25 Years of Organic Movement Tales | Bob Scowcroft | Talks at Google


>>Male Presenter: What does organic mean anymore? Tales from the front lines of the movementand just to give you a little bit of background on who Bob Scowcroft is is basically he’san activist. He first joined the environmental movementto work on the Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act in the early 1970s and later became anational organizer on pesticide issues for the Friends of the Earth.As organizer for the FOE, he set up tableat the Natural Food’s Agent Orange because of the drift of that herbicide on nearby farms. And basically from there, um, Barney Brickmanand 2 other organizers from the California certified organic farmers came and paid hima visit to his table and introduced Scowcroft to the organi, organic farming movement andsince then he became the first professional environmentalist to attend and present atthe ecological farming conference. Then held at a muddy church camp in the SantaCruz Mountains. >>Presenter 2: Hi everyone, I’m Liv and I’ma chef.And I’m just delighted to have my friend Bobhere. I met him at the EcoFarmConference. So, 15 years after I interviewed him as areporter when I was in Chicago, so thank you for coming. >>Bob Scowcroft: You’re welcome. >>Presenter 2: Bob is quite a story tellerand raconteur so I’m, we’re just gonna be pretend it’s not summer and it’s winter. We’ve got our feet pulled up to the fire andI’m just gonna ask a few questions and I think he’ll just go. So, that was a long time ago. >>Bob Scowcroft: Yes, that video was shotit 1989. He noted that organic was about 1 percentof the food economy.We are 23 years later and thousands of articlesand reporters and chefs, organic’s now 4 percent of the economy. When I joined CCOF I was the first full timeemployee and director, there were 178 farmers in the program. When I left there were 780 farmers in theprogram. During the 5 years that I was at CCOF, actuallyI’m just gonna step back and say, to give you a sense of the history of organic, itstarted to be written about in the 20s and 30s, both in Japan and in the UK.Rodale really brought it to the US in 1947,first publication of Organic Gardening. But, Mokichi Okada in Japan and Sir AlbertHoward and Lady Balfour, Lady Balfour is the key, you know, royalty is what it is; shewas interested about the soils so she started a soil association in the 20s over there inthe UK. So this, to this day we hear that it’s a fad. Well, we’re getting on almost 100 years, 80-90years; I think the fad part a really mute point now. But the first regulation was written in Oregonin 1974. The first law, actual law, was in Californiain 1978; it was a 2 page law and Ag so disliked the word organic that the only way they couldget it passed was to make into the health and nutrition program.I’m not sure if you knew that. And California health and safety code waswhere the first organic food act was parked and it had no enforcement, it was 2 pageslong but it did define the simplistic no synthetic devotion to natural crop rotation; the verybasics of what organic had started out. So by ’89 with Alar, which was, to this daythey call it the Alar scare. I very strongly point out it was not a scare,it was carcinogenic and it was taken off the market 6 months after CBS’ 60 Minutes didthe story on it. But it took Meryl Streep to bring attentionto it. Environmentalists had been working on it fora decade but it was Meryl Streep in the, on a couple of TV talk shows, the power of talkshows, that brought it to attention. So, CCOF rewrote the California law for enforcementand then a year later, thanks to Senator Leahy, 7 people got together and said we’ve writtenthe California law, we have friends in Oregon, we have friends in New England, a couple inOhio, let’s write a national law.Little did we know what we were getting into. But, for the power of individual and the powerof very small group, I think this is a particularly critical story to tell. That to this day, 7 to 10 people dedicatedand with a vision can get together and can make global change. Never forget that. It’s happened here. It happens in a lot of places. >>Presenter 2: So that was 1 percent of themarket. We’re now at 4 percent? >>Bob Scowcroft: Little over 4, 4.2, 4.3 >>Presenter 2: So I’m gonna ask the questionfrom the other side. Why so slow? Why so, what’s, what have been the impediments? >>Bob Scowcroft: Um, uh, absolute to thisday, resistance from the agro industrial food system and it’s an integrated system, cropinsurance; you can’t get organic crop insurance to organic research; you can’t get that toscale.Now there’s 4 supermarkets and 3 box storesthat represent something like 70, 7 buyers in United States purchase between 70 and 80percent of all our food. 7 buyers. >>male #1: All food or organic? >>Bob Scowcroft: All food total comes through7 buyers. Now, it’s like, in California there are 2,200organic farms, 2 of them, and I said earlier in a meeting I’m gonna try not to use brandnames, but 2 of them gross a billion dollars. And they sell into those 7. So economies of scale, very difficult fororganic to integrate into, um, research, organic pest management.The system of Ag research is really productbased. Actually, there was a law, this is a kindof funny, well, depends on your Ag sense of humor, Birch Bayh and Bob Dole wrote a lawin the 80s called the” Bayh Dole Act” [Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: It’s not, everyone’s gonna have pineapples but the “Bayh Dole Act” reformattedthe entire research system to be product based. That you could be a company and give moneyinto an Ag research program and dedicate a research question you have and you could profit,i.e. patent, off that product that came out with academia. So, organic is information based. You can’t really patent information.You can’t, it’s public domain activity. So, finding out when to release the ladybugsor when to apply, when to harvest a cover crop, which cover crop works with which soil? That was a historic Ag research program fromour land grant system, from the late 1890s to the 1940s, that’s what land grants did. And then in, after the agricultural chemicalsbecame very popular in the ’70s, by the ’80s the system, we wanted to cut funding for Governmentwaste and to Ag, we were wasting Government money to get information.So, instead, we wanted, by this act, to privatizeour Ag research system. So imagine how you’re gonna get an organiccrop rotation system in place. I’d say that’s very expensive, that’s beenone of the main challenges is breaking that, and the other part is also economy of scale,competitive price organic can be is very expensive in many parts of the country, you can’t getit year round in many parts of the country. So the first person with berries or some ofthe other fruits and vegetables sell it for a lot of money.That’s something called the capitalist systemwhere they make a very healthy profit. And, somehow, this is