A good meal is transformative. The light crunch of a fried latke smothered in tangy applesauce roots me in my cultural inheritance and branches me outward. Preparing this salty–sweet comfort food, I get to know local growers at the farmers’ market and appreciate each season’s bounty. My organic potatoes and apples regenerate soil and water health and safeguard against harmful pesticides. Good food grounds us in our bodies and connects us to the people and world around us. As a good meal unites eaters with farmers and nature, nourished communities listen more honestly, deepen self-awareness, and build empathy. We need nourishment to dismantle systems of oppression, restore the environment, and imbue equity into our democracy.
I shape policy to nourish. I have expanded access to good food, invested in clean water, and anchored policy solutions in lived experience. I center relationships in my work, integrating the knowledge and needs of communities most affected. I listen deeply and uplift the ideas of community partners. My magic is strategy and heart. I see where and how I can be most impactful, and I advance policy with integrity and in coalition. I understand that good food, clean water, and self-expression are all branches of nourishment, and my passion is nourishing policy for a just future.
At CCOF, I work on a team of brilliant advocates.
- Laetitia Benador is a truth-seeker. She dives deep into research, analysis, and self-reflection to understand the members we represent and the structural systems we live in. Her leadership is grounded in analysis, creativity, and the courage to look inward. Laetitia artfully develops policy ideas into successful campaigns by scouring the scientific literature and building bridges between producers, legislators, and partners. To this she adds her secret sauce—a blend of her own farming background, her eternal curiosity, a steadfast purpose to improve the food system, and the imagination to envision a more nourishing world.
- Jessica González is a change-maker. Her thoughtful probing drives discourse and more intentional outcomes. She inspires the team to think more expansively, question traditions, and uplift transformational policy. Jessica weaves community organizing into every facet of work, grounding our policy in the lived experiences of farmers, farmworkers, and rural communities. Attuned to the needs of our members, she shows up at farmers’ markets to deepen relationships and texts our members out in the field to ensure their voices are at the policy table. Jessica leads with authenticity, courage to take risks and adapt, and systems thinking that draws on foresight and seeing connections across the food movement.
Together, we advance nourishing policies. Here are our wins in 2022.
- Organic Acreage Goal—The first in the nation to do so, California established the climate goal of transitioning 20 percent of farmland to organic by 2045. This represents a significant win for the organic community, both acknowledging the climate benefits of organic agriculture and driving more support for organic producers moving forward.
- Organic Food in Schools—California now incentivizes schools to buy food from organic and transitioning growers. Prioritizing organic in the Farm to School Program helps schools and farmers overcome the longstanding challenges of tight margins and limited flexibility. This work opens the doors to nourishing more children and providing greater opportunity to organic producers.
- Organic Transition Program—With an initial $5 million investment, California is developing a new Organic Transition Program to provide financial and technical assistance to transition to organic. At least 50 percent of the funds are prioritized for underserved producers. This investment ensures that all California producers have access to organic certification.
- Support for Livestock Producers—California launched an expanded On-Farm Slaughter Program to include cattle, goats, sheep, and swine and remove restrictions on the number of animals harvested per month. With rising consumer interest in how and where meat is produced, demand for organic meat and poultry grew an impressive 25 percent in 2020. This program supports small and organic livestock producers to meet this consumer demand.
- Organic Research and Technical Assistance—California invested $1.85 million in organic research, economic analyses of organic production and markets, and technical assistance to support organic transition. This funding helps meet the growing need for organic research and extension support as demand for organic products increases and more producers look to implement organic practices.
We continue to build on these wins and engage our members to solidify and deepen the unprecedented investment in organic—from USDA’s $300 million Organic Transition Initiative and the $104 million Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program to the finalization of the Strengthening Organic Enforcement Rule.
CCOF shapes policies that nourish because good food is transformative.