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You can subscribe to the Living Maxwell podcast on: iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn and Google Play.

Last week in Organic Insider, I broke the story about how CEO Sheryl O’Loughlin, who had been leading the company for the past four years, was stepping down from her position.

Sheryl and her team approached me to write this piece, and a day after the story was released, I was able to get Sheryl on The Living Maxwell Podcast to discuss this more.

In our wide-ranging conversation, we talked about why she left REBBL, how the company was started, REBBL’s Brazil nut project in Latin America, REBBL’s relationship with Not for Sale, and her long-time interest in human rights.

What was particularly revealing was when Sheryl went into detail about a very difficult — and controversial — decision that she made early on in her tenure as CEO. This really tested the relationship between her and company founder David Batstone for about 6 months, but it proved to be a defining moment for REBBL and changed the trajectory of the company.

At the very end of our interview, I share a story with Sheryl that she had never heard before, and it was one where her act of kindness touched me in a profound way. To be honest, I got pretty choked up while recounting this.

For those of us who have interacted or worked with Sheryl, it is a unanimous sentiment about what a unique and special human being she is. Sheryl is incredibly open, honest and vulnerable — something quite rare among CEOs – and she will be incredibly missed.

Please enjoy!

Resources and Notes from the Show

Sheryl O’Loughlin: Website  LinkedIn

Sheryl’s Book: Killing It! — An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Keeping Your Head Without Losing Your Heart

REBBL

The story about REBBL’s banana nut protein drink.

Not for Sale

David Batstone, Founder of Not for Sale and REBBL

Palo Hawken, Chief Innovations Officer and Co-Founder of REBBL

Marc Wexler, Executive Director of Not for Sale

Sponsor of this Episode

This week’s episode of The Living Maxwell Podcast was sponsored by my friends at Intellipure. 

One of the least discussed but most dangerous threats to our health is ultrafine particles. These are the particles lurking in our homes but are not visible to the human eye. Unfortunately, they are also linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

There is no better air machine on the market to deal with ultrafine particles than the Intellipure, and I have been using this company’s products years before I started writing about the organic food industry. In videos that I shot using a particle counter (a Class 1 medical device), I demonstrate the power of this machine versus two of the most widely known air filters on the market — the Dyson and the Molekule.

When you see the results, you will see why the Intellipure is the only machine I will use and that it delivers better results than anything else that you can find.

Living Maxwell readers can get 10% off an Intellipure — with a 30-day, money-back guarantee — by clicking HERE.

—-

Want to stay up-to-date on the most important news and products in the organic food world?

If so, please be sure to follow me on Instagram and sign up for my email list below.

The post The Living Maxwell Podcast, Episode #2 – REBBL CEO Sheryl O’Loughlin on Stepping Down from the Company appeared first on livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink.

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In the very first episode of The Living Maxwell Podcast, I interview Liana Werner-Gray, #1 best-selling author of three books (The Earth Diet, 10-Minute Recipes and Cancer-Free with Food) and a very in-demand nutrition coach.

As with many people who find their way into the wellness world, Liana was faced with a very, very serious health condition at a young age and made the incredibly courageous decision to deal with it in a natural and holistic way — against the wishes of conventional doctors.

But what I found to be even more inspirational about Liana is how she dealt with a tragic family event at age 17, which would have had scarred most people for a lifetime. Instead, this tragedy helped shape Liana and gave her the strength to become the person she is today.

In this episode of the Living Maxwell podcast, Liana Werner-Gray shares this story for the very first time, and to this day, I am so inspired by (and in awe of) how she handled this situation.

We also discuss Liana’s upbringing in the outback of Australia where she was influenced by the Aboriginal people, how she made her way to the U.S., with only $200 in her pocket, and her journey from starting The Earth Diet blog to landing a publishing deal with Hay House, from where she ended up delivering three #1 best-selling books.

You may know Liana Werner-Gray from her ubiquitous social media presence, but after listening to this interview, you will get to know her in a deeper way. And I can assure you that you will have a much greater appreciation for what this courageous woman has gone through and accomplished in her life.

Please enjoy!