supposed to be, thisis supposed to be a negative to organic. Well, it’s, uh, buyer and seller working itout. Now, things have changed a little bit. After CCOF, 2 farmers and I decided, talkabout tilting against windmills, we decided that we were gonna change the grant makingprogram so we founded the Organic Farming Research Foundation so that we could makegrants but our grants were based on, uh, agreeing, upon receipt of money to not patent any informationthat it was all, 100 percent, in the public domain and that we would fund ideas as wellas actual projects.And OFRF, I retired a year and a half ago,I was the executive director for 20 years, the average lifespan of a, professional lifespanof an E.D. is 3 to 5 years. So I was there 20 years and we made over 350grants and many of those recipients are now professors and are now, finally, over 20 universitieshave organic research programs. So, look how long it took us to get there. >>Presenter 2: What was the most difficultpart about getting the federal law written? >>Bob Scowcroft: Um, well, it’s the oppositionof the agricultural industry; some of you may have a little bit of awareness that theFarm Bill is front and center this summer. It’s a really big deal. Well, in 1990 was an earlier Farm Bill, theHouse Agriculture Committee refused to hold any hearings on organic.I was actually in a meeting in the mid ’80sin the USDA that a senior agency official came in and broke up the meeting ’cause acommunist sympathizer was there; that was me. [Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: Supporting organic family farmers and I had to leave the building. That’s the intensity of the passion at thatperiod of time. But, 1990, 5 years later, the House Ag Committeerefused to hold hearings so we actually had one congressman from Oregon, two actuallywith Sam Farr, but really, Peter Defazio carried the bill on the floor of the house, no hearings,no public testimony, no public comment. Senator Cranston and Senator Leahy carriedit in the Senate. One hearing, one time and on the house itwas voted 198 to 189 and we won the amendment on the floor of the House. And we just pushed every grass roots buttonwe had and the law was 16 pages long and it required a National Organic Standards Boardwhich was the only advisory board that had the right to stop a bad action and to recommenda good action.There are 29 advisory boards in the USDA,only one has statutory power and that’s the National Organic Standards Board. The administration at the time, and I haveto say including into the Clinton administration, never empowered the actual drafting of theregulations. They were due 18 months after the passageof the law; we got it 10 years. It took them 10 years to post the rules andthey were terrible. They suggested you could use genetic engineering;you could put sewage sludge on organic farms as long as , a number of pasture regulationswere terrible. They made a mistake, and actually this iskind of a cool little computer story, it was the first rule ever published on the internet,it was the USDA decided, they had this little corner thing, organic, no big deal and theywould publish it on the internet and ask for public testimony, the largest testimony they’dever received was animal welfare issues around production of veal which is a pretty lousyway to, well we’ll leave that for another topic, but that had gotten 35,000 letters. So they published the organic rules thinkingthey’d get maybe a couple of thousand, we generated 325,000 responses.Working assets, now called CREDO Phone Company,the largest single, it donated, it generated 35,000 comments through their phone subscriberbase, into the rules. That was such a tsunami, ten times the commentsthey’d ever received, that they had to rewrite the rules and then the press, I think we we’reprobably in contact, Liv and I and many others, the press really caught wind of this majorembarrassment and made major organic hay about it and they went back and had to rewrite themagain. And, finally, in 2002, 580 pages of everysingle thing you can and can’t do around organic was published and approved with two exceptions.One was pasture, they didn’t quite know howto figure out what organic pasture and organic meat and dairy was and is. They just published the final rule there in2010, 20 years later, and the other was the interface between recombinant DNA, geneticallyengineered products and organic. All they said was you can’t use it and wefelt there was a lot of protocol behind pollution from that and some other issues. So, those of you that wanna get into organic,you gotta start when you’re 20 or 30 cause you’re gonna take it from 4 percent to 50percent you gotta be young, I think, well maybe I’ll be on a roll for a couple moreyears.>>Presenter 2: Really? Can we reach 50 percent? That would be astonishing. >>Bob Scowcroft: You know, I think the infrastructureas immature as it is, has the capacity to do that understanding that organic transitionrequires, one of the key threads is 3 years from the last application of a prohibitedmaterial. So, if something happened and we had to goorganic, I believe essentially the body of knowledge is there in almost every crop andcommodity to farm it organically but the land isn’t. And we don’t want sod busted or marginal landor wets lands taken out and farmed organically. We want the deep soil of the heartland farmedthat way but it’s gonna take years, so I have a fear, it’s been my experience that organicin many cases has grown due to sensational pesticide stories for the most part, horrificpoisonings, drift, discovery or final proof of carcinogenic chemicals and people throwup their hands, “That’s it, I’m gonna buy organic. I don’t care.” So if we have some other more food safety,food issue, stories coming down the pike the push for organic with that same peaks andvalleys that we had during Alar where apples went for 70 dollars a box that were 6 or 8dollars a box, the size of that package before.I will say, going a little bit out on a limbhere, my sense is that relative to food issues and the things that I follow, that some ofthe next frightening data that’s just starting to be peer reviewed, when I say frighteningit’s not somebody standing up on a screen and ruining a dinner party or in a publicspeech, I’m talking about peer review science coming out of Academia, the abuse of antibioticsand chemicals in our meat production should gray the hair on the back of everyone’s head. And the stories are just beginning to comeout. Just recently, uh, and I can provide the linklater on if you wish, urine tract infections, there’s dinner party topic for ya[Laughter] >>Bob Scowcroft: had been tied to a certainantibiotic overused in poultry production.They know this, medical schools have now proventhis and, yet, can we get that antibiotic out of poultry? They don’t even, they want more research,let’s take, you know, the data’s not really in yet. You know science; we need more studies inthe future. Far as I’m concerned that data’s in and whatI’ve read about some of the chemicals, antibiotics in hog production, I only eat, I mean, I knowthe meat I eat almost personally, not the chicken itself[Laughter] >>Bob Scowcroft: but the producer that madeit. How do we transition, I guess is the, to getthe 50 percent, you need a government objective, you need a massive investment in researchand, of course, you need the consumer that’s gonna be paying those higher prices, in somecases, some seasons, to support it. >>Presenter 2: We’re close to 50 percent withthe Google culinary purchasing team with organic >>Bob Scowcroft: Awesome, awesome.