Whether you farm ideas, dreams, plants or animals we better be prepared. Joel Salatin, the self-referenced lunatic farmer of Polyface farms has prepared thousands of people for their own type of farming and he’s doing it again with another book, “Your Successful Farm Business”. As the title suggests, it’s helpful to farmers, but not just for farmers. In this conversation with Joel we talk about farming, writing books and the common concern found everywhere he’s been in the world: mistrust. It’s what is driving people to look for authenticity–the flip side of mistrust. Farming is a subset of the food system–the broadest tent where a mistrustful public’s hunger for authenticity is ubiquitous. Joel shares a food-centered message for farmers and people who may never have a farm ‘farm’ but who can get energized about not letting farm land turn into another strip mall.
“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.