Farm to Table Talk explores issues and the growing interest in the story of how and where the food on our tables is produced, processed and marketed. The host, Rodger Wasson is a food and agriculture veteran. Although he was the first of his family to leave the grain and livestock farm after five generations farming in America, he’s continually worked for and with farmers though-out America and around the world. From directly managing commodity boards and councils to presently building the strategic consultancy, Idea Farming Inc., the Farm to Table Talk podcasts have been created for anyone interested in individual journeys within the food movement, the modern food system and stories behind our every bite.
“Are we willing to pay more for food or just be quiet and accept the fact that we are an exploitive food system?” This is the tough question posed by Ricardo Salvador of the Union of Concerned Scientists on Farm To Table Talk and to an event in San Francisco hosted by the Food &Environmental Reporting Network (FERN) and the Center of Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA).The meeting room at the Ferry Building was filled with Bay Area ‘foodies’, activists, media and others interested in the food movement for a discussion entitled “Hunger In The Age of Trump”. A key message is that true sustainability must go beyond environment and include adequate income for farmers, farm workers and others up and down the food chain–all the way to our own table. Farm To Table Talk brings that straight talk to this podcast with Ricardo Salvador emphasizing that instead of boasting about the shockingly low percentage of disposable income Americans spend on food, we should be ashamed that more doesn’t go to back from restaurant or retailer workers all the way back to the farmers who also often make just enough to hang on, let alone pay more to their own workers. If we spend more for food, we may have to spend less on other things, but that’s a conversation for a different podcast, such as the Minimalists.
Improving food systems is a high priority all over the world. This Farm To Table Talk is about changes that are taking place in India with the help of Cornell University’s Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition. Established with a generous gift from the Tata Trust, the Institute is a long-term research initiative focused on solving problems of poverty, malnutrition and rural development in India. Our conversation with the founder and Director, Dr. Prabhu Pingali and Tata-Cornell PhD scholar Maureen Valentine covers the gamut from the Green Revolution to improving crop systems, raising goats and nutritional gender issues in rural India. We learn what they are doing in India, what is changing because of their work and what we can learn from the efforts to change food systems around the world.
In times of chaos, Millennials (and others) are spending their time and money on eating really great food and creating uplifting moments, together. People are using food as a way to reconnect with farmers; using food to educate themselves about the the climate–growing things, creating something beautiful that is tangible by nourishing others. Author of “A Taste of Generation Yum”, Eve Turow Paul, was a Keynote Speaker at the reThink Food conference hosted by the Culinary Institute of America and MIT Media Lab. She is a Millennial writer, speaker and brand advisor who sets down at the table for Farm To Table Talk to explain how and why our society is turning to food culture for meaningful lives.
What does the future hold for a favorite essential, Food? Over the years researchers and authors have taken a stab at answering that question. Now the oldest weekly magazine in the nation, appropriately named “The Nation”, is pulling out the crystal ball to give us a glimpse of what the future of food could or should look like. In a special issue of the magazine The Nation covers “The Future of Food: Setting the Table for the Next Generation.” Reporters and experts focus on building a sustainable food system, perennial grain, culinary rituals, post-coal food transitions, Big Ag, food justice, Silicon Valley and a stiff drink. Zoë Carpenter, The Nation’s associate Washington editor penned the introduction to the food issue and shepherded it to fruition. She has appeared on MSNBC, CNN and now adds to that impressive list by joining in this conversation on Farm To Table Talk about “The Future of Food.”
Why don’t we say Ranch to Table? Maybe its because people don’t think about ranches much at all and if they do it may be a distortion of the predominantly family owned ranches that produce beef across the USA. Like all segments of Agriculture today, technology plays a growing role: from using drones to check the cattle to using smart phones from the saddle to upload and download information. In other important ways Ranchers haven’t changed, still committed to their family, their cattle, their sustainability and their industry. Kevin Kester is a 5th generation California rancher and an elected leader of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. In this episode of ‘Ranch’ To Table he shares the story of his
family’s ranch and a new consumer campaign that builds on the heritage of the “Beef It’s What’s For Dinner” promotions with a social media focused invitation for consumers to #RethinkTheRanch.
When we talk of change in our food system, is it a “revolution” or “evolution”? Academy Award®-nominated director Scott Hamilton Kennedy (THE GARDEN, FAME HIGH, OT: OUR TOWN) chooses evolution but the conclusions of his film, Food Evolution are somewhat revolutionary. We visit the Roxie theater in the Mission District in San Francisco for a west coast premier of the film, a conversation with the film-maker and feedback from a panel including a somewhat skeptical Michael Dimock, President of Roots of Change and an unabashed fan, UC Davis Geneticist, Dr. Pamela Ronald. The film is narrated by esteemed science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson and is “set amidst a brutally polarized debate marked by fear, distrust and confusion: the controversy surrounding GMOs and food. Traveling from Hawaiian papaya groves, to banana farms in Uganda to the cornfields of Iowa, FOOD EVOLUTION wrestles with the emotions and the evidence driving one of the most heated arguments of our time”
Reviews have ranged from “propaganda” to high praise such as in the New York Times: “With a soft tone, respectful to opponents but insistent on the data, “Food Evolution” posits an inconvenient ….” Michael Dimock, Pamela Ronald and Scott Kennedy don’t completely agree, but they give us food for thought. You can listen to the conversation on Farm To Table Talk and find where to see the film at www.foodevolution.com.
Meat consumption has been blamed for climate change but what if this is completely wrong and instead increasing responsible livestock grazing and the meat consumption that goes with it would actually slow or ultimately reverse climate change? That’s one of the big ideas that we discuss with Abbey Smith, the global network coordinator for the Savory Institute and rancher in Northern CA. The Savory Institute teaches and provide local support (on a global scale) for Holistic Management, one of the pillars of regenerative agriculture–holistic planned grazing. “1/3 of the earth’s land surface is grasslands”..seventy percent have been degraded—leading to to climate change, floods, droughts, famine, and worldwide poverty” www.savory.global
Let’s have a farm tour! That’s an idea that is more important than ever, now that so few people have any personal connection with farming–except for their Farmers Market, CSA’s, Farm To Table Restaurants and retail stores that share farmer stories. Penny Ellis decided it was time to do something, so a ‘meet-up’ evolved into Open Farm Tours. Ellen Farmer joined her this year for an event that brought over a thousand people to 10 farms. Farm To Table Talk visits with Ellen Farmer about organizing an event like this and then we visit the farms to talk with the farmers about living their dreams: Sylvia Prevedelli of Prevedelli Farms, Molly Baker of Lonely Mountain Farms, Tom Broz of Live Earth Farm, Dennis Tamura of Blue Heron Farm, Delmar McComb of Blossoms Farm and Rebeccah Pendexter of Stone Meal Farm. They’re helping connect farms, food and families through www.openfarmtours.com
The ultimate source for the freshest, most local produce and the natural anecdote for the high tech frenzy of modern life, may be staring back at you in your mirror. You? That’s a realization that is leading thousands towards becoming small scale, part-time or “urban farmers”. Greg Peterson has an Urban Farm in the midst of over 4 million neighbors in metro Phoenix. He has created an environmental showcase that includes over 70 fruit trees, vegetables, chickens, rainwater and grey-water harvesting, solar applications and extensive use of recycled building materials. Meeting first poolside at a Podcast convention with other foodie/farming podcasters, our conversation led to Greg’s journey as an Urban Farmer, the new food movement and the following that he’s built for www.urbanfarm.org.
Does Minimalism and the Food Movement lead to similar journeys? Searching for the answer leads us to the famous disciples of Minimalism, “the Minimalisists” Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn. They have an outstanding documentary “Minimalism” on Netflix, have been featured on the Today Show, New York Times, and now “Farm To Table Talk”. We talk with Ryan Nicodemus about their minimalist journey, food waste, LA and importance of living life deliberately.