Resources and Notes from the Show

Liana Werner-Gray: Instagram

The Earth Diet: WebsiteInstagramTwitterFacebook

Liana’s Book: The Earth Diet

Liana’s Book: 10-Minute Recipes

Liana’s Book: Cancer-Free with Food

Juice Press

Westerly Natural Market

Complete Wellness – work one-on-one with Liana

Sponsor of this Episode

This week’s episode of The Living Maxwell Podcast was sponsored by my friends at Intellipure. 

One of the least discussed but most dangerous threats to our health is ultrafine particles. These are the particles lurking in our homes but are not visible to the human eye. Unfortunately, they are also linked to cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

There is no better air machine on the market to deal with ultrafine particles than the Intellipure, and I have been using this company’s products years before I started writing about the organic food industry. In videos that I shot using a particle counter (a Class 1 medical device), I demonstrate the power of this machine versus two of the most widely known air filters on the market — the Dyson and the Molekule.

When you see the results, you will see why the Intellipure is the only machine I will use and that it delivers better results than anything else that you can find.

Living Maxwell readers can get 10% off an Intellipure — with a 30-day, money-back guarantee — by clicking HERE.

—-

Want to stay up-to-date on the most important news and products in the organic food world?

If so, please be sure to follow me on Instagram and sign up for my email list below.

The post The Living Maxwell Podcast, Episode #1 – Liana Werner-Gray, Best-Selling Author, on Persevering Through Adversity appeared first on livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink.

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You can subscribe to the Living Maxwell podcast on: iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify and TuneIn.

I am very excited to announce that the Living Maxwell Podcast has officially launched!

In my travels over the past decade – to trade shows, conferences, speaking engagements, marches and protests — I have been fortunate to meet many interesting and inspiring people doing some very cool things in the organic food world. For this podcast, I’ll be taking you inside of this world and having conversations with many of the industry’s leading figures.

But this will not be just an organic food podcast.

I will also be having conversations with people outside of the organic food world as well.

Regardless of who the guest is, it is my goal in this podcast to have really honest conversations – because those are the kind of conversations that I like listen to and have myself.

This stems directly from what happened in my life when I went off of a decade of antidepressants in 2001. It took me 3.5 years to recover, I was suicidal, and this whole experience impacted my life in a very deep way. And all of this is the basis of my memoir, which will be coming out in late 2019.

Given what took place in my life, I became very curious about what happened to other people when they hit some very challenging times in the lives, how they persevered, and what they learned along the way.

So, the Living Maxwell Podcast is the place where I will be having these conversations …. Conversations with people inside and outside of the organic food world. And what I hope is that after listening to my podcast, you will feel inspired or that you have learned something important.

If you have been reading my work over the years, I would greatly appreciate it if you would subscribe to The Living Maxwell Podcast on iTunes (or wherever you listen to podcasts) and leave a comment and review.

And if you ever have any suggestions for guests, please feel free to Tweet them to me @livingmaxwell.

Thank you for reading and see you on the pod!

(The Living Maxwell podcast can be found on: iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify and TuneIn.)

Want to stay up-to-date on the most important news and products in the organic food world?

If so, please be sure to follow me on Instagram and sign up for my email list below.

The post NEW! The Living Maxwell Podcast appeared first on livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink.

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(Moon Made Farms, a Sun+Earth certified farm in California.)

(THIS POST ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON ORGANIC INSIDER. TO BECOME A SUBSCRIBER, CLICK HERE.)

David Bronner, the Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s, saw this coming years ago.

With California having legalized cannabis in 2016, he knew that this plant was headed down the path of other agricultural crops — mass industrialization, genetic engineering, enormous energy consumption through fossil fuels, and the displacement of small-scale family farmers.

Where cannabis differs from other agricultural commodities, however, is that there can be no such thing as “organic cannabis” until the federal government stops classifying it as an illegal drug.

It is also hardly just another crop.

The market size for cannabis is expected to reach $146 billion by 2025, which would make it significantly larger than the entire organic food industry.

With organic certification unavailable right now for cannabis and the planet’s urgent need for a regenerative solution, a new third-party certification was just formed called Sun+Earth.

Founded by the International Cannabis Farmers Association, Cannabis Conservancy and Certified Kind, along with deep support from Dr. Bronner’s, Sun+Earth is a program inspired by and aligned with the Regenerative Organic Certification standard but tailored to the way cannabis is grown and produced.

