Organic Federation of Australia
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Organic Food News
Organic Kiwi Fruit Healthier
Researchers from the University of California, Davis found that organic kiwi fruit had much higher levels of polyphenols and antioxidant activity. Polyphenols help to reduce cholesterol and improve blood circulation, while antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals that can damage cells. The study, which is published in the journal Chemistry and Industry, also revealed that organic kiwi fruit had higher levels of vitamin C.
Lead researcher Maria Amodio said: "All the main mineral constituents were more concentrated in the organic kiwifruits, which also had higher ascorbic acid and total phenolic contents,
resulting in a higher antioxidant activity." www.999today.com/foodanddrink
Organic Diet Benefits
Researchers at the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences and Newcastle University’s School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development have found that the organically-fed rats slept better, had stronger immune systems and were slimmer than rats fed conventional diets.
Quoted in The Journal newspaper, Newcastle University's Dr Kirsten Brandt said: "What this research shows is that clearly there are links between food and health which is more to do than with just nutrients.
"We used to think that as long as food had adequate nutrients then it was all equally good... this is not the whole story and we can measure differences and that they are significant. Now we need to understand what is going on.
"If people think that eating organic food makes them feel better then they are probably right." Source: http://www.999today.com/foodanddrink/news/story/7302.html
Organic Wine Can Help Reduce Risk of Heart Disease & Cancer
Evidence has suggested that because of antioxidant levels in red wine, moderate consumption can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Given that organic farming systems produce grapes with properties that vintners prize—smaller size, slower growth, deeper color—both scientists and growers have wondered whether organic production might reliably produce prize-winning wines.
A recent study examined levels of polyphenolic compounds and resveratrol (antioxidants known to reduce cardiovascular and cancer risks) in 15 organic and conventional red wines. This study found that among the varieties of red wine tested, organic wines had the greatest concentrations of health-promoting antioxidants—as well as the key antioxidant resveratrol. An organic wine also was found to have the highest level of total polyphenols.
Source: The Organic Center
Shopper's Guide - Buy Organic & Avoid The "Dirty Dozen" Fruits & Vegetables
According to the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) analysis of data from over 43,000 tests on pesticides in conventional produce, over 90% of ingestion of pesticides in foods can be eliminated by avoiding the most contaminated foods. The "Dirty Dozen" most contaminated foods in the USA are peaches (97 percent tested positive for residue), apples (92 percent tested positive), sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, pears, imported grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes. The "Consistently Clean" in the USA are onions (90 percent tested negative), avocados (90 percent), sweet corn (90 percent), pineapples, mango, asparagus, sweet peas, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and papaya. "Federal produce tests tell us that some fruits and vegetables are so likely to be contaminated with pesticides that you should always buy them organic. Others are so consistently clean that you can eat them with less concern." Says EWG Senior Vice President Richard Wiles. http://www.foodnews.org
Organic Farming News
Organic No-Till Systems Produce High Yields at Lower Cost
The average corn yield of the two organic no-till production fields at the Rodale Institute’s Farming Systems Trial was 160 bu/ac, compared to the local district average for non-organic corn yield of 130 bu/ac in 2006, in Pennsylvania, USA.
The organic no-till system used a rolled mat of hairy vetch to limit weeds. Weeds did eventually break through the hairy vetch mat, but at a later point in the season when they do not pose a competitive threat to the corn.
The estimated N output of the hairy vetch biomass in the research field cost around US$0.25 to $0.37 cents per pound. In comparison, the conventional N fertilizer cost approximately US$0.50 per pound in 2006.
When weed management benefits were also calculated as part of the vetch seed expense, including the elimination of five to seven field preparation and cultivation passes (reducing tractor wear, diesel use and labor) there was a considerable cost saving.
Organic Farming Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Comparisons of greenhouse gas emissions from arable farming show that organic farming leads to a distinct reduction of emissions. For example, 50% less carbon dioxide and 80% less methane are emitted after conversion from an intensive conventional farming model to organic farming. The emissions of nitrous oxide are reduced by almost 99%. Austria’s organic farmers manage without 200,000 tons of chemical synthetic fertilizers, reports Bio-Austria, the Austrian Federation.
