You can love animals and still eat them; in fact any conversation about sustainable food systems should include the positive contribution of livestock. From her family’s farm home in Massachusetts, Diana Rodgers has an understanding beyond just what might be expected of a bright Registered Dietitian. She blogs, speaks and visits with us on Farm to Table Talk about life as an ethical omnivore. Listen here and visit her site, www.sustainabledish.com
“Please pass me some more DNA”. It’s in everything we eat and for some it’s the center of controversy. Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam has heard it all from the early years of “GMO” to the next emerging stages of genetic engineering. It’s still to be confirmed whether the newer techniques of genetic engineering will even be called GMO, but it will no do doubt have fans and critics. Genetic progress has always been central to food production, but we haven’t seen anything yet to compare with the new horizons. Some will fret and others will cheer but all will experience the application of these technologies at Dinner time.
Is it really Farm to Table or is it Farm to Fable? That’s a question that Tampa Bay restaurant critic, Laura Reiley, first asked in her famous investigative series a year ago. Her articles became famous all over the world, reporting that in many cases restaurants were making claims about the origin of their food that simply were not true–or as we say these days “hyperbolic” or “alternative facts”. We spoke to her after the series was published and just re-connected to find out whether she believes there has been change for the better. Sadly mendacity is still present and spinning its way in to larger chains. As a critic she is careful to not show her face, but she won’t walk away from these awkward issues. She suggests the responsibilities we all have to promote honest food.
What can we do? With his wrap up Keynote at the Food Tank Summit in WDC, Ken Cook the President of the Environmental Working Group, said “Get to work…go to the front line.” In closing the Summit, Food Tank’s Danielle NIerenberg echoed those points and added “don’t mope”. At EcoFarm we talked with Ken about the state of change in Washington and what needs to happen next. “Now is the time for exploration…Get out of your silo” and we’ll you on the front line!
The name of this organization says exactly what it is all about: Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Graduates, retirees, teachers, occupationally-stalled who have dreamed of having the Organic Farming Experience can get stared with this organization. As Uber matches drivers and riders, WWOOF connects those who are willing to donate their work for room and board on Organic Farms, all over the world. Samantha Blatteis explains the opportunity and her own experience as WWOOFER in New Zealand. www.wwoofusa.org
The “Spinning Food” of Friends of the Earth challenges stealth PR tactics that adversely influence the public perception and confidence in organics while defending pesticides and GMOs. Stacy Malkan, Co-Director of US Right To Know and co-author of Spinning Food pulls the curtain back to identify tactics and action that should be taken by consumers and farmers alike. www.usrtk.org
One of the most popular panels at Eco Farm 2017 featured 3 Successful Organic farms: Dick Peixoto, Lakeside Organic;, Watsonville CA Jamie Collins, Serendipity Farms, Aromas, CA; and Will Allen & Kate Deusterberg of Cedar Circle Farms, East Thetford, VT. We sat down for a cup of coffee in the busy Asilomar Conference social hall with Dick Peixoto to get a closer look at how Lakeside Organic has succeeded in becoming the largest family owned Organic farm in the United States. Dick and Lakeside’s success allows them to produce 45 crops, on 1,200 acres with 250 dedicated employees–growing what sells, not just selling what grows. Growth continues with their California Grill featuring fresh Organic produce and the family’s commitment to build an Agriculture Learning Center for locals and visitors to the Monterey Bay.
World famous animal welfare expert, Dr. Temple Grandin is autistic and thinks by seeing pictures. That ability to visualize what animals experience on farms, ranches and paking houses has contributed to the welfare of the animals, from birth to thier final hours. Temple gives us a picture of the animal welfare issues and opportunities for improvement. It is most important that the people who work with livestock are not overworked and underpaid. Contrary to the recent claims that livestock production is not sustainable, Temple believes that increased use of productive grazing is one of the most important developments for the future.
The growing need and interest in growing farmers is being addressed all over the world. Mary Kimball, Executive Director of the Center for Land-Based Leaning sheds light on this phenomenon with stories of success and the steps aspiring farmers can take to be successful themselves. America needs new farmers asap and many want to farm but wrongly assume they have to be rich or inherit a farm to make a living. www.landbasedlearning.org
If you have advanced degrees that can take you places, why go back to a small farm in the country? This “radical homemaker” has the answer. Shannon Hayes hasI a bachelors degree in creative writing from Binghamton University, and a masters and Ph.D. in sustainable agriculture and community development from Cornell. Her essays and articles have appeared in regional and national publications, including The New York Times, The Boston Review, and Northeast Public Radio. A quirky lifestyle and a life of personal accountability and sustainability, and research and writings about homemaking as an ecological movement have landed Shannon and her family on the pages of the New York Times, Brain Child Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Lancaster Farming, Small Farm Quarterly, Hobby Farm Home Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, National Public Radio, Grit, Yes! Magazine, Elle Magazine, Juno, the national newspapers of Germany, Turkey and Canada, the Arab News and the Pakistan Observer. If you have ever wondered how you or someone you care for could shuck the corporate conveyor of long commutes and office politics for a life in the country, this is a podcast worth a listen.