When New Zealand was settled, pioneers from the British Isles missed the red deer that they had hunted in Scotland. So wild red deer were corralled in Scotland and put on boats for the over 11,000 mile journey to New Zealand where they were released and to flourish in that beautiful country without predators. Today descendants of those original immigrant deer are raised on farms in New Zealand and the venison distributed to fine restaurants and specialty retailers all over the world. Farm to table demand is often local demand and there is New Zealand venison is certainly not local, but despite the food miles it is surprisingly sustainable according to Mark Mitchell, President of Broadleaf, a New Zealand based game processing and marketing company. “Shipping a pound of meat from Texas to New York produces more carbon emissions than shipping it from New Zealand to New York by sea freight.” The deer graze on grass and hayh , in vast open pastures and are never subjected to feedlots, confined spaces, hormones, antibiotics or corn-based diets.
Green House Gas Emissions are a major cause of catastrophic climate change. Of Green House Gas Emissions, Agriculture is responsible for 8 % and livestock alone represents 4%. Consequently suggested solutions have included drastic cutbacks in meat consumption. It’s a tough proposal since only a tiny fraction of the earth is fit for produce and crop farming. Much more land is suitable only for grazing by ruminants such as cattle, sheep, dairy, goats, deer and bison. The problem is that when ruminants use their special stomachs to digest the plant material that humans cannot, it causes them to belch. The belching emits methane, a potent green house gas. So how will the world feed 10 billion people when we run out of farmable land and the vast majority of land is only suitable for grazing livestock, emitting green house gas (methane)? Research underway at UC Davis is discovering that seaweed, abundant in the world’s oceans, when incorporated in to feed rations can reduce the methane emission of cattle by 60%. The prospects for this and similar solutions through science are shared in TableTalk with Dr.Ermias Kebreab. Dr. Kebreab is the Director of the World Food Center and UC Davis Dean of Global Engagement.
Vertical integration is the combination of stages of the productions system. With food products, that usually means a farmer or rancher selling to a processor who may then sell to a manufacturer and finally to either a retail store or restaurant. Internet sales and home delivery companies are nudging themselves into that last stage to consumption. While each stage is specialized, there are distinct advantages to tying it all together, such as quality control and efficient communications from the end consumer back to the farm where adjustments can be made in production practices from breeding to feeding. It epitomizes good marketing, “giving the consumer precisely what they want.” A new leader in this space is Belcampo, a northern California farming livestock producer and meat processor with restaurants, direct sales and even an agri-tourism dimension. The sustainable Belcampo farm is directed by James Rickert, a fifth generation Shasta County agriculturalist. The production and processing portions of the operation are located near Mount Shasta in northern California. Belcampo’s restaurant and retail presence is located in the Bay Area, Los Angeles area and now New York City. James joins Farm To Table to tell the story of producing premium, grass fed animal based products for consumers who are discerning in taste and the farm to table journey of their dinners, whether they consume it at a restaurant or at home. www.belcampo.com
The UN FAO states unequivocally “Malnutrition in all its forms – undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity – imposes unacceptably high economic and social costs on countries at all income levels. Improving nutrition and reducing these costs requires a multi-sectoral approach that begins with food and agriculture and includes complementary interventions in public health and education. The traditional role of agriculture in producing food and generating income is fundamental, but the entire food system – from inputs and production, through processing, storage, transport and retailing, to consumption – can contribute much more to the eradication of malnutrition.” Farm to Table visits with Annal Lartey, the Rome based Director of Nutrition and Food Systems. We are at UC Davis where she keynoted the UC Davis World Food Center conference, Aligning the Food System for Improved Nutrition in Animal Source Foods. Dr. Lartey says Agricultural policies and research must continue to support productivity growth for staple foods while paying greater attention to nutrient-dense foods and more sustainable production systems. Traditional and modern supply chains can enhance the availability of a variety of nutritious foods and reduce nutrient waste and losses. Governments, international organizations, the private sector and civil society can help consumers choose healthier diets, reduce waste and contribute to more sustainable use of resources by providing clear, accurate information and ensuring access to diverse and nutritious foods. http://www.fao.org/publications/sofa/2013/en/
Wars have casualties and in international trade wars those casualties can stretch from farms to tables. Everyone seems to agree that China is a trading problem. What everyone doesn’t agree on is what to do about it. The US was close to joining 11 other countries in a Trans Pacific trade agreement that was hoped to bring China in line with acceptable trade policies, however the administration backed away. The policy being pursued now has the US raising tariffs on Chinese imports and the Chinese retaliating by putting duties on American products or simply cutting way back on their imports from the US. There still may be a breakthrough and satisfactory agreements reached, but in the meantime the economic pain is all too real. Some are estimating that the trade war with China could cost the average family $1,000 per year in increased cost of goods. Soybean farmers in particular have been bearing the brunt of the trade war and have experienced price declines and poor prospects to the point that their future is in jeopardy. For a farm level perspective on the impacts of the trade war strategy, Farm To Table Talk visits with Ronnie Russel. Ronnie is a soybean farmer and officer in the Missouri and American Soybean Association.
