NTI PodTalk | Kestrel Burcham, Cornucopia Institute Policy Director

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Kestrel Burcham is the Policy Director for the Cornucopia Institute. The Cornucopia Institute acts as a watchdog for the organic industry and advocates for an organic label that can be trusted. In this fascinating conversation, Dianne and Kestrel talk about the benefits of organic agriculture, how the Cornucopia Institute advocates for the industry, how consumers can help shift conventional agriculture to organic, and more!

About Kestrel Burcham

Kestrel lives in northwest Oregon, in the lush Willamette Valley. Kestrel has a background in Animal Science and English from the University of California, Davis. They have worked as an animal technician in both research and industry settings and have experience with different types of livestock. Organic and environmentally conscious food production is part of their background, having grown up on familial farms and assisted in all aspects of farm management. Their favorite part of living with the land has always been getting their hands dirty caring for and nurturing crops that would end up on the dinner table.

Kestrel Burcham holds a J.D. with a certificate in Environmental and Natural Resource Law from Lewis and Clark Law School. After completing law school and passing the Oregon Bar exam, they practiced in animal and agricultural law for a few years before joining Cornucopia as a policy analyst. Kestrel is particularly passionate about sustainable agricultural, environmental protection, and animal welfare. As a policy director, Kestrel champions authentic organic agriculture in their research, writing, education, and direct advocacy. Kestrel enjoys exploring the outdoors through hiking, photography, gardening, and horseback riding.

In this episode Kestrel and Dianne discuss:

  • 02:10 – Kestrel’s background in organic agriculture 
  • 04:40 – What the Cornucopia Institute is and what they do
  • 06:48 – Kestrel’s role as the Policy Director
  • 08:20 – Challenges for the consumer in the organic marketplace
  • 12:00 – The standards for all farms using the organic label 
  • 17:40 – Organic farming practices improve the micronutrient profile of plants
  • 20:27 – Why organic plants with natural stressors have more flavonoids and polyphenols
  • 24:25 – Cornucopia’s efforts to push back on conventional agribusinesses
  • 27:27 – The consumer can help shift conventional agriculture to organic 
  • 33:20 – All about the Cornucopia Institute’s scorecards
  • 37:08 – Cornucopia investigates each brand claiming to be organic 
  • 40:30 – How you can find out more about the Cornucopia Institute

NTI’s PodTalk is available on all major podcast platformsFind us by searching “NTI PodTalk” in your favorite podcast platform or following any of the links below.

Apple Podcasts


Google Podcasts

Hear from other food system advocates on the NTI PodTalk:

Protecting the Organic Food System with Mark Kastel

Stefan Karg, Sprout City Farms Program Manager

Julie Ebert, Co-owner of Ebert Family Farms

Protecting Farmers and their Consumers, with Alexia Kulwiec

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This discussion is not intended to provide Medical Nutrition Therapy, nor in any way imply that Nutrition Therapists who graduate from NTI are qualified to provide Medical Nutrition Therapy. The scope of practice for graduates of NTI is to deliver therapeutic nutrition guidance to our clients which helps support their natural biology to achieve optimal function in whatever wellness path they are on.

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