>>Presenter 2: we’re not quite there but,and our meats and poultry are antibiotic and steroid free and, but what’s the positiveargument about organics? Yes we want to avoid this and this but inour culture where we’re concerned about nutrition and optimizing your life and things like that,is there a benefit to eating organic that is, say, something about nutrient density? >>Bob Scowcroft: That’s the, uh, that’s thePandora’s Box and I’m happy to open it.>>Presenter 2: Go ahead. [Laughter] >>Bob Scowcroft: But I’m gonna ask you tohold it for just about 60 seconds until, I came to organic really trying to ban agentorange and my concerns about pesticides and herbicides. People come to organic for different reasons,have different paths to, uh, eventually say, “You know, I wanna be positive, I wanna besolutions based.” Organic is a solution that we should all support. Moving the needle, to this day, is still antibioticsand chemicals and pesticides. The question that arises ever more frequentlythat I wanna now address is, is it more nutritious? And it’s a very difficult question to address.I was very lucky in my run, I got to know,uh, Mothers and Others for Livable Planet which Wendy Gordon and Meryl Streep founded,got to know them. At that time, both, for about a year prettywell and Wendy Gordon decided she wanted to say that organic was more nutritious, I said,”Wait a minute.” So she got a new professor on staff in theearly ’90s, a woman named Doctor Marion Nestle.Who is now quite well known in her books andI would encourage you to log in or get on her blog, she’s a brilliant writer, and saysthat, in a matter that someone like me who’s not a scientist, can understand. And also a woman named Joan Gussow. So we had several years of meetings in NewYork whenever I would come through about addressing the question of is organic more nutritious? And the variables seem almost insurmountableupon, to accumulate those in a manner that you can say yes or no, and let me just throwa few out for you to think about.First of all, America has something calledthe standard diet and in a way that’s linked to how much pesticides you can have as residueson certain– []. It used to be based on a 180 pound male which became a real issue whenDoctor Philip Landrigan wrote a book called “Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children”where he came out of his work saying, “Kids ate applesauce, squash, bananas and you’resaying men eat 6 bananas a year. Children eat the same amount as men everyweek. This should be, the standard diet should bebased on pesticides that kids get, they’re the most vulnerable.” Then he went on to speculate about, “Well,what micronutrients are we getting? Are they getting enough? How do we manage that when our kids are newbornsand starting out with just four or five, when they move from mother’s milk or formula andstart getting foods.” And I don’t believe, I’ve been on some panelswith him in the past and I don’t believe he ever was able to come to an academic understandingof how you would measure those kinds of nutrients.So the standard diet is an issue, pesticidebackground contamination is an issue, of course the soil it’s grown in is an issue, the waythe seeds have been bred. At lunch we talked just a little bit, ourbrilliant academic community has, um, not, through classic breeding practices, actually,very little recombinant DNA, although they’ve begun to embrace that as well, have bred ourseeds for our products now for ease of harvest, uh, mechanical tornado harvesting.That, the tomato has to be, all of them ina thousand acres, has to be about the right size with thicker skin so the machine canpick it. Actually in the last few days they discoveredthat in the process of growing these tomatoes, they also need to look a certain color causewe tend to buy really orange ones so they bred in color, and they also need to takeup more water because we all buy everything by the pound. So we’re actually buying the water that wesubsidize to irrigate it back and, uh, broccoli or tomato that’s taken up a little bit morewater. Brilliant marketing, academic, Bayh Dole act,companies want this.Now you come along and they discovered thatthe, uh, in breeding it, literally in the last few days the sciences have come out thatthey discovered that in this quest for the harvested tomato, they had lost the gene fortaste. [Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: And that they had just, heck, where is it? And they had just discovered where it wasand now they’re gonna breed that gene into the tomato for taste as well. I started yelling at the computer screen whenI read that story. It’s like, just go out and get heirloom tomatoes,brothers and sisters, what are you doing trying to get another silver bullet to shoot anothergene into an agro industrial system that is largely energy based.We can’t ship those tomatoes around the worldthat much longer or import them that much longer with spikes on energy. So I think it’s a bit meandering here butsoil fertility, biological activity in the soil breaks down the micronutrients slowerthat heirloom seeds pick up faster. Then it has to be harvested for immediatedeliveries cause we all know that starts to break down once it’s been harvested. Can organic do that? Yes, it’s clearly doing it. There are a number of studies out there doingthat but they’re citrus specific or, uh, heirloom variety tomato specific in New England inthe summer or strawberry specific. Thus, on a podium, I can’t yet, in all honesty,say that organic is more nutritious.