From Better Farming to Better Shopping
Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D.
Project Director, Eco-labeling Project and Sustainable Consumption Project
The organic movement paved the road from farm to fork and from a niche market to the supermarket. But public
awareness about unsustainable conventional farming practices and organic values has been constructed in a marketplace
filled with confusing labels, where "natural" and other claims compete with credible labels like organic - and where organic
does not always mean what it should. The need for organic standards to remain high and evolve over time is vital to the
long-term success of the organic movement, especially as consumers increasingly want to know the origins of their food
and how it is produced. Urvashi Rangan is the Director of Technical Policy for Consumers Union. She developed the ratings
system, database, and website for evaluating environmental labels. Rangan continues to decode the meaning of eco-labels
for consumers, and advocates for credible labeling in the marketplace, including influencing government policy decisions
at the state and federal level.
Dr. Rangan came to Consumers Union (CU) in late 1999 to develop an eco-labels website which now provides consumers with the information they need to evaluate the meaning of environmental claims that appear on the labels of everyday products found on supermarket shelves. She is now managing the production of a new Consumer Reports site related to sustainable consumption practices. She is also advises the national food safety advocacy campaign for CU. She conducts policy analysis and has filed several comments with government agencies including the USDA, FDA, and FTC on organic labeling standards, irradiation labeling, and other consumer labeling issues. She has been a spokesperson for CU on food safety and labeling issues, organic laws, and sustainability issues.
Dr. Rangan is also a multimedia expert and has produced two short documentaries on sustainable development issues in India. Her film titles are: Zero-Waste and Silk: Environmental Economics.
Dr. Rangan received her B.A. in Chemistry from Boston University in 1990 and her Ph.D. in Environmental Health Sciences from Johns Hopkins University in 1995. From 1995-97, she did post-doctoral work at the Environmental and Occupational Health Science Institute. She was a NIH fellow from 1990-97.
Saturday - February 26, 2011
What Are We Waiting For? Now Is the Time to Rebuild Our Healthy Food System
Tom Stearns, High Mowing Seeds
For the first time in human history, we have the opportunity to consciously create a food system that reflects what we now
know about local and global economies, ecology, and human health. The ways we grow, transport, and consume food
carry much of the blame for climate change, energy abuse, poisoned water and soil, and the obesity epidemic. With the
future of our food system in our hands, what will we do? Hear from Tom Stearns, of High Mowing Organic Seeds, about
local food systems development in Hardwick, Vermont, and the fascinating, collaborative work among farmers, businesses,
and the community as they face this challenge in a bold and ambitious way. Tom Stearns, founded High Mowing Organic
Seeds in 1996, when he began sharing seeds with others through a small seed flyer. Since that time, High Mowing Organic
Seeds has expanded into one of the leading organic seed companies in the United States.
Stearns is founder and president of High Mowing Seeds and president of the Center for Agricultural Economy, a Hardwick, Vermont non-profit which works to provide the support, coordination, and funding needed to develop Hardwick into a model of a healthy food system.
With over thirty employees, High Mowing Seeds has become a major player in the organic vegetable seed marketplace, as well as an important economic force in Hardwick.
"Agriculture is the biggest user of energy, the biggest user of water, the biggest user of land, and the biggest polluter on the planet," Stearns says. "It's also the biggest contributor to our health, or, depending on what we eat, the biggest contributor to our ill health. We've spent the last 200 years on this planet going in a pretty dangerous direction. We have an opportunity in a limited amount of time to steer in a new direction. I feel that through the food system is the best way to do it."
All general sessions will be ASL interpreted.
Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)