This Aint Normal – Joel Salatin






‘This aint normal’ is frequently said today and was the title of a 2011 book by the all-american farmer philosopher, Joel Salatin.  It has led to the most popular question in the world today “when will we get back to normal?’  When it comes to our food system the answer is “maybe never” and that could be best. Joel Salatin, his family and team at Polyface Farm in Virginia are creating a new normal for themselves and their farmer partners.  When their restaurant customers were forced to close in response to the Corona Virus pandemic, they created a local farm drive thru venture. Consumers place orders on line and then drive thru to pick up the locally produced animal protein and produce. Sales have skyrocketed as up to 300 cars line up to pick up customers’ prepaid orders. Joel Salatin sees this as a huge opportunity for farmers and consumers all over the country. It aint normal now but there can be better normals ahead.


Infected Trends – Suzy Badaracco


Food trends continue, even as consumers respond to crises like a global pandemic by skipping meetings,  grocery delivery and carry out.  According to Suzy Badarucco, the President of global food forecaster, Culinary Tides, food and drink trends have been in a “slide” that began even before the Corona virus outbreak. Fires, mass shootings, floods, impeachment, trade wars, etc. have created a level of fear and anxiety that causes us to crave foods that calms and grounds us. Additionally the predictable economic recession dampens demand for premium products, until good times return.  Yet in these times, foods with a good farmer story calms and permits consumers to be a hero by rewarding responsible farming practices with their purchases.

Beyond Your Table – Michael R. Dimock and Rodger Wasson

The real dirt to common ground is found “Beyond Your Table”.  It’s a new podcast launched at the 2020 World Ag Expo in Tulare CA. Leading voices in the agriculture and food space found common ground  on the future of agriculture from diverse perspectives. Podcasters and co-hosts, Michael R. Dimock of Flipping the Table and the advocacy group Roots of Change and Rodger Wasson of Farm to Table Talk  engaged two of California’s most important farmers in a roundtable dialogue. Don Cameron President of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture and VP and General Manager of TerraNova Ranch joined Judith Redmond, Co Owner and Co Founder of Capay Valley’s Full Belly Farms. Don is a diversified large-scale grower, producing  25 conventional, organic and biotech field crops on over 9,000 acres in Fresno County.  Full Belly Farms produces over 80 crops on 400 organically certified acres. Since global and domestic challenges appear larger than ever to farmers and ranchers with battles over trade, falling prices, regulatory burdens, labor shortages and extreme weather events, running an agricultural operation is hugely challenging. Is the real dirt inevitable conflict or is there  common ground? This is the inaugural episode of a the new podcast launching in 2020 from the host of Flipping the Table, Michael Reid Dimock and the host of Farm To Table Talk, Rodger Wasson.  The World Ag Expo graciously hosted this first live podcast event.  The underwriters of this podcast are the Environmental Defense Fund and the Agricultural Council of CA.

Sustainable Breakfast – Amy Senter

Today when many large food companies claim to be committed to sustainability and climate friendly regenerative agriculture, skeptics are quick to question. Is it real or is it “greenwashing”?  A little on-line research or even better, a strategic conversation with the person responsible for corporate sustainability programs can answer those questions.  Kelloggs has answers and their Senior Director of Global Sustainability Amy Senter explains the extensive range and progress of Kellogg’s sustainability initiatives. Kellogg’s’ Origins projects are helping more than 300,000 farmers implement sustainable agriculture practices, including more than 20,000 smallholders and 10,000 women farmers. ‘Origins’ projects in the U.S. are advancing practices across 250,000 acres to protect soil health, including crop rotation and cover crops.  Table Talk guest Amy Senter serves as co-chair to the US Ag Systems focused Midwest Row Crop Collaborative and she also co-chairs the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Climate Smart Agriculture group. Prior to joining Kellogg’s, Amy led the National Environmental Policy Act compliance for the USDA. She has degrees in Environmental Science from the University of Michigan.


A Future Farming – Joel Salatin

Joel Salatin, calls himself a “Christian libertarian environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer. Others who like him call him the most famous farmer in the world, the high priest of the pasture, and the most eclectic thinker from Virginia since Thomas Jefferson.  Those who don’t like him call him a bio-terrorist, Typhoid Mary, charlatan, and starvation advocate. “He is also one of the most popular guests on Farm to Table Talk where  wide-ranging conversations include nitty-gritty how-to for profitable regenerative farming as well as cultural philosophy like orthodoxy vs. heresy.  Weather, markets and politics have been somewhat depressing so it seemed a perfect time to reach in to our Farm To Table Talk archives to re-publish an up-lifting, common-sense conversation we had a few years ago with Joel Salatin. He co-owns, with his family, Polyface Farm in Swoope, Virginia.   “When he’s not on the road speaking, he’s at home on the farm, keeping the callouses on his hands and dirt under his fingernails, mentoring young people, inspiring visitors, and promoting local, regenerative food and farming systems.” Learn more about the farm, his books, speaking schedule at www.polyface. com and listen to him on Farm To Table Talk. 