As Steve Martin once said, “those French have a word for everything!” That word for a “sense of place” or flavor of the soil is terroir. Terroir is the nature of a place, uniquely expressed in food, beer, coffee or wine. Healthy soils that are rich in friendly bacteria and fungi, uniquely brand a sense of place that we can taste. Randall Grahm, the pioneer wine producer who created Bonny Doon Vineyards says we are starved for meaning and we want our experiences to be more meaningful with a deep connection between us and earth. He is on a journey to produce wines of place that are intrinsically more meaningful than wines of effort. “If you can make a wine that somehow captures the uniqueness of nature itself, you are tapping in to a much larger intelligence and system than anything that just comes from human imagination.” Randall joins Farm To Table Talk and reminds us of the significance of Place to Table.
Organics are still a small share of all food but it is a fast growing share. Reasons for the increasing demand include quality improvement, product variety, availability and growing consumer awareness that USDA Certified Organics actually stands for something unlike many other label claims. There was a time when Organics were generally viewed as inferior in appearance, consistency and yields but that was decades ago. Today organic products and organic farming itself can stand the test of side by side comparisons. Pioneering organic and conventional farming side by side demonstrations has been the Rodale Institute. Whether out in the fields or at their Pennsylvania headquarters, Rodale’s expert staff are helping grow the organic movement and assisting farmers through rigorous research, education, and outreach.The Executive Director of Rodale Institute, Jeff Moyer is a world renowned authority in organic agriculture with expertise in organic crop production systems including weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design. Jeff brings a farmer’s perspective and approach to issues in organic agriculture. He joins Farm To Table Talk to share what today’s Organics means to farmers and consumers.
In addition to growing a healthy food that people love, the California almond community is dedicated to producing an economically, environmentally and socially responsible crop for California (Sustainability). Recognizing their local role in California agriculture and global role as a powerhouse in almond production, they’re working to grow almonds in better, safer, and healthier ways, protecting their communities and environment. The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals are the latest way the California almond community is committed to continuous improvement. By 2025, the California almond community commits to: achieve zero waste in orchards by putting everything they grow to optimal use; reduce the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by an additional 20%; reduce dust during harvest by 50%, and; increase adoption of environmentally friendly pest management tools by 25%. Holly King is an almond farmer and the Chairman of the Almond Board of California. She joins our table to share the story of almonds rise in popularity and commitment to continuous improvement. www.almonds.com
Over half of all the vegetables consumed in the US are either tomatoes or potatoes. Of the tomatoes we eat, 58% are from cans or jars where they have been preserved to provide year-round summer freshness and contribute to our good health. In fact a large body of science indicates that the tomato products we consume from salsa to pizzas, not only provide servings of vegetables but also support heart and prostate health. Over 95% of all of the processing tomatoes grown in America, come from California, where the perfect mix of climate, soil and progressive farmers are producing around 65 tons of tomatoes per acre while using nearly 30% less water than a few years ago. For a perspective on growing the tomatoes that nearly all of us are eating in some form every day, we attended the annual meeting of the California Tomato Growers Association and spoke with Brett Ferguson, former Chairman of the growers association and a Fresno County tomato farmer who takes justifiable pride in the sustainability and continuous improvements made by the farmers growing processing tomatoes. www.tomatowellness.com
World renowned chef José Andrés founded World Central Kitchen (WCK) after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti with the belief that food can be an agent of change. WCK has since expanded globally and has developed into a group of chefs creating smart solutions to hunger and poverty. Today, World Central Kitchen uses the expertise of its Chef Network to empower people to be part of the solution, with a focus on health, education, jobs, and social enterprise. WCK’s work has helped communities in Brazil, Cambodia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, Zambia, and Indonesia. In the United States WCK has been there to help feed the victims of disaster from California wild fires, Nebraska Floods, to Puerto Rica Hurricane and even man made disasters like the Federal Government shutdown. The Executive Director of World Central Kitchen, Nate Mook shares the story and future of this incredible program in this episode of Table Talk. Join this World Central Kitchen Talk and help them use the power of food to empower communities and strengthen economies. www.worldcentralkitchen.org