It is based on three pillars:

1 – Earth Care & Cultivation (regenerative farming methods, grown in the soil and under the sun, no chemicals, no hydroponics, no energy-intensive indoor grow facilities)

2 – Human Empowerment (fair treatment of farm workers)

3 – Community Engagement (requires farms to engage with their local community)

Sun+Earth utilizes third-party certifiers (Certified Kind and The Cannabis Conservancy) and has assembled an incredibly diverse and respected set of allies from the non-profit, corporate and farming worlds, including Center for Food Safety, Organic Consumers Association, Regeneration International, Kiss the Ground, Pesticide Action Network and White Oak Pastures.

14 farmers participated in the certification’s pilot program in 2018, and the latest version of Sun+Earth’s standards was finalized in January.

BROTHER DAVID’S — THE REGENERATIVE CANNABIS BRAND

While having the certification is certainly an essential component, Sun+Earth will not have maximum impact unless its certified products reach the masses.

And that’s where Brother David’s comes in.

Founded by David Bronner and funded by Brother Cody Swift of the RiverStyx Foundation (Dr. Bronner’s is not a part of this project), Brother David’s is a brand platform that will market and promote products that use cannabis grown on Sun+Earth certified farms.

Brother David’s began selling its own branded cannabis products — 1/8th of an ounce jars, 1 gram jars and pre-rolls — in dispensaries in California this month. To handle the operational side of the business, the company has a licensing agreement with Flow Kana, who will be handling all of the processing, packaging and distribution.

NON-PROFIT COMPANY STRUCTURE AND COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY WILL PROPEL ITS GROWTH

Despite the fact that billions of investment dollars are rushing into the cannabis space, it is the structure of Brother David’s that should allow it to become the country’s leading premium cannabis brand among conscious consumers.

Why?

Instead of Brother David’s being a for-profit company that donates a certain percentage of sales to a cannabis-related non-profit, Brother David’s is the non-profit.

As a result, 100% of its profits will be used to support the regenerative cannabis ecosystem, such as paying for Sun+Earth certification for farms, providing technical assistance to farmers and working to end federal prohibition of cannabis.

Interestingly, the non-profit won’t just support farms that supply cannabis to the Brother David’s brand. It will also help cannabis farms that simply want to get Sun+Earth certification.

When consumers purchase a Brother David’s product, they will know several things:

– They will know who is growing their cannabis — small-scale farmers certified by Sun+Earth
– They will know how their cannabis is grown — regeneratively, under the sun and in the soil, no hydroponics, no chemicals, no energy-intensive indoor grow facilities
– They will know that the small-scale farmers growing the cannabis will be receiving a 10% premium on top of market prices
– They will know that 100% of the profits from Brother David’s will be used to support the regenerative cannabis ecosystem — profits will not be used to bolster stock prices or to pay dividends to investors
– They will know that the environment is being supported, rather than harmed, with each purchase
– They will know that they are purchasing a super-high quality product

There is no other cannabis product on the market that can make similar claims, which is why consumers and farmers will promote and advocate for this brand in an unprecedented way.

“There has been an overwhelming response to this. We will see a lot of cannabis farmers who want to engage with Sun+Earth and collaborate with Brother David’s,” said Tina Gordon, Founder of Moon Made Farms, a Sun+Earth certified farm.

“At Sun+Earth, we paid for the certification costs all of the 14 farms this year and are budgeting for another 30 next year,”, said Les Szabo, Director of Constructive Capital at Dr. Bronner’s.

This is a good thing because requests are already coming in.

“People are really excited about Sun+Earth in California, and we’re getting interest from regenerative farmers in other states, too. Both Oregon and Colorado have outdoor growers that will likely become Sun+Earth Certified later this year,” acknowledged Andrew Black, Founder and Director of Certified Kind, one of Sun+Earth’s certifiers.

MORE THAN JUST COMMERCE

For David Bronner, not only are the goals of this endeavor very ambitious but its purpose carries tremendous meaning.

“Brother David’s envisions a world where all our farming ecosystems are regenerative and organic, producing our food, clothes, personal care and medicines in ways that support thriving rural economies and biodiverse wild habitats.”

“Cannabis is our sacred ally, helping us heal, connect and appreciate each other, and elevating our consciousness into the magical living moment. Cannabis should be grown and consumed consciously, respecting its connection to the land and the people who grow it. This consciousness not only enhances the quality of the cannabis, but the quality of our experience with it. By supporting Brother David’s, you are connecting in a deep and meaningful way to the farmer and the land itself, and supporting a way of farming that can help heal the land and restore our elemental connection to ourselves, each other, and our sacred Earth.”

