Salmon stock is bursting with flavor and isn't oily. But it helps if it's very fresh.

Once the stock cooled, I strained it, and then removed the meat from the bones, ending up with a big container of salmon delicately flavored by the fennel. I ate salmon salad sandwiches for several days, though you could also make salmon croquettes, as another friend did with the remnants of her stock.

Since we had eaten our fill of fresh salmon over a couple of days, I took a remaining fillet and cut thin paillards --  angled cuts 1/4 inch thick -- a wonderful technique I also got from Moonen's book. I salted them, wrapped them up in plastic wrap and froze them (a typical Japanese home-cooking method). These can be taken out and cooked immediately in a toaster oven or in a broiler. They cook in about 4-5 minutes if frozen, or about a minute on each side if defrosted or fresh. So it's a really fast dinner.

With the stock on hand, I was thinking paella but was short a few ingredients. I went ahead anyway since I wanted to use the stock.

I sauteed a fennel bulb, an onion, half a red pepper, 2 slices of bacon, a clove of chopped garlic and an Italian sausage I had laying around. When the veggies were soft and the meat brown, I added just over a cup of arborio rice and sauteed it for a minute. Then I poured in a cup of simmering stock, with a generous pinch of saffron, stirring now and then. As the stock was absorbed by the rice, I added more. What I wouldn't have done for a dozen mussels or clams!

Halfway through, I oiled up three of the frozen paillards and put them in the broiler. They sizzled while the paella continued to cook in the stock.

With everything nearly done, I sauteed a bunch of rainbow chard and garlic from the garden and out came the dinner -- a thoroughly satisfying plate of pseudo-paella, broiled salmon and sauteed chard.

Using the whole fish is a bit of work, or rather it takes time to prepare. But once you have the fish, you realize all the possibilities at hand. Now, if I could just get salmon roe in Bill's next shipment.

Addendum: Here's another tip. Fire up your grill. Cut the stalks off a fennel bulb. Rub a fillet with olive oil and season it with salt . When the fire has burned down to medium heat, lay the stalks over the grill and lay the fish on top. You'll have fennel perfumed salmon. The salmon should flake when done, but still be visibly moist inside. Remove from the fennel, then drizzle more olive oil, lemon and/or fresh oregano on the fish and serve.

- Samuel Fromartz

Traveling on Zambian Time


Time is kind of a loose concept here in Zambia, especially when transport -- of whatever sort -- is involved. We were planning to visit farms about three hours away from the city. Pick-up time was 7 a.m. We hoped to attend some meetings starting at 11 a.m.

My friend arrived about 7:30, then we had to go downtown to pick up another person. Traffic was horrendous and took us nearly an hour. We didn’t hit the road until 9 or so, with traffic clogging the two-lane roads. We stopped to get a spare tire fixed because we were heading out to the bush. Then we stopped for a bite. Then to see a conservation farming project on the side of the road. We finally pulled into the town we were heading for at 1:30 p.m. and the person we were meeting was not there -- he was out at a meeting with farmers.

So we piled back into the car, drove about 20 miles down a dirt road to a small town. There we texted him. (Yes, mobile coverage is probably better here than the US). As it turned out, we had passed him on the road so had to wait for him to catch up. Then he led us down even narrower dirt roads for about another hour, until we came to the farmer we were going to meet. But he wanted us to see his corn fields, so we climbed back in the cars, went down an even narrower dirt farm road, following his tractor (the only mechanized equipment for about 1,000 farming families). We road the 4-wheelers through shallow streams, past a 5-year-old boy herding cattle with a stick, and then to the field. By the time we arrived, it was 4:30 p.m. 

So what do you do traveling down dirt roads for hours at a time, dodging pot holes? Well, if you're my friend James Luhana, a Zambian who works on a US AID project, you buy a knock-off Luther Vandross compilation from the boys at a gas station and pop it in the CD player. Then you proceed to sing along with "Nights in Harlem," as well as every other cut on the Mp3. James amazingly knew every word. So there we were, music blaring, roaring down a dirt road past village huts, with James laughing and singing.  


