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Organic Farmers Association Announces Leadership

To create a vehicle for organic farmers to weigh in on national policy issues and raise the profile of U.S. certified organic farmers, Rodale Institute’s Organic Farmers Association has unified with a parallel grassroots national organic effort, the Organic Farmers Alliance.

Going forward as the Organic Farmers Association (OFA), sponsored by Rodale Institute, a farmer-majority interim steering committee has been appointed to ensure this effort is farmer-led and controlled. Elections for the first farmer-majority Governing Council will take place in early 2018.

“It’s time that organic farmers have a clear voice shaping the future of the organic movement they helped build,” said Jim Riddle, organic farmer, Blue Fruit Farm, Winona, Minnesota, and newly appointed chair of the Organic Farmers Association steering committee.

OFA’s mission is to provide a strong and unified national voice for domestic certified organic producers. Its purpose is to build and support a farmer-led national organic farmer movement and national policy platform by: developing and advocating policies that benefit organic farmers; strengthening and supporting the capacity of organic farmers and farm organizations; and supporting collaboration and leadership among state, regional and national organic farmer organizations. “A lot of people say they speak for organic farmers,” said Jeff Moyer, Executive Director, Rodale Institute. “It’s time we had a clear, unified farmer voice on policy issues that affect our industry and businesses.”

The steering committee includes 12 voting seats for certified organic farmers and seven non-voting seats for organic farm organizations (including fiscal sponsor Rodale Institute):

Farm Members

Dave Colson, New Leaf Farm (Maine)

Jack Erisman, Goldmine Farms (Illinois)

Phil LaRocca, LaRocca Vineyards (California)

Nick Maravell, Nick’s Organic Farm (Maryland)

Theresa Podoll, Prairie Road Organic Farm (North Dakota) (Officer: Vice Chair)

Bob Quinn, Quinn Farm and Ranch (Montana) (Officer: Member)

Judith Redmond, Full Belly Farm (California) (Officer: Treasurer)

Jim Riddle, Blue Fruit Farm (Minnesota) (Officer: Chair)

Will Stevens, Golden Russet Farm (Vermont)

Organization Members

Isaura Andaluz, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) (New Mexico)

John Bobbe, Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM) (Wisconsin)

Renee Hunt, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) (Ohio)

Maddie Monty, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) (Vermont) (Officer: Secretary)

Jeff Moyer, Rodale Institute, Skyhollow Farm (Pennsylvania)

Michael Sligh, Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA) (North Carolina)

(Four additional steering committee seats will be filled in the coming months (3 farm and 1 organization seats))

The United States has more than 16,000 certified organic farms. With American consumers spending more than $43 billion annually on organic food and products, US organic farmers need a place at the table to advocate for policies that will enable them to meet growing demand.

“We are calling on all organic farmers to join in this farmer-led, farmer-controlled association,” said Theresa Podoll, organic farmer, Prairie Road Organic Farm, Fullerton, North Dakota and newly appointed Vice Chair of Organic Farmers Association steering committee.

As demand for organic production continues to increase, it is imperative organic farmers inform policy that impacts our food and agriculture system. “By coming together, we will create a groundswell of organic farmers to inform our decision makers and the public how current and future policies allow us to produce food that is healthy for people and the planet,” said Podoll.

Organic farmers, organic farm organizations, and supporters of organic farmers can join the association by going to OrganicFarmersAssociation.org.

Vermont Creamery Wins Big at U.S. Championship Cheese Contest

Vermont Creamery was honored for achievement in artisan cheesemaking this week with three awards at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest (USCCC) held biennially in Wisconsin.

VC_MVCF_8OZ_2014Vanilla Crème Fraîche won “Best in Class” while Cultured Butter with Sea Salt and Maple and St. Albans both took third place in their respective categories.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized by our peers in the cheese community, especially in the good company of other Vermont cheesemakers,” said Allison Hooper, co-Founder of Vermont Creamery. “These awards are the result of our entire team’s commitment to quality and innovation in cheesemaking.”

VC_STALBANS_FULL_ANGLE_GMO_2016This is the first USCCC award for St. Albans, the newest aged cheese to join the lineup; in 2015, Vermont Creamery products took home five USCCC awards.