We hear from farmers and people who want to be farmers, but we don’t often get to hear from farmers who are 100 years old. Jack Woolf is 100 years old and shares stories of a long lifetime of accumulating wisdom from hand milking cows as a boy in Arizona to creating a large scale, sustainable farming enterprise in Fresno County California. His journey transcends battles in World War II and to battles for water. Hundreds of families have been touched by his journey, culminating in farming connections for Jack and Bernice’s six children (Anne, Nancy, John, Mike, Stuart and Chris) and 24 grandchildren. The third generation is already gathering agricultural experiences that include community garden, WOOFing (World-wide opportunities in organic farming), Fair Trade Coffee, Soil Science, specialty crop farming and water law. Listen to the wisdom accumulated by widely respected Jack Woolf over 100 years on this, the first podcast, featuring a 100 year old farmer, on Farm To Table Talk.
If you have ever heard a news story that you just can’t get off your mind, you can relate to Tennessee based filmmaker, Marshall Burnette’s experience. He was driving home at 2 a.m., listening to NPR when he heard of a tragic accident where 2 of 3 boys died while working in a Southern Illinois corn bin. Thoughts of the tragedy led to thoughts about the effect on the farming community and farmers–“living on the edge of the real world”. That inspiration, triggered from an NPR newscast in the middle of the night led to making a short film that was featured at a prestigious Film Festival in Manhattan and a full length movie in the works. He describes the story as a “meditation on life in a small Midwest town disrupted by a grain entrapment” and the feelings of a young farmer and a high school Senior on the risks and rewards of a corn farmer’s life. The filmmaker/director of Silo: Edge of the Real World, Marshall Burnette, tells us about the journey, filming in a small farming community, the future of farm movies, and what he likes about rural America.
The journey of delicious, fresh harvested produce from farm to table depends on key partners in the middle of the chain. Chefs and consumers alike can’t find everything they need in their own gardens or their Farmer’s Markets. How can we be sure that the highest quality produce is coming from sustainable farming operations to our tables for sensational nutrition and enjoyment? Earl Herrick, the founder of Earl’s Organic in San Francisco has dedicated a career to providing those assurances. Earl started Earl’s Organic long before it was popular. On Farm To Table Talk Earl shares his vision, support for more new farmers, belief in the annual EcoFarm Conference and why he is optimistic about the future.
Whatever your view of GMO’s you may have wondered what happened with GMO labeling. Congress passed a law in 2017 to head off food marketing chaos that was expected to follow the implementation of mandatory GMO labeling in Vermont. The ball is in the USDA’s court now with more research, public comment yet to precede implementation sometime in 2018. In addition to consumers the interested parties include food manufacturers (who may not wait) and NGO’s including this episode’s guest Greg Jaffee, Director of the Biotechnology Project for Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Over subsequent decades GMO became controversial for many reasons, especially for mistrust of a few “big Ag” corporations. There are now many books and movies proclaiming facts, myths, fears, suspicions, innuendos, contradictory research and images that would frighten the children. Google “GMO” and you will get over 26 million listings, with no doubt thousands that would support whatever theory one prefers.
Although respected scientific bodies have concluded that GMO products were safe, grassroots campaigns surfaced across the country to “just label it” because regardless of safety, they believed it should be up to a consumer to decide whether or not they want to consume foods produced with genetic engineering. Why does it take so long to create a system for consumers to find everything they want to know about their food?
It’s a sorry fact that some still see farmers as “the ignorant guy in the straw hat who doesn’t understand anything beyond a 12th grade level at best…the ideal career for the simple minded.” That’s a harsh perspective and Ventura County farmer, Chris Sayer, aims to disprove those views. A veteran who left a career in Silicon Valley to return to the fig, lemon and avocado orchards of his famiiy’s Petty Ranch, Chris believes that “farming is not nature. It is technology.. We are heirs to an ancient and yet dynamic body of Knowledge.”
Our conversation with Chris is joined by the editor of the UC Food Observer, Rose Hayden-Smith. As we wander through the orchards we learn about figs, lemons, avocados, global trade, water stewardship and about soil that is far better today than it was when the land was Spain’s.
Farm to Table means different things to different people but many would agree that restaurants and their chefs have led the way on our Farm to Table journey. Chefs might say that they have been led by their own customers who have shown a preference for food with a story all the way back to the farm: the farmer, unique varieties or breeds, production practices and overall sustainability. In this episode of Farm To Table Talk we are joined at the table by Greg Drescher, the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Industry Leadership with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) to explore what Farm To Table means in the Culinary world and the trends that change menus.
All over the country there are pockets of struggling neighborhoods who are working to improve their situations. Increasingly food production is central to these community efforts to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The Yisrael Family Urban Farms is in the middle of one of those underserved communities where 17% are food insecure, 46% receive food assistance, 34% are below the poverty rate and 18% are unemployed. Chanouk and Judith Yisrael started growing food for themselves before gaining approvals to establish a community garden in a closed elementary school. From this beginning they expanded into a an urban farm on a lot across the street and are helping their neighbors learn to grow and to cook food for their own families. Today their advice is sought from all over the US and as far away as Italy. They share their inspiring story to help their own family and their community on Farm To Table Talk.
The demand for Organic foods keeps growing, so the industry from farm through processors has to keep growing to keep up with that demand. That means that Organic rules and regulations have to be updated for necessary improvements. In the middle of all of this and a catalyst for these changes, is the Organic Trade Association. To explore Organic progress, pending issues and the future, we set down for a lunch conversation at the Assembly in Santa Cruz with the CEO of the Organic Trade Association, Laura Batcha. Before becoming the Association’s CEO, Laura has been involved with all segments of Organics, beginning on an Organic farm near Santa Cruz, California. It seems appropriate since we’re talking about food, to start this conversation with the co-owner of the Assembly restaurant, Kendra Baker who share her passion for the food they serve and the farmers who supply them. @OrganicTrade
More and more we want to know where are food was produced, what farming practices they followed, who are the farmers and are the farmers and workers along the way treated fairly. That’s easier if the farmer is your neighbor, but what if that farmer is half a world away? For many products, such as cocoa or coffee, there are no local grower options. Our guest today on Farm To Table Talk, Emily Benson works with cocoa farmers in the Congo and Peru to positively impact social, environmental and farmer profitability outcomes. Emily is the supply chain impact manager with Theo Chocolate, a Seattle- based chocolate company that is committed to ethical production from bean to bar, placing equal importance on people, planet and profit.
Sometimes local produce is available, but most of the time it’s not due to the seasons. There is a new brand established to change that by growing local, perishable produce for area retailers in hydroponic green houses year round. Neal Parikh of Bright Farms explains how they are sustainably achieving a goal of decentralizing Agriculture– vertically building, owning and operating hydroponic greenhouses throughout the MidWest and East Coast for Supermarket partners.
As much as consumers want to take advantage of lower costs for their food, there is certain amount of anxiety about “Big Food” or “Big Ag”, globalization, Wall Street, industrialization, “Big Government”. Trust is hard to come by for large brands and one of the biggest retail brands in the world is Walmart. It’s a company that keeps surprising the skeptics as it takes big steps to influence sustainability through their own supply chain all the way from the farm through the products they sell at retail and even to the use of the products that they don’t sell. To share some perspectives on what they do, why they do it, and to what effect Farm To Table talks with Eileen Hyde, the Walmart Foundation’s Director of Hunger and Healthy Eating.
Every farmer is proud to explain the improvements they’ve made in sustainability. Tragically that progress doesn’t insulate them from existential threats of over regulation. John Duarte, farmer and President of Duarte Nursery, is one of those unfortunate enough to successfully purse the dream of sustainability, only to be laid low by Federal legal action that threaten the five generation family operation. The Army Corps of Engineering has taken the Duarte’s to court, but John Duarte still sees a long-term upside “We need to protect the integrity of our environmental laws so we can come together to solve future environmental problems….We have a legitimate durable ability to compromise and solve problems.” This isn’t a typical Farm To Table visit, but if you truly want to know the full story behind that Sauvignon clone and almonds we enjoy before dinner, here is a challenge that farmers: large, small, organic or conventional, face today. www.duartenursery.com
Some would say that Farm To Table started 50 years ago when Alan Chadwick established the Organic Garden at the University of California at Santa Cruz. That Garden led to one of the first bona-fide Organic Farms and over the past 50 years has propelled a food movement. This episode of Farm To Table Talk is at UC Santa Cruz, where its Center of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Farm & Garden.
Fittingly, illustrious former apprentices, students and long-time supporters gathered to reflect on the impact this program is having on the world of food and to be challenged to take it to the next level. Three keynote Speakers at the Conference share their vision, their passion and what they ask of us.
