Friday, December 28, 2012

More on FDA's Decision on Genetically Engineered Salmon

According to the Center for Food Safety, “The FDA decision ignores calls from more than forty members of the U.S. Congress who have repeatedly urged FDA to conduct more rigorous review of environmental and health safety, and halt any approval process until concerns over risks, transparency and oversight have been fully satisfied.  The public filed nearly 400,000 comments demanding FDA reject this application.  Additionally, more than 300 environmental, consumer, health and animal welfare organizations, salmon and fishing groups and associations, food companies, chefs and restaurants filed joint statements with FDA opposing approval.”

Photo: AquaBounty
According to Fishermen’s News Online, “Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, said the notion that Frankenfish is safe for the public and the oceans is a joke. “I will fight tooth and nail with my Alaska colleagues to make sure consumers have a clear choice when it comes to wild and sustainable versus lab-grown science projects,” the senator said. “People want to know they are eating natural, healthy, wild salmon,” Begich said. The FDA’s assessment imperils both families and fishermen, he said.”

The FDA has announced the availability for public comment of the Agency’s draft environmental assessment for genetically engineered salmon developed by AquaBounty Technologies.  The Agency has a finding of no significant impact.  

While it might seem like the FDA doesn't pay any attention to public opinion, it's important to tell them, with an even louder collective voice, that GE Salmon at best requires much more research before it is approved for human consumption, unregulated production, and to be farmed in delicately balanced water systems.  

To make a public comment, you must go to:
In the search field, copy and paste the Docket Number: FDA-2011-N-0899
Three results will come up, comment on the document titled “Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Genetically Engineered Salmon"

You can also mail your comments to Division of Dockets Management (HFA-
305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, 
Rockville, MD 20852

Thursday, December 27, 2012

CT NOFA Invites Serious Beginning Farmers to Apply for the Journeyperson Program

Journeyperson Joe Listro and his mentor, Dina Brewster from The Hickories,
at Sullivan Farm in New Milford
The Journeyperson Program aims to provide serious beginning farmers with the opportunity to learn skills and techniques and gain experience they will need to succeed as farmers and business owners.

Deadline: January 15, 2013
The Journeyperson program strives to support farmers in the education gap between apprentice and independent farmer and to provide resources and opportunities for prospective new farmers who have completed an apprenticeship to further develop skills they need to farm independently. The program is shaped by the farming interests and goals of individual participants. New farmers are able to gain advanced farming experience, skill and perspective in a supportive environment while also becoming part of a sustainable farming network.

Each Journeyperson, once selected, is matched with a mentor, who is then paid through the “Cultivating a New Crop of Farmers from Apprenticeship to Independence” grant (funded by NIFA through the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program) for their time and work. These arrangements are flexible and are shaped by the journeyperson and the mentor. Some farmer-mentors also offer access to land, equipment, and support so a journeyperson can farm independently.

Journeyperson Max Taylor (who is a JP along with Kerry Taylor)
samples Provider Farm's melons with his mentor Rob Schacht from
Hunts Brook Farm.
Additional resources available to journeypeople include free admission to CT NOFA events, and education and business stipends. All people who go through the Journeyperson program must enter an agreement describing goals and objectives for the program which will include completing full farm plans and business plans. Journeypeople are expected to attend regular mentor meetings, a number of CT NOFA workshops, and check in with CT NOFA employees about their progress. A grant from the USDA has enabled NOFA Chapters of New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey join with the Main Organic Farming and Gardening Association in offering this program.

Apply online at For more information or a print application, please contact the Beginning Farmer Coordinator: Kristiane Huber at or 203-888-5146

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Caroling to Support Locally Grown Food

Spread holiday cheer while also spreading the word about locally grown foods! During this holiday season,  let's take a moment to think about where our food comes from and reflect on why it's important to buy locally grown, sustainably produced goods - through song!

Lyrics by Bob Waldrop (edited for Connecticut)
Tune: Deck the halls with boughs of holly

(1) Tis the season for the feastin',
Connecticut Grown Foods are good to eat!
Taste nutrition can't be beaten,
Connecticut Grown Foods are good to eat!
Nurturing the land and people,
Farm and city joining hands.
Tis the season for the feastin',
Connecticut Grown Foods are good to eat!

(2) Care for people and creation,
Connecticut Grown Foods are good to eat!
Hope throughout the bio-region,
Connecticut Grown Foods are good to eat!
From our farms onto our tables,
we will bless the way we eat!
Care for people and creation,
Connecticut Grown Foods are good to eat!

(3) Healing nature with earth's beauty,
Connecticut Grown Foods are good to eat!
Wisdom, joy fulfilling duty,
Connecticut Grown Foods are good to eat!
Eating with the changing seasons,
Chasing the CAFOs from our land!
Healing nature with earth's beauty,
Connecticut Grown Foods are good to eat!

(4) Social justice, sustainability,
Connecticut Grown Foods are good to eat!
Economic viability,
Connecticut Grown Foods are good to eat!
These our values, govern always,
They will take us forward far!
Three in number the core values,
Connecticut Grown Foods are good to eat!

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

FDA Moves Closer to Approving Genetically Engineered Salmon

The Consumers Union and the Center for Food Safety have responded to the news of the FDA releasing an Environmental Assessment on genetically engineered salmon with a "Finding of No significant Impact."  This decision indicates that the Obama Administration will approve the genetically engineered salmon, for production for human consumption.

