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Home > Event > OTA at ShiftCon: Organic, Affordably session

OTA at ShiftCon: Organic, Affordably session

Thursday, September 24, 2015 - 9:00pm to Saturday, September 26, 2015 - 5:00pm

ShiftCon is the very first international social media conference focusing on wellness, health, and the environment. Bloggers and other social media professionals participate and collaborate with each other to inspire and empower each other to create effective communication and take their profession to the next level. Contact Maggie McNiel or Kelly Taveras to connect with OTA on site.

OTA will be leading a panel on Friday, September 24th from 4:00-5:30 PM

Organic, Affordably

Deploying budgeting strategies, sound public policy and new ideas about “value” to make organic attainable for everyone.

Very few of us have an unlimited budget. We are all watching where our dollars go, and trying to get the best quality products for the most reasonable price. And nowhere more so than in the grocery store. We want to feed our families the healthiest, most nutritious and tastiest food we can, and we are turning to organic more and more. Families of all income types and ethnic backgrounds, consumers of all ages and in every part of the country are choosing organic.

Organic food costs a little more than conventional. We all know that. It costs more for a wide array of reasons – from the extra farm labor that organic producers employ to help maintain their operations instead of using dangerous chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers to the lack of government programs and policies that would give more assistance to organic farmers and encourage more organic agriculture. But we are willing to pay that organic premium because of the higher value of organically grown and organically processed foods.  More than 80 percent of families in the U.S. now buy organic sometimes, and an increasing number of those families are selecting organic ALL the time.

This important panel discussion, “Organic, Affordably” will look at simple and doable budget strategies families can use to lower their weekly grocery bills while still choosing organic.  Moderated by Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association and one of the country’s leading experts and advocates of organic, it will also examine the issue of the higher cost of organic products from a number of perspectives, and discuss how sound public policy and more education about organic can ease some of the price pressure. Members of the panel include organic entrepreneurs and visionaries whose goal it is to make healthy food available for all through innovative retail methods, research and political activism.


Laura Batcha, moderator of the panel, is the CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA). OTA, an umbrella organization uniting more than 7,000 member companies across the entire organic supply chain, promotes and protects today’s $39 billion organic industry. Under her leadership, OTA has established its Farmers Advisory Council to improve communication with organic producers, brought back Sector Councils to build community among groups of members, and developed OTA’s voice in Washington through Organic PAC. Laura brings 20 years of direct experience as a certified organic producer and handler, and more than 10 years of hands-on experience in the private sector of the organic industry. Laura is a member of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee (APAC) appointed by USDA and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office and a member of USDA’s Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21). She also serves on the Board of Trustees for The Organic Center, an independent non-profit research and education organization operating under OTA’s administrative umbrella. Laura splits her time between coasts, working from both California and OTA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. She can be reached at, or visit for additional information.

Sarah Bird is Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Three Twins Organic Ice Cream. A veteran of consumer packaged goods marketing, Sarah most recently was Chief Commercial Officer of Ecologic Brands Inc., a sustainable packaging company and prior to that, CMO (Chief Mom Officer) at Annie’s Inc. At Three Twins, Sarah is helping the company realize its mission to “produce inconceivably delicious organic ice cream that is affordable and accessible.” Three Twins has been rated the best-tasting ice cream in San Francisco, with its lemon cookie ice cream a particular crowd pleaser! Sarah is a staunch advocate of a unified voice to drive consumer trust and understanding of organic; she is dedicated to helping to protect the integrity of the organic sector, and she is devoted to helping make organic products available and affordable for all.  Sarah and her husband live in the Bay Area and have two children. She can be reached at, or visit for more information.

Gunnar Lovelace is CEO of Thrive Market, an online wholesale shopping club devoted to selling organic and natural products at 25 to 50 percent below traditional retail prices by cutting out the middleman. “We started Thrive Market because we wanted to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone,” said Gunnar. Gunnar says Thrive Market has been a life-long journey for him: as the child of a single mother, he saw how his mom had to struggle to afford healthy foods. Then when his mother remarried a man who was running a wholesale buying club from an organic farm, Gunnar saw the power of collaborative buying. Thrive Market now offers more than 4,000 healthy and non-toxic foods, supplements, home, personal care, and beauty products from over 500 of the best brands on the market, all delivered  to your door. For every $59.95 annual membership purchased, Thrive Market donates a free membership to a low-income family, a teacher, a veteran or a student. Visit for additional information.

Brise Tencer is Executive Director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF). She brings 15 years of leadership experience working on organic food policy, farming, and research issues. Brise had previously served as OFRF Acting Policy Program Director and Legislative Coordinator from 2000 to 2006. During this time she helped initiate the Organic Agricultural Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Organic Farmers Action Network (OFAN), a grassroots political action network to support organic-friendly policies; she helped secure language in the Agriculture Risk Management Act of 2000, which said that organic farming was considered a “good farming practice”, that enabled organic producers to be eligible to participate in federal crop insurance programs for the first time. She previously served as Director of Policy and Programs for California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). Prior to that, she was lead lobbyist on food and agriculture issues for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Brise lives in Santa Cruz, California with her husband and two children. She can be reached via e-mail at, or visit for additional information.