This year, the contest garnered a record 2,303 entries, up 22 percent from the previous contest in 2015. Forty-eight judges from nineteen states evaluated all of the entries across 101 classes. Vermont Creamery’s Cultured Butter with Sea Salt and Maple took third in a new category—flavored butter.

Schuman Cheese Scores at U.S. Championships

A trifecta of wins, including two top-20 finalists, continued a tradition of excellence for Schuman Cheese at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, held March 7-9 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Three best of class awards, and a third place finish, made for another strong showing for this leading Italian cheese company at the biennial competition.

Among the top 20 finalists, selected as the best of 2,303 entries in the competition, was Yellow Door Creamery’s Hand Rubbed Fontina. This best of class entry in the Open Class Flavored Semi-soft (Semi-hard) Cheeses category is the result of smooth and creamy Fontina wheels that are hand-rubbed with vibrant spice blends from around the globe and naturally aged for over 60 days. The winning variety – Harissa Hand Rubbed Fontina – offers a smoky blend of chili, cumin and caraway seed paired with the rich and nutty flavor of fontina.

Schuman’s other top 20 finalist, also earning best of class honors in the Blue Veined Cheeses category, was a Montforte Bleu Wheel. Crafted in the old-world tradition of artisan cheesemakers, Montforte Bleu’s savory tangy flavor is enhanced by its characteristic blue marble veining, giving it smooth and creamy undertones that lend a decadent bite to a rich risotto and a host of other recipes.

Rounding out the first place finishes was Cello Shredded Parmesan in the Open Class Shredded Cheese, Flavored & Unflavored category. The deep, nutty, caramel character of this flavorful parmesan is the result of the 12-plus months of natural aging each wheel undergoes to reach maturity before shredding.

Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan also earned recognition at the contest with a third place award in the Parmesan category. The rich, nutty flavor of authentic Italian Grana Padano is made in traditional copper kettles and aged over 20 months. A crunchy texture and robust flavor are the result of high-quality ingredients, bringing in natural sea salt and aging in a temperature-controlled environment. Each wheel is hand-selected once its intense flavor profile has reached the peak of perfection for a true culinary delight.

This year marked the 19th biennial U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, which is hosted by the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. Entries across 100 classes were evaluated by a team of skilled technical judges selected from across the country in areas such as flavor, body and texture, salt, color, finish, packaging and other appropriate attributes.

Wisconsin Sweeps Top Three Spots at 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest

Marieke Penterman of Marieke Gouda in Thorp, Wisconsin, with her USCCC Second Runner-Up Marieke Gouda Belegen; Mike Matucheski of Sartori Cheese in Antigo, Wisconsin with his Grand Champion Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano, and Terry Lensmire of Agropur in Weyauwega, Wisconsin with his First Runner-Up Cheddar, Aged One to Two Years, at the Cheese Champion Reception in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Thursday, March 9, 2017.

Marieke Penterman of Marieke Gouda in Thorp, Wisconsin, with her USCCC Second Runner-Up Marieke Gouda Belegen; Mike Matucheski of Sartori Cheese in Antigo, Wisconsin with his Grand Champion Sartori Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano, and Terry Lensmire of Agropur in Weyauwega, Wisconsin with his First Runner-Up Cheddar, Aged One to Two Years, at the Cheese Champion Reception in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Thursday, March 9, 2017.

Wisconsin cheesemakers continued their historic winning streak at the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, sweeping the top awards and 31 competition classes. With the title of Grand Champion Cheese going to Sartori’s Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano, Wisconsin has won top honors at the country’s three major cheese competitions over the past year.

Little Mountain from Roelli Cheese earned Best of Show at the American Cheese Society Competition in July, and Emmi Roth USA’s Grand Cru Surchoix won the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest, marking the first sweep of this kind.

“This winning streak is a testament to the tradition, innovation and commitment to excellence that Wisconsin dairy farmers and cheesemakers exemplify,” said Suzanne Fanning, Vice President, National Product Communications, of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). “It’s further proof that Wisconsin not only makes the most cheese in the country, but the very best cheese, as well. This starts with producing the finest milk and maintaining the highest standards from the farm to the aging caves and beyond.”

Made by Master Cheesemaker Mike Matucheski, Sartori’s Reserve Black Pepper BellaVitano is an original Italian-style cheese hand-rubbed with cracked black peppercorns. The contest’s award for first runner up went to Aged Cheddar from Agropur. Marieke Gouda Belegen was the second runner up.

