Organic Bytes
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school of fish swimming in a circle around a stalk of seaweed

Swimming in Circles

At age 17, Paul Molyneaux left home and got a job in commercial fishing. By the late 1980s, he was running a fish processing plant for the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Eastport, Maine, on Cobscook Bay. That was about the same time there was a sudden push to do salmon farming in the bay.

In a recent interview with Dr. Mercola, Molyneaux said:

“The way the promoters—at the time, a company called Ocean Products—sold it to us was [by] saying, ‘You can become farmers of the sea. You can start giving back to the ocean.’ We bought it hook, line and sinker … Last summer, there were about six of us standing on the dock in Eastport, saying, ‘Geez, we thought this was going to be great.'”

It wasn’t great. Local fisheries dwindled. In the late 1990s, infectious salmon anemia virus spread like wildfire among the salmon pens in Cobscook Bay, wiping out the fishery as 2 million fish had to be discarded overnight.

Molyneaux, author of “Swimming in Circles: “Aquaculture and the End of Wild Oceans,” says one of the best things consumers can do is locate a local community-supported fishery. 

“What I would say to consumers is, ‘If you want to eat healthy, expect to pay more.’ You’re better off to pay $15 per pound for a Bristol Bay sockeye than $7 per pound for a Chilean farmed salmon. You’re better off eating one meal of sockeye than two meals of farmed fish.”

You can also buy wild-caught fish online. Scroll to the end of this article for a list of online sources of wild-caught fish.

Meanwhile, two companies are trying to build huge land-based salmon farms on the Penobscott Bay, in Maine. One of those farms, proposed by Norway-based Nordic Aquafarms, would clear 40 acres of forest to build what amounts to an experimental project—there are currently no salmon farms of this size in operation anywhere in the world. OCA is working with Local Citizens for Smart Growth to try to prevent the projects from going forward.

Read and watch ‘Swimming in Circles: Aquaculture and the End of Wild Oceans’  

Learn more about plans to build the world’s largest salmon farm in Maine, and how you can help stop it. 

Make a tax-deductible donation to help keep salmon farms out of Maine  

light coming into a dark hallway through an opening door

Knock, Knock, Knockin’

Last week, staff from OCA and Citizens Regeneration Lobby (our 501(c)(4) lobbying arm) joined other groups in Washington, D.C. for a day of lobbying for better Farm Bill policies.

It was a day of knocking on doors, talking to members of Congress, pushing for policies that support the kind of farmers and farming that produce healthy, organic food, healthy local economies and a clean environment.

We saw glimmers of hope. But we have a long way to go before we get a Farm Bill that stops subsidizing industrial polluters, and starts promoting regenerative alternatives.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, farmer, author and activist Wendell Berry, quoting agricultural journalist Alan Guebert, said:

“Alan Guebert was right when he said in one of his columns that this farm bill will be much like the last one insofar as it will not address the real problems of agriculture. Those problems, as you know, are soil erosion, soil degradation, the pollution of waterways by sediment and toxic chemicals, various ecological damages, the elimination of small farms, the destruction of the cultures of husbandry and the ruin of country towns and communities. And maybe we should add specifically the curse of overproduction, which at present, as often before, is the major and the cruelest problem.”

Guebert paints a realistic picture of today’s industrial agribusiness model—and a pessimistic outlook for the future of the Farm Bill.

We can do better. But it will take more of us letting Congress know what we want when it comes to our food, our rural communities, our environment.

With your help, we’ll engage more farmers, more retailers and more consumers like you in efforts to convince Congress that the future of agriculture is regenerative.

Let’s keep knock, knock, knockin’ on Congress’ doors!

Support Citizens Regeneration Lobby, OCA’s 501(c)(4) lobbying arm (not tax-deductible)

Make a tax-deductible donation to the Organic Consumers Association

Click here to learn about other ways to support our work

silhouette of dandelion seeds over the sunset

Power Play

Would you like your local government to ban Monsanto’s carcinogenic Roundup herbicide?

Your local government has had that power since 1991, when the Supreme Court ruled that state and local governments have the right to enact their own laws governing the manufacture, sale and use of pesticides, even if those laws are stronger and more restrictive than existing federal law.

Ever since, Monsanto has been pressuring Congress to strip local governments of that right.

Monsanto wants Congress to strip your community of the right to ban toxic pesticides. How? By using the new Farm Bill to change federal regulations.

Only Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Utah and Vermont still let local governments regulate pesticides. But that’s seven states too many for Monsanto. Plus, the Biotech Bully is worried that number could grow if more states were to pass laws restoring local control over pesticides.

TAKE ACTION: Tell your U.S. Senators and Representative to get Monsanto’s toxic tricks out of the Farm Bill. Protect local rights to ban dangerous pesticides!

