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Home > News > Press Releases > The Organic Center’s VIP Dinner raises half a million dollars for research and education

The Organic Center’s VIP Dinner raises half a million dollars for research and education

Barbara Haumann
(802) 275-3820
Washington , DC
March 12, 2014
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The Organic Center’s (The Center’s) Annual VIP Dinner, held Friday evening, March 7, in conjunction with Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA, raised over $500,000 for the work of the non-profit research and education organization.

“The Center graciously thanks our generous supporters for these crucial donations that make it possible for the organization to carry out its work proving and communicating the science behind organic agriculture and products,” said Todd Linsky, vice-president of organic sales for Cal-Organic/Grimmway Farms and chair of The Center’s Board of Trustees.

At the dinner, attendees heard highlights from the research projects supported by The Center during the past year and its vision for the future. A look at The Center’s achievements included a wide variety of research projects around environmental, health and agronomic issues. One project, just completed, funded a report on lessons learned from a systems approach to non-antibiotic fire blight control by organic orchardists. A second, not expected to be completed until the end of 2014, is a collaborative project with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service on targeted research on the factors affecting the presence of arsenic in organically grown rice.

Three new projects have been added and are ongoing. One, in partnership with researchers at the University of Virginia, is examining the effects of organic farming practices on nitrogen pollution. The second, a collaborative project with Professor Lu of Harvard University, is studying the health effects of dietary pesticide exposure. In the third, researchers at Northeastern University are collecting data on soil health on organic farms.

Another highlight of the dinner was the presentation of The Center’s first Award of Excellence to Dr. Charles Benbrook, who currently is a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University. The award is designed to honor an individual who has shown excellence in supporting the science behind the benefits of organic food and farming. At Washington State University, he serves as program leader of “Measure to Manage: Farm and Food Diagnostics for Sustainability and Health.” Prior to that post, Dr. Benbrook served as The Center’s original Chief Scientist, and currently is a member of its Science Advisory Board.

The master of ceremonies for the event was Green Living expert and TV host Sara Snow, who was joined in hosting the event by Margaret Wittenberg (Global Vice President of Quality Standards and Public Affairs for Whole Foods Market), Meg Hirshberg (, author, columnist, and Contributing Editor for Inc. Magazine), and Jeffrey Brams (General Counsel and Vice President for Science and International Business for Garden of Life LLC). The event was attended by a capacity crowd of 470—the largest ever.

The Organic Center's mission is to convene credible, evidence-based science on the health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming, and to communicate the findings to the public. As an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) research and education organization operating under the administrative auspices of the Organic Trade Association, The Center envisions improved health for the Earth and its inhabitants through the conversion of agriculture to organic methods.