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21st Annual Benefit Luncheon Celebrates Organic Research

Hundreds of guests enjoyed a delicious all-organic lunch at the City Grove in Anaheim, the first stop for many before attending Natural Products Expo West. The luncheon is a much-loved tradition not only for the delicious food but also for the opportunity to see old friends, make new connections, and celebrate the growth of the organic market.

Debra Eschmeyer, Vice President of Communications & Community Affairs at Danone North America was the keynote speaker for the event. As Executive Director of Let's Move!, Debra led First Lady Michelle Obama's work to help America raise a healthier generation of kids. During her tenure as Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy, she advised the Obama Administration on food, agriculture, and nutrition issues. She is also an organic farmer and recipient of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2011.

Acknowledging the growing issue of obesity and nutrition-related diseases such as diabetes, Debra said our challenge is making healthy food affordable for everyone. Speaking about her work at the White House, she said she was proud of what they achieved, but there is so much more to do to take it to scale and reach the most vulnerable. She encouraged the audience to think bigger, ask more, and believe in the power of passion.

In regards to her recent move to Danone North America, Debra cited their mission of bringing healthy food to as many people as possible and said that is why Danone also supports OFRF, whose mission is to see organic become the leading form of agriculture. Danone is investing $6M in a new soil health initiative. They are also partnering with OFRF to help build capacity to communicate the value of organic authenticity to a broader audience.

OFRF’s Executive Director Brise Tencer spoke about the organization’s work to help organic producers be successful and to ensure that transitioning and new organic farmers have the tools they need to build viable and rewarding businesses. She discussed the significant real-world impacts of several OFRF-funded research projects and the critical role organic research plays in fostering the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems.

From building healthy soil and managing water and nutrient use, to finding organic alternatives for weed and pest management, to helping farmers grow high-demand organic vegetables in areas such as the southeast that deal with high humidity—organic research is helping farmers and ranchers meet the challenges of organic farming.

OFRF is deeply grateful to Chefs Donna Prizgintas, Christopher Blobaum, and Beth Miller for preparing this amazing lunch year after year. This year’s lunch offered up California Heritage Flavors with a truly delectable selection of dishes from the first bite to the last.

The luncheon was presented in cooperation with New Hope Network and we couldn’t have done it without their support. Special thanks also to the City Grove of Anaheim.

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