‘GMO-Free Zones’ Protect Organic Purity 


It’s a true grassroots movement: Across the U.S., citizens are lobbying their local governments to give organic farmers something they increasingly need—breathing room.

As a result, counties in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii have passed ordinances outlawing the planting of GMO crops, varieties that are genetically modified to withstand chemical pesticides and sometimes even the pests themselves. These counties have essentially become large buffer zones protecting organic farms, as well as conventional farms that do not use GMOs, from contamination by airborne seeds and cross-pollination.

Residents of Costilla County, Colorado are the latest group to seek local protections for organic and traditional farms. As the local Pueblo Chieftan newspaper reports: “A proposed change to the Costilla County land-use code would ban the growing of genetically modified corn and alfalfa in the southern half of the county. Proponents of the move said it would protect heirloom crops such as white flint corn used to produce ‘chicos del horno’ and ‘pozol.’ It also would protect the local agriculture that has grown up along the acequias, or community irrigation ditches, that were dug by settlers from northern New Mexico in the 1850s.

“‘We have the oldest water rights in Colorado and the oldest heirloom seeds,’ Delmer Vialpando, president of the Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association, said. ‘We are working to make sure both are protected.’”

The Costilla campaign shares characteristics with movements in several other American counties. In these cases, residents have joined with farmers to pressure elected officials, and have been aided in their efforts by the Washington-based Center for Food Safety. The Center’s help often proves invaluable in protecting a ban once it is passed. GMO bans in Jackson County, Oregon and on Hawaii’s Big Island were immediately challenged in the courts by GMO growers. The Jackson County ordinance survived the process, but the Hawaii ban is still tied up in the courts. The Big Island is being represented by the Center in its appeal of a lower court ruling.

One reason that counties have become involved in the issue is that there is no federal standard to regulate the geographic coexistence of organic and conventional fields. Organic farmers, however, must meet high standards for crop integrity in order to maintain an organic certification. Buffers separating their fields from adjacent GMO-planted land are required in areas where there is a mix of organic and conventional farms.

The buffers have an added benefit: protecting against chemical drift. This is not always a separate issue, as farmers who plant GMO seeds tend to spray their crops intensely with chemical compounds, most notably the herbicide Roundup.

New Film: Tropical Vanilla Surprise

If you are lucky enough to find yourself on a spice safari on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, your days will be measured not in hours, but rather in moments of wonder and surprise.

Contemplating the beauty of the landscape, the emerald hills that recede like tides from fiery Soputan Mountain, was our first unforgettable moment. Our guide for the spice journey promised another waiting for us at our final destination, the home of farmer Amelius Manopo.

“His vanilla farm is surrounded with coconut trees, so for us, after the uphill road a fresh coconut usually is waiting, if there is a coconut climber there,” said Meidy Vidiayani, liaison for Tripper, Inc., a company founded by a French family to export Indonesian spices to a world suddenly hungry for the flavors and purity of this rich tropical land.

One Degree’s newest film chronicles our journey to Amelius’ coconut-ringed grove, capturing images of exploration and discovery. The coconut trees help shelter vanilla seedlings, one of the most delicate plants in nature. Vanilla is as fragile and fleeting as a beautiful flower, because that’s exactly what it is — the only edible orchid in the world. In addition to shade, vanilla blossoms require patience and loving attention.

In nature, there is only one kind of bee that can pollinate a vanilla plant, the Melipona bee native to Mexico. The rarity and languid work ethic of this particular bee means that most global vanilla production is dependent on hand pollination of blossoms. On each stem, only a few blossoms can be pollinated at once; workers use a special instrument when the time is right.

“I treat the vanilla plant almost like a baby,” Amelius explained as he led us through a dense leafy maze. “Pollinating vanilla is a very delicate process, and if it is not done carefully the flower will easily become bent or broken, and will not long survive. Pollinating can only happen when the flower of the vanilla plant blooms.”

We invite you to take a short tropical vacation on this enchanting vanilla island. Begin your visit with our film premiere below. Or enjoy the video along with photos and an essay on our Web site: www.onedegreeorganics.com/manopo

Oil and Water: The New Organic Loophole

Consumers of organic fruits and vegetables recognize the importance of choosing produce from chemical-free orchards and fields. Many also assume that the quality of the soil is key to ensuring a healthy crop. And yet one indispensable element has gotten far less attention, until now: the purity of the water farmers use to irrigate their land.

