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Sold-out crowd gathers to celebrate work of The Organic Center

Annual fundraising event raises nearly $450,000 to support organic research projects

Maggie McNeil
(202) 403-8514
(202) 615-7997
Washington , DC
March 10, 2015
) — 

It was a celebration of organic: of the benefits to the environment and to our health that organic provides, of the scientists and researchers whose dedicated work advances the organic sector, and of the generous sponsors who make that work possible in the labs, in the fields and in the orchards.

More than 500 supporters gathered for The Organic Center’s Annual Benefit Dinner March 5 in Anaheim, California. The sold-out fundraiser, held in conjunction with Natural Products Expo West, this year raised nearly $450,000 for the work of the non-profit research and education organization.

Additionally, almost a million people outside the gala ballroom had the chance to share in the event through social media.

Dinner speakers stressed the importance of the work of The Organic Center in educating the public about organic and the broad and real impact of organic on the environment, on ecosystems, and on human health. The Center now has several critical research projects underway: comparing soil health on organic and conventional farms, outlining antibiotic-free alternatives for controlling fire blight in organic apple and pear orchards, exploring decreasing arsenic uptake in organic rice systems, seeking organic solutions to citrus greening, and discerning the benefits of organic to pollinator populations.

“When we fight for organic food, it connects us to every living creature on the planet, from birds to frogs and pollinators—all those harmed by toxic pesticides,” keynote speaker Anna Lappé, widely respected author and educator, food systems expert and sustainable foods activist, told dinner attendees.

Lappé added, “You make history: with every company you build, every farmer you help, every study you commission to prove the power of organic farming.”

Chef Susan Feniger, a 30-year restaurant industry veteran, celebrity chef, and cookbook author who designed the all-organic menu for what was the largest dinner event of the 5-day Expo, said she chose specific dishes related to The Center’s research—including exotic citrus-inspired dishes in honor of citrus greening research and organic rice-based offerings in recognition of efforts to reduce arsenic uptake in organic rice.

Feniger has long sought out locally grown and sustainably raised food for her menus and has shared the origin of the food with her customers. “I truly believe that the best way to begin to change how people think is to start by giving them information. It isn’t just about making sure people have the option to buy organic, but also about educating people so that they understand just how important it really is,” she told the dinner attendees.

In addition to the hundreds of enthusiastic supporters of The Center gathered for the event, this year’s gala connected with individuals outside the ballroom. Attendees were encouraged to use their cell phones and spread the word about The Center using the hashtag #OrganicScience, sharing their favorite moments with their own social networks and significantly expanding the reach of the evening’s most important messages

Among the most impressive statistics: about 450 social media posts using the event hashtag from 160 unique users reached just under 1 million people.

Event sponsors included Stonyfield Farm and New Hope Natural Media, Nature’s Path Foods, Organic Valley/Organic Prairie, Clif Bar, Whole Foods Market, and Horizon Organic, Foxy Organic, UNFI, KeHE, Cal-Organic Farms, Earthbound Farm, National Co+op Grocers, Frontier Co-op, Mamma Chia, and Wholesome!™

“This was a very fun and successful evening,” said Todd Linsky, chairman of the Board of Trustees for The Center. “We all learned a lot about the exciting and crucial work that The Center is undertaking, while raising needed funding to make this work possible.”

For more information on The Organic Center and the science behind organic food and farming, visit


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 research and education organization operating under the administrative auspices of the Organic Trade Association, The Center envisions improved health for the environment and for people through the conversion of agriculture to organic methods.