The fifth annual Spirit of Organic awards were given out Sept. 15 at Natural Products Expo East-Biofach America in Washington, D.C. New Hope Natural Media?s organic program presented the awards to leaders in the organic community who were judged as embodying the spirit of organic in business, advocacy and life.
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, the Organic Farming Research Foundation and other groups nominated the following men and women who they believe will help lead the organic movement into the future:
IFOAM international nominee Victor Ananias is a leader in the organic farming movement in Turkey. His certification label Bugday provides educational materials to producers, consumers, traders and processors on the value of organic foods. Bugday also produces a bimonthly magazine on organic lifestyles.
To preserve Turkey?s environmental and agricultural traditions, Ananias works with farmers to maintain their traditional techniques, helps them farm organically and certifies products that meet organic standards. He markets organic goods in health food stores, through Bugday franchises and in food stalls in traditional open-air markets.
In 2000, Ananias became a fellow of Ashoka, an organization that supports social entrepreneurs globally.
Wende Elliott is a farmer and founder of Wholesome Harvest, a coalition of more than 40 small family farms in the Midwest. Since 2001, Wholesome Harvest has offered certified organic meats to grocers, chefs and community-supported agriculture members. In 2004, Elliott was awarded the Excellence in Agriculture award from the Iowa Farm Bureau?the first woman and first organic farmer to receive the award.
Within two years of founding the company, Elliott sold Wholesome Harvest products to Whole Foods Market, Target, Supervalu, SYSCO, Lunds and Hy-Vee. The company espouses fair trade principles, allows all suppliers to become stock owners and participants in price setting, and donates 5 percent of profits to environmental and rural revitalization projects.
Elliott lobbied the National Organic Standards Board in 2002 for higher livestock standards and incorporated her recommendations into Wholesome Harvest?s practices.
The real-life uncle to 10 nieces and nephews, Matt McLean, president of Uncle Matt?s Organic, ventured into the organic juice business in 1999. His passion for healthy living combines with a long family history of growing citrus fruit in Florida, dating back four generations to his great-grandfather, Angus Benjamin McLean.
McLean began a juice brokerage business in 1993 after graduating from the University of Florida. In 1995, a customer inquiry inspired him to look into organic farming, and four years later, he launched Uncle Matt?s Organic with 100 percent not-from-concentrate orange juice.
McLean was recently elected to the board of directors of the OTA.
Frederick Schilling is ?founding alchemist? of family-owned and operated Dagoba Organic Chocolate, a company committed to organic production, sustainability, fair trade and renewable energy principles. A musician and chef, Schilling began blending unusual flavors with organic chocolate in 2000. As he started researching the chocolate industry, it became clear to him that the importance of supporting sustainable cacao farms was intrinsic to the health of the rain forests and also the growth of rare breeds of the cacao plant.
Scott Silverman is chief operating officer of Jungle Products Inc., a company dedicated to fair trade, jungle-sourced organic and sustainable products. Prior to joining Jungle, Silverman created New Hope Natural Media?s organic program.
Silverman has been in the natural and organic products industry since 1991 and has held positions in manufacturing, retailing and distributing. He serves on the boards of the Organic Materials Review Institute and the Ecological Farming Association, and is a member of the California Organic Products Advisory Committee.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVI/number 10/p. 16