With a record-breaking 2,303 entries from 33 U.S. states, the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest is the largest technical cheese, butter and yogurt competition in the country. Wisconsin captured 60 percent of all awards, winning 184 awards total, including the top three titles, 62 Best of Class awards, 63 second place, and 56 third place awards.

U.S. Championship Honors for Montchevre

Montchevre claimed seven awards at the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest®. Hosted by the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association, the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, is the largest technical cheese, butter, and yogurt competition in the country.

At the 19th biennial U.S. Championship Cheese Contest held Thursday, March 9 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Montchevre received the following honors:

Class: Flavored Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class, Truffle Fresh Goat Cheese Log

Second, Four Pepper Fresh Goat Cheese Log

Class: Flavored Soft Goat’s Milk Cheese with Sweet Condiments

Best of Class, Blueberry Vanilla Fresh Goat Cheese Log

Class: Semi-Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class, Crumbled Goat Cheese

Class: Flavored Semi-Soft Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class, Apricot & Sage Crumbled Goat Cheese

Third, Candied Cranberry Crumbled Goat Cheese

Class: Hard Goat’s Milk Cheeses

Best of Class, Trivium (in partnership with Crown Finish Caves and Creamery 333)

A record-setting 2,303 cheeses, butters, and yogurts from 33 states participated in the 2017 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.

DAVIDsTEA Appoints Joel Silver as President and Chief Executive Officer

DAVIDsTEA Inc.’s board of directors has appointed Joel Silver as the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer and a member of its board of directors, with both appointments to become effective on March 20, 2017. Silver will succeed Christine Bullen, who has served as Interim President and Chief Executive Officer since January 29, 2017 while the company conducted a formal search for a permanent Chief Executive Officer. Bullen will continue to serve in her prior role as Managing Director, U.S.

Maurice Tousson, Chairman of the company’s board of directors, stated, “On behalf of the board of directors, I am delighted to welcome Joel to DAVIDsTEA. We believe that his diverse experience with consumer-centric and lifestyle brands coupled with his leadership skills and track record of success make him an excellent fit to lead DAVIDsTEA. Joel’s background and skill set will be valuable as we capitalize on the opportunities to grow the DAVIDsTEA brand. We would also like to thank Christine for her contributions while she served as Interim President & CEO and look forward to her continued leadership as Managing Director, U.S.”

Silver added, “I am honored to join DAVIDsTEA as President and CEO. I look forward to working with the board, management, and passionate team members of this unique and exciting company as we work together to expand the business and realize the potential for DAVIDsTEA.”

Silver comes to DAVIDsTEA with over 20 years of consumer brand experience, having most recently served as general partner and a member of the board of directors of TrilogyGrowth, a venture capital fund he co-founded, which focuses on consumer-centric brands including Poppin, a modern office supplies brand, iStore, a Canadian-based retail and wholesale brand providing consumers with trendy and practical digital lifestyle solutions, and Indeed Laboratories, a Canadian-based skin care company with global distribution. Prior to TrilogyGrowth, from 2003 to 2011, Silver held several positions of increasing responsibility at Indigo Books & Music Inc., Canada’s largest book, gift and specialty toy retailer, most recently as president. In this capacity, Silver drove Indigo Books & Music’s strategy to build the general merchandise categories, including the launch of Indigo Kids and the doubling of the lifestyle categories. He also was responsible for significantly expanding revenues across all retail and e-commerce channels and helped Indigo Books & Music launch Kobo, its e-reading platform. Silver has sat on Indigo Books & Music’s Board of Directors since 2011. He also was a co-founder and the chief executive officer of SalesDriver.com Inc., an on-line e-commerce platform based out of Boston & Toronto that was sold to Carlson Marketing Group Inc. Silver began his career in brand management at Procter & Gamble.

Silver earned his bachelor’s degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada and his master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University.

ITO EN Debuts Ice-Steeped Cold Brew Teas for matcha LOVE and TEAS’ TEA Organic

ITO EN is launching a lineup of new ice-steeped cold brew ready-to-drink teas across two award-winning beverage brands, matcha LOVE®  and TEAS’ TEA® Organic. Each new beverage leverages authentic Japanese cold brew processes, ice-steeping the tea to bring out the smooth, naturally mellow sweetness of green and black teas. The new teas will begin shipping to retailers in May.

