USDA Organic MEXICO???


AQUAPONICS USA/WORLD

NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER

#11
Table of Contents
What is the connection between Organic Food and Immigration
This isn’t a hit piece!
Jacobs Farm, Del Cabo has an answer to our immigration problem
Meet Larry Jacobs
Eat more Organic Food
Sue’s Health Foods Store has our Culinary Basil
Watch “The Need To Grow Trailer”
Coming in December, “The U.S. Obesity Crisis!”

Our Editor, Grace Sylke
Once again we’re getting this Newsletter out in the last half of the month; but we believe you’ll find the timing to be quite perfect. Thank You for being one of our readers.
Quick Links:
Secondary Title:
How to Solve our Immigration Issues?
Actual Title:
USDA Organic, MEXICO???
The Organic Industry in the U.S. (Uh, not really) Part 3
 
To view the other two Newsletters in this Series go to:
 
Newsletter #9:
 
Newsletter #10: What is USDA Organic? The Organic Industry in the U.S. Part 2
 
Dear Subscriber:
The timing couldn’t have worked out better if we’d planned it as this third Part of our 3-Part Series on the USDA Organic Industry is all about USDA Certified Organic food from Mexico. Why is the timing auspicious? Because today, November 20, 2014, a date that will go down in the history books, our President will be announcing his sweeping reform of our U.S. Immigration Laws by Executive Order (Uh, No, Not quite. It’s a MEMO instead. Did they say, Memo?). Whatever form it takes, many of the people who will be affected are at the time of this writing, 3PM Pacific Standard Time, illegal immigrants from Mexico sanz Memo.
We are not choosing sides about this hot debate in this Newsletter and gladly remain neutral about this controversial decision by our left leaning President that many believe will ignite a political firestorm coming from the right. What’s important from our perspective is the fact that contrary to the beliefs of many Americans, Mexico is a top exporter to the U.S. of USDA Certified Organic produce and meats. Who would have thought that to be the case? It’s certainly news to us. And the Link up between USDA Organic food from Mexico and immigration is profound and will be explained below. Just keep reading.
Like most of us, we knew a lot of vegetables were coming from Mexico (we weren’t so up on the meat part); but what we didn’t know is that it was adorned by the coveted USDA Certified Label, which as we explained in Part 2 of this Series is a worldwide Label.

Mexico has recently been ranked the #6 most Obese Country out of the top 10. Guess which country is #1. Watch for our December Newsletter about “Obesity in America”. 

According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural ServiceGAIN Report written in early 2011, “Mexico is now considered the second [that was in 2011] more obese country in the world and the Mexican government has

made it a priority to reverse this through education campaigns and new food nutrition laws targeting school children.” (Quote taken from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service GAIN Report dated on the last day of 2011)

But things have changed since early 2011 and now according to an article in the Health Section of US News and World Report, Mexico has dropped down to number 6 on the Top Ten List under Brazil, Russia, India, China and the U.S. So the local population is starting to eat healthier; and it looks like the government’s campaign is working. Still 80% of the USDA Certified Organic Food grown is Mexico is grown for export and most of it is coming to the U.S.

Actually, a look at the big cross trading picture is quite interesting because “since NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) was implemented in 1994, total

U.S. exports to Mexico have increased 375 percent, while Mexican exports to the United States have grown 559 percent.” WOW! (Quote taken from USDA Foreign Agricultural Service GAIN Report, dated the last day of 2013)

 

Pictured below is a small family organic farm in Oaxaca, Mexico. It’s one of many of these small to medium sized family farms that have made Mexico “a top 20 producer of organic foods worldwide”. (Quote taken from the 2011 Gain Report) “Mexico is estimated to have more than 110,000 organic farmers, considered the greatest number in any country of the world. More than 90 percent farm on less than 9 acres and sell their products collectively. On the other end of the spectrum are large, private producers who farm 250 to 5,000 acres.” (Quote taken from PCC Natural Markets article entitled “Questions about Mexican organics?”dated January 2011)

“Mexico is the main producer and largest exporter of organic coffee and the third largest producer of organic honey. Other organic crops grown in Mexico include corn, cacao, avocados, sesame seeds, cactus paddles, vanilla beans, milk, and dairy products. Over the last decade, several efforts had been made by the Mexican government and private sector to promote organic farming. Dozens of outdoor markets (tianguis) and farmer’s markets for organic products have been set up in different regions of Mexico including Oaxaca, Veracruz, and Chiapas where more than 500 small producers gather to sell their products. Market analysts expect this trend to continue growing in the future. Even though organic production represents less that 1% of all agricultural production on surface planted in Mexico, it generates around 10% of the gross domestic product in the agricultural sector with revenues of approximately 300 million USD a year.” (Quote taken from the 2011 Gain Report).