We lead off with a conversation with Karen Washington, a recognized Food Justice leader and co-founder of Rise & Root Farm and Black Urban Growers.
Then a self-described descendant of slaves, farmer, chef and proud alumni of the Santa Cruz apprenticeship, Matthew Raiford says we can be the change that’s needed.
And finally in her remarks from the podium, the world-renowned food movement leader, founder of the Edible School Yard and creator of California Cuisine, Alice Waters give us a bold goal for Farm to School that could be accomplished in 5 years.
Join this Farm To Table Talk at UC Santa Cruz in a conversation with Karen Washington then become part of the audience as you hear calls to action from Matthew Raifford and Alice Waters.
Well told stories about farmers and farming are few and far between. Too often those stories are dry and boring documentaries to the general public. You can’t say that about the movie, Pray for Rain. Where documentaries preach to the choir, this movie instead wraps a message in to a very entertaining murder mystery, down on the farm. The star, Annabelle Stephenson; writer Christina Moore; and director Alex Ranarivelo join Farm To Table Talk to share what they learned in farm country while making this film and why telling stories better is critical if we want the public to care about what’s happening down on the farm.
Millions of people are now committed Minimalists, seeking a simpler, scaled down life style. They are discovering backyard chickens, so what about sheep? It turns out many have and are raising their own sheep in large back yards or small fields at city’s edge. Paul Rodgers, the Deputy Director of the American Sheep Industry, has been raising sheep on the side at his place in Virginia. Today there are inquiries from coast to coast about how to get started with sheep. In this Farm To Table Talk podcast Paul walks through the necessary steps and economics of raising. Transitioning Minimalists may find that sheep are rewarding in more ways than one.
It’s harvest time for tomatoes and the journey to our plates begins here in the field. How are the delicious fresh flavors of summer produced and preserved? all the way from seed to our plates year round? Central Valley Tomato farmer, Stuart Woolf joins us in his family’s tomato field and explains the wonder of continuous improvement — sustainably growing more tomatoes with fewer inputs. Think of this story the next time you enjoy tomato products on your pizza, enchiladas, hamburgers, salad or this winter’s stews and soups. More information is available at www.tomatowellness.com
Javier Zamora was born in Michoacan, Mexico. From age 7, Javier helped tend the family’s vegetable plot and worked in his school’s 5 acre garden. Javier came to the States at age 20 where he earned his landscaping degree from San Joaquin Delta College and his organic production degree from Cabrillo College, and trained at the Agriculture & Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) in Salinas. He is now the proud owner and operator of JSM Organics, cultivating berries and unique varieties of vegetables and flowers in Royal Oaks and Aromas, CA. He is a member of the Board of the Ecological Farming Association., sponsors of the annual Eco Farm.
Although he didn’t speak any English when he came to the US, you’ll hear that he has no problem today communicating exactly what he believes. Javier is passionate about farming and the opportunities it provides for thousands of farmers like him, who may also have been born across the border but have grown from farm work to management to ownership and becoming respected producers of high quality food. They are an important, major part of the changing face of farming in the USA.
More people, eating more fish are more discerning about their choices; but is it really sustainably fished and is it the type of fish that it’s advertised to be? This isn’t a new question, but it is new that the ability to get honest answers is much more accessible. Hayley Nuetzel, is a PhD student, the daughter of a fisherman and already an experienced investigator–even engaging high school students in her surveys. Farm To Table Talk visits with Hayley at the WestSide Farmers Market about fish fraud, Seafood sustainability and why she is optimistic about a future where consumers care and get the fish they want.
Eggs are good for you and “Hens are Fun”! What more should we know? Well, more than you think. Jesse LeFlamme came back to the family farm and is leading the way to producing free range organic egss that meet the needs of today’s consumers who care about more than just nutrtion; they care about how animals are raised. Jesse’s family farm, today’s Pete & Gerry’s, has created a model of sustainably producing eggs and has helped other farmers join their journey, resulting in Pete & Gerry’s organic free range eggs being available in nearly every state in the country. In this Farm To Table Talk podcast we explore consumer demand, retail response and the journey being followed by progressive farmers, doing the right things for the right reasons. www.peteandgerrys.com @peteandgerrys
60% of deaths in the US have poor diet as a contributing cause–we’re eating ourselves sick, says Cathryn Couch, the Founder and Executive Director of Ceres Community Project. If people just ate the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, mortality would be reduced by 40%. A 3 year medically tailored meal pilot project is setting out to prove that providing poor people with healthy meals will save millions of dollars in health care costs and more importantly save lives. Cathryn says that we can provide meals for someone for a full year for the cost of one day in a hospital. The Food Is Medicine Coalition is engaged in supporting medically tailored meal programs across America. There is legitimate optimism about these projects because there is such an epidemic of chronic disease putting tremendous pressure on health care costs, providing good food options is ‘low hanging fruit’. If we invest in food, we save money and insurers will have reason to jump on the bandwagon. www.ceresproject.org #fimcoalition
Steve Forbes is bullish about the future of food and feeding the world. We speak to him at the Forbes AgTech Summit where he challenged Silicon Valley and Agriculture to connect for long term sustainability.
The front line for battling weeds may well be Arkansas, where weed resistance to Monsanto’s Round Up ready products has led to new GMO seeds that are resistant to applications of two or more additional pesticides, notably Dicamba. Dicamba helps control the toughest weeds, but it can drift on to other crops or Soybean fields that are not planted with the newest GMO variety. This has led to extreme, neighbor, public and political battles about the future for Dicamba and possibly other products as well. To set the stage of what’ happening from the farm level perspectives, we welcome Dr. Bob Scott, Extension Weed Specialist with the University of Arkansas for table talk: “weeds find a way”. Attention is focused on Arkansas now, but other states are expected to follow.
We are witnessing the birth of a new food activism that is both oppositional and collaborative. Dr. Julie Guthman teaches and writes to encourage budding agrarians and the rest of us to pick a battle, take stances, be political work on policy or simply just work on something that looks to be really wrong. Her students at the University of California at Santa Cruz have completely changed from somewhat passive in the past to feeing total outrage now about the political environment. Dr. Guthman has written extensively about food and agriculture including in her books: “Agrarian Dreams”, “Weighing Obesity, Food Justice and the Limits of Capitalism” and her soon to be published newest book, “The New Activism”. “These times cause us to be horrified and hopeful… Pick your battle.”
BPA or the absence of BPA is a new point of information on food and beverage container labels–confusing to some and welcomed by others. Mistrusting agencies, manufacturers, technology and chemistry has led to marketing and labeling strategies that have created label lists of what’s not in foods. BPA is one of those things that many don’t understand but feel pressured to take a position. This episode of Farm To Table Talk has a conversation with Steve Hentges the Executive Director of the Poly Carbonate/BPA Global Group at the American Chemistry Council. Yes, this is an Industry Association whose members manufacture BPA but they also manufacture the alternatives and have a good reputation for backing solid science. He explains what is BPA, how it is used, why it matters and the state of the science and regulations.
If you care about the food system you probably already know about Civil Eats and if you don’t, you need to check it out after you listen to this podcast with Civil Eats founder and editor Naomi Starkman. Civil Eats has a fresh story daily that features work advancing improvements in the food system. Naomi was a lawyer, journalist and a farmer before launching Civil Eats. Along the way she’s been inspired, mentored and be-friended by all of the pioneers of the Food Movement. She returns the favor by sharing and encouraging others to take risks and try new things–maybe farming. If there is a silver lining to the recent political clouds, it is that people are more motivated to make a difference. Naomi believes that each of us can make a difference and have a role to play by choosing what we want to eat, what kind of changes we want to see in the food system and doing something, even volunteering. And contrary to recent experience it can be done with a tone that is Civil. The Civil Eats article about changing the food system that Naomi references in the podcast is http://civileats.com/2014/05/13/want-to-change-the-food-system-heres-where-to-start/
Pork is the most consumed meat in the world, yet there are mixed perceptions on how pigs are grown–in animal “factories” or outdoors on small farms. Large scale pig farmer Malcolm DeKryger and Fair Oaks Pig Adventure are taking impressive steps in transparency to show just what happens in a modern large scale pig farming operation. Over 80,000 visitors this past year were able to observe through glass windows everything from pig birth. Less than an hour from downtown Chicago, a steady stream of visitors are coming to the farm daily. In this episode of Farm To Table Talk, Malcolm, the President of Belstra Milling and the pig production enterprises, talks about pig production transparency, antibiotics use changes and the reasons for his optimism about a promising future in Agriculture. In their own operation the children of employees have gone to College and returned to be a part of the faming operation and many other young people are asking how they can follow the same track and become pg farmers too. More information about the Fair Oaks Pig Adventure is available at ffofarms.com and belstrafarming.com
All over America and around the world people yearn to be “Outstanding in the Field”—connecting their food and the farmers that grow it. This is evident by Farm to Table dinners in every State, led by the pioneer of this trend “Outstanding in the Field”. Farm To Table Talk gets the story from founder Jim Denevan (www.outstandinginthefield.com); the featured chef for this event Brad Briske, Home Restaurant (www.homesoquel.com); and winemaker Jeff Emery, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard (www.santacruzmountainvineyard.com) “Connection is the thing that’s most powerful about agriculture and food. People are hungry for fulfilling theseconnections. It makes them happy!”
