GREENFIELD, Mass. (Jan. 14, 2000) – The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is joining forces with the Sierra Sea Club to hold organic tasting and informational events aimed at winning further consumer support of organic agriculture.
Initiating the program, the Sierra Sea Club based in Galveston, Texas—a chapter of the Sierra Club’s student-run Sierra Student Coalition—is organizing the tastings to rally citizens to help combat the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. The dead zone, which currently is as large as the state of New Jersey, forms when agri-chemical wastes from conventional agriculture flow down the Mississippi into the gulf. Club members want consumers to realize that organic farming is a solution to intensive agri-chemical use and a way to keep family farms in business; by buying more organic products, consumers will increase the demand for these products and encourage more growers to choose organic over conventional farming methods that use agri-chemicals.
"We see this as a wonderful opportunity to make the link that consumer choices positively affect the environment and support organic farming," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association.
The campaign will kick off Jan. 21 at the Sierra Sea Club’s first meeting of the year.
Regina Woodrom Luna, founder and group chair of the Sierra Sea Club, said the project has three primary aims: to show consumers that organic products are tasty; to educate and inform persons about the dead zone; and to educate retailers about the diverse organic products available, demonstrating through consumer demand that stores should add organic products to their offerings.
The Organic Trade Association is supporting the efforts by recruiting member companies to provide product samples, coupons and promotional materials. OTA member companies will
supply samples of organic food products which may be used at tasting demonstrations and served at Sierra Sea Club meetings and events. Also provided will be organic product samples packaged for possible sale in campus vending machines. Consumers taking part will fill out cards listing organic products they would like to see in their local supermarkets. These cards will be channeled to retailers who will be asked to add these to the products they offer.
Tasting demonstrations and informational events initially will be held throughout the Galveston community. There also will be petition drives to get organic products not only on store shelves but also on campus. Students involved in the chapter hope this will become a national effort through similar programs by other chapters throughout the country.
January 14, 2000
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