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Santa Monica Library Assembles Experts to Talk About “Organic” Food

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By Lookout Staff

August 14, 2013 -- What does it mean when produce is labeled “organic”? And how do officials keep foods that don't meet the criteria from bearing the label?

A panel of experts will answer these questions and more at the Main Branch of the Santa Monica Public Library Thursday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. as part of the Santa Monica Farmers Markets 2013 Panel Series.

“As more and more customers ask for 'Organic' produce at the farmers market, farmers are taking another look at whether or not they should become 'Certified Organic,'” Farmers Market officials said.

Officials promise an evening full of information on the increasingly fashionable topic or “organic” food.

“Hear from three active Santa Monica Market farmers how they made the decision to become certified organic, how the organic certification process works and what 'Organic' means to the farmer and the consumer,” officials said.

On the panel will be Molly Gean, one of the operators of Harry's Berries. Gean runs the farm, which was started by her father in Harry Iwamoto in 1967, with her husband Rick and their children.

Located in Oxnard, the farm grows certified organic berries and vegetables for distribution throughout Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles County.

“We farm using only organic practices, though we are not certified due to the costs and paperwork
involved,” Harry's Berries' website reads.

Gean will be joined by Alex Weiser, owner of Weiser Family Farms, founded in 1977 in Tehachapi, California.

Rounding out the triad of farmers is Phil McGrath, owner of McGrath Family Farm, a certified organic farm in Camarillo.

In addition to the three farmers, the public will also hear from Carlos Lawrence, who works with farmers to help them certify their produce as “organic.”

As an “organic” certifier himself, Lawrence is well-acquainted with the certification process, which some farmers have found confusing and prohibitively expensive.

These four will be joined Ann Gentry, founder of Real Food Daily, a small chain of restaurants that specialize in “organic plant-based cuisine.”

What started as a food delivery operation Gentry ran out of her kitchen in the late 1980s has turned into a thriving business with three locations, in Santa Monica, Pasadena and West Hollywood.

After the discussion, the audience will enjoy snacks courtesy of Gentry.

For more information about Thursday's event, click here.

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