The Washington Post headline laments “The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t.” Conventional grain shipped to Turkey from the Ukraine, suspiciously became Certified Organic in transit to its final destination in the United States, through the port of Stockton. Another headline posts “Why your ‘organic’ milk may not be organic.” Consumers follow these stories because they care more than ever about how their food is produced and that there is honest identification of origin and methods. That’s a lot more information than they can count on from product labels, but fortunately there are still a few Newspapers left in the Country that allow talented reporters to do ‘deep dives’ with investigative reporting for long form stories. The Washington Post is clearly one of the leaders of this type of journalism and Peter Whoriskey is that sort of curious professional investigative journalist. Peter is the author of these and other food/health based articles in the Washington Post. He joins us for a Farm To Table conversation about past, present and future reports on false identification in the food system.
Reports like these start wheels turning. The Cornucopia Institute raised questions about large scale organic farming. The California Certified Organic Farmers (a certification agency) in a letter to the Editor points out that organic certification is rigorous with agencies deputized by the USDA to review detailed farm plans and inspect each operation at least once annually. Government policy is effected by the news too. A new federal Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule is pending. A Chinese farmer admits that he can’t meet US Organic standards because of extreme water and air pollution contamination in China. Congressional oversight committees schedule hearings on these issues. Meanwhile Peter Whoriskey and his Washington Post editor keep an eye out for more stories that the “clicks” show that their readers care about a great deal.
What consumers believe about food and how they behave is continually evolving. To track, understand and predict the ever evolving consumer perspectives, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) conducts an annual Food & Health consumer survey. IFIC’s Dr. Alex Lewin-Zwerdling and Liz Sanders share with Farm To Table Talk key points that have been learned in the recently completed Survey. Not surprisingly consumers still rank Taste and Price as most important in making food choices, but Health has now passed “Convenience” and Sustainability has risen to the top tier of what matters most to consumers–especially Millenials. Consumers are ore inclined to make small changes instead of a big overhaul. Health “halos” are created with “fresh, short ingredient list, natural food store origin, expensive, name brand,”, etc. Consumers have different ideas about processed: a bag of baby carrots is viewed as “processed” food but if they are labled “Organic baby Carrots” they are not considered “processed”. The 2017 Food & Health Survey is available at www.foodinsight.org
If any University has the right to the claim “Mothership” of sustainable and Organic food production, it is the University of California at Santa Cruz. For the past FIFTY (50) years trainees and students have come to Santa Cruz from all over the world for inspiration and to learn sustainable farming and gardening skills. It started in 1967 with the unlikely intervention of a Countess bringing a global Organic prophet with unparalleled hands-in-the-soil experience to the beautiful new UC Campus on a hill overlooking Monterey Bay. The seeds of these endeavors have sprouted Agrocecology, Food Justice, Farm To Table, Farm To School, Urban Gardens and thousands of disciples. The celebration of this remarkable half century at UCSC is underway. More information on the 50th celebration and the on-going opportunities at UCSC are available at casfs.ucsc.edu , the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems. Martha Brown, Principal Editor and Daniel Press, Executive Director share the history and opportunities sustainability and organic devotees at the Mothership on the Farm to Table Talk Podcast.
If your wish is to “enhance public discussion of biotechnology” be careful what you wish for because you draw fire from both sides when you don’t choose a “tribe”. Biofortified co-founder Dr. Karl Haro von Mogel knows that feeling. His organization is clearly pro-biotech, but recognizes shortcomings too and has taken efforts to not simply be a cheerleader for the multi-national companies marketing genetically engineered products. Putting a clever spin on the jeers about “Franken (stein) Foods” they created Frank N. Foode, your friendly neighborhood genetically modified organism. Frank N. Foode and other resources can be found on their website, www.biofortified.org
“Alternative Agriculture” was the then controversial subject of a report by the National Academy of Science in the 80’s. It was “food for thought” that contributed to a decade of food/farming debates that culminated in a national law creating “Organic” certification. Nearly a decade later the rule was finally implemented and Organics have been growing ever since. In the middle of all this has been Dr. Chuck Benbrook. In this episode of Farm To Table Talk, Dr. Benbrook explores what’s gone right, what’s gone wrong and why we should be optimistic about the future of farm to table. To learn more about Dr. Benbrook’s current focus, you can visit www.hygeia-analytics.com
There is a lot to learn from a Barnyard and Ron Wasson is sharing those lessons with thousands of people by bringing the barnyard to them. It’s a known fact that there are fewer people living on or near farms and consequently fewer people that know anything about farm animals and farms. In this podcast there are guest ‘vocals’ from chickens, goats, sheep, ducks, horse, calf, pig, dog, cats, turkey and others (only the rabbits were quiet). What do barnyard animals have to tell us that’s relevant to modern farming. Actually quite a bit. www.barnyarddiscoveries.com
If Earth suffers, what’s for dinner? The Earth may have no better friend than Fred Kirschenmann, distinguished fellow with the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, President of the Board at Stone Barn Center and North Dakota farmer. How well we care for soil has a direct effect on what our food does for us. Earthlings are getting ‘wake up’ calls at an opportune time when a new generation is no longer focusing just on “me and my” culture. How we farm and what we eat matters. Instead of just “growth” we can aim to regenerate life on earth–thriving and flourishing in our own ways and right in our own neighborhoods.
Do you need good soil to have good food? Not necessarily. Some say that to be Organic, crops should be grown in sustainably developed soil while others believe that should not be necessary as long as the production system used avoids pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers. Melody Meyer, the vice President of Policy and Industry Relations for United Natural Foods (UNFI) explains the systems, the controversy and the implications for farmers and consumers on this episode of Farm To Table Talk.
You don’t have to be rich to get real value from shopping Farmers Markets. The Ag Institute of Marin (CA) manages Farmer’s Markets in one of the most prosperous regions in the country, the San Francisco Bay area; however there are still many needy people who struggle to put healthy food on their tables. The Ag Institute helps make ends meet with a programs that help make food more affordable for those in need. The Director of Markets, Peter Healey, explains these initiatives, plus other programs and plans, including a proposal to build a Year Round Roofed facility.
Gluten free is a growing preference for some but a matter of life and death for others. When Forrest Smith was two years old he nearly died from Celiac disease, but it was identified and he grew up to produce gluten free oats and oat products in Wyoming for the World. We think of oats as being “gluten free” naturally but there are lots of ways that the oats can become contaminated from the farm equipment or in the mill. There has to be strict quality control and safety standards adhered to beginning with the planting of the oats and continuing through the food chain to the retail shelf. www.gfharvest.com
It’s no accident that food keeps improving in Safety, Healthfulness, Affordability, Taste and Sustainability. Research and commitment leads the way.There are better Organic food choices available today than in the past and there will be even better choices available in the future. It won’t just be because of evolution or luck—today offers better choices than yesterday and tomorrow will be better yet because of research and successful implementations of what we learn from that research.
In this Farm To Table Talk we will cover food’s journey from best to better with Dr. Jessica Shade, the Director of Science Programs with the Organic Center. From being first inspired working with the Organic farm at UC Santa Cruz to completion of her PhD and management of the science programs of the Organic Center, Jessica’s belief in Organic food and farming has deepened–especially when she was expecting her daughter and the health effects of research findings took on special meaing.