We were the only ones with vehicles. Most people walk, or if they are lucky have a bicycle. Women strap infants and young kids to their backs. I have not seen one stroller my entire stay in Zambia, even in the cities. But I did see a family of four riding together on one bicycle.

Transport is difficult, which is why those who can manage to buy a tractor are better off. They can make money not just tilling fields for other farmers, but hauling -- whether grain sacks, people or beer. (I'll be writing about this in more depth for this Worldwatch project). 

When it comes to transport, you see many novel things, like those two goats lashed to the back of a bicycle that a farmer was taking down the road. Yes, the goats were alive.

Tracking the trends at Sustainable Foods Institute

For a few years, I’ve attended the Sustainable Foods Institute, an annual conference at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s one of those rare events that brings together a cross-section of scientists, journalists, chefs, food producers and businesses to discuss the food system -- the good, the bad and the ugly -- with an eye on fixing it. 

A lot of common themes come up, but each year I find I get a valuable nugget from someone who brings up something really new, or is doing something surprising.

This year, a couple of really stood one. One was the Wholesome Wave Foundation, whose mission is to get more fresh fruits and vegetables into underserved, low-income communities at an affordable price. The group does so by doubling the value of SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) coupons, an especially valuable task at a time when the recession is still running deep. So if a customer has $5 in SNAP food vouchers, they can buy $10 worth of produce.

I heard Michel Nischan, the chef behind the effort, speak about this two years ago. At the time, he had a model farmers market in Connecticut where he was showing some success, with the market getting a steady stream of customers. But what really surprised me was how much the organization has grown since then, expanding into 18 states and more than 160 markets. Right now, the money to double the coupons’ value is coming from private donors, but Nischan said local government is stepping in as well.

He also disabused two widely accepted notions -- that poor people don’t want to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and there is no economic value for businesses in these communities. Instead, these communities are generating income for farmers and getting produce they might not otherwise afford. 

Marion Nestle, the food policy and nutrition guru at New York University, pointed to a graph in a keynote she gave showing a gradual upward slope in the price of fresh produce since the 1980s and a general downward trend in the price of packaged goods over the past two decades. The price signal is clear to low-income people: buy more processed food, which is linked to higher rates of diabetes and heart disease. 

Packaged goods are often made from highly subsidized crops (corn, soybeans), while fresh fruits and vegetables get no subsidies. Wholesome Wave’s program works to address that, though a major shift in the $20 billion farm subsidy program (which mostly goes to wealthy and big farmers) would have a major effect too.

Feed the World?

There were also dramatic contrasts. Pamela Ronald, a professor of plant pathology at UC Davis, gave a talk about the need for genetically modified food to “feed the world” -- a familiar talking point in industrial agriculture circles -- but she twinned it with a companion message that GMOs weren’t incompatible with organic farming. In fact, that GMO technology could produce seeds suited to an organic farming system. (A factoid: Pam and I overlapped in our years at Reed College, a school that values debate from alternative perspectives!). 

She came at this from the angle of a GMO seed breeder who is interested in reducing pesticide poisonings in the developing world and in boosting food production -- both noble goals. But her assertions on how to do so were left hanging in the air and could have benefitted from another perspective or counterpoint. I did get one, however, when the conference bused out to Earthbound Farm - the organic produce company I wrote about in my book, Organic Inc.

I discussed the issue with Stan Pura, a farmer and partner at Earthbound who has grown both organic and conventional produce (though not the corn and soy where GMOs are prevalent). After years of farming with both methods on a commercial scale, he told me he sees very little difference in yield between the two at least in many of the crops he grows.

In produce, Pura’s company Mission Ranches is breeding seeds to combat specific plant diseases, though not by using genetic engineering. Plus, he relies on familiar organic techniques such as crop rotation, keeping buffers of beneficial habitat to attract good insects (which eat the harmful ones). He didn’t think organic was harder than conventional farming, but it had to be learned, and like anything, as your learning curve improved, so did your results.

