As a career, activism didn’t pay the bills, so he earned a living over the years as a newsstand owner at the University of Minnesota, the director of a food co-op in Burnsdale, Minn., outside Minneapolis, and a house painter. Ms. Welch waited tables.

“He was pretty much a hippie,” she said in a phone interview.

Both went to work for Mr. Rifkin in the 1990s, Mr. Cummins as a director, Ms. Welch as a campaign manager. They left to start the Organic Consumers Association, which supports enforcement of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s organic food standards, produces educational material for organic consumers and businesses, and encourages public pressure campaigns on organic food issues.

The “hippie” was finally earning a real salary — $112,900 in 2021.

The O.C.A. has spun off two organizations: the Mexico-based Via Orgánica, an agroecology farm school and research center, in 2009, and, in 2014, Regeneration International, which advances ways to develop farming practices that rebuild degraded soil.

In the view of André Leu, the international director of Regeneration International, Mr. Cummins had stood up to “the powerful elite who were monopolizing power and wealth” and were “undermining democracy, fair wages, healthy food, peace, the climate, and the environment.”

A longtime goal of Mr. Cummins’s was for the government to require labeling on genetically modified food. He fought for ballot initiatives in several states and won his first major victory in Vermont, in 2014, when it became the first state to pass a labeling law.

Faced with the prospect of a patchwork of state laws, Congress passed a sweeping federal labeling law in 2016.

But Mr. Cummins did not consider it a victory.

The law, which superseded the tougher Vermont legislation, gave companies the option of using an icon or a scannable QR code that would direct consumers to a website, instead of having to spell out the information on the package. And some foods, like highly refined sugars and oils, were exempt from the labeling requirement.

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