(David Bronner, the Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s and Founder of Brother David’s.)

Want to stay up-to-date on the most important news and products in the organic food world?

If so, please be sure to follow me on Instagram and sign up for my email list below.

The post Why Sun+Earth and Brother David’s are So Vital for Organic Stakeholders and Our Planet appeared first on livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink.

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One of the unfortunate and uncomfortable realities of buying organic food is having to deal with its excessive packaging waste.

After all, a primary reason that we choose organic is because of its environmental benefits.

This is not a problem easily solved, but one company eager for a solution is Nature’s Path, the leading North American organic cereal brand. This organic pioneer has just become a founding partner in Loop, a new global shipping platform aimed at eliminating waste by disrupting the world’s reliance on single-use packaging.

First announced at the World Economic Forum in January, Loop enables consumers to responsibly consume a variety of commonly used products from leading consumer brands in customized, brand-specific durable packaging that is delivered in a specially-designed reusable shipping tote. When finished with the product, the packaging is collected, cleaned, refilled and reused — creating a revolutionary circular shopping system.

At the present moment, Loop has partnered with many conventional CPG brands but numerous companies with organic products have joined this venture alongside Nature’s Path, including Chameleon Cold-Brew, Purely Elizabeth, Greenhouse, International Harvest, Arbor Teas and The Honest Company. Additionally, Loop has just announced that Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., and Walgreens, one of America’s largest pharmacy chains, have become founding retailers.

Nature’s Path, the first organic brand on the platform, will start by introducing its organic Pumpkin Flax Granola through Loop in New York, with plans to expand its product offerings as Loop enters other North American markets over the next year. The cereal company has pledged climate neutrality by 2020 and to have all of its packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

“Nature’s Path is a pioneering company, so testing new methods to benefit people and planet is part of our spirit,” says Arran Stephens, co-founder and co-CEO of Nature’s Path. “We were the first certified organic cereal and granola company in North America, so for us to be the first organic food company partner on the Loop platform makes perfect sense.”

“There’s growing awareness about the impact and the effect of plastic pollution on the environment, and we know people want to reduce the amount of waste created by the products they love and purchase,” says Jyoti Stephens, VP Mission & Strategy for Nature’s Path and daughter of the company’s founders.

If you ever meet a member of the Stephens family, you will very likely hear them mention a core tenet of Nature’s Path — a commitment to leave the earth better than they found it.

This is not marketing jargon. This is the foundation of every decision that the company makes.

Becoming a founding partner in Loop and trying to reduce packaging waste is definitely in alignment with the values of Nature’s Path and clearly demonstrates its leadership in this area.

Needless to say, Loop looks like a very promising initiative and one that I hope many other organic brands join.

The Stephens family, owners of Nature’s Path (l. to r., Ratana Stephens, Arjan Stephens, Jyoti Stephens, Arran Stephens)

Want to stay up-to-date on the most important news and products in the organic food world?

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The post Nature’s Path Becomes the First Organic Brand to Join Loop, a Shipping Platform Which Eliminates Packaging Waste appeared first on livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink.

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(The Impossible Burger from Impossible Foods)

As Beyond Meat’s very successful IPO is bringing a lot of attention to the alt-protein category, it is important to take a look at what exactly are in these food products.

One popular name in this space is the Impossible Burger, a product we first wrote about in 2017 when Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents uncovered that the FDA disagreed with the company’s safety assessments of the burger’s main ingredient — soy leghemoglobin. However, the company continued selling it to the public anyhow without informing consumers about the FDA’s very serious concerns.

The issue this time around with the Impossible Burger is the amount of glyphosate that it contains.

According to Moms Across America, who had the product tested at Health Research Institute Laboratories, the levels of glyphosate were 11x that of the Beyond Meat burger and the total result (glyphosate and its metabolite AMPA) came in at 11.3 parts per billion.

Why should consumers care about glyphosate?

Because glyphosate is known to the State of California to cause cancer and the World Health Organization says it is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” — which means that it “probably causes cancer to humans.” Glyphosate also happens to be the primary ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and approximately 250 million pounds of this weed killer are sprayed each year in the U.S.

