Sunday, May 4, 2014

Shopping the Created Organic Way

Have you ever walked in to a store to pick up supplies for your dinner or a ready-made meal and wondered what’s in your food?  Since I took a nutrition class while I was in college years ago and learned about preservatives, colors, agricultural chemicals, hormones, nutrition density and their correlation to health, I have. 

Did you know that the number one “All Natural” strawberry and raspberry flavors are made from a beaver’s anal glands?  Are you kidding me!  We don’t do “All Natural Flavors” in our house and we won’t do “All Natural Flavors” in Created Organic Centers!
In our centers you will find that the only thing that tastes like a ripe strawberry in your food is a ripe strawberry.  Same with raspberries, peaches, blueberries, kale, passion fruit, pomegranate or anything else that we produce and sell.  Every product we produce will be completely organic (organic seed, organic plant food, clean water, etc.).  Our chief agricultural designer Chris says “if you can’t put it in your mouth it doesn’t belong anywhere near the greenhouse” in terms of what goes into his plants.  I believe every ingredient and not just the ones that are more than 1% of the mix as the FDA dictates should be listed. 
You see in my view convenience foods should also be whole foods and if my customers have the time and want to cook for themselves they’re free to know my recipes.  In my fifteen years in the foods industry I have developed, marketed and placed more than fifty products, it might be closer to a hundred but I lose count (ready to eat, ready to cook or ready to use as an ingredient) into retail and foodservice operations.  The primary guiding principle I use has always been “if I wouldn’t feed it to my family I won’t feed it to any other family” it’s just that simple.  It hasn’t always been 100% organic as I just started on what I call my organic journey about four years ago but we strive for that now at home and Created Organic certainly will be.

So whether you pick-up fresh cut pomegranate arils, frozen mangos, fresh or frozen asparagus, fresh or dehydrated kale, kale chips, chard chips, fresh ready to cook stir fry mix, frozen stir fry mix, prepared salads, soups, chili, seasoning blends, SuperNatural Pops (will debut at Created Organic see ), sauces or anything else you may find in the store to include shampoo, soaps, lotions, clothing, cleaning supplies, etc. rest assured it’s all organic, clean and made with love.

From our family to yours, Cheers!

More than seven billion people
Seven continents
Two thousand Islands
One hundred ninety six countries
One Earth
One ocean
One atmosphere
One sun
One great ecosystem
Created Organic
© 2014 Richard E. Robinson