U.S. APHIS Inspectors inspecting broccoli

What’s important to understand is this isn’t a hit piece. It’s a validation of the fact that USDA Certified Organic food from Mexico is subject to the same regulations to which the USDA Certified Organic food from the U.S. is subject. It’s also subject to the same challenges and problems.”For a food to be sold as certified organic in the United States – whether grown in the United States, in Mexico, or anywhere else in the world – it must meet all the requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program. It must be produced without the use of toxic synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or irradiation.

 

“Perhaps most important, it must be certified by a USDA-accredited agency. Certification includes inspection of farm fields and processing facilities, detailed record keeping of what inputs were applied to the land, and, if there’s cause for concern, soil and water testing. Currently, at least 15 organic certification agencies operate in Mexico.” That’s the good news.

(Quote taken from PCC Natural Markets article entitled “Questions about Mexican organics?” dated January 2011)

 

The bad news; and there is some. All of the USDA Certified Food from Mexico is subject to inspection. Having the USDA Organic label doesn’t magically get organic operator produce across the U.S. border because other agencies have to be satisfied; and as we described in Part 2 of this series sometimes “Treatments” are required. Treatments are actions that can be ordered by the regulating agency called APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service). APHIS can order that the shipment be Fumigated, Cold Treated, Hot Treated, Irradiated or even Destroyed. Sometimes, if the producer is under a NARP Agreement (North American Research Partnership), these “treatments” happen before the shipment leaves the foreign country from which it is being shipped and paperwork attesting to that fact is presented. If you want to learn more about these “Treatments”, go to Part 2. Apparently, the USDA Certified Organic vegetables from Mexico have a special NARP Agreement in place so the Organic vegetables do not have to be “irradiated”, which would violate the definition of “organic” according to USDA Certification requirements.
Given all the regulations, it’s quite amazing that producers from Mexico actually have been able to jump through all the hoops to import their produce into the U.S. “As demand for organic food in the United States expands, Mexico’s certified organic acreage has been growing at a rate of 32 percent per year. A 2009 study found an annual organic production value of more than $370 million with 80 percent destined for export.”(Quote taken from PCC Natural Markets article entitled “Questions about Mexican organics?” published in early 2011)
Mexico’s advantage is, of course, their tropical weather, which allows fruits and vegetables to be grown year round there.

Jacobs Farm, Del Cabo

This is a story of just one successful producer of organic produce from Mexico, Jacobs Farm, Del Cabo. It’s a 400 plus member strong Organic Farming Cooperative. “Del Cabo’s claim to fame is its flavorful cherry tomatoes and basil, both featured at PCC. All the farms are certified organic by Oregon Tilth [an accredited USDA Certifying Agency] and tested for food safety byPrimus [Labs]”, a California food safety company. PCC Natural Markets are the (Whole Foods equivalent) for Seattle, Washington. (Quote taken from PCC Natural Marketsarticle entitled “Questions about Mexican organics?” published in early 2011)
The average Del Cabo farmer makes around $30,000 per year and has a health insurance policy through the company for themselves and their family although we can’t say how or if Obamacare has affected that particular perk.
Here’s how this all links us to what’s happening today, Thursday, November 20, 2014, when the President announces his sweeping Immigration reforms via Executive Order turned “Memo” in the final hours. “By importing food from Mexican growers who receive a living wage, such as those who sell products recognized as “fair trade,” we’re empowering farmers to remain in their own communities rather than leave home seeking employment. In the United States, at every link in the agricultural chain – from farm to processor to restaurant backend – labor often comes from Mexico. The USDA reports that more than half the hired workers employed by U.S. produce growers are believed to be unauthorized immigrants.
 
Del Cabo offers its members economic sustenance at home.
 

This is a picture of the Espinoza family that has been members of Del Cabo for three generations.
The increase in certified organic acreage in Mexico also means a safer environment free of persistent, toxic chemicals for workers, families and children living nearby, as well as a roster of organic seeds relevant to their climate.” (Quote taken from PCC Natural Markets article entitled “Questions about Mexican organics?” published in early 2011)  This is more of the good news resulting from our importing USDA Organic food from Mexico. We get more organics and Mexican families thrive at home.

