Creating Links in the Food Chain – Joseph Lee

COVID-19 forced thousands of farmers, fishermen, butchers, and food suppliers to make incredible changes that they had  never imagined. Fortunately, in the emerging food chain, suppliers of all sizes can compete in the digital world at the intersection of technology and food. Joseph Lee, Co-Founder  and CPO of Freshline shares the story of how new ventures like theirs have stepped up to create these links that are revolutionizing the way food efficiently gets from boats and farms to tables all over North America.


Social Science and Special Interests – Silvia Secchi

What does Social Science have to do with our food system?  Professor Silvia Secchi a Social Scientist at the Public Policy Center at the University of Iowa believes it has a key role to play as is clear by her favorite quote from  T. W Shultz, “It is especially the social sciences -economics, sociology and political science -which, if prosecuted with vigor reveal answers which are unpalatable to special interests.” Today that vigorous prosecution can address issues facing women farmers, polluted waters, barriers to entry and misdirected carbon credits strategies.  Professor Secchi highlights the issues and ways to constructively engage in the dialogues that can lead to positive change.

Crap and Trade

Farmers Market On Wheels – Sara Bernal

If food insecure populations can’t make it to food markets,  bring it to them. With this idea and a grant from the California Department of Agriculture for a Farmers Market Food Truck, this is a dream come true in West Sacramento. Sara Bernal is the program manager for the West Sacramento Urban Farm Program and now with a vehicle the size of a traditional U Haul moving truck low income communities are able to shop for farm fresh foods in their own neighborhoods. “With the seniors particularly but also these affordable housing complexes with families, it can be exceedingly hard if you don’t have a car to get groceries,” Bernal said. “So the whole purpose of the truck is to get produce to people where they live in the easiest way possible and then to make it affordable.” Sarah Bernal and Rodger Wasson visit in the parking lot of a low income housing community while customers bring their Cal Fresh/SNAP EBT cards for discounted purchases of healthy foods.

Hunger and Food Waste Solutions -Carol Shatuck

Food waste presents its own serious crisis. As awareness has risen about the impact of climate change on our environment, we are learning the significant role that food waste plays. In America, 40% of the food supply, from farm to table, is wasted. This excess food ends up in landfills where it creates methane gas, a major contributor to the warming of our planet. Vegetables, fruit, milk, and other nutritious foods fill our landfills. At a time when there is so much hunger in our country, we are throwing away the very food that could feed the food insecure and help save our planet.The bottom line is that hunger and food waste are unacceptable in America where there is a wealth of resources and enough food being produced to feed everyone. The knowledge that these crises can be solved drives the mission and work of Food Rescue USA whose CEO Carol Shatuck visited the Farm To Table Talk Clubhouse room (now open to all) and this episode of Farm To Table Talk.



Nonpassive Farmers & Eaters – Francis Thicke & Dave Chapman


Before he became the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson envisioned a country of ‘citizen farmers’ who would be engaged in government. Jefferson would have been pleased with citizens like Iowa farmer Francis Thicke and Vermont farmer Dave Chapman who climb off their tractors to Zoom with the Secretary of Agriculture about needed policy infrastructure repairs to the USDA Organic program. A thousand farmer have already joined with them to give consumers assurance of Real Organic production practices and to rescue the reputation and trust in Certified Organic. It’s wrong when farmers are passive about what they grow and it’s wrong when consumers are passive about what they eat. Jefferson could see farmers and eaters  saying “we the people are going to do it on our own.”

Pledging Head, Heart, Hands and Health – Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty

If more of us pledged our head to clearer thinking, our heart to greater loyalty, our hands to larger service and our health to better living it would be better for us, our clubs, our community, our country and our world.  That’s been the 4-H pledge for generations, although our “world” is a welcome additional beneficiary. 4-H is not just for farm kids with animals.  In many states the vast majority of young people in 4-H Clubs are in cities with a wide range of projects that often have more in common with computer labs than barnyards.  Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty is the California 4 -H Director for University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Lynn tells the story of today’s 4-H and how we can help our kids and ourselves. Caring parents, neighbors or grandparents should look in to 4-H for youngsters or to volunteer their own time for “better living in better communities”.