Recent court cases, including the $2 billion judgment to a couple whose non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was caused by Roundup, have provided more evidence of how harmful this chemical is.

So, the Impossible Burger not only contains a genetically-modified protein that has never been in the human diet until a few years ago, but it has also tested positive for glyphosate.

Additionally, company founder Pat Brown wrote the other day that the Impossible Burger will now be using GMO soy in its burgers. Genetically-modified soy is sprayed with Roundup and is one of Monsanto’s most important products.

“The Impossible Burger is being marketed as a solution for ‘healthy’ eating, when in fact 11 ppb of glyphosate herbicide consumption can be highly dangerous. Only 0.1 ppb of glyphosate has been shown to destroy gut bacteria, which is where the stronghold of the immune system lies. I am gravely concerned that consumers are being misled to believe the Impossible Burger is healthy,” said Zen Honeycutt, Executive Director of Moms Across America.

What should also be noted is that very low levels of glyphosate, 0.1 ppb, have been shown to cause fatty liver disease.

If you’re looking to switch to a vegan diet or consume less meat, there are numerous organic meatless options out there, such as Hilary’s Veggie Burgers or Don Lee Farms, products that are not genetically modified and whose ingredients have not been sprayed with glyphosate.

While the Impossible Burger may be generating a lot of hype and is Instagram-worthy because of how it “bleeds”, it carries elevated levels of glyphosate when compared to its non-organic peers, and its key ingredients are not found in nature but are manufactured in a laboratory.

Is eating the Impossible Burger a risk worth taking?

As the Institute for Responsible Technology has pointed out, GMOs carry many health risks.

But maybe Steven Molino (who now Tweets under @steven_molino) can answer this for us.

On Twitter, he said that 20 minutes after eating his first Impossible Burger at Bareburger, he “went into anaphylactic shock & taken to ER. Never happened to me before…” His Tweet about going into “anaphylactic shock” has since been deleted.

Want to stay up-to-date on the most important news and products in the organic food world?

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The post GMO Impossible Burger Tests Positive for Glyphosate appeared first on livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink.

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Having recently returned from Natural Products Expo West, a very intense and long five days visiting hundreds of trade show booths and meeting with dozens and dozens of people, one thing is very clear — I felt incredibly fortunate to have stayed in a Pure Room.

Launched by a company called Pure Wellness, a Pure Room is an extremely unique hotel offering that is addressing the needs of wellness-minded travelers in a way that I have never seen before. For people who place a serious priority on health, such as myself and many Living Maxwell readers, it is reassuring to know that this lifestyle can be maintained when on the road.

And now that I have stayed in a Pure Room on three separate occasions — most recently at two different hotels in the Los Angeles area for Natural Products Expo West — these hotel rooms have completely changed the way that I think about travel and how I book my accommodations.

HOW A PURE ROOM IS DIFFERENT

There are many hotels throughout the country that promote themselves as “eco-friendly” or “green hotels”, but what distinguishes a Pure Room from the rest is its emphasis on purified air, a hypoallergenic environment, and allergy-friendly bedding.

The specific attributes of a Pure Room include:

* From Healthway, the same company that makes the air purifier that I have in my apartment, a Pure Room has an HW 9-stage DFS Air Purification System.

Utilizing technology developed through a United States Military Grant focused on germ warfare, this air purifier has been proven to capture 99.99% of all particles as small as .007 micron in size, and it eliminates most gases and removes 94-100% of harmful viruses, molds, and bacteria.

* Tea tree oil in the air handling unit, which gets pumped out into the room, has antimicrobial and disinfectant properties.

* The company’s proprietary Pure Clean solution disintegrates biofilm and is designed to maximize the removal of dirt, bacteria and mold on all surfaces, tiles, fixtures, furniture, drapery, and carpeting.

* The coils, fan blade, condensate line and drip pan in the air-handling unit (air conditioner/heater) in each room is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

* When a standard hotel room is first converted to a Pure Room, the space undergoes a high ozone shock treatment for the complete elimination of viruses, bacteria, germs and odors.

* A Pure Shield is applied to specific surfaces in the room, which provides long-term protection from mold and bacteria growth. This Pure Shield is a patented bacteriostatic barrier used to repel microorganisms that can cause illness and distress.