Recent news stories have put the spotlight on this mile-wide organic loophole. Contaminated water has been cited as a possible cause of the E. coli outbreak that has lately depopulated Chipotle restaurants. And reports that some farms in California have been using petroleum industry wastewater to make it through the state’s drought have raised questions about whether heavy metals and other toxins are seeping into the soil, aquifers and ultimately the food chain.

In a November story on the Chipotle case, the Food Poisoning Bulletin noted: “In the field, foods such as greens and other produce can be contaminated by being watered with irrigation water that contains runoff from farms. Since E. coli bacteria live in the guts of ruminant animals, such as cows and goats, their feces contain the pathogen. Large factory farms can contaminate the ground water. When this water is used to irrigate fields during drought conditions, the vegetables will be contaminated.”

Earlier in the year, both Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times ran stories about farmers’ use of fracking wastewater in California’s Kern County. “For every barrel of oil Chevron produces in its Kern River oil field, another 10 barrels of salty wastewater come up with it,” Newsweek reported. “So Chevron is selling about 500,000 barrels of water per day, or 21 million gallons, back to the Cawelo Water District. … [The District] might first mix the wastewater with freshwater, or it might not, depending on what crop the wastewater will be used on — and on how much freshwater is available at the time. In the midst of a drought, there is less freshwater, so the water the farmers get is saltier than in a wet year. …

“But it’s a risky dance; over time, high sodium can change the properties of the soil, making it impermeable, unable to take in any more water. Trees would start to get ‘salt burn.’ Their leaves would turn yellow, and yields would decline. Eventually, the soil becomes barren.”

Whether this water contains dangerous levels of petroleum drilling byproducts is largely unknown. The local water board isn’t required to do much testing on the water, and none at all on the soil. Chevron claims its own tests showed high levels of arsenic, but no other toxins. The oil company theorizes that the arsenic won’t be absorbed by plants, but will instead by filtered (i.e., retained) by the soil.

According to the Times, the environmental group Water Defense “collected samples of the treated irrigation water that the Cawelo Water District buys from Chevron. Laboratory analysis of those samples found compounds that are toxic to humans, including acetone and methylene chloride — powerful industrial solvents — along with oil.”

Amid the conflicting claims, environmental scientist Seth Shonkoff framed for Newsweek the potential magnitude of the danger: “There might not be a single risk out there with this practice. But the biggest risk that we have right now is that we just don’t know. So until we know, we definitely have reason for concern. We know that there are compounds being put down oil and gas wells that you would not want in your food.”

Discover more here: http://bit.ly/1MYapHw

Recipe: Sprouted Spelt Pear Galette

This delicate galette is quick to assemble but looks fancy and tastes even better! The flaky, crunchy crust goes perfectly with the sweet, juicy pears. It is flavorful and delicious warm, straight from the oven or topped with a little coconut cream.

SPROUTED SPELT PEAR GALETTE 

1 3/4 cup One Degree Organics Sprouted Spelt Flour

1/3 cup raw cane sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold coconut oil

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons almond milk

1/4 cup apricot preserves

3 large Bartlett pears, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons raw cane sugar, for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:

To make the dough, combine the sprouted spelt flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the coconut oil and crumble it in until the coconut oil is incorporated into the flour mixture but is still in large pea-sized chunks. Add the 1/3 cup almond milk and mix until the dough forms a ball. Add the additional 2 tablespoons slowly, as needed, until a soft dough is formed. Be careful to not over-mix.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Transfer the dough onto a large sheet of parchment paper and gently roll out the dough to an approximately 1/4” thick circle. If the dough is sticking to the rolling pin, place a sheet of parchment paper in-between. Transfer the dough with parchment paper on a baking sheet.

Spread the apricot preserves over the dough to approximately 2” from the edge. Arrange the thinly sliced pears in a pattern beginning around the edges and working inward, keeping the 2” border at the edge of the dough. Fold the border over the pears, overlapping where necessary and pressing gently to adhere the folds. Lightly sprinkle the crust with the raw cane sugar.

Bake the galette for 45-50 minutes, until the pears are tender and the crust is golden brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy plain or top with a coconut cream!

Premiering Now: World of Nutmeg

Pumpkin pies and world history have something in common: They’ve both been revolutionized by a spice originally grown on a few tiny volcanic islands in the Indonesian archipelago.

