Photo taken by Keri Pickett
Unless you have been glued to the Olympics and ignoring all other news (Shaun White’s double mctwist 1260 anyone?), you know that this month offered a gold-medal sized win for the organic dairy industry. On February 12, the USDA announced its final regulation regarding access to pasture for organic livestock.
In other words, it’s now official: It’s good for cows to stand around in fields and eat grass. At WhiteWave, we’ve known this to be true for quite a while now. The reason is we spend a lot of time working and managing a number of organic dairy farms, large and small, and letting our cows stand around in fields and eat grass is what’s best for their health. It’s what makes for great tasting and nutritious milk.
So why did the USDA have to clarify the rule regarding time cows spend grazing on organic farms? Well, basically for too long too many farms, organizations and companies have been applying their own standards as it relates to pasture and grazing. Even with the best intentions, this level of inconsistency was hurting the organic farms, organic food consumers and the organic food industry.
The publication of the Final Rule on Pasture is great news for organic farmers because it means that all certified organic dairy farmers will be held to the same clearly defined and enforceable standards for pasture. One set of strict rules for all—no exceptions. No room for different interpretations (Click here for the details).
It’s also terrific news for organic consumers because it means that they can trust that all certified organic milk and dairy products are produced with integrity and animal welfare in mind. According to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, this final rule will assure consumers that the organic milk they are buying “comes from cows raised on pasture.”
Additionally, and this is the really exciting part to me, it’s fantastic news for the organic industry as a whole because it is proof positive of what can happen when we all work together. Petitioning for stronger, more enforceable pasture regulations was a truly collaborative effort between farmers, manufacturers, retailers and non-governmental agencies such as the Organic Trade Association (OTA), the National Organic Coalition (NOC) and the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA). And the resulting success has been embraced by the entire industry. For once, everyone is in agreement—clarifying the regulations around access to pasture is an important step in the continued success of organic agriculture.
Ever since we got hold of the PBS documentary series, E2, we’ve been keeping an eye on greenroof development and green building in general. Watching the series we were blown away by Chicago’s commitment to innovative building techniques. Of course, the Windy City has a long history of leading the country in big buildings, but it seems as if they’ve got some competition, at least when it comes to making greenroofs. According to this blog from PSFK, a 6,000 square foot roof of an industrial building has been transformed not into a meadow or field or Zen garden, but an actual working organic vegetable garden.
The Winter Olympics are just around the corner and wouldn’t you know it, we’ve got a former professional ski jumper right here at our headquarter office in Broomfield, Colo. Matt Kuusinen, who now handles things like production scheduling, inventory management, and milk delivery scheduling used to spend his time soaring through the air with nothing but two skis and a helmet.
I got a chance to sit down with former human projectile earlier this week. Check it out….
Hopefully the snow is deeper on the landing strip...
TGM: So first off, Matt, what’s it like to ski jump?
MK: It’s not something that’s easily explained, but aside from the whole flying through the air thing, I think the sport most analogous to ski jumping is golf. Both require a similar type of coordination, and both have huge elements of “mental game” sports psychology. Comparatively I guess the biggest difference is that in golf when you slice the ball, you take a mulligan; in ski jumping when you slice, you’re the ball, and there are no mulligans.
TGM: How does one get started in the ski jumping game?
MK: You grow up in Steamboat, Colo. I’d say one quarter of the kids there try ski jumping at some point during their grade school years. There are about dozen other actual jumps in North America, but I’d argue that Steamboat has about the best program around.
TGM: I’ve seen other ski jumpers flip and twist in the air… you weren’t into the freestyle thing though, eh?
Matt: No, not purposefully anyway. I was a Nordic ski jumper which means I launched from the jump at around 60 miles an hour, with distance being the main objective. If you find yourself doing a flip… well, that’s usually bad news. Good TV though.
TGM: So how far did you actually jump?
MK: My longest jump was about the length of one-and-a-half football fields.
TGM: Do they always measure jumps in football fields?
MK: No. Ski Jumping is a European sport, so they measure it in soccer fields… except there they call it football.
That's Matt on the Left...
TGM: Moving right along… are you ever tempted to ski jump again?
MK: Are you ever tempted to jump out of your car at 60 miles an hour?
TGM: Excellent point. Assume you’re looking forward to watching the Vancouver Olympics?
MK: Yeah, I’m super stoked! Johnny Spillane and Billy Demong, my old teammates, have both won World Cups this year so they’re basically gold medal contenders in Nordic Combined, and we haven’t had U.S. contenders in like a zillion years. It might become a nationally televised big deal. I encourage everyone to cheer them on. Check them out on the U.S. Ski Team Site.
How do football and sustainability fit together? Aside from pigskin being a renewable resource, not much comes to mind, right?
Check this out – The NFL actually has an environmental program that’s been in place for more than 15 years. What started out as basic recycling program has expanded into a much broader campaign chock full of sustainable efforts and community based activity. And for the second straight year, the NFL is offsetting energy for the fun-filled-five-day-extravaganza leading up to the Superbowl. More and more programs similar to the National Football League’s are popping up all across collegiate and professional athletics, and this LEED certified stadium concept is proof that the sporting world is really thinking about this stuff on a large scale.
In 2008 WhiteWave teamed up with the University of Colorado, the Governor’s Energy Office and Bonneville Environmental Foundation, to make Folsom Field a zero waste zone, and promote the use alternative transportation to and from the stadium. In its first year, “Ralphie’s Green Stampede”, produced 40 tons of recyclables and compostables – a 199 percent increase in materials diverted from landfills and a 30 percent reduction in overall waste generation both within Folsom Field and at tailgate lots. And in 2009 the program extended its presence across all athletic events.
As a Colorado State alum, you have no idea how hard it is for me to say this, but it really is worth saying… big, big ups to the Buffs and their efforts.
PS – I’d be remiss not to mention the cool stuff C-State is doing in the green realm as well. Click here, and Go Rams