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The Road to Natural: Back to the FarmThe Road to Natural: Back to the Farm

Nutrition Business Journal's editor is joined by a farmer and a retailer activist on a road trip from Iowa to Baltimore to examine how agriculture and nutrition policy impact farmers and rural communities.

Rick Polito

September 6, 2017

2 Min Read
The Road to Natural: Back to the Farm

This series is underwritten by MegaFood.

Knowing where food comes from and knowing the story behind that food are two very different things.

The Road to Natural: Back to the Farm series will examine some of those stories on a five-day trip from western Iowa to Baltimore for Natural Products Expo East.

In the age of transparency and traceability, the trip from field to shelf or field to plate could seem simple. Whether it’s produce at the farmers market or a scan code that connects a farmer to a box of organic cereal, food that comes out of the ground and makes its way into a product is easy to visualize. It’s the story of the farm it came from that can be complex. Farmers face a variety of challenges, from the weather to market prices and keeping the tractor running, but it’s the interface with a government that might be most maddening. The federal Farm Bill is up for debate next year, and a number of niche interests will compete to tweak the details to their advantage.

This is where the small farms and industrial agriculture can clash. It’s also where the natural products industry can step up to help drive policies that will support rural communities that are too often left behind.

Leaving from Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 9, I will visit farms and brands that operate within that intricate policy environment. Traveling with me will be organic aronia berry farmer Andrew Pittz, Natural Grocer’s government relations expert Alan Lewis, and Bethany Davis, director of regulatory affairs at MegaFood.

Each day, we will examine a different theme related to farmers, the natural products industry and agricultural policy. Check back Sept. 10 through Sept. 13 for updates from the road.

Day 1: Communities

How organic and natural entrepreneurs and brands can drive rural economic development. Read it here.

Day 2: Policies

Stories of farmers who have benefited from USDA programs designed to support small farms and launch small brands, and what it will mean if those programs and policies disappear. Read it here.

Day 3: Livestock

Animal welfare regulations, country of origin labeling and what it would take to give farmers practicing responsible techniques a fair chance in the market. Read it here.

Day 4: Advocacy

What are organic farmers and other groups doing to level the playing field for small farms. Read it here.

Day 5: New Hope Goes to Washington

Visits on Capitol Hill to learn about the political realities of agriculture and nutrition policy. Read it here.


This series is underwritten by MegaFood.


About the Author(s)

Rick Polito

Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

As Nutrition Business Journal's editor-in-chief, Rick Polito writes about the trends, deals and developments in the natural nutrition industry, looking for the little companies coming up and the big money coming in. An award-winning journalist, Polito knows that facts and figures never give the complete context and that the story of this industry has always been about people.

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