“Consumer demand for cold brew beverages is at an all-time high, and we believe the launch of our new matcha LOVE and TEAS’ TEA Organic Cold Brew teas will help us establish a new segment in the RTD tea category,” said Rona Tison, Senior Vice President of ITO EN (North America) INC. “Given ITO EN’s deep-rooted expertise in Japanese cold brew methods called Mizudashi, we feel there’s an enormous opportunity for us to take the leadership role for this innovative set. We’ve elevated the simple essence of our tea leaves and created a more delicate taste with a smooth, clean finish.”

ITO EN’s new cold brew creations provide an entirely new spin on conventional green and black teas. Ice-steeping the high-quality, premium tea leaves draws out a more nuanced, smooth taste that is refreshingly delicious. Product details include:

  • matcha LOVE Cold Brew: a truly cutting-edge creation in the matcha tea category, matcha LOVE Cold Brew is crafted with whole leaf green tea, finely ground matcha powder and chilled water. Simply steeped to deliver a smooth, subtly sweet taste, matcha LOVE Cold Brew will be available in two organic varieties: Matcha + Green Tea (unsweetened and Non-GMO Project Verified) and Lemon Matcha + Green Tea.
  • TEAS’ TEA Organic Cold Brew: bringing new dimensions to traditional favorites, the brand’s meticulous cold brewing methods provide a more refined and smoother taste than conventionally brewed teas. TEAS’ TEA Organic Cold Brew will be available in two varieties: Pure Green Tea (unsweetened and Non-GMO Project Verified) and Raspberry Black Tea.

Matcha LOVE and TEAS’ TEA Organic are currently available at natural food stores and specialty supermarkets nationwide, to include Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, Wegmans and The Fresh Market. Products are also available at ITO EN brand retail stores and online at Amazon.com. For more information on the brands, visit matcha LOVE at www.matchalove.com and TEAS’ TEA Organic at www.teastea.com.

A Taste of Anatolia from Ana’s Apron

By Lorrie Baumann

Paul Theroux was riding the Trans-Siberian Express three days east of Nishni Novgorod, the apple blossom land described by Amor Towles in “A Gentleman in Moscow,” when on page 471 of Theroux’s story about the trip, he was offered manti by a passing stranger. Theroux described the manti as steaming meat-filled dumplings. “I knew the word because I’d heard manti  for dumpling in Turkey and elsewhere,” Theroux wrote in “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star.”

DSCN0352Some of this came back to me when I stopped in front of Kader Ucar and Hasan Ertas (wife and husband) at the Winter Fancy Food Show. They were standing in front of a banner identifying Ana’s Apron, and what they had on a table in front of them was a little plate of Ana’s Apron Manti, which Ucar, who is Ana’s Apron’s President, described as traditional Anatolian-style manti. Anatolia is the Asian part of Turkey, she further explained.

Ucar is also the Founder of Palo Alto Pasta Co., which owns the Ana’s Apron brand. It’s a woman-owned and operated business located in California’s Bay Area. Ten percent of the company’s profits are dedicated to children’s charities around the world. “’Ana’ means ‘mother’ in Turkish, and I founded this company with tremendous support from my mother. We are using her artisanal old recipe in our Manti pasta, and she now lives permanently with us. We wanted to name our Manti brand after her to show our gratitude to what she has done for us. You can almost always find my mother at home with her apron on cooking amazing Anatolian dishes for lunch and dinner,” said Ucar.

The Manti are little filled dumplings about the size of a marble and the shape of a tiny purse, and they’re available from Ana’s Apron in four varieties: Spinach & Feta & Olive, Five Cheese, Beef & Onion and Chicken & Thyme. They’re similar to Italian tortellini, but they’re based on recipes that Ucar and her family have been making for seven generations. “We sell it the way we eat it in our own family. Some of our most frequent customers are families with young children. Our Manti pasta is a small bite size, so even a three-year-old can eat it without any parental help at the table. Kids love our pasta!” Ertas said.

Ana’s Apron packages the Manti for sale in 10-ounce pouches that serve two and sell for about $6.99 from the grocer’s freezer case. The product is also available in 3-pound pouches for food service and in a family pack.

