*Fun Stonyfield YoGetter group event!
Locally sourced Illinois fruits, grains and meats were on the menu, along with the most popular organic yogurt in the world by Stonyfield. A blogger breakfast at Nana restaurant in Chicago made it extra special to Wake Up with Stonyfield! While several Stonyfield #YoGetter ambassadors and other bloggers enjoyed this homegrown taste of Chicago, we had the opportunity to connect with both the source of and the science behind today’s organic food scene.
|Organic Farmer Emily Zweber
Zweber Family Farms
We met Organic Valley co-operative member dairy farmer Emily Zweber from Minnesota. She shared how she and husband Tim converted their conventional dairy farm to meet USDA Certified Organic standards. “We just made that leap to organic because it seemed a better option for us.” Zweber explained that the transition was possible because the Organic Valley co-operative gave the farm a premium over the first couple of years. Zweber says small farms like hers can all use some help with transitioning, and that more research is needed to explore the benefits of farms going organic.
For Zweber Family Farms, organic has been good for their farming business and good for feeding their own kids, plus it has extra benefits, “We’ve seen natural wildlife come back to our farm since we went back to organic, as well.” Zweber said that even before getting certified, they already used crop rotation methods and did not see a need to use GMO crops. USDA Organic dairies do not feed GMO grains to their livestock. Zweber says their dairy cows eat pasture grasses supplemented with some non-GMO corn silage.
|Harvard Researcher Chensheng (Alex) Lu, PhD
Speaking to Bloggers at Stonyfield Organic Breakfast
A Harvard researcher known for studying the effects of pesticides on honeybees was also a notable breakfast speaker. Associate Professor of Environmental Exposure Biology, Chensheng (Alex) Lu, PhD summarized the latest on what science is telling us about environmental health and food. His work with colleagues published in Environmental Healthy Perspectives in 2006 showed that children switching to organic foods can dramatically lower their pesticide exposures. Lu shared that today his research continues the effort to explain just how pesticide exposures affect health. The extensive family of untested toxic chemicals, including pesticides, that have become commonplace in our everyday lives are suspected of having links to cancer, autism and other rising health disorders. Pesticides are also commonly used on transgenic or genetically modified crops (like most US corn and soy), which have raised health concerns of their own. USDA Organic foods do not by definition allow any GMOs or toxic pesticides. As a scientist, Lu explained, “The precautionary principle is the best way to protect public health,” although public policy in the United States does not follow this and is more lax about protecting farms and food than many other nations around the globe.
*Disclosure: As a participant in the #YoGetters ambassador program, I have received free samples and some other modest incentives from Stonyfield.