Archive for January, 2008


Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

The best in Central Florida food

We’re very proud to announce that Matt McLean (a.k.a. Uncle Matt) is the recipient of Orlando Sentinel’s inaugural “Culinary Cup” award. According to the Sentinel, “Central Florida’s culinary community has been shaped and nurtured by thousands of passionate individuals. From the soil to the table, these professionals have demonstrated a commitment to quality and a vision for the future.”

We’re excited to see Matt, and Uncle Matt’s Organic, recognized for our commitment to a healthy, organic lifestyle. Thank you, Heather McPherson, and the Orlando Sentinel, for this great award!


ORLANDO, Fla. — January 23, 2008 — Central Florida’s culinary community has been shaped and nurtured by thousands of passionate individuals. From the soil to the table, these professionals have demonstrated a commitment to quality and a vision for the future.

This year the Orlando Sentinel inaugurates its Culinary Hall of Fame to recognize those who have made significant contributions to how Central Florida eats, drinks and dines. Each year we will select 10 honorees, plus spotlight trailblazers worth watching and remember those no longer with us.

Our definition of who is a culinary professional is broad. Food and beverage is a diverse industry that requires a variety of skills and interests. Our regional reputation does not rest on restaurant reviews alone. In addition to talented chefs, our achievements are reflected in exceptional work in agriculture, food manufacturing, retail stores, and health and wellness.

The class of 2008 only begins to showcase the talent and history that surround us. It includes established names such as restaurateur Manny Garcia and the Duda farming dynasty, as well as newcomers and industry insiders such as Harmoni Market’s John Gabrovic and the Orlando Brewing Co.’s John Cheek. We salute their accomplishments!

Matt McLean: An organic way of growing Florida citrus for future generations

Working his family’s Lake County groves as a young boy, Matt McLean swore he would never follow his father, grandfather and great-grandfather into the citrus industry. But McLean, 36, did just that.

After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in business administration, McLean returned to Clermont and started a juice brokerage in 1993. Two years later, opportunities in the organic market piqued his interest and, in 1999, he launched Uncle Matt’s Organic orange juice.

“It’s not just a lifestyle,” says McLean. “It’s about healthy living and healthy soils. For me, it’s laying the foundation for the next generation of McLeans.”

Uncle Matt’s juice is a blend of Hamlin and Valencia oranges, without added flavor or peel oil. The Valencia orange is Florida’s most famous variety, known for its deep orange color and sweet juice. The Hamlin was a favorite of McLean’s grandfather. Uncle Matt’s products can be found in Publix and Chamberlin’s stores, and Economy Health Foods in Altamonte Springs.

By Heather McPherson, Sentinel Food Editor

U.S. Senate approves Farm Bill with provisions for Organic Agriculture

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

The Farm Bill is something that we at OTA (Organic Trade Association) have all been passionate about, and it’s one of the reasons we lobby in Washington every year. This approval from the Senate is a great start to helping organic farmers. Read on…

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – In a 79 to 14 vote, the U.S. Senate today approved its version of the Farm Bill that included funding and direction for key organic priorities, according to Caren Wilcox, executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

“The Senate Farm Bill includes important steps to help strengthen the safety net for organic producers and manufacturers,” Wilcox said. “These measures include funding for organic research, data collection, and transition to organic production, as well as eliminating the crop insurance premium for organic producers.” Currently, organic producers must pay a 5% surcharge for crop insurance; yet, in times of loss, the producers receive not the usually higher organic crop price, but the lower conventional price.

The Senate version of the Farm Bill:
· recognizes that increased funding is essential for the National Organic Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the full authorized level;

· includes $5 million for organic data collection to help provide better price and yield information for organically-grown crops;

· includes $22 million in new money for certification cost share to aid organic farmers;

· bars USDA from charging a premium surcharge on organic crop insurance, unless validated by loss history on a crop-by-crop basis;

· adds organic production as an eligible activity in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program;

· adds to the Soil and Water Conservation Protection Loans a priority for those converting to organic farming practices and adds conversion to organic production as an eligible loan purpose;

· provides $80 million over the life of the bill for organic agriculture research and extension, and

· includes a sense of the Senate resolution that funding for organic research should be commensurate with organic agriculture’s share of the market, currently about 3 percent.

“We in the organic community appreciate all the support we have received for our priorities in the Senate. Thank you to Chairman Harkin, Senator Leahy, who led efforts to create a national organic program, and Senator Chambliss. With their leadership and interest, organic agriculture and processing will have access to the many federal programs typically reserved for non-organic production and processing.” Wilcox said.

Ten Ways to Go Organic in 2008!

Monday, January 7th, 2008

#1 Get off to a clean start: Take a shower with soaps and shampoos made with organic ingredients. Then, serve someone special an organic breakfast in bed with certified organic juice, coffee, fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt and eggs. (All items available nationally at natural & conventional supermarkets.)

#2 Create a celebratory meal that’s as close to 100% organic as possible. Invite friends and family to enjoy and help cook. It can be an organic picnic, pizza party, barbecue or high tea!

#3 Volunteer or make a donation to support organic gardening programs in your community, through schools, social service agencies, etc.

#4 Building healthy soil is a key tenet of organic farming. A great way to guarantee rich, organic soil is to start composting! City dwellers can compost at your neighborhood community garden. What’s composting, you say? Contact your local library or Cooperative Extension office for composting information.

#5 Be a big “softie” and treat yourself (or someone special) to a pair of 100% organic cotton socks or anything made with snuggly organic fleece. Studies have shown that in the U.S., it takes about one-third of a pound of chemicals to grow enough non-organic cotton for one T-shirt.

#6 Treat yourself to organic indulgences: Nibble on an organic chocolate bar, lick an organic ice cream or frozen yogurt bar, or scoop up succulent organic sorbet. Fill your candy jar at home with organic snacks or cookies.

#7 Bring an organic treat to the office to share with co-workers or to send with your children to school. Certified organic raisins, cheese, nuts, fruits, chips and crackers are just some of the possibilities.

#8 Remember your Pooch! Give your furry friend an organic dog wash and treat him or her to an organic doggie biscuit.

#9 Raise a toast to organic! Whether you enjoy a glass of organic wine, lemonade, Uncle Matt’s organic juice, or tomato juice, there are numerous organic libations and refreshments to wet your whistle.

#10 Slumber soundly and organically sip organic chamomile tea and slip under your organic cotton sheets.