All over the country there are pockets of struggling neighborhoods who are working to improve their situations. Increasingly food production is central to these community efforts to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The Yisrael Family Urban Farms is in the middle of one of those underserved communities where 17% are food insecure, 46% receive food assistance, 34% are below the poverty rate and 18% are unemployed. Chanouk and Judith Yisrael started growing food for themselves before gaining approvals to establish a community garden in a closed elementary school. From this beginning they expanded into a an urban farm on a lot across the street and are helping their neighbors learn to grow and to cook food for their own families. Today their advice is sought from all over the US and as far away as Italy. They share their inspiring story to help their own family and their community on Farm To Table Talk.
The demand for Organic foods keeps growing, so the industry from farm through processors has to keep growing to keep up with that demand. That means that Organic rules and regulations have to be updated for necessary improvements. In the middle of all of this and a catalyst for these changes, is the Organic Trade Association. To explore Organic progress, pending issues and the future, we set down for a lunch conversation at the Assembly in Santa Cruz with the CEO of the Organic Trade Association, Laura Batcha. Before becoming the Association’s CEO, Laura has been involved with all segments of Organics, beginning on an Organic farm near Santa Cruz, California. It seems appropriate since we’re talking about food, to start this conversation with the co-owner of the Assembly restaurant, Kendra Baker who share her passion for the food they serve and the farmers who supply them. @OrganicTrade
More and more we want to know where are food was produced, what farming practices they followed, who are the farmers and are the farmers and workers along the way treated fairly. That’s easier if the farmer is your neighbor, but what if that farmer is half a world away? For many products, such as cocoa or coffee, there are no local grower options. Our guest today on Farm To Table Talk, Emily Benson works with cocoa farmers in the Congo and Peru to positively impact social, environmental and farmer profitability outcomes. Emily is the supply chain impact manager with Theo Chocolate, a Seattle- based chocolate company that is committed to ethical production from bean to bar, placing equal importance on people, planet and profit.
Sometimes local produce is available, but most of the time it’s not due to the seasons. There is a new brand established to change that by growing local, perishable produce for area retailers in hydroponic green houses year round. Neal Parikh of Bright Farms explains how they are sustainably achieving a goal of decentralizing Agriculture– vertically building, owning and operating hydroponic greenhouses throughout the MidWest and East Coast for Supermarket partners.
As much as consumers want to take advantage of lower costs for their food, there is certain amount of anxiety about “Big Food” or “Big Ag”, globalization, Wall Street, industrialization, “Big Government”. Trust is hard to come by for large brands and one of the biggest retail brands in the world is Walmart. It’s a company that keeps surprising the skeptics as it takes big steps to influence sustainability through their own supply chain all the way from the farm through the products they sell at retail and even to the use of the products that they don’t sell. To share some perspectives on what they do, why they do it, and to what effect Farm To Table talks with Eileen Hyde, the Walmart Foundation’s Director of Hunger and Healthy Eating.
Every farmer is proud to explain the improvements they’ve made in sustainability. Tragically that progress doesn’t insulate them from existential threats of over regulation. John Duarte, farmer and President of Duarte Nursery, is one of those unfortunate enough to successfully purse the dream of sustainability, only to be laid low by Federal legal action that threaten the five generation family operation. The Army Corps of Engineering has taken the Duarte’s to court, but John Duarte still sees a long-term upside “We need to protect the integrity of our environmental laws so we can come together to solve future environmental problems….We have a legitimate durable ability to compromise and solve problems.” This isn’t a typical Farm To Table visit, but if you truly want to know the full story behind that Sauvignon clone and almonds we enjoy before dinner, here is a challenge that farmers: large, small, organic or conventional, face today. www.duartenursery.com
Some would say that Farm To Table started 50 years ago when Alan Chadwick established the Organic Garden at the University of California at Santa Cruz. That Garden led to one of the first bona-fide Organic Farms and over the past 50 years has propelled a food movement. This episode of Farm To Table Talk is at UC Santa Cruz, where its Center of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Farm & Garden.
Fittingly, illustrious former apprentices, students and long-time supporters gathered to reflect on the impact this program is having on the world of food and to be challenged to take it to the next level. Three keynote Speakers at the Conference share their vision, their passion and what they ask of us.
We lead off with a conversation with Karen Washington, a recognized Food Justice leader and co-founder of Rise & Root Farm and Black Urban Growers.
Then a self-described descendant of slaves, farmer, chef and proud alumni of the Santa Cruz apprenticeship, Matthew Raiford says we can be the change that’s needed.
And finally in her remarks from the podium, the world-renowned food movement leader, founder of the Edible School Yard and creator of California Cuisine, Alice Waters give us a bold goal for Farm to School that could be accomplished in 5 years.
Join this Farm To Table Talk at UC Santa Cruz in a conversation with Karen Washington then become part of the audience as you hear calls to action from Matthew Raifford and Alice Waters.
Well told stories about farmers and farming are few and far between. Too often those stories are dry and boring documentaries to the general public. You can’t say that about the movie, Pray for Rain. Where documentaries preach to the choir, this movie instead wraps a message in to a very entertaining murder mystery, down on the farm. The star, Annabelle Stephenson; writer Christina Moore; and director Alex Ranarivelo join Farm To Table Talk to share what they learned in farm country while making this film and why telling stories better is critical if we want the public to care about what’s happening down on the farm.
Millions of people are now committed Minimalists, seeking a simpler, scaled down life style. They are discovering backyard chickens, so what about sheep? It turns out many have and are raising their own sheep in large back yards or small fields at city’s edge. Paul Rodgers, the Deputy Director of the American Sheep Industry, has been raising sheep on the side at his place in Virginia. Today there are inquiries from coast to coast about how to get started with sheep. In this Farm To Table Talk podcast Paul walks through the necessary steps and economics of raising. Transitioning Minimalists may find that sheep are rewarding in more ways than one.
It’s harvest time for tomatoes and the journey to our plates begins here in the field. How are the delicious fresh flavors of summer produced and preserved? all the way from seed to our plates year round? Central Valley Tomato farmer, Stuart Woolf joins us in his family’s tomato field and explains the wonder of continuous improvement — sustainably growing more tomatoes with fewer inputs. Think of this story the next time you enjoy tomato products on your pizza, enchiladas, hamburgers, salad or this winter’s stews and soups. More information is available at www.tomatowellness.com