The Center for Food Safety has set up this online petition opposing the approval of GE Fish.  According to CFS' e-mail alert:

FDA says escape is unlikely and that the fish pose “no impact” to the environment. But each year millions of farmed salmon escape, outcompeting wild populations for resources and straining ecosystems. Any approval of GE salmon would represent a serious threat to the survival of native salmon populations, many of which have already suffered severe declines related to salmon farms and other man-made impacts. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes that a release of just sixty GE salmon into a wild population of 60,000 could lead to the extinction of the wild population in less than 40 fish generations. Wild salmon populations are already on the Endangered Species List; approving these GE salmon will be the final blow to these wild stocks.

The human health impacts of eating GE fish, which would be the first-ever GE food animal, are entirely unknown, but some scientific research raises cause for alarm: for example, some scientists have asserted that foreign growth hormones in transgenic fish may increase production of other compounds such as insulin in the fish. Additionally, FDA has recognized that a transgene cannot be “turned off” once it is inserted in the organism, and will therefore have effects that are uncontrollable.

The Consumers Union raises other concerns including:

  • the potential of the fish to cause allergic reactions have not been thoroughly tested
  • the FDA's finding of "no significant impact" is based on the assumption that the engineered salmon will have sterile females, but the FDA indicates that 5% of the salmon may be fertile - for instance fish at an egg production facility in Prince Edward Island, Canada would not be sterile
  • genetically modified salmon will not be labeled in fish markets, restaurants or supermarkets
Sorry for the bad news right before the holidays, but it's likely that this decision was made at this time of the year with the hopes that the American public is distracted.  But, really - what if your Christmas dinner next year is genetically engineered salmon?  Sign the petition today.

Happy Holidays,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New CT NOFA Intern, Quick Introduction

Hello CT NOFA fans and followers! My name is Katie Kabot and I have recently joined the CT NOFA team as an intern. I would like to take some time to quickly introduce myself.

I am from Stamford, CT and have recently graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Environmental Studies and Communications. During my time at the University of Connecticut I was involved with many environmental initiatives and community service projects. It was through these experiences that I learned about the environmental effects of industrial agriculture and developed a passion for creating local and organic food systems. This passion took me to Florence, Italy for my last semester where I completed a study abroad program centered around environmental sustainability and sustainable agriculture. After traveling to numerous organic and bio-dynamic farms and experiencing the Italian food culture I realized that I wanted to work towards creating this type of food system back at home.

After completing the study abroad program and graduating in December 2011, I joined AmeriCorps NCCC a team based national service program. Although I completed many community service projects during this time, there was one project in particular that helped to reinforce my passion for local and organic foods. For two months I worked in an area of Cedar Rapids, IA that had been devastated after a severe flood in 2008, taking abandoned house lots and turning them into vibrant urban farms. Seeing community members gain interest and excitement about the local food system being brought to their community showed me that such a transformation is possible.

I am excited to have this opportunity with CT NOFA and what I can bring to this position.

Happy Holidays!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Scrambling to Find the Perfect Holiday Gift?

There's been a lot of talk lately at the CT NOFA office about holiday gift giving and the staff's various levels of gift-buying/making completion. The holidays are a busy time of year, and that can mean there's not a lot of time available to buy or make meaningful gifts for loved ones. After all, no matter how well-intentioned or thoughtful our holiday gift-giving plans are, there are still only 24 hours in a day. Last year, a time crunch meant my husband had to make the vast majority of gift decisions in our household, but this year I was spared the stress of a last minute gift-buying bonanza because I knew where to look for locally-made products. If you are in the midst of wracking your brain for unique gift ideas, consider buying locally-produced items from Connecticut farms and winter farmers markets.

The USDA National Farmers Market Directory has seen a 52 percent increase in winter farmers markets this year. This, of course, means more opportunities to buy locally produced in-season foods for your holiday cooking. Winter markets, however, are also great places to go for unique locally-made gifts for family and friends. Items available at the markets can include fresh and preserved fruits and vegetables, dairy, meats, baked goods, eggs, nuts, honey, soaps, wool and fiber, Christmas trees, and holiday decorations. If you're throwing a holiday party, a larger market can literally cover all of your bases, providing food, decor, and gifts for the event. Check out a list of markets that feature at least one CT NOFA member farmer here, or click here for the CT Department of Agriculture's full holiday list.

Even if you can't make it to a farmers market in time to buy holiday gifts, many farms also offer goods for sale in the winter from farm stores and online. The second option is especially helpful if you're really busy - just don't forget to order far enough in advance to account for shipping time. Each farm sells their goods a little differently, so check out our Farm and Food Guide here to find farms in your area that you can visit.  You can also use the Guide as a database of farm websites that you can peruse when shopping online.

However you choose to complete your holiday shopping, don't forget to have fun and feel the spirit of the season! Have a great afternoon!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Want to Get More Involved with CT NOFA?

CT NOFA Board Members Sought!
CT NOFA is looking for board members with Fundraising, Legal and/or Volunteer Coordination Experience.

The Board member will:
  1. Attend in-person meetings approximately every other month
  2. Participate in conference call meetings on the alternate month
  3. Participate or lead the appropriate committee of the Board, with separate meetings for committee
  4. Attend CT NOFA events, have fun, eat great food and advocate for local, organic food and organic land care
Please contact John Turenne, Vice-President of the CT NOFA Board.  You can learn more about the current CT NOFA board here.

CT NOFA is a growing community of farmers, gardeners, land care professionals, and consumers that encourages a healthy relationship to the natural world.  We are the largest and oldest organization in the state that educates about and advocates for local organic food, farming, and land care.  You can learn more about us and our mission here.