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
Farm to table is happening all over the country even in a state like Wyoming with one of the most challenging growing seasons. Zach Buchel has found dozens of farms in the Cody Wyoming area who are up to the challenge and are growing to meet the needs of discerning consumers. He owns and operates FarmTableWest, an online farmer’s market in Cody, Wyoming. They distribute food from area farms depending on the time of year and try to make local food accessible to people even in the toughest growing climates in the U.S. Zach says that what really gets him out of bed in the morning, is how food brings people together. That itch eventually led him to creating FarmTableWest, where they put a farmer’s face on the local food they distribute to retailers, farmers market and restaurants. Zach says what it is all about its “Connecting Good People. It’s why we do what we do. ….Getting Good Food, from Good People, to Good People is no walk in the park or get rich quick scheme. But, it’s a hell of an adventure that we hope has no finish line.”
Today’s journeys that are taking people from farm to city and back to farm are many and varied. One way or the other there are thousands who have invested in education, careers and commutes who have found there was still something missing–open space, outdoors, family time and the satisfaction of growing crops or livestock. Karen and Dale Kopf are on that journey. They grew up on a farm and ranch, respectively, then pursued education and subsequent careers. They have found the best of both worlds when they moved to their Kopf Canyon Ranch in Idaho where they are proud to call themselves “herdsmen”. They believe that care of animals and land is a stewardship, a trust. Today they enjoy “goating” together, raising Kiko goats in northern Idaho and helping others become herdsmen. To equip and educate new herdsmen they founded the Palouse Goat Guild and host an annual Goat Academy in Moscow, Idaho. The Food Animal Concerns Trust’s Humane Farming Project awarded them a grant to cross fence a canyon for goats, laying hens and guardian animals. These herdsmen of goats and trainers of aspiring herdsmen, Karen and Dale Kopf, join Farm to Table to share their journey and to remind others who should consider goat, to consume or raise. www.kikogoats.org
The Farm Bill is the primary food policy vehicle of the United States government and it affects every American citizen from commodity farmers, organic farmers, urban agriculture to citizens receiving supplemental nutritional assistance. Passage every 5 years requires bipartisan support that is sadly rare in Washington DC. Despite the acrimonious atmosphere in the Capitol, a Farm Bill has passed that has substantial improvements and none of the draconian changes that had been predicted. Much of the credit must go to the leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee, republican Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas and democrat Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. 80,000 people attended the Natural Foods Expo where Senator Stabenow gave a Keynote address. She told a surprising and encouraging story of creation of the new Farm Bill and it’s substantial new initiatives. Because it is such an important story we share her speech and then follow it with some questions for the Senator about bipartisanship and the future of farming and food policies.
If more diversity in the food system is desired, why isn’t it accomplished? Karen Washington, food system activist and partner in Rise and Root farm, says that the reason is that no one asked, invited and welcomed others to a farming, gardening, school garden or other food and farming related event or organization. Karen resides in the Bronx and also in the country at her Rise and Root Farm. She is a co-founder of Black Urban Growers, an organization of volunteers committed to building networks and community support for growers in both urban and rural settings. She has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential African Americans in the country, has been awarded the James Beard Leadership Award and was a keynote speaker at EcoFarm where she visited with Farm To Table Talk about diversity and the power and dignity that comes from growing your own food. www.riseandrootfarm.com
Permaculture is about creating a permanent culture- a way of living that is completely sustainable. Natalie Bogwalker lives and teaches this web of life system in the country near Asheville, North Carolina. She is described as a “badass permaculture practitioner, homesteader, businesswoman, and momma.” Her five years of experience living primitively at the remote Wild Roots Community in Western North Carolina inspired her to start the Firefly Gathering (the premier Southeast skill sharing festival) and Wild Abundance, a homesteading and permaculture school near Asheville, NC. Wild Abundance is also a thriving homestead itself, and home to Natalie, her partner Frank and their daughter Hazel, plus a handful of apprentices, work-traders, and Fox, the cat. Natalie joins Farm To Table Talk to share her journey, the recognition of necessary interdependence and path for others who share a permaculture passion and a determination to not just let life happen.
There may be nothing more important to the health of our soil, our food, ourselves and ultimately the future of the planet than the microbes beneath our feet and in our bodies. Yet most of the public, from farmers to consumers, are unaware of this microbial magic and when they learn: “My goodness!” Dr. Pam Marrone tracks microbes down all over the world and explains why they matter. The founder and CEO of Marrone Bio Innovations Inc. she was honored by the Ecological Farming Association at the EcoFarm Awards. where she was presented with the Steward of Sustainable Agriculture Award – or “Sustie” – which “recognizes those who have been actively and critically involved in ecologically sustainable agriculture, and have demonstrated their long-term, significant contributions to the wellbeing of agriculture and the planet.” Dr. Marrone joins Farm To Table Talk to give us a glimpse of the microscopic ‘critters’ beneath our feet that are foundational for sustainability and the future of food. https://marronebioinnovations.com/bio-bites/
Food deserts with a shortage of affordable healthy foods are not just found in inner cites but also throughout the country in rural and remote areas where the choices are “fat, cheap and easy” foods leading to an epidemic of diabetes and related health issues. The first place in America to address this with a Healthy Food Act and a tax on unhealthy foods was not Brooklyn or Berkeley but the Navajo Nation. This is where Denisa Livingston is working to empower Navajo communities to take control of food policy and lead a movement toward food sovereignty and social change. Through the Dine` Community Advocacy Alliance Act she helped create a 2% additional sales tax for unhealthy foods with the revenue going to fund community based and community directed health and wellness programs. Passing laws in the Navajo Nation faces the same challenges from lobbyists for national food brands as in Washington DC or State Legislatures. It’s hard, but the advocates for healthier food choices have persevered. Denisa is also the Slow Food International Indigenous Councilor of the Global North. Indigenous people around the globe are addressing similar challenges and the Internet is allowing them to form a global community to share stories and strategies from New Mexico to Kenya. Denisa Livingston shares the journey on Farm To Talk. Facebook: @dineadvocacy Twitter: @princessedenisa