With his feet planted in the Georgia soil that has been in his family since 1874, Chef Matthew Raiford has his heart in the kitchen where he brings the best of regional, local and organic meals to thankful customers. His journey is unique in many ways, including going West to study Agroecology at the the University of California Santa Cruz. Although the front line of the Farm To Table movement seems light on diversity, there are over 120 African American certified organic farmers in this area. The Chef explains his passion for the soil/farm/table channel and suggestions for future chefs, new farmers and consumers. “The most intimate thing you can do for someone is to cook them a meal by cooking with your heart and letting it come through your hands. However, being able to talk about the soil, seeds, pasture and environment in which that food you are cooking is grown in should always be an integral part of that intimate act.” www.farmerand larder.com
It is a fact that fewer children or their parents know much about how their food is produced, but wish that they did. It’s also a fact that many with Zero connection to farming wish they could become farmers. That’s good news since the average farmer is close to 60 years old and has no one lined up to take over their farming operations. Wolfe’s Neck Farm and Stonyfield Organic are providing opportunities to learn about dairy farming and even to become a dairy farmer. Britt Lundgrenn, the Director of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture for Stonyfield shares the need, the vision and the progress of this journey to this future for farming.
You can love animals and still eat them; in fact any conversation about sustainable food systems should include the positive contribution of livestock. From her family’s farm home in Massachusetts, Diana Rodgers has an understanding beyond just what might be expected of a bright Registered Dietitian. She blogs, speaks and visits with us on Farm to Table Talk about life as an ethical omnivore. Listen here and visit her site, www.sustainabledish.com
“Please pass me some more DNA”. It’s in everything we eat and for some it’s the center of controversy. Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam has heard it all from the early years of “GMO” to the next emerging stages of genetic engineering. It’s still to be confirmed whether the newer techniques of genetic engineering will even be called GMO, but it will no do doubt have fans and critics. Genetic progress has always been central to food production, but we haven’t seen anything yet to compare with the new horizons. Some will fret and others will cheer but all will experience the application of these technologies at Dinner time.
Is it really Farm to Table or is it Farm to Fable? That’s a question that Tampa Bay restaurant critic, Laura Reiley, first asked in her famous investigative series a year ago. Her articles became famous all over the world, reporting that in many cases restaurants were making claims about the origin of their food that simply were not true–or as we say these days “hyperbolic” or “alternative facts”. We spoke to her after the series was published and just re-connected to find out whether she believes there has been change for the better. Sadly mendacity is still present and spinning its way in to larger chains. As a critic she is careful to not show her face, but she won’t walk away from these awkward issues. She suggests the responsibilities we all have to promote honest food.
What can we do? With his wrap up Keynote at the Food Tank Summit in WDC, Ken Cook the President of the Environmental Working Group, said “Get to work…go to the front line.” In closing the Summit, Food Tank’s Danielle NIerenberg echoed those points and added “don’t mope”. At EcoFarm we talked with Ken about the state of change in Washington and what needs to happen next. “Now is the time for exploration…Get out of your silo” and we’ll you on the front line!
The name of this organization says exactly what it is all about: Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Graduates, retirees, teachers, occupationally-stalled who have dreamed of having the Organic Farming Experience can get stared with this organization. As Uber matches drivers and riders, WWOOF connects those who are willing to donate their work for room and board on Organic Farms, all over the world. Samantha Blatteis explains the opportunity and her own experience as WWOOFER in New Zealand. www.wwoofusa.org
The “Spinning Food” of Friends of the Earth challenges stealth PR tactics that adversely influence the public perception and confidence in organics while defending pesticides and GMOs. Stacy Malkan, Co-Director of US Right To Know and co-author of Spinning Food pulls the curtain back to identify tactics and action that should be taken by consumers and farmers alike. www.usrtk.org
One of the most popular panels at Eco Farm 2017 featured 3 Successful Organic farms: Dick Peixoto, Lakeside Organic;, Watsonville CA Jamie Collins, Serendipity Farms, Aromas, CA; and Will Allen & Kate Deusterberg of Cedar Circle Farms, East Thetford, VT. We sat down for a cup of coffee in the busy Asilomar Conference social hall with Dick Peixoto to get a closer look at how Lakeside Organic has succeeded in becoming the largest family owned Organic farm in the United States. Dick and Lakeside’s success allows them to produce 45 crops, on 1,200 acres with 250 dedicated employees–growing what sells, not just selling what grows. Growth continues with their California Grill featuring fresh Organic produce and the family’s commitment to build an Agriculture Learning Center for locals and visitors to the Monterey Bay.
World famous animal welfare expert, Dr. Temple Grandin is autistic and thinks by seeing pictures. That ability to visualize what animals experience on farms, ranches and paking houses has contributed to the welfare of the animals, from birth to thier final hours. Temple gives us a picture of the animal welfare issues and opportunities for improvement. It is most important that the people who work with livestock are not overworked and underpaid. Contrary to the recent claims that livestock production is not sustainable, Temple believes that increased use of productive grazing is one of the most important developments for the future.
The growing need and interest in growing farmers is being addressed all over the world. Mary Kimball, Executive Director of the Center for Land-Based Leaning sheds light on this phenomenon with stories of success and the steps aspiring farmers can take to be successful themselves. America needs new farmers asap and many want to farm but wrongly assume they have to be rich or inherit a farm to make a living. www.landbasedlearning.org
If you have advanced degrees that can take you places, why go back to a small farm in the country? This “radical homemaker” has the answer. Shannon Hayes hasI a bachelors degree in creative writing from Binghamton University, and a masters and Ph.D. in sustainable agriculture and community development from Cornell. Her essays and articles have appeared in regional and national publications, including The New York Times, The Boston Review, and Northeast Public Radio. A quirky lifestyle and a life of personal accountability and sustainability, and research and writings about homemaking as an ecological movement have landed Shannon and her family on the pages of the New York Times, Brain Child Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Lancaster Farming, Small Farm Quarterly, Hobby Farm Home Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, Grit, Yes! Magazine, Elle Magazine, Juno, the national newspapers of Germany, Turkey and Canada, the Arab News and the Pakistan Observer. If you have ever wondered how you or someone you care for could shuck the corporate conveyor of long commutes and office politics for a life in the country, this is a podcast worth a listen.
When a community faces nearly insurmountable issues as Detroit has, local community leaders need to step up and lead the changes themselves. Malik Yakini, the Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network believes that “Struggle is the best University”. We learn more from seeking and achieving solutions in our community that depending on outsiders with a ‘missionary’ approach. The Network in Detroit is a model of community self determination.
There is a scarcity of successful communications in Agriculture and the result is misconceptions and mistrust. Consumer are worried about Big Corporations controlling food system and cutting corners whenever they can get away with it. Author of the Communications Scarcity in Agriulture, Jessic Eise of Purdue Univesity, shares how to work with , not against the power of diversity of perspectives. “The small percent of people who will never open themselves up to a diversity of perspectives…….should not be allowed to dictate the course of our dialogues nor dissuade us from communications efforts.”
“Heretics of the World unite!” Joel Salatin farms, writes, speaks and stirs up people all over the world with his perspective. Joel says that everywhere in the world the number one issue is “who will replace the aging farmers.” The average age of farmers in the US is now 60 (70 in Japan) and within 15 years 50% of all the the Ag equity in the world will change hands. It’s a brand new phenomenon that creates unprecedented opportunity for young people to start farming. If you want to farm and are not sponsored or rich, take the “craft” door instead of the “commodity” door. Joel explains how to take first steps. He also sees the current distrust with international pesticide/seed corporations shifting to “Global Industrial Organic” companies that have put on white hats while they take business from local direct farm sales, farmers markets, and CSA’s, If you want to be a farmer, start now.
