Greenfield, MA (Oct. 1, 2002)—A passion for organic agriculture and products prompted nearly 6,000 consumers throughout the United States and the world to submit entries in the Organic Trade Association’s first "Organic Way to Grow" essay contest.
"The response was truly overwhelming, with the many entries submitted literally swamping our staff. It was an uplifting, inspiring experience to read consumers’ accounts of what organic means to them," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) based in Greenfield.
OTA conducted the essay in conjunction with Mambo Sprouts Marketing (Haddonfield, NJ), to celebrate the implementation of the U.S. national organic standards this fall and to stress the fact that every organic purchase consumers make is a vote at the cash register for a healthy planet.
Grand Prize winner is 26-year-old Madeline Olsen, a graduate student in urban and regional planning at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute who also works at an emergency shelter for homeless adults in Minneapolis.
"I envision organic agriculture to be like a seed, starting small, growing into something large and fruitful, creating small seeds to be spread, renewing the life cycle. Organic agriculture, as with many things, begins with one person," wrote Olsen. She added, "As I expand my knowledge about organic agriculture, I realize how much the earth’s system is affected by the fact that I purchase and eat organic foods. It starts simply: I recognize that when farmers do not spray their plants with pesticides, the soil is free from chemicals. If the soil is not contaminated, then the river by the farm is also not contaminated. The creatures in the river are then safe and the creatures that eat those creatures are safe."
Two First Place winners were also selected. Married with two young children and a stepdaughter, Beth Shepard, 36, of Kent, WA, is an exercise physiologist and education manager for a regional medical center. Natasha Marshall, 19, of Lincoln, NE, is a sophomore at Wesleyan University in Lincoln studying sociology and anthropology. She envisions a career related to environmental issues.
In her essay, Shepard wrote, " "Feeding my family organic food is a tangible way for me to demonstrate my love for them and for the world. Eating organic is about stewardship of the Earth and all its gifts; it’s about valuing the product, the manner of production, and the global impact of everyday choices."
Marshall penned: "Organic farming treats our earth respectfully by understanding the cry for nutrients in the earth’s soil. They go the extra mile to ensure quality while not taking advantage of our precious land. When you eat food that is organically grown, you are taking a pledge to your health while helping our environment, one bite at a time."
Co-sponsors of the essay contest included Annie’s Homegrown, Inc. (Wakefield, MA); Brown Cow West Corporation (Antioch, CA); Levlad (Chatsworth, CA); Organic Valley (La Farge, WI); San-J International, Inc. (Richmond, VA); Smucker Quality Beverages, Inc. (Chico, CA); Snyder’s of Hanover (Hanover, PA); Stonyfield Farm, Inc.(Londonderry, NH); and Stretch Island Fruit, Inc. (Grapeview, WA).
The Grand Prize winner was awarded a $1,000 scholarship and year’s supply of Organic Valley chocolate milk. The two First Prize winners were each awarded a year’s supply of Annie’s Homegrown’s macaroni and cheese and Stonyfield Farm organic yogurt.
OTA is posting the winning essays on The O’Mama Report.
October 1, 2002
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