* In order to provide protection from dust and dust mites, the room has allergy-friendly, soft, washable mattress and pillow encasings.

RAISING THE BAR FOR HEALTHY TRAVELING

The most noticeable aspect of staying in a Pure Room was the quality of the air. It was clean, light and very pleasant, and I could breathe easily and comfortably throughout my entire stay, including when I was sleeping.

This was particularly important after long days on the trade show floor, where 85,000 people were packed into one place. Having a super-clean, sanitized hotel room where I could get a good night’s rest was of paramount importance — and a real luxury.

Now that I have stayed in three different Pure Rooms and having come to truly understand the value of this offering, I firmly believe that these hotel rooms have raised the bar for healthy traveling. Furthermore, when I now think about which hotel I will stay at next, the first thought that enters my mind is “I sure hope there is a Pure Room in that city.”

Luckily, many hotel operators across the country are also seeing the value of a Pure Room and that is why leading chains such as The Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, Westin, Hyatt, Hilton and Embassy Suites are now making Pure Rooms available to their customers.

Without question, Pure Rooms will soon become a must-have amenity for any wellness-minded traveler and to find one on your next trip, click HERE.

(After learning about the company last fall and so impressed by its offering, I decided to partner with Pure Wellness to help promote what the company is doing. All wellness-minded travelers need to know about these hotel rooms.)

Want to stay up-to-date on the most important news and products in the organic food world?

If so, please be sure to follow me on Instagram and sign up for my email list below.

The post Pure Rooms are a MUST for Wellness-Minded Travelers appeared first on livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink.

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Interview with Dewayne "Lee" Johnson -- Monsanto - YouTube

Last weekend, I had the special opportunity to interview Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, the California groundskeeper who sued Monsanto for giving him cancer and was awarded $289M from a California jury.

Dewayne Johnson was in town to attend the premiere of the documentary Ground War — a filmmaker’s investigation into the death of his father takes him deep into the world of golf, chemical lobbying, and citizen activism, where he learns that the rampant use of pesticides around the world may be far more damaging than he thought.

Ground War was the feature film during the 37th National Pesticide Forum, a conference which was held on Friday and Saturday in New York City.

As Dewayne Johnson told me, his Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has taken a real toll, and he has lesions all over his body. Needless to say, it is a travesty that people such as Dewayne Johnson have suffered so greatly at the hands of a chemical that should never have been allowed on the market in the first place.

For this man to travel across the country to be at this event speaks to the incredible individual he is, and Dewayne Johnson is an unquestioned hero to those of us in the organic community.

This was the most emotional interview I have ever done.

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The post EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Dewayne “Lee” Johnson Sued Monsanto and Won $289M from a California Jury appeared first on livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink.

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Journey to Pavitramenthe - YouTube

Regenerative agriculture is a major trend in the organic food world these days, but for many people, it is a confusing and uncertain term.

Wanting people to understand just what ‘regenerative’ means and how the company is embracing this agricultural practice around the world, Dr. Bronner’s has just released an inspirational and compelling new documentary called Journey to Pavitramenthe.

This short film tells the story of fair trade, small-scale farmers in Bareilly, India – located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, 170 miles east of Delhi — who produce regenerative organic mint oil for Dr. Bronner’s products.

“Industrial chemical agriculture on a global scale is a massive cause of greenhouse gas emissions and hence the accelerating rate of climate change. Alongside the move to renewable energy sources, a crucial way to mitigate climate change is through widespread adoption of regenerative organic agriculture practices that sequester atmospheric carbon as stable soil organic matter,” said David Bronner, Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s. “This short documentary sheds light on how companies can construct supply chains from the ground up that build healthy soil and healthy communities.”

Given the tremendous impact that this initiative has had, not only on the lives of these farmers but also on their local communities, I wanted to understand more about this very important project. So, I spoke with Gero Leson, Vice President of Special Operations at the company.

All of the ingredients used in Dr. Bronner’s products have a story. What is peppermint’s story at the company?

Peppermint is the “original” flavor used by company founder Emanuel Bronner in its first castile soap product. The flavor was unique in the marketplace and added to the versatility of the product.

Dr. Bronner’s has been sourcing peppermint from India for many years. However, the company’s initiative to grow it via a regenerative organic process is relatively new.

How did this come about and how did you enroll farmers in this process?

