News bites, August 2008

This article was originally published in August 2008

Organic shoppers more open-minded

Consumers that regularly purchase organic products are more open to new experiences than the general population, according to a new study by Mindset Media and Nielsen Online.

The study involved 8,000 participants who were asked more than 110 personality-based questions, such as whether they liked to try new and foreign foods, or whether they were intrigued by patterns in art and nature.

Consumers who bought organic products consistently scored in the top 20th percentile in terms of openness, tended to be more receptive to their inner feelings, and were likely to be more spontaneous, creative and altruistic than the average consumer.

Organic consumers also were 105 percent more likely than the general population to have the “decisive and inclusive” qualities of a modern leader. The study found that when it came to buying organic, affluence was not a major factor, that organics is “a state of mind, not a state of the wallet.” (MediaPosts’ Marketing Daily)

Kellogg boycott

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is calling for a boycott against all Kellogg products until Kellogg agrees to source non-genetically modified (GM) sugar for its products.

GM sugar is due to enter the market this winter and Kellogg has stated it believes American consumers don’t care if their food contains GM ingredients or not. Kellogg’s subsidiaries include the Keebler, Kashi, Morningstar Farms and Natural Touch brands. See The (sugar) beet goes on: GM sugar coming to market, Goldie’s column this month for more. (Organic Consumers Association)

American nurses oppose rBGH

The American Nurses Association’s House of Delegates has passed a resolution officially opposing rBGH, the genetically modified growth hormones used on dairy cows. The resolution pledges that nurses will work with hospital and healthcare organizations to stop buying milk and dairy products that contain artificial hormones, such as rBGH, and other foods with “inappropriate additives.” (Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility)

Glyphosate (Roundup®) worsens plant diseases

A Purdue University plant pathologist says he can demonstrate that many plant diseases get worse when the herbicide glyphosate (e.g., Roundup) is used on field crops. Professor emeritus Don Huber told a farm forum about nearly 30 cases where glyphosate increased diseases, such as root rot in barley, crown rot and wilt in canola, and glume blotch, root rot, head scab and take-all in wheat.

Glyphosate is a strong metal chelator and immobilizes the uptake of some enzymes and nutrients required for healthy plants. (Western Producer)

Detergents banned for water quality

In Washington state, a ban against residential use of some dishwashing detergents will take effect in 2010. It will be illegal to sell or distribute detergents containing more than 0.5 percent phosphorus.

Brands such as Electrasol and Cascade already are banned in Whatcom and Spokane counties, which began the ban this year due to compromised water quality in Lake Whatcom and the Nooksack River. Brands that comply with the state law are Seventh Generation, Ecover and BioKleen. (Bellingham Herald)

Consumers think domestic food is safer

Despite a number of major recalls in recent years, Americans remain confident that food produced in the United States is safer than imported foods. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that a majority of Americans think domestically produced food is either very safe (37 percent) or somewhat safe (58 percent). Half the U.S. consumers are unsure about the government’s food inspection system and many have concerns about the safety of foods imported from Mexico (47 percent) and China (56 percent). (

Non-stick cookware

DuPont and seven other companies have agreed to phase out by 2015 a cancer-causing chemical known as PFOA, commonly used in Teflon non-stick cookware. An investigation by the Environmental Working Group, however, has found no evidence that chemicals being used to replace it are any safer; there’s almost no data on them.

PFOA is a perfluorochemical, also found in fast-food wrappers, pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, Scotchguard™ and Stainmaster® carpets and furniture, and water-resistant clothing such as Gore-Tex®. (Environmental Working Group)

Fortified foods may interfere with supplements

When antibiotics aren’t working to clear up an infection, it’s possible that minerals from fortified foods may be interfering. A study from a Columbia University teaching hospital found that foods heavily-fortified with calcium, for instance, interfere with the action of some antibiotics.

Antibiotics such as Cipro, Tequin, and Levaquin apparently are known to interact with calcium, magnesium, aluminum, iron and zinc. The minerals bind with the drugs in the intestine and prevent absorption by the body. (Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter)

Campbell’s buys Wolfgang Puck

The Campbell soup company is acquiring the Wolfgang Puck canned soup business for an undisclosed sum. Campbell’s also has entered into an agreement for use of the Puck brand to market soup, stock and broth products throughout North America. (

Also in this issue

Not all shrimp are equal: wild shrimp vs. farmed shrimp

Whether skewered on kabobs, tossed in salads or dipped in cocktail sauce, shrimp is a quintessential summer food, as redolent of the season as melon or sweet corn. It’s no wonder shrimp has become our most popular seafood, accounting for 30 percent of all seafood sold in the United States. However, not all shrimp is delicious — or sustainable.

Challenges to saving farmland, new program

In this month's article Kathryn talks about the challenges associated with saving farmland. She also announces a new donation program, the Farmland Sustaining Circle, new staff and provides a profile of The Grange Café.