>>Presenter 2: But, as soon as I hear yousay, “They’re breeding the plants to do, for more water uptake,” I’m hearing nutrient,uh, nutrient scarcity, the density is now diluted, nutrient dilution. Is that, that must be true. >>Bob Scowcroft: Um, certainly in the soils,you know, as the soils break down as it’s all about breeding something will take upN, nitrogen N, faster and more efficiently. You have a route that’s looking for that fertilizer.Sorry to put a personality on it but it’sjust not gonna take time to break down the nodule on a cover crop that’s left that littlepiece nitrogen node on its root to break down over the winter. It’s not gonna look for it. It’s gonna go right to where the N is in concentration,that’s the fertilizer we put down a couple weeks ago. I brought with me and sent over to you whichyou can make available. I did look up, uh, what is it, yeah, here’sthe June 29th issue of the journal Science, um, talked about finding the gene that makestomato taste better. So being published in Science is fantastic,it’s very important point of view but, and the fact that these publications are coveringthese kind of stories is also very new. Science and Nature is a two premier publications,they never really covered organic until the, actually one of the first organic researchstories they ran in Science was in the mid 90s, actually one of the early OFRF grantswas Doctor John Reganold who compared organic apples, biodynamic apples and conventionalapples for, uh, price, taste, nutrient density and, um, I think shelf life.And he found that 4 out of the 5 cases, organicexceeded that in an academic protocol and biodynamic won the other one. And OFRF made those, made those grants. I’m really proud of that grant. >>Presenter 2: You have some other historical,uh, artifacts you brought. You wanna tell us about that? >>Bob Scowcroft: Some other goodies. Sure, Uh,[Pause] >>Bob Scowcroft: 19, no wait, 2009 the Journalof HortScience did a story on the sorry state of American fruits and veggies. Basically what they found, again, I can givethe link later on, this was a case of such a quest for color, taste, harvest abilitythat conventional produce tested out for, I think, 7 to 10 micronutrients, 40 percentlower than organic. So it wasn’t, depends on which side of thecoin I guess, it wasn’t that organic is necessarily less nutritious, it was that an organic fullyfour season biological system was maintaining, the, um, delicate balance of nutrients intheir fruits and vegetables as compared to conventional which had really largely abandoned,um, their breeding program for more of the commercial marketplace. [Pause]>>Bob Scowcroft: Here’s a couple >>Presenter 2: Life magazine? >>Bob Scowcroft: Life, okay, this is kindof an ageist here [Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: 1970, Life magazine, as far as I know this is the first cover story aboutorganic.Written in 1970, organic comes of age and,you know, blonde, young actress with her organic. Those, uh, you don’t necessarily have to chuckleout loud but those of you who remember TV and ads at the time, I checked out she hadone acting gig. She was a model on TV for Noxzema shavingcream where she purred, “Take it off, take it all off.” And some guy would shave his, um, and shemade so much money that she bought an organic food store[Laughter] >>Bob Scowcroft: and left acting to be anorganic activist. [Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: Uh, and, uh, it goes on to show that you see Santa Cruz Farm and Gardenand talk about how organic has come of age since the ’50s.And I think it’s really a phenomenal read. Since I’m here at Google and I’d, actuallyI got the desired response at lunch when I showed it around, there’s also two ads inhere, one for this breathtaking new technological development, at 200 dollars per, it’s somethingcalled a Polaroid camera. So, when I’ve showed it in certain placespeople like, “Yeah, organic, that’s cool, right? ’70s, but look at that Polaroid camera for200 dollars. [Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: breathlessly the newest deal out there. But it’s important, again, really for whatthey talked about USC and crop rotation and whole grains and nutrition and what USC, Isaid USC, UCSC, produced. I also wanted to show >>Presenter 2: Well, that’s a story. >>Bob Scowcroft: two other things here, maybethree I’m, I try to bring something to get a chuckle. You never know your audience entirely so don’tfeel like you have to go overboard on my last piece here.[Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: Or, actually, I’ll show the book, too. In 1979, the last year of the Carter administration,a couple people said organic’s kind of working. And he tasks a group of scientists and farmersto come together and write a task force report on organic and make some recommendations. If this is real, this is growing, what shouldwe do to expand organic farming? And they wrote this report, they made 20 someodd recommendations and it was published, um, literally the last few weeks of the Carteradministration, an organic program coordinator was hired to then implement these recommendationsand he was on staff when the Reagan administration came in. Whatever your politics are, John Block wasthe Secretary of Ag at the time and under the ‘reduce Government and eliminate waste’,he laid off 500 people as one of his first day green slip, pink slipped 500 people atthe USDA. Big press, great, immediately reducing, well,they rehired 498 of them as consultants. [Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: Cause they needed this staff but they kept 2 off permanently. Now, that was Doctor Youngberg and the poorwoman in the secretary pool who happened to be assigned to his desk to help him, she waslaid off as well.But then they went further, they ordered allthe copies destroyed, and the, uh, the plates that printed this also be destroyed. And I happened to be in Garth’s office theday that order came down and he was distraught, I mean, this is kind of his life’s work. So, um, seeing myself as a kind of a moviecharacter and feeling adventurous, uh, I took 20 of these and wrapped them up in brown paperthinking that, and smuggled them out of USDA passed security.And I made a much more of a, I mean, reallyI just walked out the door with a bag. [Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: But it had, I thought I had the only copies of this document at that time. One reporter, this is the power of the press,James Risser from the Des Moine Register, wrote a story about this and, uh, the uproarwas so strong that, though Garth was never allowed back in the USDA, this became themost requested report in the ’80s during the Reagan administration. Number one, tens and tens of thousands, that’sgood news.