Organic. It's Worth it in Schools.

Jan 13, 2010, 12:57 ET from Organic Trade Association

Organic Trade Association Launches Contest for Students, Teachers to Win Organic Garden or Fully-Stocked Organic Vending Machine

GREENFIELD, Mass., Jan. 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Reading, writing, arithmetic, and now, the fourth R: real food. This spring, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is helping schools access and offer students more organic food with a national contest to award a winning school with an organically grown garden or an organic vending machine.

With its "Organic. Its Worth it in Schools." initiative, launching today, the OTA – which represents more than 1,400 organic food and product companies – is calling on teachers, parents, students, educators and others to vote for their favorite school to win an organic garden complete with seeds, soil and expert gardening support; or a fully stocked vending machine, which can feature organic items like milk, fruit, cheese, yogurt and snacks.

Through May 1, 2010, individuals visit and enter their school name and address while at the same time "voting" by signing up for an electronic newsletter featuring organic tips, recipes, news and more. A school must receive a minimum 1,000 votes (or newsletter sign-ups) to win. (Full details on rules and regulations are at The winning school selects the garden or vending machine for installation in the 2010-11 school year.

"Organic food is the only food certified by the USDA to have no artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, irradiation and genetically modified organisms (GMO's). And, organically grown gardens use no harmful pesticides and synthetic fertilizers on the soil," said Christine Bushway, executive director of OTA. "We know schools in large cities and small towns work hard to promote healthy food and environmental stewardship. With 'Organic. It's Worth it in Schools.,' we want to provide them with one more tool to help them along."

The site also features tools and information for schools, parents and students to advocate for more organic food in schools, as well as information about the healthful, economic and social benefits of organic food and gardening.

"Be honest: our children are at the heart of our worlds. Because we care, they influence the schedules we keep, the cars we buy, the entertainment we consume and the food we purchase," said Stanford pediatrician Dr. Alan Greene. "But when we send our kids off to school, we have little control over what they eat. The more we can provide healthy organic food and organic gardening in schools today, the further we can go in ensuring a healthy future for our kids and our soil."

The Organic Trade Association is conducting the initiative as an extension of its first-ever national consumer education and awareness campaign, which launched in March 2009. "Organic. It's worth it." is an online outreach effort highlighting the benefits of organic food, farming and home products.

About the Organic Trade Association

Founded nearly 25 years ago, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its more than 1,400 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.

SOURCE Organic Trade Association