Hemptations – Kris Corter

What’s new down on the farm? Hemp.  Farmers are trying to grow industrial hemp all over instead of food crops that have been providing insufficient returns.  Consumers are starting to notice this strange new crop as they drive down country roads. Industrial hemp is not recreational marijuana; it’s the non-intoxicating low-THC, oilseed and fiber variety of Cannabis, with no use as a recreational drug. As of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is no longer a controlled substance, but growers must follow the regulations and processes required in their state. Kris Corter, the Managing Director of HempWave explains the phenomenal ‘green rush’ to hemp production that is taking place on America’s farms.  This Table Talk touches on what hemp means to farmers, consumers and this brand new industry.

Regenerative Coffee – Juan Luis Barrios

There are some great tastes you just can’t grow locally. Take coffee for example.  At the Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasting and Coffee shop in Sacramento, Coffee Farmer Juan Luis Barrios has come from his farm in Guatemala to see see what Edie and Andy’s  customers think of his coffee.  The next stop on his trip will be Scandinavia the other major area their coffees are enjoyed.  (By the way, his coffee is delicious.) Juan Luis takes us through the steps to produce coffee in a sustainable fashion that works for the farmer, the workers, the roasters and those of us who just can’t think of getting our caffeine in any other way. After listening to this podcast we recommend downloading the Audible Original audio book “Caffeine” by Michael Pollan for a full appreciation of the addiction we love and would have a hard time living without.”



Farm to Planet Progress — William Horwath

Farming progress can mean climate progress as processing tomato growers are proving in California. Since the tomato growers shifted almost totally to buried drip irrigation, water use  became more efficient,  yields increased, fertilizer was more precisely applied through the drip system, and, surprisingly the emission of one of the most potent green house gases, nitrous oxide, was virtually eliminated.  Of the three primary green house gases, carbon and methane are best known, but nitrous oxide will stay in the atmosphere for 300 years.  Agriculture  produces 7% of all green house gases but 70% of all nitrous oxide comes from agriculture.  To combat climate change green house gas emissions must be assessed, mitigated and reversed where possible.   To explain how progress is being made, Dr. Will Horwath, the Chairman and Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry of the Department of Land air and Waster Resources of UC Davis visits Farm To Table Talk.

Makein’ BaconFest – Jamie Salyer, Lindsay Barrett


Where better to celebrate a Bacon Fest than at Mulvaney’s B&L in Sacramento, the Farm to Fork Capital of America.  Delicious and innovative pork dishes are served as specials on menus all week, throughout the city, culminating in a competition to show what top chefs can do when provided half a hog to prepare their best pork dishes, and bacon. The 2020 BaconFest Champion is Matt Brown of The Golden Bear! with a winning serving of pork dim sum: a pork and mushroom shumai and a pork bao. The real winners were everyone that got to try all the wonderful dishes from outstanding Chefs. The pork was straight from the farm of Rancho Llano Seco near Chico.  Lindsay Barrett and Jamie Salyer of Yano Seco join Farm To Table Talk to tell what  today’s consumer wants to know: beyond just tasting good, how the pigs are raised, fed and treated,  before they become the star attraction of a proud chef’s menu.


Eco Farm: Honest Sources – Anne Ross


For forty years EcoFarm has convened leaders, researchers, farmers and fans of organic food and farming at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove California. At the  2020 Vision event over 1,000 attendees came to discuss the opportunities and challenges for the future of organic food and farming. Recent Farm To Table Talk  and keynote speaker Bob Quinn offered 5 big solutions to becoming “chemical free in 43”. Two other keynote presentations that also earned standing ovations were by Dr. Jonathan Lundgren on transforming science for a regenerative agricultural revolution and Leah Penniman the author of Farming While Black. Both have agreed to be guests on Farm To Table Talk.  The workshop on mending broken parts of the Organic program featured Anne Ross, the Director of International Policy for the Cornucopia Institute.  At EcoFarm we speak with Anne about addressing dishonesty in global sourcing, when “organic” grain isn’t really organic.