Some 20,500 Austrian organic farmers farm 400,000 ha with organic fertilizers like compost. Experts estimate that some 400 – 800 million tons of carbon could be absorbed from farm land throughout the world by using organic farming methods. www.bio-austria.at/presse
Australian Organic News
Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce Commences
The first meeting of the new Standards Australia committee (FT-032) will be held in Sydney on May 7 to develop the Australian Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce.
The OFA wants to see certification of organic products mandated in regulations when the Australian Standard is ‘called up’ into relevant Federal and State regulatory systems. We are pleased that The Hon Ian Macdonald, NSW Minister for Primary Industries, has begun this process.
In a media release on March 05 2007 Minister Macdonald stated: "The [NSW] Government recognises a national domestic standard for organic and biodynamic produce is essential, particularly one that complements the current export standard."
"To help develop the necessary legislative framework to support the integrity of ‘certified organic’ products, a NSW Government proposal is being prepared for discussion by the national Primary Industries Standing Committee and Ministerial Council."
"We are committed to supporting both product certification and consumer confidence and plan to use the appropriate national government forums to progress this important policy issue in the near future."
International Composting Awareness Week: 6 - 12 May, 2007 - Compost... For a Healthy Earth!
Compost has always been a significant part of most organic production systems. International Composting Awareness Week (ICAW) was started last year by the Centre for Organic & Resource Enterprises as a way to promote the value of compost to the wider community. This year it will feature events in most States and Territories in Australia. For information about event near you please visit www.compostweek.com.au
National Compost Photography Competition
The OFA is sponsoring a national photography competition on the use of composts.
The competition will be judged based on three categories:
- Intensive Agriculture (i.e., viticulture, orchards)
- Gardening/Landscaping, and
Finalists will be announced on the 6th May at the National Launch Events. The works will be judged throughout the week and winners announced on the 11th May at the National Closing Event – The Compost Ball. Details can be found on our website: www.ofa.org.au or www.compostweek.com.au
The Compost Ball
The Department of Environment and Conservation NSW is holding a Compost Ball to mark the end of Composting Awareness Week. This is a red carpet event, with a sit down dinner featuring organic produce, the "Get Wasted" band, speakers and judging of the photography competition. The event is the national closing of ICAW 2007. See www.compostweek.com.au for details
Leading World Nutritionist to Visit Australia
Real food activist, researcher and author Sally Fallon will be giving a variety of talks including ‘Nourishing Traditional Diets – the Key to Vibrant Health’, ‘The Cholesterol Myths’, ‘Nourishing Our Children’ and ‘Why Pasture Fed is Best’. Sally will explain the roles of shaky science and vested interests in dictating our food choices and the consequences for our health. Our children are suffering from allergies, asthma, learning and behaviour problems; rates of diabetes and obesity are increasing.
Sally specialises in the dangers of processed foods, low-fat diets and modern refined foods including vegetable oils and soy infant formula - and why coconut oil and animal fats like butter are healthy.
She will explain why we must care about how our food is produced, why organic and pasture fed matter, why cultured foods are important and how to prepare nourishing traditional foods all the family
will love. Tour details and bookings: www.westonapriceaus.org.au
Phone bookings: 1300 797 762
David Howard, Head Gardener to HRH Prince of Wales to Tour Australia
The Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney are hosting a speaking tour by David Howard to Australia from November 7-16 2007. David will present a number of different talks including ‘Highgrove, the Garden’ offering a fascinating insight into this prestigious organic garden, looking at its development over the last 25 years, including the wildflower meadow, walled garden, arboretum and carpet garden. One of his talk topics will be ‘The Philosophy of Highgrove’ that will concentrate on the technical aspects of the workings of the magnificent garden and an understanding of it’s underlying organic principles and practices.
For more information on David’s speaking tour in November including dates, venues and ticketing information (as well as a gala dinner with David as the keynote speaker in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart), please go to www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/friends or telephone 02 9231 8182.
International Organic News
US Organic Market Worth A$18.75 Billion (US$ 15 billion)
Mark Lipson, of the Organic Farming Research Foundation told reporters: "Sales of organic food have risen to about $15 billion a year and continue to grow about 20 percent a year." Yet organic farming receives just over half of 1% of USDA research, extension and education funding. "We'd like to shoot for 10 percent," Lipson stated.