>>Presenter 2: And how much of this has beenimplemented? >>Bob Scowcroft: Only 5 of the recommendationshave been fully implemented. Now, I have to say, um, Deputy Director ofthe USDA is Doctor Kathleen Merrigan, she’s a former OFRF board member, she’s number two,she’s created and fully implemented, now, all of these recommendations are now in theimplementation track. She has a fantastic website called ‘Know YourFarmer, Know Your Food’. I almost thought about dialing that in. They had an event today at the White House;she emailed me this morning saying, “If you want to link into it, it’s about women farmers. It’s how to find local, how to find how yourUSDA dollars, farmer’s market, hoop houses.It’s a really, really cool program that hasa compass and they just released 2.0 this morning. You might think organic is, uh, that the classicliberal, conservative divide is around organic and it generally has an image of being a leftor a liberal, uh, phenomenon. But you’d probably, or maybe not, maybe I’mwrong but, um, our general assessment is there are more republican organic farmers than thereis democrat, if you will. There’s a route in organic of conserve, asin conservatism that is particularly out in the heartland that these farmers have taken,the parents, the grandparents and now the children have taken very seriously. And, uh, one of the more famous or infamousdepending upon your point of view, it was a gentleman named Paul Weyrich, passed awaya couple years ago, he founded the Free Congress Foundation, he wrote a news and commentarycalled the Conservative Voice, for many years he was sort of the conservative voice to whatNorquist is to ‘no taxes’. He was, what he said was conservatism whenand he wrote an amazing column on February 2006, the next conservatism and conservationwhere he declared the future of conservatism was organic family farms and protecting oursoil and managing our water and buying locally.It’s an amazing document. If we wrote it, another bit of propaganda,but time and time again, I accept all interviews. I’ve been interviewed by, uh, Liv, many timesNew York Times AP. I’ve also been on the 700 Club, um, [laughter]you name it, part of my motto is to complete and total transparency. I’ll ask, answer any question for anybodyat anytime. And I love bringing this, uh, bring this out. His last one is, “Think locally, act locally.” This was the Conservative Voice in 2006 andmaybe more than any document we should have this on all of us whenever debates break outor the more public presentations.What’s to be against about, Paul Weyrich’svision of a family farm, the Jeffersonian, steel of our backbones from buying and keepingour monies and food and our soil where it belongs. It’s very important. And then, though I have others here, two othersand then we’ll go to Q and A, wanna do that? >>Presenter 2: Sure. >>Bob Scowcroft: In the theme of taking anyinterview at any time, let’s see is this dated, yeah; in 2003 I got a call from a reporterfrom the National Enquirer. How many people know the National Enquirer? [Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: I see some hands went like this. Nobody looked around so you’re okay. [Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: So the National Enquirer calls and she says she’s a reporter and I’msure this is a joke, one of my buddies, I mean, this is the kind of, this is what wedo for fun, is pretend, internally.[Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: And she was doing a story, “Are organic foods worth the cost?” And, you know, I just wanted to say is thisJoanne? Is this, come on, you know, ha ha. I did it once or twice and she got reallyirritated and said, “I’m in New York, I’m on a deadline, I report for the National Enquirerand I’m doing this story.” [Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: “Mister Scowcroft, do you wanna talk or not?” So I played it straight and she did a longinterview. She called others and low and behold, shewrote an incredibly straight story. All, as any reporter would write. She went out, checked farmer’s markets, sheasked about the rule and the 95 percent, the 100 percent, some other questions, not allof which went in there and they had photos of a farmer’s market and we ended up talkingfor about an hour and a half. And, you know, I’m not a subscriber and Ididn’t quite wanna buy one every week at the checkout stand for other reasons. So, um, being, uh, having a sense of humorI had a contest, internal to the staff and others, that we wanted to see who would discoverit first cause we have a lot of eyes and ears out there and we’d give them some kind ofprize.And it took about 6 weeks before someone outsideof the staff said, “Well, my Grandmother’s uncle was at the barber shop.” It was clear they had bought it themselves[Laughter] >>Bob Scowcroft: but they had about 5 degreesof separation to the fact that they had gotten the article and read it and low and beholdI was quoted in the National Enquirer. This is the range of interest that we haveout, out there and these kinds of stories. And I thought it was, um, rather phenomenalthat she wanted to do this. I should add at the end of the phone call,we went into pesticides and antibiotics, at the end of the phone call, you know, “Thankyou, Mr. Scowcroft” and she said, “By the way, um, I really hate you” and it just camefrom such a, I said, “What, excuse me? Did I?” She said, “Well, no it’s not you, it’s thatI had take out and it’s been delivered while I’ve been talking to you and now I don’t thinkI can eat it.” [Laughter]>>Bob Scowcroft: And I thought, “Okay, one person at a time.” You know, one person at a time.>>Presenter 2: Um, I’ll begin with the firstquestion, this is, there are people who are saying organic is now so mainstream, I mean,Doctor Oz is talking about eating organic, Oprah talks about eating organic. Walgreens carries it, there are enough disruptivefarmers in California who are saying organics is so diluted, so it’s so mainstream now,it’s not really organic anymore. Is it, is it? >>Bob Scowcroft: Uh, absolutely. It’s the law of the land. If it’s not organic, it’s a felony. So you have to meet those regulations. Now, some of those perspectives come froma quest for purity. >>Presenter 2: Yes. >>Bob Scowcroft: I should back up a littlebit; organic is still a voluntary term. Nobody’s making anyone in this room farm thatway, garden that way, thus, eat that way. If you choose to buy an organically labeledproduct, you have the force of law behind you and, actually, in the last few years asthey begun to enforce it, several, actually several people have now gone to jail for violationsof multimillion dollar violations of the certificates and the rules.Purity is, uh, why we set up the nationalorganic standards board. This is a board that’s set up to assess whena material can be allowed or not be allowed. Whether a practice should be approved or notapproved. And it’s a passionate debate and some of thematerials that have been allowed generate intense passion and when the vote comes downagainst it, somebody raised their hand and said, “Well, that’s it.Industrial farming’s taken over. It’s not organic anymore.” >>Presenter 2: I hear that a lot. >>Bob Scowcroft: That’s untrue. Nevertheless, some of the advances and theirability to become part of the rule are very slow. So I, again, as we talked over lunch, uh,my feeling is that knowing if you have the time and energy, knowing your farmer, visitingher farm, his operation, is always, uh, one of the best ways to go about it. Particularly if it’s in your neighborhood. I’m, uh, a flexitarian when it comes to thelong push of organic. We need all the farmers we can get to farm. We hope to provide the tools to farm organically,we hope the body of science and knowledge and the passion to continue continuous improvement,to take root. Some are less patient than others to get there. So, but you’re right to know that