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Created Organic FAQ's

  1. It’s a farm, it’s a store, it’s a community center – Can you expand on that vision so I can picture it?  Picture a big “home improvement or Club” store with racks up to the ceiling at least on one side.  Instead of pallets of products on the racks they are grow towers with two to four tiers of growing beds with produce growing in them.  In the back of the store there is a clear partition where one can see fruits and vegetables being cutup, juiced, blended, dehydrated, frozen, canned etc. into various finished products that might appear in a normal supermarket.  There is at least one pool of fish that has runners going around various portions of the store allowing the fish to swim freely.  Our store will feature a deli, a cooking area, a brewery where applicable and a restaurant where applicable.  There will be a retail area for the products grown and produced on site with as little outside input as possible.
  2. Why should I buy organic food?  Organic production and particularly with the “Perpetual Harvest” growing system takes an holistic approach to being Earth and health friendly.  In our opinion the only “REAL” food is organic with maximum nutrient density, high natural (healthy) sugar content and never anything remotely harmful to people and our beautiful planet.
  3. What is the difference between organic and natural?  The only truly natural things in this world follow organic principles.  Organic as we see things is the ultimate in natural with nothing synthetically produced as an input.  “All Natural” products on the other hand can be grown with synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc. and in fact anything of plant or animal origin with little enough synthetic chemicals in them to be less than 1% by weight (thus not required on an FDA approved label) can be called “All Natural”.   
  4. How much room do you need for this farm?  This will vary from locale to locale from a couple thousand square feet all the way up to the largest of “supercenter” or even “mall” sized.  The average at this point should be along the lines of a “club” store.
  5. Where do you intend to put this?  Will there be more than one store?  As of this time we are targeting Pomona, CA for the first prototype store.  Pomona has a lower average household income than many if not most of the locales around Southern California and the idea is that the concept can work both to feed healthy foods and create jobs in lower income areas.  We know the concept will work in higher income areas where people already target strictly organic and locally produced products.  Once we prove the concept we would like to see a “Created Organic” franchised or company owned store in every neighborhood, community, village, etc. in the world! 
  6. How can you make money doing this?  We will operate on standard retail margins but by cutting out transportation, packaging, middlemen and other costs that normally go into foods we can dramatically reduce the cost to the consumer.  Farmers need to make a profit on the food they produce; the truck driver who takes it to the distributor needs to make a profit as does the distributor, the next truck driver and the retailer.  Further in the case of fresh foods each of these steps takes valuable days off of the life of the food which results in “shrink” at the distributor and retail level.  With virtually zero thrown away we save that money as well.
  7. How do you compare to big name natural or upscale retailers?  For most products, we will be fresher, cleaner, higher brix (natural sugar) in our produce (selling on-site we can harvest fully ripe) and much lower cost.
  8. How do you intend to use “Green Technology”?  You listed the following sources of energy:
    1. Solar – It’s relatively easy to go solar on the roof of any building and we are not aware of any regulations against using solar power.
    2. Wind – Some areas do not have enough wind to make this option viable and some places do not allow wind powered turbines to generate electricity but for those areas where wind can and does work we will utilize windmills to generate electricity.
    3. Biogas – We will utilize both aerobic (fish and worms) and anaerobic (beneficial bacteria) digesters to break down our waste and excess produce into plant food.  One of the byproducts of anaerobic digestion is methane which where we are able will be used as fuel for a high efficiency turbine generator.
    4. Future Technologies – There are always new power generation systems being developed and we will continue to look for more efficient and cleaner ways to generate power.
  9. How is this going to work in a store?  Solar on the roof or a ground based array where appropriate, wind in the parking lot where allowed and biogas in a shipping container behind the building.
  10. How can you grow a large enough amount of product on site to sell?  By growing vertically (in layers) we increase our production per square foot by a multiple based on the number of layers.  Further using hydroponic/aquaponic growing methods we can grow most plants closer together which also increases yield – as nutrients are waterborne and always in the right proportions there is less “competition” for nutrients among the plants.  Indoor farming allows for control of the lights and we know that by optimizing the plants’ grow cycles (amount of light and dark to achieve maximum growth) we can further multiply the output.  Add to that optimized plant food and CO2 enrichment in the growing area (using excess CO2 helps the plants grow quicker and healthier while reducing carbon and replacing CO2 with O2 or oxygen in the environment; thus producing a negative carbon footprint).
  11. Do you intend to seek certification?  In the United States to process food a third party food safety audit is extremely important and we will definitely have that.  We will also have Kosher/Halal certification for the products that may require them. 

Organic certification for our facilities will come down to regulation.  We believe in the “Know your farmer” principle and intend to operate very openly.  Perhaps because organic is in our name and products cannot be called “organic” in the United States without a USDA NOP (National Organic Program) third party certification we will have to be certified.  It is important to understand that the intent of the NOP is to give some assurance to consumers that a product meets organic standards.  We will exceed NOP standards to an extremely high degree. 

Perpetual Harvest x Created Organic = Organic²

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is the Organic Movement Disrespectful to Traditional Farming?

The organic movement is growing and if people like me have our way then in the next decade “conventional” farming will disappear from the mainstream.  It is my firm belief that organic food, clothing and cosmetics truly are the answer to many of the ills that face our society today.  In an interesting article on the website of Representative Kurt Schrader D-OR, I found the following quote. 

"That's one of the things that has caught me and raises my concerns, is that industry's lack of respect for traditional agriculture," said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., referring to some organic companies' efforts to reduce the number of genetically modified crops in the marketplace.

Representative Austin goes on to say that he and his wife buy organic foods.  What I find interesting is that he calls conventional or chemical farming “traditional” to include the use of GM crops and points out the organic industry’s “lack of respect” troubles him somehow. 

A quick history lesson:

Anthropologists believe that human beings have been in existence for somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 years.  For the sake of argument let’s assume that around 150,000 years is the correct number.  It is widely accepted that human beings have been farming in one way or another for more than 10,000 years.

According to experiments with chemical fertilizers began sometime in the early 1800’s and industrial farming also known as conventional farming came to life sometime around 1900 and genetically modified crops became available for public consumption in 1996. 

Organic: 3 a (1) : of, relating to, or derived from living organisms <organic evolution> (2) : of, relating to, yielding, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides  (Source: Webster’s Online Dictionary)

Based on the definition above it is safe to assume that at least 9,800 years of the 10,000 years that humans have been farming has been organic in nature or 98% of the time that we have been farming has been solely organic.  Further, the 140,000 years prior to the known farming history would have consisted of “wild harvesting” which takes organic to an even higher level.  Isn’t organic the more traditional way of raising crops and livestock?

With these things in mind I am troubled by Representative Scott’s words.  What kind of person shops for organic foods but defends chemically grown and genetically modified foods?  Is the organic movement disrespectful or is the “conventional” way of thinking more disrespectful?  I will leave that up to the reader to decide.


© 2013 Richard E. Robinson