For the love of nutmeg, European royalty sent explorers and armadas around the world. For the love of the nutmeg trade, the Dutch ceded Manhattan to the English. For the love of nutmeg and clove, cinnamon and pepper, Magellan circled the globe and Columbus sailed into a new hemisphere.

Empires have risen and receded, the world is no longer flat, but the simple nutmeg still grows on Siau Island, indifferent to its place in the grand historical story. Life sways to simple rhythms, governed by tides, trade winds and customs refined over many generations.

  

One Degree’s newest film invites you to spend a leisurely afternoon exploring the secrets of Siau Island’s treasured spice. Meet farmer Erasmus Rompah as he tends his nutmeg grove, checking the delicate apricot shapes that decorate each branch as they slowly ripen into bright yellow fruit. Erasmus’ world is bigger than Siau; there is a hint of history and cosmopolitan adventures in his story. In younger days, he sailed throughout the Far East on cargo ships that carried Indonesian lumber. After 11 years at sea, he returned to Siau to tend the family’s land, and soon to marry.

His parents named him for Desiderius Erasmus, the famous Dutch renaissance theologian. But his friends have long called him Thomas, based on another great theological reference: In life and in business, he wants to see it to believe it. It is a philosophy that dovetails beautifully with One Degree’s passion for transparency, capturing stories with lens and pen.

Share the colors, sounds and sensations of our visit with the film premiere below. Or enjoy the video along with photos and an essay on our Web site: http://bit.ly/1O4VtIz. And as you enjoy the show, treat yourself to our special nutmeg cookie recipe, featuring coconut and sprouted spelt: http://bit.ly/1O4STCf

Recipe: Sprouted Spelt Coconut Nutmeg Cookies

Nutmeg is often a spice we reach for only during the holidays, but it can be used in so many ways year-round and is often overlooked for its high amounts of vitamins and trace elements.

In these cookies we combine this flavorful spice with coconut shreds and our favorite sweetener, coconut palm sugar, to create a soft, chewy cookie that will make your kitchen smell holiday-ready!

SPROUTED SPELT COCONUT NUTMEG COOKIES

2 cups coconut shreds

1 cup One Degree Organics Sprouted Spelt Flour

1/2 cup One Degree Organics Quick Oats

1/2 cup coconut palm sugar

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

4 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookies sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the first 7 ingredients. Add in the remaining 4 liquid ingredients and mix until combined. If the dough is a little dry, add water or a little maple syrup a teaspoon at a time.

Divide the dough and roll small portions into balls. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, leaving enough room for them to spread when baking.

Flatten the balls slightly and bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden. The cookies should still be very soft when taken out of the oven. Over-baking them will make them crispy (great for ice cream sandwiches!).

Enjoy!

The New Farmers: Young, Idealistic, Organic

Retirement is a quaint concept for many farmers. While some cannot afford to retire, many stay on the land because it is what they love, and also what they want to pass along to their children. Perhaps the most inspiring example of lifelong devotion to this noble craft is One Degree farmer Arnold Schmidt, who at age 86 likes to joke that “life is just now beginning to get interesting.”

Although Arnold is in many ways a remarkable outlier, he is part of a broader statistical trend in North America. “The average age of U.S. farmers has been climbing for decades and is now 58,” reports the Associated Press. “A large concern is that the number of farmers past typical retirement age is growing faster than those under age 35, meaning the pipeline could be emptying faster than it’s filling up.”

The AP noticed another trend: For those young people who do become farmers, many are motivated by such core values as sustainability and environmental consciousness. And they also tend to be more likely to embrace organic methods. “Organic farmers tend to be younger — 53 years old in the latest agricultural census,” says the AP.

“‘They tend to be very interested in local, they tend to be very interested in organic as the future path they want to travel on,’ said Kathleen Merrigan, who traveled extensively when she was deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ‘They tend to be college graduates, and from a whole lot of different disciplines.’

“Merrigan, who now runs the sustainability program at George Washington University, said while there are many young people who want to get into farming, the hard part for many of them is being able to stay in business, given steep costs of land and equipment.

“Organic farms can actually provide a quicker route to profits because farmers can fetch higher prices. Premiums paid to organic farmers can range 29 to 32 percent above conventional prices, according to a study published this summer by Washington State University researchers. That means an organic farmer can make a living on fewer acres. …

“The back-to-the-land philosophy of organic agriculture also fits in with millennials’ well-documented interest in healthy food.”

