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Giving Compass' Take:
• General Mills is transitioning farmland in South Dakota to certified organic. (Only 1 percent of farms in the United States are certified organic.)
• Do you think about how much food you eat that is imported or comes from local organic farms? What can you do to contribute to organic farming?
• Local farmers and food innovators around the U.S. are focused on initiatives to increase awareness about the benefits of organic farming.
You might not know from looking around the grocery store that there’s an organics shortage. These days, it seems you can buy organic anything: avocados and apple sauce, toothpaste and tea. But the fact remains that only 1 percent of American farmland is certified organic, and that the vast majority of certified organic crops are imported from other countries, where standards aren’t necessarily as reliable and where supply is tough to guarantee. Some crops simply can’t be found at scale with the kind of consistency needed for the world’s large food companies. That’s a source of anxiety for the food industry as demand for organic continues to strengthen, and as legacy brands try to launch organic versions of their most famous products.
If big food companies are going to meet growing demand for organics, they'll need to take an interest in farming.
After all, there’s a reason you haven’t yet seen organic versions of Cheerios, Chex Mix, and Pillsbury Toaster Strudel. It’s not because General Mills, the parent company of those brands, thinks there’s no interest on the part of American eaters. Far from it—the company knows American appetites for organic products are growing faster than growers can switch. Instead, the issue is that General Mills can’t reliably find organic grains at a scale that benefits a food multinational of its size.
In March, General Mills announced that it would help to transition 53 square miles of South Dakota farmland to certified organic. It’s partnering with Midwestern BioAg, a company that helps conventional farms through the transition process, to convert Gunsmoke Farms, a 34,000-acre wheat farm.
Read more about General Mills' transition by Amy Halloran at The New Food Economy