organicis embedded in the law. Transparency is a critical part of that. So if you wanna tease that out some more that’sfine. >>Presenter 2: Well, I would but I think there’ssome questions.Yeah, you wanna stand up? Yeah, I think we can hear you in the room. Go ahead. >>male #2: You have to repeat the questions. >>Presenter 2: I have to repeat, okay. >>female #1: My question is are there countriesthat are doing it better than us and what lessons we can learn from those countries? >>Presenter 2: Who does organic better thanwe do? >>Bob Scowcroft: Um, many. And almost universally because their Governmentshave endorsed it, have invested in it and created action plans to grow it. There are a number of European countries thathave goals, some of which have already been met to have 20 percent of their food economybe certified organic. Sweden, um, Switzerland, a National Universityin Switzerland is an organic university. One of the people in that quick video, Brian,Doctor Brian Baker, has been hired out of a university in New York, he’s moved to Genevato be the translator of all the European research out of the, this is the university projectthat translates organic research from around the world into English.We can’t even do that here. And Brian is now doing it out of, uh, F-I-B-L,which is the acronym worldwide. Just, what a concept. Where is our academic institutions on almosta simple information gathering? >>Presenter 2: You were saying at lunch, what’sthe top university in this country for organics? >>Bob Scowcroft: Now a number have organicengagement programs but in my personal opinion, and since this is on film I’ll be hearingit from many of them that I didn’t name, but Washington State University is where it’sat.WSU is phenomenal. They have organic undergraduate programs,they have organic online programs, they have organic masters and PhD programs. They just received a 5 million dollar grantto expand, uh, their organic farm. Not only in its own ability to be state ofthe art organic research but they have integrated the organic, they actually call it the smartfarm, cause the architectural school’s gotten really excited. The computer, there’s an amazing amount ofcomputer applications, apps, for organic farming just being developed. Water hydrology, the water use, soil fertilityand the business school, all now are integrated into the WSU smart farm program. And I found it ironic that UC Davis with athousand professors in Ag, I’m sorry, Post-Docs, assistant professors, Ag professors nearbythat WSU comes to Santa Cruz and San Francisco to raise money for their organic farm in Washingtonwhen Davis has five or six organic researchers out of that thousand. >>Presenter 2: Yes? >>male #3: Hi, um, I find that the terminologywhen it comes to animal friendly agriculture practices and, you know, and organic animalproducts gets a little confusing.Like, for me, it’s really important to haveeggs for like chicken that are able to, like, graze a pasture and stuff like that. And, you know, now when you go to the farmer’smarkets they have farms that advertise sort of pastured eggs or whatever. But I’m, I mean, I find that I don’t reallyknow exactly what that means and it’s not really breaking the rule, right, I mean, soI guess I’m wondering whether there is any progress being made about putting some teeth,some regulatory teeth behind sort of animal agriculture or terminology and things likethat? >>Presenter 2: Regulations and terminologyaround pastured eggs etcetera.>>Bob Scowcroft: You know, the success ofthe organic label, it is the only competitive conventional egg and it is extremely different,profoundly different. It’s now trying to be modeled by many otherecolabels. The flip side of that is that many other ecolabelsreally don’t wanna go through 20 years of legislative action, regulatory formattingor framework, I call it sort of the natural regulatory spaghetti thrown against the wall. I’m happy, animal free pasture, no drugs,sometimes sprayed, I mean, it’s just everything is out there and, uh, particularly in animalwelfare issues right now. It’s really, to the extent possible, gettinga tour, getting to a location, getting to a farmer or rancher or talking to them inthe farmer’s markets with, uh, again, I don’t know how close you follow this but, uh, theHumane Society had a revolutionary breakthrough 50 years coming, has made an agreement withthe Ag producers association to have these larger cages, um, we go from a foot to 5 feet.They can, chickens can turn around now. This is the grand bargain that we’ve madeand it’s not in the Farm Bill. The powers that be struck it out and the powersthat be are the pork producers. “My God, if they let chickens turn aroundthen hogs will have to get out of their crates.” If you really wanna be clinically depressedon animal production look at a conventional hog operation. >>male #3: Yeah, you know, I actually do that. You know, I do, I’ve been to like 2 particularfarms in this area that I know exactly how they treat their chickens and those are theonly farms that I’ll buy from.But I mean, I think, for, in order for thissort of to drop, you know, drive sort of greater adoption of these animal-friendly practices. >>Bob Scowcroft: Well, many of the animalwelfare groups are trying but right now the heads of Ag committees won’t even hold hearings. They won’t even, I mean, the congressman fromOklahoma who’s an extremely conservative individual and remarkably pro agro industrial systemsapproach, passed the Farm Bill, can’t even get Boehner to put it on the floor of theHouse. That’s the stranglehold that the industrialfarming system right now has. If it goes on before the house then there’s,um, what many people are calling a Monsanto amendment which waives all the regulationsaround genetic engineering and requires the USDA to approve anything within one year ofapplication without health and safety testing.So one amendment got in of 70 or 80, I think,in the Farm Bill so it’s just too, that’s where the consumer power, that’s particularlyimpressed with an entity like Google and the operation you have here ’cause you are, infact, leveraging forces by orders of magnitude as a group more than you would ever guess. You have no, I mean, maybe you kind of hearit or maybe it’s kind of sort of the road now, the norm.You have no idea what you’re buying powercan do [Sneezing in audience ]>>Bob Scowcroft: as far as leveraging change. Well, there’s questions everywhere. >>male #4: Can you talk a little bit moreabout the cost dynamic? You’ve mentioned it a few times that there’s,there’s a, there’s economies of scale yet to capture. What are the specifics there and how do youbalance that against the other comments you’ve made around knowing your farmer and how doyou know your farmers and keep your produce local when things start to grow and stufflike that. >>Bob Scowcroft: Uh, the complexity of themarketplace, you can get to a certain scale and go to 7 farmer’s markets and you