The Spirit of Organic Awards, presented each year by New Hope Natural Media, honor the organic movement's unsung heroes. Award winners come from all segments of the organic marketplace, and are chosen for their commitment, creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation, passion for organics and a determination to change the world and the way we farm, eat and live. Here are this year's winners:
Emily Brown Rosen has been involved in organic certification, technical support to farmers and materials review for more than a quarter-century. Currently policy director for Pennsylvania Certified Organic, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-accredited certifying agency, she also is owner of Organic Research Associates, a consulting firm that offers technical assistance and research for producers, regulatory agencies and others associated with the organic food industry.
Rosen was instrumental in developing numerous policies during her 12 years as technical director for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey and policy director of the Organic Materials Review Institute. She also created educational programs, provided technical support and materials review to organic farmers and processors, navigated government regulations, and communicated with certification agencies. In addition, at OMRI she developed policy for a Generic Materials List, including crop, livestock and processing substances.
Rosen serves on a variety of boards and committees, including the California Certified Organic Farmers' management committee and the National Organic Coalition. She is secretary of both the NOP's Pet Food Task Force and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey's board of directors. Her honors include the Northeast Organic Farming Association's "Person of the Year" award in 1999, and the John Canright Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Organic Agriculture in the Garden State.
Nadia El-Hage Scialabba has been pivotal in developing global organic and sustainable agriculture policies. After receiving bachelor's and master's degrees in environmental studies, this native Parisian has spent 22 years working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome, where she has focused on the environmental aspects of food systems. Her achievements include introducing organic agriculture techniques into FAO's work program, producing field guides on how fisheries can identify marine organisms, training national project directors in environmental impact assessment, preparing FAO guidelines in integrated coastal area management, and forming polices on sustainable food security in small island developing countries.
Currently the senior technical adviser to the assistant director general of FAO's Natural Resource Management and Environment Department, El-Hage Scialabba is responsible for bringing environmental considerations, including organic management, into FAO's mainstream programs, such as forestry, agroecology and adaptation to climate change. She also served as coordinator of the agency's Inter-Depart?mental Working Group on Organic Agriculture, where she was responsible for helping to introduce organic agriculture in developing nations.
Dale Kamibayashi has been involved with retailing, purchasing, manufacturing, selling and marketing organic and natural foods for more than 30 years. After earning a bachelor's degree in animal behavior from the University of Colorado in 1974, he managed a chain of convenience stores near CU, integrating natural and organic foods into the product mix and helping increase sales by 35 percent.
In 1979, Kamibayashi and his wife, Lisa, bought the nearby Nederland Supermarket, combining conventional and natural foods into a 1,200-square-foot store. They sold the supermarket in 1983, and Kamibayashi joined Alfalfa's, a 12-store Colorado-based chain. As manager of Alfalfa's flagship store, Kamibayashi helped develop a retailing concept that was widely emulated.
After stints as store supervisor, purchasing director and private label brands manager at Alfalfa's, Kamibayashi became the chain's director of grocery purchasing when Wild Oats Market purchased Alfalfa's in 1996. He helped develop the stores' first internal retail scanning program and was instrumental in launching Wild Oats' private label brand, receiving the prestigious Edison Best New Product Award from the American Marketing Association in recognition of new products that exemplify exceptional creativity and innovation.
Kamibayashi left the retail sector in 1999 to work at organics manufacturer Small Planet Foods, where he was director of specialty markets, overseeing foodservice, club stores, private label programs and the Canadian marketplace. In his first year with Small Planet, Kamibayashi's divisions posted a 48 percent sales increase.
In 2001, Kamibayashi joined Rapunzel Pure Organics as vice president and director of sales and marketing. He oversaw a complete makeover of the brand's look, product mix and market strategy, resulting in double-digit sales growth. In 2005, he joined Ceres Organics to manage the launch of several branded retail products, including Soy Whip cream.
Kamibayashi is currently director of operations at Boulder, Colo.-based Vantage Organics, a brand management consulting company for organics retailers.
Denise O'Brien has been an organic farmer and farm activist for more than 30 years. While running a dairy farm with her husband for 20 of those years, O'Brien became an advocate for family-farm-friendly policy and for encouraging women to farm. She has represented U.S. agriculture in discussions about sustainability and economic development in a variety of conferences around the world, and has been a delegate to the U.N.'s FAO Committee on Agriculture and a member of the North American/European team for the World Bank Assessment of Agriculture. From 1993 to 1995, she served as president of the National Family Farm Coalition, and in 1997 she addressed the U.N. General assembly on behalf of farmers. Later that year, she started the Women, Food and Agriculture Network, which serves as a networking and lobbying group for women interested in building sustainable, environmentally friendly food systems.
A resident of Atlantic, Iowa, since she was 4 years old, O'Brien has been a member of the Iowa Governor's Farm Crisis Policy Task Force, the Food Systems Task Force of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Food Policy Council. She currently serves on boards for the Community Food Security Coalition, Agricultural Missions and the Iowa Association of County Conservation.
Looking to expand her activism to politics, in 2006 O'Brien launched a grassroots campaign for Iowa secretary of agriculture. Despite odds heavily stacked against her—running a campaign against established politicians who supported conventional agriculture—she won the Democratic primary by a 14-point margin, before losing the general election by two percentage points to a candidate with a budget twice as large as hers.
In 2000, O'Brien was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame, and in 2001 O'Brien was named a W.K. Kellogg Food and Society Fellow.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 9/p. 54, 56