In fresh produce, Pura thought the argument that organic requires a far greater amount of land or has drastically lower yields doesn’t hold water. Nor does the argument make economic sense in the Salinas Valley, which has among the most expensive farmland in the world. If organic were so inferior and troublesome, why would Pura grow it on such valuable land?

In fact, in the spring mix salad market, organic is now 50% of the marketplace. Why? Because it can be produced at parity with conventional lettuce -- that is, at a similar cost and yield. That might not occur in every crop, in all conditions. Some crops may do worse, others better.

But in corn and soybeans, the economics of production are distorted by the $20 billion farm program. If the healthy produce were valued as much as grains, Wholesome Wave might have a far easier job than it does now shifting purchases away from processed food. The low-income customers of Wholesome Wave’s innovative program would begin to see vast change in their spending power.

And come to think of it, those farmers that Ronald is working with in the developing world would benefit as well, since they would no longer face competition from subsidized U.S. crops. Better seeds mean nothing if the farmer has no incentive to grow them. In short, what's often presented as a scientific silver bullet is far more complicated when it meets the real world.

I hope to offer more thoughts in this issue in the coming week, during a trip to Zambia to see innovative projects with small-holder farmers. 

- Samuel Fromartz

Notes From a Slaughterhouse: Proposed USDA Rules Could Crimp Local Meat

The following post was submitted by Joe Cloud, partner in T&E Meats, a small-scale locally focused slaughterhouse in Harrisonburg, Va. I wrote about T&E in the WaPo and invited Joe to post his thoughts on this blog. - SF

image from  By Joe Cloud

This is usually the slowest time of the year for butchering, but T&E Meats is booked months in advance, like the other small meat processing plants in Virginia. We’re working at almost full capacity to bring locally grown, pasture-raised, and humanely slaughtered quality meats to market. 

But, right now, our future is looking tenuous due to newly proposed regulations from the USDA.

Picture an hourglass and you’ll understand the local, sustainable meat crisis: there are plenty of willing consumers looking for humanely raised, quality local meats, and there are more and more farmers looking to “meat” that consumer demand (sorry – couldn’t help myself!), but the real bottle neck is processing capacity. Small, community-based meat processing plants have become an endangered species in America, done in by an ocean of super-cheap industrial meat and the challenges and costs of meeting one-size-fits-all regulations.

Although species go extinct on earth on a regular basis, every so often there is a major event that comes along and wipes out 40% or 50%. The same happens in the small business world. A few businesses fold every year due to retirement, poor management, and changes in the market, and that is quite normal. But then every so often a catastrophic event comes along that causes a wholesale wipeout.

In the small meat businesses in America, catastrophic events result from changes high up in the regulatory food chain that make it very difficult for small plants to adapt. The most recent extinction event occurred at the turn of the millennium when Small and Very Small USDA-inspected slaughter and processing plants were required to adopt the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Plan) system. It has been estimated that over 20%, perhaps more, of existing small plants went out of business when HACCP was first instituted. Now, proposed changes to HACCP threaten to take down many of the remaining local plants, making the availability of healthy, local meats a rare commodity.

This is ironic given the USDA's new emphasis on promoting local food production. The department's Know Your Farmer Know Your Food Program web site says it wants to "foster the viability and growth of small and mid-size farms and ranches, and we want to create new opportunities for farmers and ranchers by promoting locally produced foods." But the newly proposed regulations from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the inspection arm of the USDA, will reduce local opportunities for ranchers, never mind create new ones.

The intent of HACCP is to prevent contamination of meat by harmful pathogens. It does so by instituting well-recognized, established processes and controls set by the USDA itself. At T&E, we have had a HACCP Plan in place since 1999, and it works. We undergo extensive E.Coli testing every year, and have never had a positive sample.

