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Insist on Change  |  May 17, 2016

A Transition To Better

Farmer holding seeds to represent Certified Transitional farming from conventional to organic methods – Stories by Kashi

Two years ago, a small team here at Kashi set off on a journey that would forever change the way we view organic farming. But at the time, we had no idea.

It all started with a field trip to a family farm outside Grand Rapids, Michigan. There we met farmer Karen Lubbers, whose passion for farming grew from a simple desire to feed her family better, more wholesome food. Seated outside her barn under the warm summer sun, we got to talking with Karen about the challenges facing farmers who’d like to make the move to organic farming.

Karen echoed what we already knew: It’s incredibly difficult. You see, farmers can’t just adopt organic practices to be considered an organic farm. They have to go through a strenuous three-year transition process, during which they must adhere to organic standards while selling crops at the lower conventional prices. And because the transition leads to smaller yields at first, they also have less to sell. All of which means there is a huge financial burden on these farmers. That’s why less than 1 percent of farmland in the U.S. is organic. Yes, less than 1 percent.

We were telling Karen about our own desire to find a way to increase this percentage when she said something that changed our view entirely: “I actually would be more likely to support a farmer in transition to organic than one who is already certified organic.”

Click, the light bulb turned on.

Supporting farmers in transition. That’s something we knew we could do here at Kashi. And we wanted to do it in a big way. So we worked to create a cereal made with wheat from transitional farmland. Dark Cocoa Karma. It won’t just be made with transitional wheat for now, or for a few years. It will always be made with wheat from transitional farms. It’s the first of what we hope will be a full line of Kashi transitional offerings.

But we don’t want transitional products to just be a Kashi thing. We think everyone should be joining to support farmers in transition to organic. And we want consumers everywhere to feel empowered to choose products made with transitional crops.

For that to happen, we knew we’d need to set a whole new standard. So we partnered with Quality Assurance International (QAI), a USDA NOP accredited third-party organic certification company, to create a “Certified Transitional” standard. It’s a badge that signifies that a transitional product follows a certain set of guidelines. And just like the USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified labels, the Certified Transitional badge will symbolize goods produced at the highest standards. It’s a badge we hope you’ll see not just on Kashi packaging, but on packaging everywhere.

It’ll take a little love from all of us to increase the percentage of organic farmland in the U.S. But we believe it’s a cause worthy of our hearts, minds and taste buds. Because more organic farmland means less synthetic fertilizers in our waterways, enhanced soil health, increased biodiversity and more organic food for our bodies. And that’s good news for us, and our planet.

...feel empowered to choose products made with transitional crops.

So how can you get involved?

1. Speak up. Let other people know that less than 1 percent of U.S. farmland is organic. It’s a shocking number. But if enough people are informed enough to have an impact, it won’t always be so shocking.

2. Look for the Certified Transitional logo. Support farmers who are making the transition to organic farming. And in return, they’ll make our earth a better place to live.

3. Demand change. Encourage your other favorite brands to incorporate transitional crops into their products. It’s one thing brands can do to make the transition a little easier.

It’s funny to think that a little idea, hatched two years ago outside a barn in Michigan, would grow into a whole new standard. But grow it has. And with a little help from you, it could become a movement that makes its way around the world.

 

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