As farmer Nate Lewis, 32, told the AP: “I think there’s an element of it being hip and cool … and it’s an alternative. So it’s not run of the mill. It’s about the earth.” And 25-year-old farmer Leanna Mulvihill noted: “You’re not going into farming when you’re a young person now if you’re not idealistic.”

Discover more here: http://apne.ws/1NZjPQq

Recipe: Sprouted Red Fife Rosemary Skillet Bread

There are few smells as good as homemade bread baking. We love how easy this skillet bread is to make quickly, and our sprouted Red Fife flour gives it a wonderful flavor. A piece enjoyed warm and dipped in a little olive oil is absolute perfection.

Sprouted Red Fife Rosemary Skillet Bread

2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

1 teaspoon organic sugar

2 cups lukewarm water

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 1/3 cup One Degree Organics Red Fife Flour

1 2/3 cups organic all-purpose flour

Olive oil

Coarse salt

Rosemary leaves

 

DIRECTIONS:

Oil a 10” or 12” cast iron skillet; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and warm water; set aside until frothy.

Using a wooden spoon, add the chopped rosemary leaves, salt and flour 1 cup at a time. Mix until completely incorporated.

Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

After the rise, do not punch down the dough, but with lightly oiled hands gently remove the dough from the bowl, shape into a round disk and transfer to the prepared skillet.

Loosely cover with a towel and let rise for an additional 20-30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Drizzle the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and a few rosemary leaves.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is a deep golden brown.

One Degree Film Premiere: On Golden Prairie

For Jean Hediger, matriarch of Colorado’s Golden Prairie, family is the secret to successful farming, and also its greatest reward. Three generations of Hedigers now live on the family’s land, 3,400 acres of rich organic fields outside Fort Collins.

The story of this extraordinary family is the focus of an inspiring new One Degree film. These video farm documentaries, accompanied by feature articles and photos, are where transparency comes alive for our brand, as well as for our customers.

“Farming isn’t a business, it’s a lifestyle, especially organic farming,” Jean told us as we toured fields planted with millet, a hearty ancient grain. “It’s a total immersion and commitment to a process, to our planet and to food consumers. We consider ourselves to be extremely lucky to be able to farm high quality organic foods. We’re the lucky ones to do a job we love.”

Millet is a rare sight among North America’s waves of monoculture grains. Golden Prairie’s high elevation, cool nights and warm summer days make it the perfect location for cultivating an abundant harvest. In turn, millet is perfect for health-conscious customers: The farm’s signature grain is rich in nutrients, including zinc, calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin E, niacin, B vitamins, riboflavin, folate, magnesium and essential amino acids. It’s high in protein and fiber, certified gluten-free, and great for anyone with wheat sensitivities.

As you’ll notice in our film, Jean warmed quickly to One Degree’s concept of total transparency. “We care about who we work with,” she says. “I’m blessed to say I don’t have to work with everybody who wants to work with us, there’s such a demand for our product. I love working with great companies. We’re all lucky to have each other. I’m ecstatic to be working with a company that really cares about where their food comes from.

“It’s one of the reasons I’m really interested in being associated with One Degree. Transparency in agriculture and in all parts of life is essential. We think helping consumers see where their food comes from and the process is essential, to understand. Any company that’s interested in going this far to educate the consumer — it’s a bravo from us.”

We invite you to spend some time on the Colorado plains savoring the hospitality of the Hediger family. Begin your visit with our film premiere below. Or enjoy the video along with photos and an essay on our Web site: www.onedegreeorganics.com/golden-prairie

Recipe: Chia Maple Granola with Sprouted Brown Rice Crisps

It is so important to start the day off with a good breakfast, and with a bowl full of this granola topped with fresh berries, sliced bananas or simply with a splash of almond milk you’ll be ready for whatever the day brings your way.

CHIA MAPLE SPROUTED BROWN RICE CRISPS GRANOLA

3 cups One Degree Organics Quick Oats

1 cup One Degree Organics Sprouted Brown Rice Crisps

1 cup pecans

4 tablespoons chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar

1/3 cup maple syrup

4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine the first 6 ingredients and mix well. Add the liquid ingredients and stir until well combined.

Spread granola out evenly on to a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour until lightly golden.

Enjoy!