Rethink The Ranch — Kevin Kester, NCBA

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.

 

Food Evolution — Kennedy, Ronald & Dimock

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.

Earth’s Regeneration — Abbey Smith

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

Welcoming Farms — Farmers, Friends and Neighbors

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

Urban Farming — Greg Peterson

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.

Living Dreams, Deliberately — Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists

mimalismDoes Minimalism and the Food Movement lead to similar journeys? Searching for the answer leads us to the famous disciples of Minimalism, “the Minimalisists” Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn.  They have an outstanding documentary “Minimalism” on Netflix, have been featured on the Today Show, New York Times, and now “Farm To Table Talk”.  We talk with Ryan Nicodemus about their minimalist journey, food waste, LA and importance of living life deliberately. the-minimalists-josh-ryanMinimalists

 

Farming Wisdom — Jack Woolf, Centenarian

We hear from farmers and people who want to be farmers, but we don’t often get to hear from farmers who are 100 years old.  Jack Woolf is 100 years old and shares stories of a long lifetime of accumulating wisdom from hand milking cows as a boy in Arizona to creating a large scale, sustainable farming enterprise in Fresno County California.  His  journey transcends battles in World War II and to battles for water.  Hundreds of families have been touched by his journey, culminating in farming connections for Jack and Bernice’s six children (Anne, Nancy, John, Mike, Stuart and Chris) and 24 grandchildren.  The third generation is already gathering agricultural experiences that include community garden, WOOFing (World-wide opportunities in organic farming), Fair Trade Coffee, Soil Science, specialty crop farming and water law. Listen to the wisdom accumulated by widely respected Jack Woolf over 100 years on this, the first podcast, featuring a 100 year old farmer, on Farm To Table Talk.

Farm Life Meditation — Marshall Burnette, Filmmaker

If you have ever heard a news story that you just can’t get off your mind, you can relate to Tennessee based filmmaker, Marshall Burnette’s experience.  He was driving home at 2 a.m., listening to NPR when he heard of a tragic accident where 2 of 3 boys died while working in a Southern Illinois corn bin. Thoughts of the tragedy led to thoughts about the effect on the farming community and farmers–“living on the edge of the real world”. That inspiration, triggered from an NPR newscast in the middle of the night led to making a short film that was featured at a prestigious Film Festival in Manhattan and a full length movie in the works. He describes the story as a “meditation on life in a small Midwest town disrupted by a grain entrapment” and the feelings of a young farmer and a high school Senior on the risks and rewards of a corn farmer’s life. The filmmaker/director of Silo: Edge of the Real World, Marshall Burnette, tells us about the journey, filming in a small farming community, the future of farm movies, and what he likes about rural America.

Sourcing Bountiful Harvests – Earl Herrick

The journey of delicious, fresh harvested produce from farm to table depends on key partners in the middle of the chain. Chefs and consumers alike can’t find everything they need in their own gardens or their Farmer’s Markets. How can we be sure that the highest quality produce is coming from sustainable farming operations to our tables for sensational nutrition and enjoyment? Earl Herrick, the founder of Earl’s Organic in San Francisco has dedicated a career to providing those assurances. Earl started Earl’s Organic long before it was popular.  On Farm To Table Talk Earl shares his vision, support for more new farmers, belief in the annual EcoFarm Conference and why he is optimistic about the future.

Disclosing GMO – Greg Jaffee, CSPI

Whatever your view of GMO’s you may have wondered what happened with GMO labeling.    Congress passed a law in 2017 to head off food marketing chaos that was expected to follow the implementation of mandatory GMO labeling in Vermont.  The ball is in the USDA’s court now with more research, public comment yet to precede implementation sometime in 2018.  In addition to consumers the interested parties include food manufacturers (who may not wait) and NGO’s including this episode’s guest Greg Jaffee, Director of the Biotechnology Project for Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Over subsequent decades GMO became controversial for many reasons,  especially for mistrust of a few “big Ag” corporations.  There are now many books and movies proclaiming facts, myths, fears, suspicions, innuendos, contradictory research and images that would frighten the children. Google “GMO”  and you will get over 26 million listings, with no doubt thousands that would support whatever theory one prefers.

Although respected scientific bodies have concluded that GMO products were safe, grassroots campaigns surfaced across the country to “just label it” because regardless of safety, they believed it should be up to a consumer to decide whether or not they want to consume foods produced with genetic engineering. Why does it take so long to create a system for consumers to find everything they want to know about their food?