Monday, August 27, 2007

Google Alerts

I have set up google alerts to send me any new info published to the web for certain key words. I of course have my name set up and I also have alerts for several company-related topics - "organic food" "organic delivery" "greenling" and "terminator technology." The last one I follow primarily because I think it's just so scary. Anyways, I learn some very interesting things reading all the new articles on these topics. One hilarious website informed us that there's going to be a movie out next year with some little green men called Greenlings. Here's that link -
Luckily we have trademark on "Greenling" so I don't have to worry about a movie studio coming after me.....also being in completely different industries helps. Another interesting link is a fairly new website - Seems to have some good tips and articles on organics.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It Appears a Federal Judge Agrees with Me


Competition from conventional supermarkets would prevent Whole Foods Market Inc. from significant price hikes if it acquires rival organic grocer Wild Oats Markets Inc., a federal judge's ruling said. --Forbes Magazine

Monday, August 20, 2007

Whole Foods and Wild Oats

It has been a very interesting story to follow. Both sides have good arguments. The FTC is pretty adamant that Whole Foods' purchase would create a monopoly on the natural foods movement. #1 buying #2 with #3 far, far behind is pretty big. But it's all about how you define the market. If you think natural foods stores primarily compete against each other than the FTC's argument is very valid. And, in fact, when you hear people in Austin talk about grocery shopping they either talk about HEB/Randalls/Albertsons OR they talk about Whole Foods/Central Market/Sun Harvest. Not many people consider them to be very comparable to the mainstream grocery stores.

But if you dig down further and look at what they're selling....I think it tips the other way in favor of Mackey's argument. Did you know that only 45% of organic foods last year were bought in natural food stores (Sundale Research, 2007)? Did you also know that this # is expected to decline steadily as organic foods become more available? From this perspective, Whole Foods AND Wild Oats should be much more worried about competition from mainstream markets than from each other. A merger would help them stay competitive and WF would gain presence in many markets it doesn't currently serve, making it a real, nationally recognized brand that hopefully people would trust their organic and natural shopping with.

It currently looks like the merger will go through.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New research studies out

The list keeps piling up. Just a few studies can be refuted as being interpreted wrong or biased, but as more and more research piles up showing pesticides as being dangerous, organics as having more nutrition, etc. it will get harder and harder to ignore or dismiss. Check out the latest wave of studies here:
Breaking News!
New Studies Broaden Scientific Support for Five Dimensions of the Organic Benefit

I. Linkage Established Between Pesticides and Autism

For years epidemiologists have seen hints of a link between pesticide exposure and autism. As of July 30, 2007, these days are over. Scientists working for the California Department of Health Services have found that pregnant women living near fields sprayed with the common insecticides dicofol and endosulfan were six-times more likely to give birth to children with "Autism Spectrum Disorders" (ASD) than women living many miles from treated fields.

Six-times higher risk - it is very rare for such a large and statistically significant difference to be found in a study of this kind. Plus, the authors report that the closer a mother lived to treated fields, and/or the more pounds of pesticides applied, the greater the risk.

These two insecticides are the last widely used organochlorines - the family of insecticides including DDT, chlordane, aldrin, and toxaphene, among others. Both are known endocrine disruptors, they are persistent in the environment, and bioaccumulate up food chains. Residues of these insecticides, in particular endosulfan, are common in conventional fruits and vegetables, especially imports. This study should compel the EPA to finally take decisive action to end exposures to these two insecticides.

The full study appeared in the online version of Environmental Health Perspectives and is available free of charge.

II. Organic Milk and Meat Dramatically Enhances the Nutritional Quality of Mom's Breast Milk

Mothers consuming mostly organic milk and meat products were found to have about 50 percent higher levels of rumenic acid in their breast milk. This Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is responsible for most of the health benefits of CLAs in milk and meat. The authors of this European study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in June 2007 report that the greater reliance of organic beef and dairy farmers on pasture and forage grasses increases the levels of CLAs in milk and beef, and in turn in the breast milk of women eating organic animal products.

Details on the study are on the Center's website.

III. Organic Farming Practices Improve Water Quality in Minnesota

A team of University of Minnesota scientists studied the impact of organic and sustainable agricultural practices over three years on subsurface drainage and water quality in southwestern Minnesota. Their focus was on corn-soybean farms.

They found that organic and sustainable systems reduced the volume of subsurface drainage water discharges by 41 percent – a major benefit for the farmer, especially in dry years when lack of soil moisture cuts back yields. Organic and sustainable systems also reduced the loss of nitrate nitrogen by about 60 percent, allowing farmers to reduce fertilization rates by nearly half without sacrificing yields in most years. The improved soil quality on the organic/sustainable plots, coupled with more diverse land use patterns, were credited by the team with improving the efficiency of nutrient uptake and water infiltration and use, especially in average to wet years.

The full text of the University of Minnesota study is available free of charge.

IV. Organically Grown Melons Deliver More Vitamin C and Polyphenols

During the 2007 annual meeting of the American Society for Horticultural Science, a team from Colorado State University reported encouraging results from a two-year comparison of organic and conventional melon production systems. The team highlighted the impact of crop genetics on total antioxidant activity, which varied over ten-fold across varieties. Crop genotype accounted for 65 percent of this variation, with production system accounting for most of the rest. Organic management was found to increase both vitamin C and polyphenol.

The team's work is ongoing, and has expanded to include some key Colorado vegetable crops.

V. Pesticide Exposures Increase Risk of Gestational Diabetes

The Agricultural Health Study, underway for over a decade, has produced valuable data on the impacts of pesticides on human health. In an important March 2007 paper in "Diabetes Care," a team of government scientists found that pregnant women exposed to pesticides occupationally (i.e., spraying, mixing pesticides) had more than double the risk of developing gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy). Four herbicides, including two in the phenoxy herbicide class that also includes 2,4-D (see the item on pesticide use and biotech crops below), plus three insecticides were found to be associated with elevated risk of gestational diabetes.

Additional information on this study is on the Center's website.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

San Antonio Expansion

Got to meet some great guys in SA today, Dean McCall and Miguel Olivo. They strongly suggested I pick blogging back up. Thanks, guys, I think I will (I'm guessing they both have google alerts on their names and will find this). So, we're planning on opening up parts of San Antonio to receive our yummy organic goodies starting some time in October. Fairly certain that part of this launch will be a give-away of a week-long vacation for 2 at an amazing eco-resort on the beach of Mexico. Stay Tuned!

The skinny on food miles

This was a very interesting article that asks we look at not just how many miles an item has traveled to get to us, but the full carbon footprint of that item:

It cites some interesting studies that have found food miles are not the whole story. So, just like I say in my speeches about organics, local food is not the end-all answer, and neither is organic. They are both important components of Sustainability, but unfortunately very few things are all that simple about Sustainability. An important part is to do business with companies that share your vision and values. They will do research about how they can affect Sustainability and conservation. If you do business with companies that share your values in all parts of your life then each one will do their part and you come out looking like a sustainability guru!