Here's an attention-getting headline that came across my desk the other day: "Organic Ag Gets a Major Boost." The story in the Sacramento Bee went on to report that Washington State University, Colorado State University, and Michigan State University each have started the first U.S. college programs focused on organic agriculture. Hooray!
Now the catch. Along with this cool tidbit came a startling reality check: The force behind the new higher ed degrees is not necessarily a spreading eco-ethic or burgeoning altruism but, put simply, a supply problem. Apparently, our appetite for organic food has grown so huge—increasing 15 percent to 21 percent a year—that the small number of organic farmers in the United States have a tough time keeping up with demand.
Luckily, those college graduates who study organic agriculture eventually will become the growers you can turn to for your organic needs. In the meantime, some food manufacturers have come up with their own plans to boost organic farming. Stonyfield Farms and Organic Valley, for example, pay farmers to help them make the switch or increase organic production. Change will take time, but it gives me some hope that cleaning up agriculture is starting to become a lucrative living.
I hope you enjoy this news and the rest of our bug-killer-free coverage in our annual organics issue. On page 19, you'll find expert advice on picking the best organic cooking oils. Our feature story "Bloom" explains why it's healthier for you and the environment to choose organic flowers for every occasion. And in our Evolve column, Senior Editor Susan Esrey talks to renowned primatologist and organic food advocate Jane Goodall. Her latest book, Harvest for Hope (Warner Wellness, 2006), takes a hard look at the ugly ways some of our food is produced and ultimately guides us to better bites and better health.
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editor in chief