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Organic Food Sales Soar, Up 72 Percent From 2008

Food
Organic Food Sales Soar, Up 72 Percent From 2008

Americans are increasingly hungry for naturally-grown and healthier foods and, according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) statistics, sales from organic farms in the U.S. skyrocketed in 2014 with consumer spending up 72 percent since 2008.

Demand for organic goods has risen in recent years, with increased consumer consciousness about the environmental impacts of factory farming and the agriculture industry at least one of the reasons for that trend. Photo credit: Shutterstock

The 2014 Organic Survey, released last week by the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), indicated that in addition to the $5.5 billion worth of organic products purchased by consumers last year, there is plenty of space for continued growth of organic sales nationwide.

In fact, said Laura Batcha, chief of the Organic Trade Association, consumer demand is so high, its outpacing sales. "We need a higher rate of growth in order to get close to meeting the demand," said Batcha.

NASS administrator Joseph T. Reilly added, "Producers reported in the 2014 Organic Survey that they expect to expand U.S. organic production in the coming years, making the data even more important for policy and programs."

Reilly said the reports also "shows that organic producers are providing a wide variety of products to customers and are getting those items from farm to table more efficiently."

As such, the report noted that nearly 50 percent of organic items were bought within 100 miles of the farms where they were grown or produced.

Demand for organic goods has risen in recent years, with increased consumer consciousness about the environmental impacts of factory farming and the agriculture industry at least one of the reasons for that trend. A report published in April by the Center for Food Safety also found that healthy soil, fed by organic agricultural practices, could be the solution to mitigating climate change and addressing food and water security.

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An aerial view taken on August 8, 2020 shows a large patch of leaked oil from the MV Wakashio off the coast of Mauritius. STRINGER / AFP / Getty Images

The tiny island nation of Mauritius, known for its turquoise waters, vibrant corals and diverse ecosystem, is in the midst of an environmental catastrophe after a Japanese cargo ship struck a reef off the country's coast two weeks ago. That ship, which is still intact, has since leaked more than 1,000 metric tons of oil into the Indian Ocean. Now, a greater threat looms, as a growing crack in the ship's hull might cause the ship to split in two and release the rest of the ship's oil into the water, NPR reported.

On Friday, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth declared a state of environmental emergency.

France has sent a military aircraft carrying pollution control equipment from the nearby island of Reunion to help mitigate the disaster. Additionally, Japan has sent a six-member team to assist as well, the BBC reported.

The teams are working to pump out the remaining oil from the ship, which was believed to be carrying 4,000 metric tons of fuel.

"We are expecting the worst," Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said on Monday, The Weather Channel reported. "The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse. It's important to remove as much oil as possible. Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little, ton by ton."

Sunil Dowarkasing, a former strategist for Greenpeace International and former member of parliament in Mauritius, told CNN that the ship contains three oil tanks. The one that ruptured has stopped leaking oil, giving disaster crews time to use a tanker and salvage teams to remove oil from the other two tanks before the ship splits.

By the end of Tuesday, the crew had removed over 1,000 metric tons of oil from the ship, NPR reported, leaving about 1,800 metric tons of oil and diesel, according to the company that owns the ship. So far the frantic efforts are paying off. Earlier today, a local police chief told BBC that there were still 700 metric tons aboard the ship.

The oil spill has already killed marine animals and turned the turquoise water black. It's also threatening the long-term viability of the country's coral reefs, lagoons and shoreline, NBC News reported.

"We are starting to see dead fish. We are starting to see animals like crabs covered in oil, we are starting to see seabirds covered in oil, including some which could not be rescued," said Vikash Tatayah, conservation director at Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, according to The Weather Channel.

While the Mauritian authorities have asked residents to leave the clean-up to officials, locals have organized to help.

"People have realized that they need to take things into their hands. We are here to protect our fauna and flora," environmental activist Ashok Subron said in an AFP story.

Reuters reported that sugar cane leaves, plastic bottles and human hair donated by locals are being sewn into makeshift booms.

Human hair absorbs oil, but not water, so scientists have long suggested it as a material to contain oil spills, Gizmodo reported. Mauritians are currently collecting as much human hair as possible to contribute to the booms, which consist of tubes and nets that float on the water to trap the oil.

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