They’re prepared by dropping the frozen dumplings into boiling water for two minutes and then traditionally served topped with plain yogurt and then tomato sauce on top of that. For customers who are buying their tomato sauce in a jar instead of making it themselves, a simple marinara would be an appropriate choice, Ucar confirmed.

The Beef & Onion variety provides 36 percent of a daily value of protein per serving, and the Spinach & Feta & Olive variety is also rich in protein as well as iron, Ucar said. Shelf life in the grocer’s freezer case is nine months, and Ana’s Apron is currently distributing the products in the Bay Area, with production capacity ready for expanded distribution beyond that. “We’ve been working on it for the last eight months, and we’re ready to take on bigger orders,” Ucar said.

For more information, visit www.anasapron.com.

La Piana Imported Balsamic Vinegars Now Available in Northeast

Italian Foods Corporation’s imported La Piana® balsamic vinegars of Modena now are available in the northeastern United States through Shaw’s and Big Y.

Shaw’s is now carrying the La Piana Bronze Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and Silver Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena at its 155 stores in five New England states through Chex Finer Foods of Mansfield, Massachusetts, according to Francesca Lapiana-Krause, Italian Foods General Manager. Big Y has added the Bronze Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, also through Chex Finer Foods, Lapiana-Krause said.

The vinegars are imported from the Modena region of Italy and made from the juice of Trebbiano grapes grown in the region. These produce a rich, sweet and pleasantly acidic balsamic vinegar with intense, but well-rounded, flavor, Lapiana-Krause said. La Piana Bronze Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena has a density of 1.18 and a sugar level of 400 to 430 grams per liter. The Silver balsamic vinegar has a density of 1.25 with sugar at 540 to 570 grams.

Italian Foods Corporation also carries Gold Aged Balsamic Vinegar of Modena with a density of 1.32 and sugar at 750 grams along with a line of Romantica vinegars and balsamic pearls. Suggested retail prices of the vinegars, which come in 8.4-ounce decorative bottles, are $16.47 for the Bronze, $22.65 for the Silver and $36.04 for the Gold.

More information about Italian Foods Corporation is available online at http://www.ItalianFoods.com and https://www.Facebook.com/LaPianaItalianFoods or by calling 1.888.516.7262.

Nonni’s Foods Brings Out Biscotti with Flavors of Spring

For the first time ever, Nonni’s Foods is introducing a new limited batch of spring biscotti flavors. Inspired by the freshness of the spring season, White Chocolate Cherry Biscotti and Limoncello Pistachio Biscotti hit select grocery stores nationwide beginning in March. The seasonal flavors are only available for a limited time.

Spring Box Limoncello Pistachio“Spring has officially sprung at Nonni’s, and we are thrilled to introduce these new flavors and limited batch product line inspired by the season. Our holiday flavors tend to perform well and we know our consumers look forward to them, so we wanted to give them something new during the spring months, too,” said Patricia Wong Bridges, Senior Brand Marketing Manager for Nonni’s. “Our goal is to consistently offer unique, innovative and on-trend biscotti flavor creations that get consumers excited.”

Fresh from Nonni’s artisan bakery, each cookie is made with wholesome ingredients including real eggs, butter, fruits and nuts, giving the biscotti a light, crunchy texture that is delicately sweet. “As the weather warms up, we hope consumers find these flavors to pair seamlessly with their iced coffee or tea for that perfect morning treat or afternoon pick-me-up,” said Bridges.

Each box of Nonni’s Biscotti contains eight individually wrapped biscotti and retails for $3.29. At only 110 calories apiece, Nonni’s offers the sweet flavors of spring in a guilt-free indulgence that is perfect for snacking or sharing.

New Seasonal Flavors: 

  • Nonni’s White Chocolate Cherry Biscotti are filled with cherries and white chocolate, and delicately drizzled with white chocolate icing. 
  • Nonni’s Limoncello Pistachio Biscotti are made with real pistachios and tangy lemons, dipped and drizzled in gourmet white chocolate.

The superior combination of quality care and ingredients makes Nonni’s Biscotti the seasonal treat that consumers desire. These treats are individually wrapped in portion- controlled packs that seal freshness and maintain the highest quality flavor, and can be enjoyed as an indulgent snack or post-dinner dessert. For ordering information, retailers can call 877.295.9604, or visit www.nonnis.com.

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