040 - Growing Organic Certification with Jessica Beckett Parr of CCOF


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The California Certified Organic Farmers, or CCOF, extends across the US and certifies more operations than any other organic certification company or organization in the country. This week we get together with Jessica Beckett Parr to discuss her work as director of the CCOF Foundation, and how her devotion to agriculture was shaped from a young age. Tuning in you’ll hear about the history of CCOF as well as the history of certification and organic farming in America. Jessica shares her expansive knowledge on the many benefits of organic and why it has such an important role to play in combating climate change. She elaborates on the expansive scientific data available on the benefits and effects of organic farming and how laypeople can access it. We also hear about the various initiatives the CCOF Foundation is pursuing, from pledging money to students who want to work in organic farming, to supporting farmers looking to transition to organic. Jessica interrogates how taboos around organic are changing and reflects on the individuals who give her hope for the future. Tune in today for this inspiring discussion on organic farming, the CCOF, and much more!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Introducing today’s guest Jessica Beckett Parr and how she developed her love for agriculture.
  • More about Jessica’s career path and how she came to be the director of the CCOF Foundation.
  • How Jessica worked with Deborah Koons Garcia on her movies The Future of Food and Symphony of Soil.
  • What inspired Jessica to go back to school to earn a Master's in Science and Community Development.
  • How CCOF was founded in 1973.
  • The history of organic certification and how it has changed over the past fifty years.
  • How CCOF was involved in creating a national standard for organic by petitioning the government.
  • How certifiers are routinely audited by the government to maintain the standards for certification.
  • The three legal entities of CCOF and their purpose, namely the Certification entity, their lobbying organization, and their foundation.
  • How the CCOF foundation focuses on education and training.
  • How they raise money to support students who want to pursue organic education.
  • How the foundation supports farmers who want to transition to organic.
  • The Benefits Report and how it has affected political engagement with organic agriculture.
  • The processing bottleneck with certifying meat as organic.
  • The importance of understanding your local habitat.
  • Jessica’s thoughts on the future of organic and the young people and individuals inspiring her.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Jessica Beckett Parr on LinkedIn


The Future of Food

Symphony of the Soil

Benefits Report

Roadmap to an Organic California

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants

Gage Mitchell on LinkedIn

Evolve CPG

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