But on March 19, the FSIS published a Draft Guidance on HACCP System Validation, outlining new rules which would institute much more intensive testing of all meats, whether or not a problem has been identified. These requirements will cost small plants tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, every year -- a financial burden appears great enough to force many to shutter.

Now, the reason these rules are being proposed is clear: millions of pounds of recalled hamburger, e. coli food poisoning incidents and distrust by consumers and foreign trading partners of U.S. produced meat. But these problems have arisen at plants that handle thousands of animals a day in extremely fast-moving production lines.

Small plants operate quite differently. At T&E, for example, we process around 20 animals a day. I know which farmer delivered each animal, often because that same farmer wants his butchered animal back so he can sell it. We're not mixing thousands of animals of unknown provenance into piles of hamburger meat and then sending it all around the country. 

Perhaps a large plant slaughtering 5,000 animals per day can afford its own lab and microbiology staff, and can pass the cost along to the consumer. And perhaps they should, given the recalls arising from these large-scale facilities. But most small plants can’t handle it.

The USDA needs to recognize that "One Size Fits All" inspection no longer works. The risks arising from mega agribusiness plants are far different from community-based plants and they should be regulated appropriately. This does not mean lowering the hurdles for small processors. Rather it means tailoring regulations to the scale and risks of an operation. That way we can provide what the consumer wants – safe AND local food, not just the shrink-wrapped anonymous meat in the supermarket.

The USDA is accepting comments on this matter until June 19th, 2010. The original deadline was April 19. You can learn more at the Association of American Meat Processors web site, or the Niche Meat Processors Assistance Network.

Please submit a comment if you care about community-based meat processing and humanely produced meats. Your comments really do matter. Submit your comments to the email address or to the Docket Clerk, USDA, FSIS, Room 2-2127, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705.

Plastic Bag Use Plummets in D.C.

I had expected the use of plastic bags to decline with the new 5-cent a bag tax in Washington, D.C., but the change came exceedingly fast. In the first month the tax was enacted, plastic base use dropped 87%. According to the Washington Post:

In its first assessment of how the new law is working, the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue estimated that food and grocery establishments gave out about 3 million bags in January. Before the bag tax took effect Jan. 1, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer had said that about 22.5 million bags were being issued each month in 2009.

I actually noticed a dramatic behavioral difference when I was in Denver, which has no plastic bag tax. Grocery store clerks do not routinely ask, as they do here, "Do you want a bag?" Instead, they just pull one out. The result: people use a lot more bags.

In D.C., the money collected is being used to clean up the Anacostia, which empties into the Potomac River. This is a no-brainer incentive for positive consumer behavior, especially when the cost is so minimal and easy to avoid. Imagine if a simple act like this went national? 

- Samuel Fromartz

Atlantic Writer Blames Arugula for California's Failing Schools

In the media world, the hatchet job has long been a profitable one. It involves finding a major figure, uncovering a supposed flaw and then showing the world how it is a symptom of everything that's wrong with -- fill in the blank -- politics, business, schools, etc. 

Caitlin Flanagan's rant about Alice Waters qualifies as a glowing example of the genre. In the piece, she argues that Water's school gardens are doing everything to disenfranchise poor, undereducated kids by making them work outdoors rather than hitting the books. She leads off with a supposed child of a former migrant worker who goes to school -- only to do migrant-like work at the Berkeley middle school garden that Waters organized.

The child is a figment of Flanagan's hyperactive imagination. Did she go to the school, talk to the kids or parents or teachers, ask if any kids felt they were being exploited, or even wasting time -- in a school garden? Why bother because she already knew the answer. 

I don't think anyone would dispute that schools are in trouble, especially California's with its famous budget troubles. A piece looking into those schools -- something that Flanagan's colleague Sandra Tsing Loh, for example, has done amusingly well in these same pages - would be welcome. And in fact, in the same Atlantic issue, there is a very worthwhile piece on what really makes students excel (hint: it's the teachers). Flanagan, however, fixates on little seedlings and argues not only that the gardens are misplaced but suggests they are the cause of said educational failures. Blame the arugula for school dropouts.