Read ‘Let Towns Keep the Right to Regulate Pesticides in Their Communities’

silhouette of a scientist in front of a microscope with a dollar sign on their slide

Wrong Choice

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is an agency that operates under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Its mission statement is: Protecting the public’s health by ensuring the safety of meat, poultry and processed egg products. 

You would think that the person in charge of an agency whose mission is to protect your right to safe food would be someone with an independent scientific background.

You’d think. But Trump has just tapped a scientist with a long history of looking out for the interests of corporations—like meat and pharmaceutical industry giants Cargill, Merck and Perdue—for the position of under secretary of the FSIS.

There’s already reason to suspect that the FSIS isn’t protecting your meat. A recent report by Consumer Reports raised questions about drug residue contamination in meat and poultry after its analysis of residue testing conducted by the FSIS revealed alarming levels of multiple drugs, including some that are strictly prohibited in meat production. Instead of shutting down offending meat producers and warning consumers about what the agency’s testing found, FSIS officials accused Consumer Reports of getting it wrong. But Consumer Reports stands by its work, as outlined in this letter to the USDA.

The last thing we need are more industrial meat cheerleaders in charge of food safety. 

TAKE ACTION: Tell your Senators: Don’t put a scientist-for-hire in charge of food safety!

image by Tony Webster of an Impossible Burger

Fake Solutions

It’s not healthy. It’s not safe. And it sure as heck won’t solve the climate crisis.

This week, OCA’s Ronnie Cummins weighs in on the “Impossible Burger,” a “meatlike” concoction made from a highly-processed mix of soy, wheat, coconut oil, potatoes and genetically engineered yeast.

Touted by the techno-food industry as the solution for everything, the impossibly fake burger turns out to be a fake solution.

In his essay of the week, Ronnie writes:

Although I share the same disgust and hatred of factory farms and CAFO meat as my vegan and vegetarian brothers and sisters, I am nonetheless disturbed to see a growing number of vegan activists, Silicon Valley tycoons, genetic engineering cheerleaders and even some well-meaning climate activists coming together to promote fake meat products, such as the “Impossible Burger,” as a healthy and climate-friendly alternative to beef. Even worse are the growing number of vegans, climate activists and high-tech/GMO enthusiasts who claim that abolishing livestock and animal husbandry altogether will solve our health, environmental and climate crises.

Ronnie also writes about the “even more bizarre, elitist and uninformed” trend of calling for the elimination of the planet’s 70 billion livestock as a major solution to the climate crisis:

These “no livestock” fundamentalists basically ignore the fact that over a billion people, especially in the developing world, rely upon, for their food and survival, raising livestock on the billions of acres of pasture and rangeland that are simply not suitable for raising crops, but which can and do support properly grazed livestock. 

“Properly grazed” are the the operative words here. And regenerative agriculture, not fake meat, is the best way to feed the world and cool the planet.

Read Ronnie’s essay: ‘Vegans, Ranchers and Regenerators Unite: Why Fake Meat and Eliminating Livestock Are Really Bad Ideas’

Little Bytes

This Week’s Essential Reading

André Leu on Monsanto/Bayer Trial: Glyphosate Safety in Question

Expert Witness from Landmark Monsanto Trial Offers 5 Fixes to Shortcomings in Current GE Food Regulations

Monsanto Verdict Shines Spotlight on Glyphosate Residue in Food

We Are Climbing Rapidly Out of Humankind’s Safe Zone:’ New Report Warns Dire Climate Warnings Not Dire Enough

Report: Monsanto’s Glyphosate Found in Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Quaker Oats and Other Popular Breakfast Foods

America’s Waterways Have a Huge Problem with Contact Lenses

Vaccines, Autoimmunity and the Changing Nature of Childhood Illness

The Benefits of Bitters

Cuban flag superimposed on an open, raised hand


Once again, the Center for Global Justice and Vía Orgánica (a project of OCA) have teamed up to sponsor a 10-day trip to Cuba. The theme of this year's trip, which will run from November 20 – 29, is "Organic Agriculture and Cooperatives in Cuba." 

Two decades ago, Cuba was the first country to convert from industrial agriculture to organic agriculture. Today Cuba is converting a major part of its economy to cooperatives. It’s a time of tremendous change for this country, and how it’s viewed on the world stage.

This year’s tour is a great way to see for yourself how this island nation is striving for food sovereignty as it reorganizes its economy. You’ll visit organic gardens and cooperatives, an ecological zone and a community project. You’ll also have the opportunity to talk with specialists in sustainable agriculture, the Cuban economy, its health system, US-Cuban relations and more. 

Havana’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center will host this year’s travelers. The estimated cost of $1550 plus airfare (from either Miami or Mexico City) includes dormitory-style accommodations, all meals at MLK Center, translation, guide, transportation and a full program of activities. A $100 non-refundable deposit is required with your application. Full payment is due one month before departure. Limited scholarships are available

Email for applications and more info.

Learn more