and maybe1 or 2 workers harvest that and bring it direct to market. You’re paying the farmer pretty much the entirecost for that. But that’s still some fruits and vegetables,once you start getting into cold storage, there’s a little bit more as a middle personthere.Once you get into larger trucks or hydro coolersor ice machines that broccoli has to go on ice just about in the field, a little bitmore cost there. Now you start to look at the scale as I havean ice machine maybe I should grow a lot more broccoli and hire 5 workers and sell it intoa regional chain. Cost might go down at a certain point butnow you wanna grow something difficult, trial and error, you’ve gotta grow it out severalyears to see whether you can grow okra or, and we’re just talking fruits and vegetables,um, if you’re inter, I’m sorry, just vegetables, tree fruit, do I wanna put 5 years of applevarieties when, into my farm when apples might go out of vogue and raspberries. Anyone that’s been down in the Watsonville,Salinas area knows that, I mean, even when I moved there in the ’80s, apple trees wereeverywhere, there’s 1 or 2 apple growers left because raspberries, raspberries, raspberries,raspberries. So now, apple growers, they have harvestersthat come through, they have an intense season, they can put it into storage for 3 or 4 months.Completely different infrastructure for thatland and they have equipment, cost up front, loans, crop insurance, certain size,HACCP,food safety issues now regulatory over, overlays that you have to follow. So, scaling up and commodity specific andyour business plan and your marketing initiatives, all play a role in that dynamic and then whenyou get into meat products, for example, there was a fantastic hog farmer, almost have theirname, just wait, in Watsonville and we all went, “Finally, we can eat pulled pork. We can eat bacon from the farmer’s market.” Those of us that eat meat and that farmercouldn’t make it, they ended up losing their money for one reason, their only slaughterfacility was down in Los Angeles area and it was so large that it couldn’t even taketheir 10 hogs every 2 weeks make, they couldn’t cleanup, never mind that it was natural ororganic.So, California is in desperate need of what’scalled a mobile slaughter unit that can actually go to the farm and slaughter specific to thefive, you know, name your meat products and some of the dairy issues and some of the cheesemaking issues. So it becomes very complex very quickly relativeto what stream of commerce you wanna go into. One of the more recent responses to that arecertain aggregators or co-ops where a number of veg growers are going together and startingto aggregate and using one dock and one cooling system or a grower that had a cooling systemis beginning to see another stream of income cooling other very small grower’s product. It might be one pallet, it might be 3 pallets,drive up literally with your pickup truck with 20 flats of strawberries and they’llcool it for a couple of days so then you can move it out when it’s ready.I don’t know if that’s helpful but it’s justthe complexities >>male #4: Yeah, it just seems like there’sa huge need for, like you said, shared infrastructure in the middle tier of the producer and buyerand then a lot of these organic people have it incredibly difficult, like I read the Omnivore’sDilemma and they talk about how organic first started it was not just about revolutionizinghow food was produced but also how it was distributed and what people ate. And it seems like, at least sitting in thesort of Shangri La of San Francisco, the piece of that that’s still has a lot of developmentto do is the distribution piece in the middle cause these small farms have such a challengegetting their food to market. >>Bob Scowcroft: I would actually say it hasbeen revolutionized even since Michael wrote that but it is in certain regional locations. There’s an amazing co-op up in Eugene in Portlandcalled Organically Grown.It was founded by organic farmers. It now represents several hundred organicfarmers. It’s an ESOP, they have shares, they havebonus plans, employee stock, 140 of the 200 employees own this company now and they havebuilt the entire infrastructure by and for. They go to restaurants, wholesalers, theymay serve some of the entities up there, people at lunch seemed to know. But what we’re still, this is still reallyessentially outside those 7 buyers I brought up before. The 4 supermarkets and the 3 box stores. >>male #4: [inaudible] >>Bob Scowcroft: Well, my feeling is thatto get it to 50 percent, those 7 buyers bring it to an economic strata that we can’t reach,commodities of which can work in that format for a period of time in the future and myquip to the Nation, the Nation did a story about it and I got in a little bit of troublesaying, “Well, the good news is those pesticides are not being used on 100 thousand acres,because of scale it won’t go into that, but our response was like [indistinct], now weneed to set up a peach tasting stand at the entrance to those box stores and let themknow what a real peach just harvested tastes like.Then those people can come to the farmer’smarket. If you go to some of the intense markets inOakland, you’ll see the organic tables have longer lines than the conventional. As a matter of fact, very important surveydone for years if not decades by the Grower magazine, fresh produce the packer, most conventionalpublication out there has consistently shown that the lower the economic strata, the greaterthe desire for organic products. Completely countered the image that you seesome of these NGOS that are opposing organic want, it’s an elite food. I mean, we certainly have not done a goodjob, I can think of any number of video examples of the most amazing superstar that only eatsorganic that reinforces the elite image but the fact of the matter is that when giventhe possibility and the opportunity that all economic strategists specifically the lowerones which use organic consistently shown in the conventional publication. >>male #5: [Indistinct] >>Bob Scowcroft: I love that question. >>male #5: So I was wondering if you couldtalk to the science? >>Bob Scowcroft: Sure. Well, there’s a couple of things.First of all, where are, where does it saythe US to feed the world? We certainly feed corn and soy beans to feedstations around the world but, um first, secondly we already produce something like 1.4, um,1.4, one and half times more food than the earth consumes currently. The waste, war and storage and transportationeliminate a phenomenal amount of that food. And, uh, my passion is to declare that weshould be feeding the world information rather than somehow assuming that we are industrializingand exploiting our soil to move, uh, feed products in competition to Brazil or Russiaand China to meet operations elsewhere.