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Organic Valley Sponsors Swim for Clean Water

Submitted by: Organic Valley

Categories: Philanthropy & Corporate Contributions

Posted: Jun 08, 2004 – 12:00 AM EST


Activist Dad to Swim the Length of New York's Hudson River--315 Miles!

Jun. 08 /CSRwire/ - LaFARGE, WI--The first ever swim of the entire length of the Hudson River is being sponsored by Organic Valley Family of Farms, America's leading organic farmers' cooperative, as part of its ongoing effort to heighten awareness of the link between clean water and organic agriculture.

Christopher Swain, 36, an award-winning clean water advocate and the father of two young children, will swim for 315 miles down the river through Class IV rapids, pesticides and raw sewage before stroking past Manhattan, around the Statue of Liberty and out into the Atlantic Ocean in late July.

School visits, on-line teaching tools for K-12 educators (, a visit to the New York State Legislature in Albany, community clean-ups and farm visits are all part of the intensive educational program supporting the swim.

"The farmers of Organic Valley are proud to sponsor the Hudson River Swim for Clean Water. Clean water starts on the farm," said George Siemon, one of the founding farmers of Organic Valley and CEO. "By buying organic, consumers can help keep our waterways clean."

Travis Forgues, an Organic Valley dairy farmer from Alburg, Vermont, explained, "Organic farmers use earth-friendly ways to feed the soil, control weeds and pests, and keep cows healthy. We're prohibited from using agricultural chemicals, such as pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and synthetic hormones, commonly found in the nation's waterways. We also prevent runoff with land use methods such as permanent pastures and buffer strips."

Clean Water by 9 AM

The Hudson River is polluted by a combination of agricultural and urban runoff, industrial discharge, commercial and residential activities, leachate from contaminated sites and dirty air, reported Swain.

"Since the Clean Water Act passed in 1972, the Hudson has come a long way. But if we ever want to see the Hudson become a pristine stream, everyone in the watershed will need to make a few river-friendly choices each day," urged Swain.

To help people learn more about the types of steps they can take, Swain developed "Clean Water by 9 AM." The program suggests individual actions centered on five typical morning activities that directly affect the Hudson River: eating breakfast, turning on a light, writing a to-do list, making a purchase, and commuting to work.

"If I don't want to swim through pesticides and herbicides in the Hudson, then I shouldn't buy or eat food that is produced using those chemicals," explained Swain. "If I am serious about cleaning up the river, I should be eating organic cereal with organic milk for breakfast."

Added Swain, when an individual makes a river-friendly choice, it creates an economic incentive for manufacturers to do the right thing. He noted, "If you start writing your morning to-do lists on tree-free, totally chlorine-free paper, you create a market for paper that can be produced without discharging any cancer-causing chemicals into the Hudson."

Swain proposed that if each of us made five river-friendly choices every morning, the Hudson River would be nearly pristine. But he knows this won't be easy. Swain advised, "People don't like change. I know I don't. But if we start seeing that the Hudson River is not just part of the view, but part of us, we'll be able to make those changes. And if we do, we can turn the Hudson into a jewel, a diamond among rivers."

About Christopher Swain

Dubbed "Aqua Man" by the June 2nd Weekly Reader, Christopher Swain is not a newcomer to long swims for a cause. In 1996, he swam 210 miles of the lower Connecticut River in support of Universal Human Rights. In 2003, he became the first person in history to swim the entire 1,243 mile length of the Columbia River in the Pacific Northwest, where he visited communities and schools in an effort gather support for a clean, free-flowing Columbia River.

Swain has received an International Earth Day Award at the United Nations, and an e-chievement award on National Public Radio's e-town. He lives in Vermont with his wife and two daughters.

Organic Valley: Farming for Future Generations

Unlike any other brand in the food industry today, Organic Valley has achieved success by staying independent and true to its mission: keeping small and mid-sized farmers farming. In the last year alone, the Organic Valley cooperative achieved record success both in sales (up 25% to $156 million) and in farmer recruitment (up 23% to 633 farmers). Its increased number of acres and cows brought into the organic system was equally strong (up to 95,000 acres and 20,500 cows). Additionally, the Organic Valley brand is now the top-selling organic milk in both mainstream supermarkets and natural foods outlets along the entire Eastern seaboard.

Organized in 1988, the Organic Valley cooperative is made up of 633 organic farmers in 16 states. Stewards of the earth who use nature as their teacher, Organic Valley farmers produce more than 130 delicious organic products. Look for their organic milk, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce, juice and meats in food cooperatives, natural foods stores and supermarkets throughout the country. For further information, contact Organic Valley at 1-888-444-MILK or visit

Note to editors: to download photographs of Christopher Swain, please visit

For more information, please contact:

Phone: 781-648-7157

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Organic Valley


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