We’ve been sourcing “just organic” mint oils from the same area in India since around 2005. However, because of various problems and corruption, we helped start a new project in the region and got ourselves much more involved in the agricultural work.

Being from the village themselves and having had first-hand experience with the production of compost, our new partners made the shift to regenerative practices a high priority. The 1,500 small-holder farmers supplying the project are all members of our organic “internal control system (ICS)”, i.e. they receive regular training and visits by field staff.

Also, the project’s leader Nihal Singh – featured in the video – is a charismatic and convincing hands-on practitioner who is also sensitive to farmers’ needs. That’s likely the best way to get farmers to change their methods.

What kind of training did the farmers need to receive and what were the regenerative techniques that they are deploying? How do these farmers and their communities benefit financially from being involved in this program?

Following initial “basic organic” training, we applied for a grant from the German GIZ aid agency to support the expansion of regenerative practices. This includes the implementation and demonstration of “regenerative practices” and extensive “capacity building” i.e. training of head farmers and farmers at large in soil health, regenerative practices, business skills and more.

The practices include the use of compost, growing cover crops, conservation tillage and encouraging farmers to diversify crops, which enriches the soil with nitrogen sequestered from the atmosphere.

How successful has the program been, in terms of impact on the community and regeneration of the soil?

We are achieving a very high level of participation, notably through the smart selection of committed head farmers who “get the word out” and identify bottlenecks.

The 40+ small villages that are part of the project feel that there is an external interest in their work, which creates motivation and enhances participation. The implementation of a wide range of fair trade projects — supplying clean water, improving sanitation, meeting medical needs and creating work for women — adds to that perception.

Changes to soil quality do not happen that fast. We expect to increase the organic matter of the soil content in 2020, from the current range of 0.6-1% by 0.3 percentage points, and then further.

Given the success of Pavitramenthe, have farmers in other parts of India reached out to have this program replicated with other crops?

Dissemination of results is part of the project. GIZ helps with their network, and the project team maintains contacts and has done demonstrations.

Given that target farmers are all small-holders (i.e., they can’t travel long distances easily) and our team is super busy (their main business is producing mint oils, after all), this will go slow. Yet, we expect visibility to become significant in the next 2-3 years.

What is the big takeaway from this program in India?

If you want farmers to change the way they farm, one needs to provide support on all fronts — financing, training, equipment, inputs (compost), etc. This must be done with credible local partners, preferably farmers. Businessmen who have no connection to the soil are not very effective.

Quite honestly, it is very challenging for Western brands to go up the supply chain to have an impact, and Dr. Bronner’s is unique in that it sets up its own projects.

But at the very least, engaging with your suppliers and motivating them to work with their farmers is a good start. Buying organic materials is also very important since that at least imposes the establishment of an ICS, i.e. there is already engagement with farmers. One just needs to make sure the system isn’t corrupt – easier said than done.

For Dr. Bronner’s, how and where the company sources every one of its ingredients is of tremendous importance. And in this excellent documentary, we can now witness what a powerful impact that Dr. Bronner’s is having on farmers around the world and why regenerative organic agriculture is such a powerful tool to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Journey to Pavitramenthe was directed by Ryan Fletcher, produced by Dr. Bronner’s, Movement Media, Gero Leson, Rob Hardy and Steve Jeter, filmed and edited by Steve Jeter, and the score was composed by Wayne Kramer.

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The post An Inspirational New Documentary from Dr. Bronner’s — Journey to Pavitramenthe appeared first on livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink.

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One of my favorite things to do each year at Natural Products Expo West is to pick out the best trade show booths. While the majority of people’s time and attention is focused on showcasing new products, it cannot be overlooked that a good number of brands invest a tremendous amount of energy and resources into building their trade show booths.

As such, I like to recognize those companies that go the extra mile and present something special.

What I look for most are originality, interactive experiences, and impact. Two of this year’s winners brought a very educational and scientific approach to their booths, and the other one took home the prize for sheer dedication to a cause.

Here are my Best Trade Show Booths at Expo West 2019.

GENERAL MILLS 

On the first day of the show when I was interviewing Carla Vernon, President of the Natural and Organic Operating Unit for General Mills, she said, “Make sure you see our booth. I think you’re going to like it.”

Given that General Mills won my award for Best Trade Show Booth of Expo West 2018, Carla knew that I was on the lookout for creative and unique presentations.