U.S. Family Farmers Can't Compete with Big Processors & Imported Organics
- The value of U.S. organic imports now exceeds exports by a ratio of approximately 8 to 1.
- In California, which grows 40% of US organics, the number of acres transitioning into organic are now nearly balanced by the acres transitioning out. Many farmers aren't making enough money growing organically to remain certified, despite the booming retail market.
In the U.S., organic food accounts for about 2.5 percent of all food sales. But out in the field, just 0.2 percent of farmland is under organic production.
European Organic Sales Increase 15% PA
According to a recent study by Organic Monitor, organic food sales in Europe are rising by about 15% a year.
European Organic Body Care Worth A$ 1.6 Billion
The Organic Monitor reports that European sales of natural and organic cosmetics have increased by more than 20 percent annually in recent years, and surpassed 1 billion Euros in 2006.
Switzerland Reaches 11% Organic Production
More than 12% of vegetables consumed in Switzerland come from organic production. Organic production has accounts for 11% of the total agricultural land. Source: Biofach
IFOAM World Congress, Modena, Italy June 2008
"Cultivate the future" is the title of the 16th IFOAM Organic World Congress next year. The contribution made by organic agriculture is fundamental for guaranteeing generations to come with a healthy, fair, correct environment for harmonious living that respects people and the earth. The Modena area boasts centuries old agro-food tradition that is a benchmark for world food and wine, and the development and growth of organic agriculture plays a central role, from both an economic point of view and also in preservation of the land itself.
The congress themes are organic viticulture and fruit growing, organic fibres and textiles, and natural cosmetics and body care. The event takes place in the province of Modena on June16&17 2008.www.ifoam.org/events
Wisconsin Senator to Push for Organic Policies in U.S. Farm Bill
Herb Kohl, D-Wisconsin, told the 18th annual Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference, "I'm a huge fan of the organic movement, I think it's great for America. I think it's good for you." Kohl chairs the Senate Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee, and says he will work with Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to make sure their ideas for supporting organic farming are incorporated into the 2007 farm bill.
USDA to Ban Cloned Foods from Organic Systems
In March, the USDA proposed that the offspring of cloned animals could be considered "organic". However the USDA's National Organic Standards Board voted 12-0 to ban foods from cloned animals and their progeny from the organic market. Regulators apparently recognize, after being flooded with complaints from organic consumers, that cloning is incompatible with the Organic Foods Production Act and is prohibited under the National Organic Program regulations. The real difficulty will be in tracking these animals, particularly 2nd and 3rd generation offspring of cloned animals. Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_4699.cfm
Organic Center Report Critiques FDA's Approval of Cloned Animal Products
A new Critical Issue Report released by the Organic Center questions the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) decision to allow meat and milk from cloned animals to enter the food supply.
One of the arguments made by the FDA is that clones are "virtually indistinguishable" from normal progeny and therefore may enter the food supply. "Virtually indistinguishable is not a scientific standard," says Jim Riddle, organic outreach coordinator at the University of Minnesota, and author of the report. "The FDA report shows that subtle changes occur in four to seven percent of animals." http://www.organic-center.org/science.latest.php?action=view&report_id=90
European Organic Food Logo Wins Support
The European Parliament's agriculture committee has backed calls for a European-wide organic food logo.
The committee has adopted a report that calls for a dedicated European Union (EU) agency or governing body to be established to independently certify products. It says that regulation should ensure the European Parliament has a more powerful decision-making role instead of its existing consultative one.
The report calls for a European logo for foods containing 95% organic ingredients. It also calls for organic food to be completely free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) - currently 0.9% of the product can be of GMO origin. Source: Organic Monitor
Koreans Support Import Ban on GMO Rice
Responding to the threat of genetically engineered crops, farmers, activists and government officials gathered in Seoul for a March 28 seminar on "How to Secure the Safety of Rice." The event--part of the Week of Rice Action held in 13 countries--was organized by Consumers Korea, the Korean Farmers and Fishermen's Weekly News and PAN Asia and the Pacific. Park Hae Sang, South Korea's Vice-Minister of Agriculture, assured the conference participants that it was the government's intent "to prevent importing GMO rice." Park also noted that "Korea is the only one out of 140 rice-importing countries to have a policy requiring GMO-certification from the exporting country." PAN AP.
Organic Update is a publication of the Organic Federation of Australia
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