Bending, Not Breaking & Beyond.. – Erin Fitzgerald USFRA

Farmers and ranchers should “be recognized for the the unique ways they enable the sustainable foods systems of the future and nourish our communities, natural resources, and planet”.  The US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA)  was created to accomplish that vision with a mission to co-create sustainable food systems, connecting farmers, ranchers and food makers.  The CEO of the USFRA Erin Fitzgerald explains that American agriculture is bending but not breaking from the strains of Covid 19 in this conversation with the co-hosts of a developing podcast “Beyond Your Table”.  Michael Dimock the host of Flipping the Table podcast and Rodger Wasson the host of Farm To Table Talk have joined to bring conversations from the real dirt to common ground-Beyond Your Table. www.USFRA.org

On Off Farm – Matt Brechwald

It is not unusual to hear from folks who want farming to be a foundational part of their lives.  They may have a job that requires a long commute to their office cubicle or they are living on a small farm and can’t quite make a living, with out adding some off farm income. Matt Brechwald was one of those people before he made the jump to a small farm in Idaho and started adding enterprises off farm that allowed him with his wife and daughter to live their dream.  For Matt those off farm enterprises included speaking, coaching and podcasting to help others “get in to farming and to love their lifestyle.” I literally heard of Matt when he interviewed my brother, Ron Wasson about www.barnyarddiscoveries.com.  That and loads of other informative podcasts can be found at www.offincome.com or the Off Farm Income podcasts wherever you get your podcasts.

Graze Nearby, Please — Andree Soares

Wild fires have been an annual occurrence for centuries, but the increasingly undeniable effects of climate change portends more fire disasters, more often.  One natural step to deal with the threats is responsible grazing,  in and around urban populations.  Andree Soares, President of Star Creek Land Stewards is finding that once people get used to having sheep and goats grazing around their homes, they never want to go back to the old days of vegetation control with weed eaters, poisons and mowers. Sheep production is a family tradition for Anree that goes back hundreds of years to grazing sheep in the Pyrenees mountains in Spain and France. Modern day California is far different in some ways, but the same in others: sheep and goats are still regenerative to the earth, remote mountains or crowed suburbs.  www.starcreeklandstewards.com

Sheepless in CA? – Andree Soares

Sheep and goats have a long tradition in California, a state that ranks #1 in lamb production and #2 in wool production. After years of decline from issues such as predation there has started to be encouraging increases in demand for lamb and public recognition for the important role of grazing for fire protection. Andree Soares of Star Creek Land Stewards has told us the encouraging news and now explains the existential threats to the survival of the California sheep industry. www.CAWoolGrowers.org www.starcreeklandstewards.com

Growing To Go – Kelly Tiller & Sam Jackson

 

The pandemic has been a nightmare for restaurants but a dream come true for curb-side, carry out and delivery. We cheer the climate friendly effects of some of our forced changes but what about all those Styrofoam and other non-recyclable packages that our encasing all of that take-out food or home deliveries? What if the packaging is grown on a farm just like the food and could also be traced back to the farm it grew on? Well that’s happening now in Tennessee where farmers are growing switchgrass that is processed in to packaging for takeout containers for a regenerative cycle. Native grasses like switchgrass are perennials that can grow to 8-10 feet high every year, without replanting. The roots go as deep as the plant is tall, building the soil and requiring minimal water. Native grasses for packaging will not typically be more valuable than major cash crops but they help make full use of fringe and marginal land on many farms across the country and may have a future in California where new water pumping regulations are expected to cause many Central Valley farms to fallow as much as a third of their acreage. Farmers in East Tennessee are being recruited by Genera to grow ag-fiber pulp like switch grass to produce compostable, fully plant –based food service products like to-go containers. Genera CEO Kelly Tiller and Vice President Sam Jackson join us to connect the dots from fields of perennial renewable grasses to a guilt free packaging of our delivered lunch. I know who grew the food. Who grew the package? www.generainc.com

Virtually Organic – Laura Batcha, OTA

 

The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic this year — and its enormous impact on our everyday lives – has already had dramatic consequences for the organic sector in 2020. As shoppers search for healthy, clean food to feed their at-home families, organic food is proving to be the food of choice for home. “Our normal lives have been brought to a screeching halt by the coronavirus” says the CEO of the Organic Trade Association, Laura Batcha. Laura joins Farm To Table Talk having just wrapped up the first ever virtual annual meeting of the Association. The over 650 members connected by Zoom were assured that consumer’s commitment to the Organic label has always resided at the intersection of health and safety, and is expected  to strengthen as the public gets through these unsettled times. www.ota.com

Breaking Silence – Marion Nestle

Sometimes in some ways ‘silence is golden’ but especially in these times, breaking the norms of polite silence is essential.  Stepping up, speaking out and breaking the silence is a public petition that Marion Nestle has pushed throughout her career as author, blogger, professor and respected influencer of food policy.  She is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public health (emerita) at New York University, visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell and host of the Food Politics Blog.  Marion sees that the Covid pandemic crisis reveals issues such as the fate of today’s packing plant workers that need to be engaged–breaking silence.  The price paid for speaking up may include occasionally being trolled on Twitter as @marionnestle experiences, but that’s “just politics” to be endured for needed progress. www.foodpolitics.com

How Essential – Naomi Starkman, Civil Eats

 

The global pandemic crisis is an important reminder of just how essential are the farmers and workers at every stage, all the way from Farm to Table. Fortunately these “essential” members of the food system are also resilient, able to adjust quickly to difficult conditions. Their stories and examples of the food system’s resilience are being shared on Civil Eats and in this episode of Farm To Table Talk, in a conversation with the visionary Founder and Editor in Chief of Civil Eats, Naomi Starkman. www.CivilEats.com

Be Better, ‘B’ Corp – Stuart Woolf

 

Farmers want to do the best they can. That can mean much more than just better yields and better prices for their commodity to include social and environmental impacts.  It’s not just altruistic to do the right things for the land, farm workers and the environment, since food manufacturers and retailers want to source from farms they can highlight to their own increasingly discerning customers. Woolf Farming has been going down this road for years and has recently found another way to step up their commitment by becoming a “B Corp”.  B stands for social and environmental benefits. Stuart Woolf explains that adding the effort and expense of incorporating B Corp standards into their family company keeps them on the preferred supplier list for their own customers who are setting similar standards for themselves.  It’s not just “greenwashing” as detractors  might claim, but for the Woolf’s it is an earnest commitment to do the right thing and increase the odds that the farm will still be thriving 100 years from now. www.woolffarming.com

 

Tomato Products Wellness Council is a Farm To Table Talk sponsor, www.tomatowellness.com

Organic’s Future – Rebekah Weber

Can organic farming be a solution to our toughest challenges?  The California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) contend that it is and they have research from over 300 scientific studies to back up that claim, in a “Roadmap to an Organic California”. Rebekah Weber, Policy Director of CCOF says Organic systems sequester carbon, stimulate local economies and protect consumer health. Listen to the podcast conversation then: Read the Benefits Report online. Download a PDF of the Policy Report.