Louis Bromfield Now – Rich Collins, Anneliese Abbott, John Jamison & Sukey Jamison

Louis Bromfield planted seeds of the food revolution and reminds us to “Never forget that agriculture is the oldest of the honorable professions and that always the good farmer is the fundamental citizen of any community, state or nation.” We are reintroduced to the wisdom and vision of Louis Bromfield in the recently published book, “The Planter of Modern Life” by  the author Stephen Heyman.  He was introduced to the Bromfield books of nearly 75 years ago by  Pennsylvania grass farmers, John and Sukey Jamison who had themselves been inspired by Bromfield’s Malabar Farm. John and Sukey share how Bromfields vision helped them get started when neither had any farming experience.  Regenerative farming leader, Rich Collins, has been a self described Bromfield ‘Groupie’ for years and has visited Bromfields place outside of Paris and Malabar Farms in Ohio. He also has shared Bromfield books  and introduced us to the author of the next Bromfield book, Annaliese Abbott. Rich, Annaliese and the Jamison’s join the table to discuss the life and lessons of Louis Bromfield. In addition to recommending The Planter of Modern Life, Rich Collins shared the following. “Most all of these folks focused on the important role of soil as a key element of the water cycle.  As Hugh Bennet wrote back in the mid 30’s “Keep the raindrop where it falls.”  So simple!!
Pleasant Valley (1943) and Malabar Farm (1947) by Louis Bromfield
Water and the Cycle of Life (1958) by Joseph A. Cocannouer
Plowman’s Folly (1943) and A Second Look (1947) by Edward H. Faulkner
Deserts on the March (1935) by Paul B. Sears
Big Dam Foolishness (1954) by Elmer T. Peterson

Labor Supremes – Michael Droke

On-farm agriculture operations have been excluded from federal labor law since 1935. California filled this gap by creating its own law in 1975, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act (“ALRA”) that gave union organizers the right to physically access the farm property in order to solicit support for unionization. Growers challenged this regulation as a state-sponsored “taking” of their property rights, without the just compensation guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed with the growers, holding that the ALRA’s access regulations were a per se violation because they allowed “physical invasion” of the land without compensation. Michael Droke explains the significance of the decision and implications for property rights protection for agriculture. Michael is a senior partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney in its Food and Agriculture group.


Climate: Cows or Cars? – Frank Mitloehner, UCDavis

Will eating less meat save the planet? Some say so but science says no. of course if you’re looking for a reason to eat less meat and tell others to do the same, climate change seems to add to your case.  However, if you’re looking to make real impact on the climate, transportation and construction are still much more important than agriculture.  Dr. Frank Moetloehner, Director of the Clear Center at UC Davis is the most quoted expert on these issues in the world. He shares with us the true story of the effects of livestock production, including that some countries are doing a better job than others.  With the adaptation of new technologies, California dairy farmers have reduced methane emissions by 25%..  On You Tube videos  and in Frank’s presentations you we see him hold up an 8.5 X 11 inch sheet of paper to represent the entire surface of the Earth; then a business card that represents the area where agriculture is possible with 2/3 of that card only fit for grazing  livestock. It is an important story that Frank tells us.

Water Matters Most – Randy Record

Except for the air we breathe, nothing is more important to life on earth than water.  Humans can live up to 60 days without food but only a few days without water.  So water is life and the worsening climate is severely impacting life as we know it.  In California alone it is estimated that nearly a million acres of previously productive farmland will be fallowed in 2021.  Inevitably the food supply  and food costs will be impacted. Randy Record farms and invests his time in seeking water solutions.  He has a vineyard and is on the Metropolitan Water District (LA) Board where he has served as Chairman. Randy has a clear eyed perspective on the water challenges we face and faith that  building trusting relationships between cities, agriculture and environmental publics is a key for progress.