And when I got there, it was immediately obvious that the company had come up with something fantastic.

In conjunction with its major announcement that General Mills has committed to advancing regenerative agriculture on 1,000,000 acres by 2030, the booth was trying to demonstrate how healthy soil plays a critical role in capturing and storing water.

On the left side in the video below, depleted soil came from a mono-cropped, heavily-tilled conventional corn field with very little cover crop. On the right side, the healthy soil came from an Organic Valley dairy in Petaluma (bottom picture). The land at this farm is not tilled, is covered in diverse cover crops, and is rotationally grazed by dairy cows.

Demos of the water coming down were run three times per day by the sustainability team — Margot Conover, Sara Allan, and Christina Skonberg — and the presentation showed that regenerative farming practices not only retain water in the soil but strengthen the soil, which allows it to capture more carbon from the environment.

For this booth, the company was advised by a conservation agronomist at the USDA, the site director at Cascadian Farm (Ashley Minnerath), and a retired agronomist who now fabricates simulators for purchase, as well as many other people.

This main piece of the booth took about three weeks to design, test, and fabricate, led by Paul Heath at nParallel, the same firm who helped build last year’s winning booth.

Best Trade Show Booths - Expo West 2019 - YouTube

REBBL

REBBL did something that I have never seen before.

On one side of the aisle, it had a booth dedicated to showcasing its fantastic drinks (above).

On the opposite side of the aisle, it had a booth dedicated to its non-profit arm Not for Sale (below), which fights against human trafficking and exploitation around the world.

Not for Sale is the absolute driving force of REBBL and as I wrote about last year, the story of REBBL is this was a cause looking for a company — instead of a company looking for a cause.

At the show, when I realized that CEO Sheryl O’Loughlin and her team had spent tens of thousands of dollars to highlight Not for Sale, I knew right away that this had to be on my winning list. After all, what brand spends that kind of money at Expo West to place attention on an affiliated non-profit?

REBBL does.

That is because Not for Sale is deeply, deeply embedded into the company’s DNA, and everything that REBBL does is geared towards making the planet a better place, including helping victims of human trafficking and exploitation. 2.5% of the company’s sales go to Not for Sale, and $1M has already been given to this very important organization.

REBBL worked directly with branding/marketing firm Guru to brainstorm on how the booth would come to life, and one of the key aspects of the presentation was the creation of a mandala (below). The REBBL regenerative ecosystem is represented in the mandala, where everything works together and everything matters.

(With Dave Batstone, founder of REBBL and Not for Sale)

OM MUSHROOMS

There may not have been a trade show booth at Expo West that garnered more interest and attention than the one from Om Mushrooms.

While it is widely known that medicinal mushrooms are insanely popular right now, how many people have actually seen them in full form, growing in their substrate?

My guess is very few.

And the visual was so striking and so interesting that you couldn’t help but stop, take pictures and ask questions. It was like being a really cool science class.

How does the entire process work?

“We inoculate our organic, gluten-free oats (the substrate) with one of our mushrooms strains. This is done with a tissue culture. Then, the mycelium develops, grows and digests the organic oats and becomes a hard block of mycelial biomass.  Once the substrate is consumed, it ‘switches gears’ into the fruiting body of the reishi (below), which takes approximately 8 weeks. Then, we dehydrated the entire biomass (mycelium and fruiting bodies) and mill into a powder,” said co-founder and CEO Sandra Carter, PhD.

Aside from being a fantastic educational tool — co-founder Steve Farrar, a mycologist with over 30 years experience growing mushrooms, was also on hand to answer questions — the booth wanted to emphasize transparency, given that it does not import its products from China. Instead, the company grows all of its mushrooms in a certified organic cGMP facility in the U.S. under the close attention of its mycology experts, many of whom have been growing mushrooms for decades.

I have been a big fan of Om Mushrooms since its very inception, and it was fascinating to finally see how this product is produced.

Want to stay up-to-date on the most important news and products in the organic food world?

If so, make sure you Like my Facebook page, follow me on Instagram and join my email list.

To join my newsletter list, please enter your email below and I’ll send you my Top 5 Inexpensive Ways to Shop Organic.

The post Best Trade Show Booths from Natural Products Expo West 2019 — General Mills, REBBL, Om Mushrooms appeared first on livingmaxwell: a guide to organic food & drink.

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