While the political pendulum may swing towards self-absorbed isolationism, the better nature of the food movements keeps moving forward. Few of the many ‘movements’ within the global movement, are as inspiring as “Agroecology”. Steve Gliessman, literally wrote the book on Agroecolodgy and shares reasons to be encouraged that range from your morning cup of coffee, to coffee farms in Nicaruagua and farmers teaching farmers in Mozambique. www.canunite.org www.FAO.org
Finally a Farm To Table Book! The tide is steadily turning to what has been broadly termed the “farm-to-table” movement. In this podcast Farm to Table authors, Darryl Benjamin and Chef Lyndon Virkler explore how the farm-to-table philosophy is pushing modern, industrialized food production and moving beyond isolated “locavore” movements into a broad and far-reaching coalition of farmers, chefs, consumers, policy advocates, teachers, institutional buyers, and many more all working to restore healthful, sustainable, and affordable food for everyone. The authors of the long-awaited tome examine the roots of our contemporary industrial food system, from the technological advances that presaged the “Green Revolution” to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz’s infamous dictum to farmers to “Get big or get out” in the 1970s. The authors explain the food system alternatives―from permaculture to rotation-intensive grazing―that small farmers are now adopting to meet growing consumer demand. They also identify best practices and strategies for schools, restaurants, healthcare facilities, and other business and institutions to partner with local farmers and food producers, from purchasing to marketing. No longer restricted to the elite segments of society, the farm-to-table movement now reaches a wide spectrum of America.
One out of every 7 households in the US is food insecure. Over half of our infants receive some type of federal food support (WIC). Beyond “farm to table”, what happens when a nation’s students are unable to get the nutrition they need? Dr. Lorrene Ritchie, Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California, sizes up the issue, explains the research findings and suggests a way forward where everyone can help.
The future of growing food for tables world-wide will utilize new technologies, being used by new farmers growing in non-traditional space, thanks in part to efforts by the Open Ag Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. The leader of the program and “farmer of farmers” Dr. Caleb Harper shares a vision that has room for current farmers and new farmers producing on traditional farm fields or roof tops or in the store you buy your food. He shares the enthusiasm he draws from hundreds of young, curious and highly motivated farmer/scientists of the future, from the lab of the most non-traditional farm school, MIT and its reknowned Media Lab.
Some are celebrating and some are dreading the fact that this is a time of significant change in government. And whether you farm, want to farm or just eat and want to eat well, sustainably well, change at the US Department of Agriculture touches all of us. Programs at the USDA touch everything from commodity support programs, to specialty crops, to farmers markets, conservation, and roof top gardens. To share views on change, including the changing of the leadership team at the USDA, the Administrator of the Farm Services Agency, Val Dolcini joins us for table talk about food and farming matters that impact everybody. This farm to table talk conversation includes advice to help beginning farmers, programs to help commodity and specialty crop producers, urban agriculture and transitions at the USDA.
There is much to be thankful for, and if you’re lucky that includes great artisan bread. If in spite of the periodic dietary cautions, you love bread, you will be jealous of Avery Ruzicka the Baker and Partner in the Manresa Bread company. Avery figured out that bread is her passion and she has been able to pursue this dream from North Carolina to New York to California in 3 Star restaurant Manresa, (surpisingly) next at Farmers Markets, then a bakery store and now national distribution. She share her own story and the story of making great bread–something to be thankful for.
Not everyone can write a food/farming column for the Washington Post or farm oysters in Cape Cod, but Tamar Haspel believes everyone should “come to the table”. Tamar has ideas about divisive food policy issues that she wants to see pursued in constructive conversation. As for government: “I don’t run the zoo..I can’t sit at my desk and tell those who run the zoo what to do…I do have ideas as a starting point” On this Farm To Table Talk she shares her experience and some of those ideas, including the suggestion that one should have lunch with an opponent.
According to the NY Times “Fears about the harmful effects of eating GM foods have proved to be largely without scientific basis.” Oddly the front page headline emphasized a different point: Doubts About A Promised Bounty–Genetically Modified Crops Have Failed to Lift Yields and Ease Pesticide Use. Grist’s Nathaneal Johnson seems to have studied the GMO issues more than any other journalist. On Farm To Table Talk he critiques the NY Times story and paints a picture of what we can learn from this very long GMO journey. Nate also shares his story from a small newspaper in Idaho, to a graduate student of Michael Pollan’s at Berkeley to the Food and Farming editor for Grist, www.grist.org
Should companies that market unhealthy snacks, sweets or sodas be allowed to exhibit at Food and Nutrition Conferences where “influencers” are learning what to recommend to consumers? FNCE, the Food and Nutrition Conference of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics drew criticism in a Time magazine article for allowing participation by “corporations..not aligned with nutrition and public health. FNCE attendee and registered dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus quickly stepped up in her blog to say “Why I’m OK with soda companies sponsoring nutrition conferences”. This conversation on Farm To Table Talk is about the role of brands and dietitians and healthy or “junk” foods.
Organic is still a very small percentage of the food we consume, yet it is undeniably growing at a very brisk pace. Food Trend Forecaster, Suzy Badaracco of Culinary Trends points out trends from all-day breakfast occasions to Garden(in) Glass Cocktails. When your dream becomes a trend, you may be like Pamela Burns the Chef and Proprietess of Wild Plum Cafe in Monterey and be able to cook with the best ingredients for the pleasure of others.
“Food Hubs” are still a new concept to many of us and we usually guess that they are popping up on either Coast rather than in the MidWestern heart of Corn and Soybean country. Your guess would be wrong; this important part of the food movement is percolating all over America. We talk with a new food hub coordinator who shares what it is all about and how you get the program up and running. In the process, this new Coordinator, East Coast transplant Elaine Vidal, fell in love with Muncie, Indiana.
Whatever is your personal view on GMO’s they are probably here to stay. Future focus will be on safety, transparency and coexistence between farms raising GMO crops and farms not raising GMO crops. So what happens if a herbicide that can be sprayed on a GMO Corn field drifts on to a tomato field? It can destroy the tomato field. This is especially concerning now that weeds are becoming more resistant to Glyphosate (Roundup) and new biotech crops are being used that are resistant to other herbicides, such as Dicamba or 24D, where off-target drift is a bigger risk. The Save Your Crop Coalition and Dow Agro-Sciences are showing that it is possible to work out differences and solve problems of co-existence..
We love to eat great food, grown in the ways we prefer, but what about the 405 of food that is wasted? We talk with Deb of Food Solutions about a new business that addresses food waste, increases farm income, lowers costs to restaurants and still delivers flavor, nutrition and value to consumers. What if Farmers Markets were an incubator for new ‘bricks and mortar’ store front busniess. From Farmers Market Executive Director Nesh Dhillon we learn that they are that and much more, on this episode of Farm To Table Talk.
When you see a New York Times headline that says “Industrial Farms Have Gone Green” it gets your attention. This was the subject of an editorial in the Times by Oklahoma State Ag Economist, Dr. Jayson Lusk. While agreeing that there is much to like about small, local farms and their influence on what we eat, Dr. Lusk says we must look to the 8% of farms that grow 80% of our food if we are to sustainably deal with problems from population growth and climate change.
Improving the global food system is a goal shared by thousands, but realized by few. One of the newer effective voices for this movement is Food Tank. Farm To Table Talk visits with the Food Tank founder Danielle Nierenberg who is “honored” to share the stories of “heroes” of the global food movement. While too modest to claim hero status for Food Tank, she sees heroes among women, youth, local farmer and others all over the world. The experience, inspiration and lessons learned can apply everywhere.
It’s not been fashionable to look to Washington DC for answers, but DC Greens should be an exception. The leaders and team at DC Greens are showing that you can leverage existing infrastructure, resources and talent to build a healthy food system–a model for cities everywhere. With innovations in food education, access, policy and even Dr’s prescribing fruits and vegetables they are determined that zip codes won’t determine life expectancy. People are literally lining up to take advantage of creativity of DC Greens.
In one way or another, most of us are part of the Food Movement. Now if we only were sure what that means. Michael Dimock, the President of Roots of Change is a respected leader of the movement with a good handle on what it is, where it stands and where it is heading. He sees a movement that is like hundreds of streams flowing into a river that is covering the United States and much of the world. This is truly a grassroots movement rather than the traditional top down dictates, and now focusing one policy matters more than ever.
Accepting that the world will have 8 billion people by 2030, consuming 50% more energy and demanding 40% more water, what’s the answer? Maybe there’s not a single answer, but thousands of ‘right’ answers. The world leading Agriculture & Natural Resource system at the University of California is connecting those dots from global back to local communities. Dr. Glenda Humiston, Vice President of the University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources shares how research, extension and education will be in every bite we take.
