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Turfgrass and Environmental Research

Perhaps no other factor is more important for enjoying a round of golf than the condition of the golf course. Today's golfers have come to proceedingscoverexpect playing conditions that only a few years ago would have seemed impossible. The lightning-fast putting greens and immaculate fairways of today's golf courses are the result of many years of dedicated research. The United States Golf Association’s (USGA) vision for turfgrass and environmental research is to "use science as the foundation to benefit golf in the areas of turfgrass and resource management, sustainable development, and environmental protection." Since 1920, the USGA has funded projects at universities across the country at a cost of $40 million to improve the playing conditions and enjoyment of the game.

ISC-Audubon Chairman, Ron Dodson has been a member of the USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Committee for nearly 25 years. In addition to funding research connected directly with turfgrass, the USGA Research Program has also funded numerous projects connected with biological diversity and wildlife habitat conservation, water quality and quantity topics and a range of other research and demonstration projects that are aimed to help golf continue to be positive contributors to the communities in which they are located.

To review an exhaustive list of the research projects funded over the past few decades visit: USGA Research.

SustainAbility Newsletter Archive Article (random)

Conventional vs. Organic

Organic Food

The word "organic" refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conservation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don't use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. For example, rather than using chemical weedkillers, organic farmers conduct sophisticated crop rotations and spread mulch or manure to keep weeds at bay.

Organic or not? Check the label The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards. These standards regulate how such foods are grown, handled and processed. Any farmer or food manufacturer who labels and sells a product as organic must be USDA certified as meeting these standards. Only producers who sell less than $5,000 a year in organic foods are exempt from this certification.

If a food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it's produced and processed according to the USDA standards and that at least 95 percent of the food's ingredients are organically produced. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it.

Some people say they can taste the difference between organic and nonorganic food. Others say they find no difference. Taste is a subjective and personal consideration, so decide for yourself. But whether you buy organic or not, finding the freshest foods available may have the biggest impact on taste.

Products that are completely organic — such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry a small USDA seal. Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal or the following wording on their package labels, depending on the number of organic ingredients:

  • 100 percent organic. Products that are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
  • Organic. Products that are at least 95 percent organic.
  • Made with organic ingredients. These are products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The organic seal can't be used on these packages.

USDA OrganicFoods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can't use the organic seal or the word "organic" on their product label. They can include the organic items in their ingredient list, however.

You may see other terms on food labels, such as "all-natural," "free-range" or "hormone-free." These descriptions may be important to you, but don't confuse them with the term "organic." Only those foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.

Organic foods meet the same quality and safety standards as conventional foods. The difference lies in how the food is produced, processed and handled. You may find that organic fruits and vegetables spoil faster because they aren't treated with waxes or preservatives. Also, expect less-than-perfect appearances in some organic produce — odd shapes, varying colors and perhaps smaller sizes. In most cases, however, organic foods look identical to their conventional counterparts.

Most organic food costs more than conventional food products. Higher prices are due to more expensive farming practices, tighter government regulations and lower crop yields. Because organic farmers don't use herbicides or pesticides, many management tools that control weeds and pests are labor intensive. For example, organic growers may hand weed vegetables to control weeds, and you may end up paying more for these vegetables.


Fast Facts:

  • Don't confuse natural foods with organic foods. Only those products with the "USDA Organic" label have met USDA standards.
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in season to ensure the highest quality. Also, try to buy your produce the day it's delivered to market to ensure that you're buying the freshest food possible. Ask your grocer what day new produce arrives.

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References and Sources used in this issue of SustainAbility Newsletter Include:

Audubon International
www.auduboninternational.org

The International Sustainability Council
www.thesustainabilitycouncil.org

The US Environmental Protection Agency
www.epa.gov/compost

Organic Farming Research Foundation
www.ofrf.org

United States Department of Agriculture
Natural Resources Conservation Service
www.nrcs.usda.gov/feature/bacyyard

Natural Resources Defense Council
www.nrdc.org

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A Coalition for Good - Spreading the Seeds of Sustainability

ISC-Audubon is a coalition of non-profit organizations and initiatives that include The International Sustainability Council (ISC), Audubon Lifestyles, Audubon Outdoors, Planit Green, Broadcast Audubon, and the Audubon Network for Sustainability. 

Funds generated through memberships and donations are used to provide fruit & vegetable seeds, wildflower seed mix, and wildlife feed & birdseed to urban and suburban communities around the world. These seeds are used by communities to establish fruit and vegetable gardens, bird and wildlife sanctuaries, and for the beautification of urban and suburban landscapes by creating flower and native plant gardens.

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