The purpose of this argument is to skewer a person Flanagan viscerally detests. But finding Alice Waters' precious local foodie proclivities distasteful is one thing. (Even I found the bit where she poached an egg over an open hearth on 60-Minutes a bit much). Pinning the ills of the state's educational system on school gardens is something else again. What's next? Blaming the deep recession on Michelle Obama's White House garden because it takes the president's attention off more weighty problems at hand?

It's long been known that adequate nutrition has a direct relationship on children's achievement in school. Whether gardens would have a bearing on this equation is a question Flanagan chooses to ignore. (Oh wait, she does explore this issue by traveling to a grocery store in Compton to get her answer. She decides poor people can get good food, but they mostly like junk and nothing but upward mobility will change that). 

Maybe the gardens can help with the nutrition equation. Perhaps they won't. But you can't get anything to grow without diligence, attention, planning and hard work -- all qualities that can be applied to other endeavors, even farming. (She never considers that a kid really drawn to the garden might end up owning a farm business in the state's $39 billion agriculture industry, rather than being a migrant -- not a far-fetched path in California). Whatever the case, it's clear that the gardens are a minor sideshow in the issues facing the California school system. As she writes:

I have never seen an entire school system as fundamentally broken and rudderless as the California public schools, a system in which one out of five high-school students drops out before graduation, and in which scarcely 60 percent of the African American and Hispanic students leave school with a diploma. These young people are cast adrift in a $50 billion system in which failure is almost a foregone conclusion.

In that universe of problems, she focuses on ... gardens? Frankly, I think her imaginary migrant parents would probably spend more time worrying about Sacramento gutting meager school resources and teachers' positions then about the 1-1/2 hours a week their kid spends tending the arugula. And they should.

Twitter Food List to Chew On

Kim O'Donnell has gathered a go-to list of people to follow on Twitter from the sustainable food world. Many are my Tweeps. She writes:

For those in the social media know, Twitter has unveiled a beta version of its “Lists” functionality, which allows you to categorize Twitter accounts however you wish.  The list is an interesting way of distilling feeds by theme or topic, making it easier to keep tabs on news, particularly if it’s breaking or timely.

...I’ve just scratched the surface, but already I’ve got 25 (or maybe 27) folks and groups worth considering a follow or at least a quick Twit-peek. Check it out, and feel free to weigh in and share some of your favorites.

via See the full post at

When it comes to sustainable ag, here's where your tax dollars are going

Here's a few things Congress did in conference for the 2010 ag appropriations bill, which now goes to the full house and senate.

  • The Organic Transitions Research Program was increased from $1.8 million last year to $5 million. This is a competitive grant program, which will fund research on the way organic farming affects water quality. 
  • The Value Added Producer Grants program was increased from $18.9 million last year to $20.4 million. This money can be used by farmers, ranchers, fisherman or other producers who want to "add value" to their underlying product, either by making a new product (flour from wheat, for example) or going for a particular label (like organic) that enhances a commodity's value.
  • The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program had $5 million added to its $4 million mandatory base, so that $9 million will be available to help support rural microbusiness development in this program's first year. Food and farming can be among the businesses funded, though the entrepreneurs must be in rural areas.
  • The Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) program was increased from $2.6 last year to $2.8 million. This service helps farmers with advice on sustainable agriculture issues. 
  • The Organic Marketing and Data Collection Initiative was increased from $500,000 to $750,000. The money will be used to analyze the organic market.
  • Finally, funding for the National Organic Program (which just got a new director) went to $7 million from $3.9 million.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said the only disappointment was a token increase for  the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. "But we have reason to expect that next year's (Fiscal Year 2011) Obama Budget will propose a significant increase, which will make it easier to persuade Congress to increase it," the group said.