Food Delivery 2.0 is a good way to describe the new era in food delivery, from farm to table. “Convenience, Convenience, Convenience” is the demand driver that has caused billions of dollars being invested to make it easier to get the food you want, when you want it. Rabo Bank Research Analysts have studied this emerging frontier in 1) Online grocery 2) Delivery Apps 3) Meal Kits and Ready Meals. Dr. Roland Fumasi of Rabo Bank helps us explore this new world. Farmers Markets, CSA’s and stores aren’t the only way consumers will satisfy their demand for local, heirloom, artisan, ethnic etc meals or ingredients.
Farmers Markets are the best places today to connect with your community, meet your farmers and find delicious options to bring home. Your favorite chef is probably there too, rounding up fresh surprises for tonights menu. Nothing beats a bustling Farmers Market and here you will catch the energy and sounds as we talk to a shopping couple who shares their family recipe for Pesto, the justifiably proud Market Manager and a Chef chasing purple cauliflower and other surprises for their menu that changes daily to match the fresh offerings at the Farmers Markets.
Some view Farm to Table as a luxury for the rich and others are working to see that this isn’t the case. Gus Schumacher, a co-founder of Wholesome Wave and former USDA UnderSecretary believes that affordable, healthy, local foods should be available to everyone and that even poverty need not be an obstacle to eating fruits and vegetables. He also sees leadership coming from hospitals and other health focused organizations that literally prescribe fruits and vegetables as an effective measure to the growing diet/disease crisis. Government agencies and even private companies are helping reduce costs for these new “prescriptions” for improved health.
Have both major political parties turned protectionist and against free trade? Do the leading Presidential candidates know what is in the controversial “Trans-Pacific Partnership”? Whether it’s foreign food for domestic tables or local food for foreign tables, it’s an important issue that will have an impact on what farmers grow and what we eat. Josh Rolfe, Manager of Federal Policy for the California Farm Bureau explains what’s at stake when trade is sacrificed to politics.
Farmer’s Markets are being celebrated for unprecedented growth and contribution to revitalizing communities in a foundational role as part of the new American food system. Administrator of the USDA’s Ag Marketing Service, Elanor Starmer. Shares the success to date and paints a picture of invigoration that includes Know Your Farmer Know your Food, Farm To School, Urban Agriculture and a wide spectrum of programs and citizen initiatives that is reaching millions.
Garlic fans make annual pilgrimages to Gilroy California for the world famous Gilroy Garlic Festival to enjoy entertainment, artisans and delicious cuisine made with garlic. This visit to the Festival for the free garlic ice cream and other treats is topped off with a conversation with two types of garlic farmers, a certified organic farmer who sells to Farmers Markets and a larger scale conventional farmer growing garlic for processors and national fresh market distribution.
When there are important issues about the environment and food, it’s a safe bet that the Environmental Working Group is involved. The founder and President of the EWG, Ken Cook joins our Farm to Table Talk for a conversation that ranges from GMO Labeling to Subsidies and their annual “Dirty Dozen” list. And Ken shares reasons to be optimistic about a future that all sides should welcome. Listen to the podcast and you can read the interview here https://podcasttexts.com/Farm-to-Table-Talk-KenCook.html
Prior to the Senate and House passing a mandatory labeling law that pre-empts the Vermont GMO labeling law, an editorial in the Wall Street Journal said that a sticker on genetically modified groceries may debunk irrational fears. The authors, economists Rich Sexton of UC Davis and Steven Sexton of Dukesay that with the recent release of another exhaustive report by the National Academies of Sciences attesting to the safety of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, “it is time for the food industry and advocates of genetically engineered crops to stand up for their products and put a label on them….This could be the best way to make consumers confront their irrational fears, to stamp out public ignorance and to save an important technology…”
Congress has passed legislation to pre-empt state GMO labeling laws such as as the one that has just gone in to effect in Vermont. Now what? Farm To Table Talk engages an expert who has been central to the development of approaches that will be used to give consumers the information they say they want– they want to know everything. Patrick Moorhead CMO of Label Insight paints a compelling picture of the likely future when consumers will know whether their food has been genetically engineered plus much much more.
In this episode we share some unique farm to table connections, recognize the best Food Podcasts in the World, find a unique food proposition among the 300,000 daily visitors to the Taste of Chicago on the Lakefront and introduce Chicago based game-changing insights on how food labels will soon tell you everything you want to know. The Death, Sex and Money Podcast hosted by Anna Sale is an extremely popular podcast, heard by millions. That’s why she was a Keynote speaker at the Podcast movement conference in Chicago. Surprisingly her advertisers and her latest guest show a respect for farm to table connections. Anna Sale and her family are moving to California, but that’s another story.
Next time you eat yogurt, give a minute to remembering that your yogurt was very recently in a black and white holstein cow on the McCarty Family Farm in Kansas. Kevin McCarty shares the unique story of his family moving their dairy from Pennsylvania to Kansas and building a special relationship with the Dannon Yogurt Company. It’s a story about sustainable farming from the cows, to the family, their team, the community, the Dannon company and a nutritious food for you and yours. www.mccartyfamilyfarms andwww.dannon.com
Growing the organic industry, from farms to tables, will require more research and better communications with consumers who are often confused by misleading food marketing strategies. To do the job right, there needs to be a system to raise funds from the industry. Marty Mesh the Executive Director of the Florida Organic Growers and Melody Meyer, Executive Director of UNFI believe that the answer is a national “check-off” program with assessments collected from Organic farmers and companies on the certified organic products they produce and market.
Vermont has passed a GMO Labeling law, “produced with genetic engineering”, that is to go in effect July 1. US Senators Stabenow (D) and Roberts (R) are introducing legislation that would pre-empt the Vermont law by enacting a national disclosure standard for “bioengineered foods”. Before you get overwhelmed with the opinions on both sides, listen to our Farm To Table Talk podcast to hear what will be proposed in the Senate bill and what is in the Vermont law. Would there be “technological challenges” to consumers to “bioengineering disclosure” through electronic or digital methods?
Urban Agriculture: production(beyond just home consumption), distribution and marketing of food is happening within the core and fringes of metro areas. LA based, Dr. Rachel Surls, is on the frontline of this movement for the University of CA Cooperative Extension Service. Rachel is also co-author with Judith Gerber of the book “From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles.” (http://www.angelcitypress.com/products/c2co) Food production is coming back in LA, the number one Ag producing County in America for much of the last century.
New rules proposed for the USDA Organic Standards will raise requirements for organic livestock production. The Deputy Administrator of the USDA Organic program, Miles McEvoy explains how livestock are to be treated if the changes go in to effect. The continued growth of Organics is taking place globally with implications for imports and exports of organic foods. Conventional farmers converting to Organics are generally enthusiastic as they start down the transition road.
Consumers, especially Millennials, want their food to be “responsibly produced”. Whole Foods Markets are taking more steps to meet that demand at their over 400 stores and their brand new “365” store format. The Global VP of Perishables, Edmund LaMacchia explains the Vision, lessons learned and future of providing shoppers with truly responsibly produced food, Organic and Conventional if it meets 8 criteria. Communications and marketing of “responsibly grown” will continue to improve and to be a focus.
A large share of the people in the world cannot take farm to table for granted. Food security is an issue, especially recovering from disasters such as the deadly Earthquake last year in Nepal. Katherine Parker is on the font line helping solve problems, connecting farmers and markets and still finding time to enjoy local food and friendships. She has worked with communities and their farmers in Japan, Iowa, Cambodia and Nepal. Listen to the podcast and follow her on facebook.com/bokashi or read more stories on her blog, bokashi.blogspot.com
Consumers may wonder if what is said about their food and how it is produced, is truthful. The Agricultural Marketing Service of the USDA has oversight and certification programs that verify specific claims, such as “antibiotic free”, cage free or country of origin. AMS Deputy Administrtor Dr. Craig Morris explains “checkoff” programs fund farmer/rancher promotion to consumers. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is still in effect for all commodities, except for beef and pork. Future areas of attention may relate to false claims on menus or farmers market about farm sources.
