GREENFIELD, Mass. (June 19, 1998) - Organic Trade Association (OTA) Executive Director Katherine DiMatteo announced today that September will be national "Organic Harvest" month for the seventh consecutive year. "The objective of Organic Harvest Month is to highlight organic agriculture and the growing organic products industry," said DiMatteo. "Organic Harvest Month is also a great way for consumers to see the variety and premium quality of organic products available today."
The month provides an opportunity to educate the public on what organic is all about. September is also an optimum time for consumers and retailers to celebrate the bounty of the organic harvest. Events and celebrations of all shapes and sizes take place across the country in parks, schools, stores, farmers' markets and at restaurants. Events in the past have included Gastronomic Walking Tours, Organic Country Fairs, organic-themed barn dances, special displays and tastings at supermarkets and special pull-out sections in local newspapers.
1998 has been a crucial year for the organic industry, culminating on May 8, 1998, when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it would not include sewage sludge, genetically engineered organisms and food irradiation (referred to as the "big three") in their Proposed Rule for organic. With a tidal wave of more than 230,000 responses during the public comment period, more than any in the history of a USDA program, the USDA rescinded its original position on the "big three." The about-face by the USDA is seen as a significant victory by the organic industry, which has been lobbying for strict standards for organic production, processing and distribution for more than 10 years. Thus, both consumers and those within the organic industry have a special reason to celebrate this year.
"Organic Harvest Month is such an important month to educate consumers," said Mark Retzloff, president of the OTA board. "Consumers have begun to realize the importance of a national organic national label, and Organic Harvest Month is a great time to keep this momentum going. Besides, September is such a bountiful month in terms of food production - the quality and spirit of organic farming methods are so evident." To assist in educating the public on creative ways to start celebrating at home, the OTA has put together an upbeat, simple, consumer-focused tool, "15 Ways to Celebrate Organic Harvest Month" .
June 19, 1998
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