>>male #5: So from a food system perspectiveif you wanted to take an international [indistinct] >>Bob Scowcroft: Absolutely, the FAO has publisheda number of papers recently showing, that’s an entity of the UN and I can’t pull the nameup right now. >>Presenter 2: Food and Agriculture Organization. >>Bob Scowcroft: And there’s a rocket, nonot rocket, well there’s one person that’s particularly been overseeing a lot of thesepeer reviewed research reports showing now that organic fields are better than conventionaland a number of the African nations that, particularly women, owned and run, small familyfarms are producing a significantly better yield and crop rotation systems and localcover crop, compost, green manure crops and that if we are serious about, really seriousabout feeding the world we should be cooperatively developing research stations and informationstations not genetically engineered products that require fertilizer and chemicals.Just exporting the problems that were showingup, having shown up here. >>Presenter 2: Last question. >>male #6: So, one issue you haven’t mentionedat all, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the community garden. I have the good fortune of being married towoman who has a passion for it. We have all manner of [indistinct] and peppers[indistinct] elsewhere.Does this have any impact on scale or is justa hobby for — >>Presenter 2: Can gardening impact, can minifarming as John Jeavons calls it, impact our food supply? >>Bob Scowcroft: I think it could. Some very intriguing initial papers are startingto come out about community gardens, actual just yields and nutrient delivery among someof these gardens but by far, the more important component of gardening is the actual individualact of growing your own food and understanding what it takes and particularly in communitygardens working with others building a community around a food and breaking bread and mealculture.We don’t really have that in the US. If you go to Italy or some of these other,I came home the other day and there was a bag of plums on my front doorstep and nobodyeven put a note on it and they were incredible and I knew they came from my street or somewhereand then just yesterday somebody shouted out, you know, “I got plums up the wazoo and Ijust went to every house and dropped them. I hope they were great!” And it was a moving, it was a moment. It was great. I’m happy to eat these plums in my cerealevery morning.I have a very special Bartlett pear tree inmy backyard and I’ve been doing the same thing, dropping them off cause they all have to gopretty much come off in the next 2 weeks. So I think those acts of both just the personal,it came from my garden, the salad or the fruit tree. I really want a Meyer lemon tree; I killedmy last lemon plant. I was working too hard. I think the garden movement is very importantand the last thing I’d say is the gardeners by and large are gonna save us all becausethey’re growing out heirloom seeds and exchanging seeds and saving seeds and trading seeds wherethe new organic seed movement and seed alliance and seed savers are coming from, by and large,gardeners. If it wasn’t for the gardeners that have donethis the last 30 years.>>Presenter 2: It’s something to do with,to take of suburban sprawl is to start growing food on it, right? >>Bob Scowcroft: Now, Detroit has a food plan,it’s very contrev, someone wants to industrialize that but basically Detroit has an actual planand it’s beginning to take some of these blocks and turn it back to farming and the largercommunity agricultural garden stations to feed the community around it. And that is a mayor initiative supported byWhole Foods and a number of, you know, philanthropic entities. I should say one more thing, just to close,can I do that? >>Presenter 2: Sure, yes, please, your book. Well, the book you’re in. >>Bob Scowcroft: Yeah, it’s not mine. One of the things that I’m at the very earlystages, and I’m saying this for the record, I guess people are gonna have to start holdingme to it but I’m gonna write a book, the people’s history of organic . We’ve got 35 years ofthese little, I brought other goodies like in Russian, in St.Petersburg Russia, a saleof organic cranberries. So if you’re really short here in the US youcan go over to St. Petersburg, buy organic cranberries. But, I’m 61, many of us have been workingon this for 30, 40 years, are retiring or disengaging entirely, I’m not I’m just doingthings in a different way now. But I think capturing our history is reallyimportant so I got an idea years ago, I was looking for revolutionary librarians, whicha particular audience though that’s was really funny, revolutionary librarians.But, actually, 2 came up to me afterwardsand said, “We are revolutionary librarians.” And I said, “Well, what I want you to do isan oral history of the 20 people that started organic in California” Well, a few have passedaway, others are in their 70s, some of us are in a late 50s, 60s. We need to capture this. And low and behold they ended up with 52 oralhistories at UC Santa Cruz’s McHenry Library, all downloadable mp3’s you can listen ad nauseumfor hours at us talking away and then it got, within the library system they were so excitedabout at UC Press, said let’s make a book out of it. And they tasked the librarians to find thebest and put it in order and get about 15, 18 pages of each one in print and this justcame out, it’s called “Cultivating a Movement” and it’s, I found it, I’m learning thingsabout my friends that I didn’t know. Jim Cochran the great strawberry grower andUFW supporter started the daycare, as an assistant in a daycare program. But we should all, in almost every menu, becapturing our oral history now.And so I’m going around the country to otherplaces and I’m a trustee on a foundation so I’m actually, I think, working with otherfoundations. I think there’s some funding now to, causethis is mostly all local. What happened in New England, what happenedin Oklahoma, what happened in Wisconsin and Washington is, in a way, an indigenous tothe place. But, the students job will be to study thisand to find the common themes. But, “Cultivating a Movement” is a prettycool read and you will recognize some of the farmers in there if you go take a look onthe web about it. It can be purchased through UCSC, I didn’tbring it, Irene is really the hero that did this book. I have a chapter in here, as well. Amazon, I guess, has it too. >>Presenter 2: Well, we’re gonna look foryour, your memoirs.>>Bob Scowcroft: Well, yeah, the people’shistory of organic has a couple of PG-13 stories about it too. Some great scandals and the gathering of thetribe of organic activists both young and old is at Asilomar Conference Center everyJanuary. It’s 32 years running, I’ve been to all but3 and they’re from 80 years old to 8. It’s a great conference .And, of course, that’swhere we reconnected last January that led to me coming here today. >>Presenter 2: Thank you so much.>>Bob Scowcroft: Thank you very much for coming. [Applause].


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