Meet Larry Jacobs 

 
Larry Jocobs was born in Los Angeles County and owned and managed a tree nursery when he got very sick from using traditional pesticides. That incident was the birth of Jacobs Farm, which is now the largest organic culinary herb producer in the United States. Larry and his wife, Sandra Belin, “went on to found theDel Cabo Cooperative in Mexico, which continues to assist indigenous farmers in growing and selling their produce at a price that creates a sustainable livelihood for their families.” (Quote taken from “Deep Roots On-Line Magazine” article entitled “Farming Change Agent Larry Jacobs Shares Vision on Sustainable and Organic Ag, Part 1, dated some time in 2013)
A huge Mexican farmers organic cooperative created by an American farmer and entrepreneur. What a perfect match. Larry has also started organic farmer cooperatives in other Latin countries like South America and Peru. Here’s the upside from Larry’s perspective:

“In Baja, California we have measured that since we started in 1985, and most families that previously earn between two and three thousand dollars a year, now earn in the high twenties.

 

The average is $30,000 a year and some families make much more than that. So it’s a tenfold increase in their income. Young men that were working in the U.S. illegally, are returning to their family farms, because they can make just as much money working with their fathers and the rest of their families in their communities. And they could work here [at home] without ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] documentation.” (Quote taken from “Deep Roots On-Line Magazine” article entitled “Farming Change Agent Larry Jacobs Shares Vision on Sustainable and Organic Ag, Part 1, dated some time in 2013)

Our conclusion? We just eat more  Organic Food and help solve our Immigration issues!
Here’s a photo of our aquaponically grown Red and Green Oak Leaf Lettuce, which is the most organic lettuce you can get.
It doesn’t even have to be Organic Food imported from Mexico, South America or Peru because the more we eat organics, the more we’ll need; and it will automatically increase the imports from those countries. WA LA! Side Note: We understand it really isn’t that simple; but we truly believe this is a direction that could offer some relief for our broken Immigration system.

This Day is full of Synchronicity!

Why? Because I’m about to go out into this Growroom and harvest some of our Culinary Basil to package it up and take over to Sue’s Health Foods, our local Yucca Valley Health Food Store. Where’s the synchronicity you ask?
Today, I just discovered Larry Jacobs (above) who happens to be the largest culinary herb producer in the U.S. We’re thinking we could learn a thing or two from Larry.
At any rate, because we’re in a very challenging environment, we’re growing our zerO brand Culinary Basil inside an aquaponics growroom where we can control our temperature and keep everything a balmy 75 degrees just like Mexico. We’re able to grow several different kinds of Culinary Basil including Sweet Basil, which is in the large center container and the container on the right; and we’re also growing Greek Basil, which is in the container on the left. Today, we’re delivering Sweet Basil so if you live in the High Desert near Yucca Valley, head on over to Sue’s to get yours and help us give Larry a little competition.

We finally made it into the Trailer! But don’t blink or you’ll miss us.

Go check out the Trailer for this great documentary that’s still in production. We’re in it! You’ll see our Tomatoes growing inside our Greenhouse and the outside of our Greenhouse early in the Trailer. Later in the Trailer, there’s a quick shot of Grace in our Growroom that we just showed you growing Basil. Grace was thrilled when she realized she came right after one of her heroes, the GMO Activist, Jeffrey Smith.

Coming in December. The U.S. Obesity Crisis! Just in time for Christmas. Don’t miss it. 

This crisis is a national disaster putting us at the top of the most obese country’s top 10 List. It’s killing thousands of us and getting worse; and it’s happening right along side the healthy food movement. What’s powering it? How can it be stopped? These are some of the issues we’ll be looking at in December.
Thank you for your loyal support of this Newsletter. We can’t believe we only have one more Newsletter to go to complete our first year of continuous Monthly Newsletters. It’s been touch and go a few times, but we’ve done it; and we couldn’t have (wouldn’t have) done it without YOU, our incredible Subscribers.THANK YOU and have a healthy, happy, organic Thanksgiving Celebration with your friends and family.
(And don’t forget to forward this email to those friends and family members who are interested in our food system)
Sustainably,
Aquaponics USA/World
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