Solving the childhood obesity crisis is being tackled by a public/private partnership that finally brings true marketing power to the effort. From the honorary Chairman, First Lady Michelle Obama to celebrities like MVP Steph Curry, important goals have a better chance to deliver than ever before. The Chief Marketing Officer of the Partnership for America, Drew Nannis, explains the FNV campaign (Fruits and Vegetables)and why a rock solid marketing effort will lead to a Healthier America!
Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest has not been bashful about criticizing the food industry when change is needed, but he also speaks up when he sees progress. Today he sees results and areas where progress is being made on the big three issues of trans fat, sugar and salt. Successful changes have featured cooperation and engagement of all levels of the food chain, from farmers to manufacturers and brands.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine believes that you should not eat hot dogs, or any processed meats. To make that point, Carrie Clyne and her colleagues offered Banana Hot Dogs to visitors at their booth at the Partnership for A Healthier America. Carrie explains why this organization of 150,000 physicians, scientists and concerned citizens feel strongly about that hot dogs are to be avoided.
Food Trends are not always what we think they are. No company watches true food trends in Restaurants better than Chicago-based Tecnhomic. Kelly Weikel, their Director of Consumer Insights on what consumers want to eat from food trucks to ‘mash-ups’ and identified sources. This year what we spend in restaurants for the first time passed what we spend to eat at home and of course, Millennials are leading the way. Kelly shared the insights at the Partnership for Healthier America Conference in WDC.
Where did today’s farm to table movement start moving and where is it moving to next? The Esalen Institute on Big Sur asked these questions of “agrarian elders”, including wise organic pioneers, like Anne Schwartz. Anne has farmed and worked tirelessly to connect evolving systems of farming with consumer expectations. Her story includes success and setbacks, from a tractor burning up in the barn successes to Wendell Berry sparking the movement by sharing his passion with 2,000 farmers interested in a better way of farming.
“Trust” is the biggest issue in Food today and Consumer Reports assures consumers that “Trust Lives Here”. The leader of the Consumer Union’s Consumer Safety and Sustainability Group, Dr. Urvashi Rangan, joins the Farm To Table Talk conversation to share the state of food trust, issues and perspectives that informed consumers care about.
The desire to farm is not limited to farm kids. In fact a large number of new farmers have started non ag careers after college and grew up in the city without the benefit of family traditions, 4-H or FFA. One of the programs created to help them get started is the Grange School of Adaptive Agriculture. Ruthie King took a break from her Farm School responsibilities to to join our Farm To Table Talk conversation about helping new farmers become successful farmers.
Newspapers have suffered as the Internet of Social Media, Blogs and Search engines is our source for information about everything, including food. Russ Parsons, author and former Food Editor for the LA Times has experienced it all and shares how consumers today need to be curious and a little skeptical. He also praises journalism such as the Farm To Fable articles in the Tampa Bay Times by Laura Reiley. (Also on our podcast.)
The Farm To Fables stories in the Tampa Bay Times exposed dishonesty and misrepresentation in many restaurants about the providence of their food. It has created a stir all over the country and also right in Tampa where Chef/Owner Greg Baker of the well regarded Refinery restaurant sharply criticized the dishonest practices in a Food Republic article and in this Farm To Table Talk podcast.
Read his article on Food Republic http://www.foodrepublic.com/2016/04/25/a-pissed-off-tampa-chef-explains-the-farm-to-fable-controversy/
A sustainable food system, including livestock production, is essential. That is the perspective being advanced in thought and deed by Bob Martin of the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. A Kansas farm boy himself, Bob sees the shortcomings in the current system and also sees reasons to be encouraged. Consumers, politicians and farmers themselves will find plenty to chew on in this Farm To Table Talk.
The world needs more sustainable food systems and Patrick Holden, CEO of UK based Sustainable Food Trust, points the way forward. It starts with recognizing the “true cost of food”. It means moving from industrialized models to systems which avoid environmental damage, minimizes natural resource depletion and promotes public health, social justice and well-being. Learn more in our podcast and at sustainablefoodtrust.org
Are menus truthful about the farm source of our food? Many are not according to Laura Reiley of the Tampa Bay Times. On this Farm To Table Talk Laura explains what they have learned, what consumers can do and what might come next. It’s all about consumers desire to know where their food comes from, how its raised and who really is the farmer. And it’s about trust.
yRead Laura Riele’s article: http://www.tampabay.com/projects/2016/food/farm-to-fable/restaurants/
Joel Salatin is the most famous farmer in the US and he’s becoming a global celebrity too. The Sustainable Food Trust hears Joel’s recommendations for the the future of Food at the “True Cost of American Food Conference”. He shares his wisdom for caring consumers, other farmers, and even Grandparents. Featured in films and author of 10 books, this is a conversation for our times. @susfoodtrust
Today many consumers want more than just abundant, delicious and affordable food; they want to know how their food is produced and whether the animals were treated humanely. The American Humane Association is one of the organizations that provides certification of animal raising practices to give that assurance. Dan Berman explains what is “humane” and how they confirm that humane practices are being used.
There is good reason to be skeptical about food claims, especially when you have auto-immune diseases like these sisters, Kacy and Kara. “Sisters Undercover” sounds funny but they are dead serious about finding the truth behind what they consume. They must eat “clean” and are sharing what they learn–the good and the not so good.
The journey from farm to table is seldom more intriguing than that taken for the best salad in the West, from Myamar to Burma Superstar. Fermented tea leaves from Burmese farmers is the star ingredient of the consistently top-rated salad. That’s good news for farmers in Myamar who hope to expand their Certified Organic tea production to meet the growing demand for the leaves: “Eat Your Tea!”
GMOs have been controversial for years, but what’s next? Melody Meyer, VP United Natural Foods addressed the future as a panelist at Natural Foods Expo panel on “Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering–Concerns and Opportunities”. Melody lays out the issues in this Farm To Table Talk.
Our health is connected to the health of our soil. Fred Kirschenmann explains how we got where we are today and how regenerative and resilient soils are a key to a healthy future. As he explained at the Organic Farming Research Foundation at Natural Foods Expo West, he introduces the concept of ‘bio-regional communities” that will develop local food and farming economies, appropriate to place.
Presidential politics may have addressed everything that matters except what may matter most, our food system. Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, and other food movement leaders, including our guest Ricardo Salvador from the Union of Concerned Scientists intend to change that with the “Plate of the Union”. Ricardo explains the issues, the political process now and what should happen next..
Better food with better stories will soon be everywhere. In this conversation with the renowned Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert we cover key food trends, good ideas and bad ideas too, such as the repeal of Country of Origin Labeling for meat. People who care about their food and how it is grown, will care about what Phil sees ahead.
Consumers want to know about chicken ‘freedoms’. Are the chickens raised cage free? Antibiotic free? GMO free? Or even farm free, in cities. Maurice Pitesky, Poultry Health and Food Safety Extension Specialist with the world leading UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, talks with us about antibiotic use, 100,000 CA backyard chicken premises and shifting systems to free-range to meet customer demand.
Congress has stepped in to the GMO salmon issue by requiring that labeling be addressed before the new salmon can be sold in the US. UC Davis Geneticist, Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam discusses this salmon controversy, labeling, the roots of mistrust and the new, less controversial, genetic technologies that will target traits of importance to consumers.
More and more people want to know how their food is produced and also want to know that they can count on honest information. The USDA Ag Marketing Service is filling that need with the USDA Process Verified program. Dr. Craig Morris, Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Ag. Marketing Service explains the program and shares insights on the trends: animal welfare, GMO, antibiotics, sustainability and farm size.
Google leads in some many arenas it shouldn’t be a surprise, that they are also leading Silicon Valley with an impressive Farm to Table program. Led by our guest, Christa Essig, google team members around the world are seeing food grown on their campuses, eating sustainably grown food and continually learning about a better food system.
The Dietary Guidelines for America has taken several big steps, although not as big as some would like. Sharon Palmer, RD, outlines what the changes will mean. One of the recommendations has already been acted on when FDA announced new nutrition fact labels that require the listing of “added sugars”.
Cattle production has been criticized for contributing to global warming. That isn’t a fair charge say these ranchers.
Many have heard about Agroecology but don’t know what it means. Steve Gliessman is one of the fathers of this, now international movement and no one explains it better than here in this Farm To Table Talk podcast.