Families are spending more time cooking at home and local meat provides a better and more affordable alternative. According to Johnathan Hladk the Policy Director for the Center for Rural Affairs, local meat lockers simply do not have the space or equipment to keep up, leaving family farms in the growing direct sales industry without a crucial partner.State and Federal government should support small meat processors looking to improve and expand their infrastructure, which is vital in addressing bottlenecks in local processing and encouraging the growth of rural economies. Funds should be made more available to entrepreneurs seeking to open a new small meat processing facility. With voluntary support coming from coast to coast, the Center for Rural Affairs addresses issues to improve the quality of rural life. www.cfra.org
New technologies will play an important role in the future of farming for every size, shape, climate and geographic location. The ideas are popping up fast and increasingly affordable for the full spectrum of global farming systems. Francesco Arlia is the founder and CEO of one of these emerging pioneers, Harvest Harmonics. With dime-sized micro-transmitters the natural vibrations and optimum frequency of photosynthesis is changed for the better. Frank talks of the birth of new, non-chemical technologies that could represent the next green revolution. www.harvestharmonics.com
Climate smart agriculture will make a difference to farmers, citizens and life on earth. Karen Ross, the Secretary of Food And Agriculture for the California Department of Agriculture is on the front line of meeting the climate challenge as chief administrator of food and agriculture programs for the 5th largest economy in the World. Secretary Ross has a perspective beyond California boundaries having hailed from a western Nebraska farm, managed farm organizations and served as the Chief of Staff at the US Department of Agriculture under then Secretary Tom Vilsack. Secretary Vilsack is now back at USDA with a fresh charge to lead Agriculture to Climate Smart Agriculture and Karen Ross will promote the synergies that come from state, federal, local and farm/rancher initiatives that lead to climate smart solutions for a warming planet. www.cdfa.ca.org
Clubhouse is a drop-in audio chat network that now includes conversations about the food system, on Farm To Table Talk. The Center for Good Food Purchasing uses the power of procurement to create a transparent and equitable food system that prioritizes the health and well-being of people, animals, and the environment. Paula Daniels is the Co-founder and chair of the Center, developing nationally-networked adoption and implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Program by major institutions. The result is good news for local farmers and communities across the country from the direct connections with sustainable and regenerative food sources for their schools, hospitals and public administrations. The conversation with Paula Daniels begins in a podcast that wanders in to the Farm To Table Talk Clubhouse to be joined by other food system pioneers. www.goodfoodpurchasing.org #Clubhouse
It’s become popular to bash livestock production and meat consumption for extreme green house gas emissions. What if the data is wrong? In the UK where carbon neutral agriculture is to be accomplished by 2050, new research has found that the ‘carbon’ case against pig farming is not right. The study conducted by the Institute for Global Food Security found that the carbon footprint has been overstated by 40% over the last 20 years. Professor Illias Kyriazakis of Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland is the author of the study. Professor Kyriazakis also explains that there was very little carbon foot print differences in the type of pig production, indoors or outdoors. Genetic improvements deserve much of the credit for the progress, however when soy protein for pig feed is imported from somewhere that destroys rain forests to grow soybeans, the Climate suffers. All livestock systems deserve a closer look before broadly promoting meatless diets to protect the climate. https://www.qub.ac.uk/Research/GRI/TheInstituteforGlobalFoodSecurity/
The Nobel Prize Committee has just recognized the scientists who discovered CRISPR—genetic scissors that are a tool for rewriting the code of life and potentially a tool in limiting global warming. New science, technology and a range of farming systems from conventional to agroecology, regenerative and organic have roles to play. Science writer Andrew Porterfield is investigating and writing about the avenues that are being considered by farmers to slow global warming. In a feature article that caught our eye, he answers the question of whether one farming method can help slow global warming. In our conversation we consider that there needs to be broader acceptance that climate change is a real threat and that farming methods can be part of the solution.
Do omnivores face a dilemma as Michael Pollan famously proposed in his popular book over a decade ago or is the dilemma a delusion? Farmer Blake Hurst who just completed 10 years as President of the Missouri Farm Bureau has practiced what he’s preached about farmer’s need to communicate. A dozen years ago when the Omnivore’s Dilemma brought global attention to modern farming methods, Blake responded with an article titled the Omnivore’s Delusion. https://www.aei.org/articles/the-omnivores-delusion-against-the-agri-intellectuals/ This led to the farmer from Missouri appearing with Michael Pollan on NPR’s Face of the Nation where they respectfully engaged in a too seldom heard consequential conversation. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113619474 Now a dozen years later Blake Hurst visits with us on why it is still important for farmers to resist their nature and instead speak up about what they do and why they do it.
On Wednesdays at noon Pacific Time Farm To Table Talk will host conversations, including guests such as Blake in the new on-line audio chat for iPhone, Clubhouse. You can find us there and also find more information at our website FarmToTableTalk.com where you can also subscribe to receive our weekly podcasts. Thanks, Rodger Wasson
COVID-19 has exacerbated food insecurity and laid bare systemic inequalities that contribute to hunger. One in six Americans—54 million—are food insecure, with the largest increases seen in communities of color. For a country that wastes 30-40 percent of its food supply, how can we understand this rate of food insecurity? Katie Martin is Executive Director of the Foodshare Institute for Hunger Research & Solutions and author of Reinventing Food Banks and Pantries: New Tools to End Hunger. On Farm To Table Talk Katie distills over 25 years of expertise developing creative solutions to hunger for tackling food insecurity. Pervasive food insecurity is not due to a lack of food: it is a matter of access and power. Reinventing Food Banks and Pantries: New Tools to End Hunger shares a new vision of food banks and pantries as empowering community hubs where clients receive more than food, including job training and connection to community resources.
It might be appealing to imagine all food going straight from ‘Old McDonald’s Farm” to our tables, but it’s not realistic. Because of seasons, climates, soils, water (quality and availabilty) research and grower education, most harvested crops need to be cleaned, cooked, canned, frozen or dried to move on up the food chain to tables around the world. In California alone, the companies that do these essential tasks employ over 750,000 workers with several million family members and thousands of dependent local businesses–directly adding $25.2 billion to the economy. This link in the chain is represented by the California Food Producers. As CEO and President of the association, Rob Neenan with staff and committees is engaged in promoting and defending policy and public opinion that effects processing food distribution and sales. Those policies today extend from new issues like the pandemic to long term issues related to water–where new groundwater regulations may result in millions of acres being fallowed and less food produced. www.clfp.com
A lot of people want to farm and some farmers want to change the way they farm. Emily Newman is helping those folks in her role as Program Manager for Rodale Institute’s Organic Crop Consulting Service. They provide one-on-one mentorship and assistance to farmers looking to transition to organic. Consultants meet farmers where they are—each plan is individualized for best outcome for that particular farmer, no agenda or pressure.In under two years of operation, they already have over 150 farmer clients and over 50,000 acres in transition. Emily holds a B.S. in Environmental Resource Management, focusing in Soil Science, from Pennsylvania State University and is currently pursuing an M.B.A. in Food and Agribusiness. www.rodaleinstitute.org