As Steve Martin once said, “those French have a word for everything!” That word for a “sense of place” or flavor of the soil is terroir. Terroir is the nature of a place, uniquely expressed in food, beer, coffee or wine. Healthy soils that are rich in friendly bacteria and fungi, uniquely brand a sense of place that we can taste. Randall Grahm, the pioneer wine producer who created Bonny Doon Vineyards says we are starved for meaning and we want our experiences to be more meaningful with a deep connection between us and earth. He is on a journey to produce wines of place that are intrinsically more meaningful than wines of effort. “If you can make a wine that somehow captures the uniqueness of nature itself, you are tapping in to a much larger intelligence and system than anything that just comes from human imagination.” Randall joins Farm To Table Talk and reminds us of the significance of Place to Table.
Organics are still a small share of all food but it is a fast growing share. Reasons for the increasing demand include quality improvement, product variety, availability and growing consumer awareness that USDA Certified Organics actually stands for something unlike many other label claims. There was a time when Organics were generally viewed as inferior in appearance, consistency and yields but that was decades ago. Today organic products and organic farming itself can stand the test of side by side comparisons. Pioneering organic and conventional farming side by side demonstrations has been the Rodale Institute. Whether out in the fields or at their Pennsylvania headquarters, Rodale’s expert staff are helping grow the organic movement and assisting farmers through rigorous research, education, and outreach.The Executive Director of Rodale Institute, Jeff Moyer is a world renowned authority in organic agriculture with expertise in organic crop production systems including weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design. Jeff brings a farmer’s perspective and approach to issues in organic agriculture. He joins Farm To Table Talk to share what today’s Organics means to farmers and consumers.
In addition to growing a healthy food that people love, the California almond community is dedicated to producing an economically, environmentally and socially responsible crop for California (Sustainability). Recognizing their local role in California agriculture and global role as a powerhouse in almond production, they’re working to grow almonds in better, safer, and healthier ways, protecting their communities and environment. The Almond Orchard 2025 Goals are the latest way the California almond community is committed to continuous improvement. By 2025, the California almond community commits to: achieve zero waste in orchards by putting everything they grow to optimal use; reduce the amount of water used to grow a pound of almonds by an additional 20%; reduce dust during harvest by 50%, and; increase adoption of environmentally friendly pest management tools by 25%. Holly King is an almond farmer and the Chairman of the Almond Board of California. She joins our table to share the story of almonds rise in popularity and commitment to continuous improvement. www.almonds.com
Over half of all the vegetables consumed in the US are either tomatoes or potatoes. Of the tomatoes we eat, 58% are from cans or jars where they have been preserved to provide year-round summer freshness and contribute to our good health. In fact a large body of science indicates that the tomato products we consume from salsa to pizzas, not only provide servings of vegetables but also support heart and prostate health. Over 95% of all of the processing tomatoes grown in America, come from California, where the perfect mix of climate, soil and progressive farmers are producing around 65 tons of tomatoes per acre while using nearly 30% less water than a few years ago. For a perspective on growing the tomatoes that nearly all of us are eating in some form every day, we attended the annual meeting of the California Tomato Growers Association and spoke with Brett Ferguson, former Chairman of the growers association and a Fresno County tomato farmer who takes justifiable pride in the sustainability and continuous improvements made by the farmers growing processing tomatoes. www.tomatowellness.com
World renowned chef José Andrés founded World Central Kitchen (WCK) after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti with the belief that food can be an agent of change. WCK has since expanded globally and has developed into a group of chefs creating smart solutions to hunger and poverty. Today, World Central Kitchen uses the expertise of its Chef Network to empower people to be part of the solution, with a focus on health, education, jobs, and social enterprise. WCK’s work has helped communities in Brazil, Cambodia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, Zambia, and Indonesia. In the United States WCK has been there to help feed the victims of disaster from California wild fires, Nebraska Floods, to Puerto Rica Hurricane and even man made disasters like the Federal Government shutdown. The Executive Director of World Central Kitchen, Nate Mook shares the story and future of this incredible program in this episode of Table Talk. Join this World Central Kitchen Talk and help them use the power of food to empower communities and strengthen economies. www.worldcentralkitchen.org
Farm to table is happening all over the country even in a state like Wyoming with one of the most challenging growing seasons. Zach Buchel has found dozens of farms in the Cody Wyoming area who are up to the challenge and are growing to meet the needs of discerning consumers. He owns and operates FarmTableWest, an online farmer’s market in Cody, Wyoming. They distribute food from area farms depending on the time of year and try to make local food accessible to people even in the toughest growing climates in the U.S. Zach says that what really gets him out of bed in the morning, is how food brings people together. That itch eventually led him to creating FarmTableWest, where they put a farmer’s face on the local food they distribute to retailers, farmers market and restaurants. Zach says what it is all about its “Connecting Good People. It’s why we do what we do. ….Getting Good Food, from Good People, to Good People is no walk in the park or get rich quick scheme. But, it’s a hell of an adventure that we hope has no finish line.”
Today’s journeys that are taking people from farm to city and back to farm are many and varied. One way or the other there are thousands who have invested in education, careers and commutes who have found there was still something missing–open space, outdoors, family time and the satisfaction of growing crops or livestock. Karen and Dale Kopf are on that journey. They grew up on a farm and ranch, respectively, then pursued education and subsequent careers. They have found the best of both worlds when they moved to their Kopf Canyon Ranch in Idaho where they are proud to call themselves “herdsmen”. They believe that care of animals and land is a stewardship, a trust. Today they enjoy “goating” together, raising Kiko goats in northern Idaho and helping others become herdsmen. To equip and educate new herdsmen they founded the Palouse Goat Guild and host an annual Goat Academy in Moscow, Idaho. The Food Animal Concerns Trust’s Humane Farming Project awarded them a grant to cross fence a canyon for goats, laying hens and guardian animals. These herdsmen of goats and trainers of aspiring herdsmen, Karen and Dale Kopf, join Farm to Table to share their journey and to remind others who should consider goat, to consume or raise. www.kikogoats.org
The Farm Bill is the primary food policy vehicle of the United States government and it affects every American citizen from commodity farmers, organic farmers, urban agriculture to citizens receiving supplemental nutritional assistance. Passage every 5 years requires bipartisan support that is sadly rare in Washington DC. Despite the acrimonious atmosphere in the Capitol, a Farm Bill has passed that has substantial improvements and none of the draconian changes that had been predicted. Much of the credit must go to the leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee, republican Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas and democrat Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow of Michigan. 80,000 people attended the Natural Foods Expo where Senator Stabenow gave a Keynote address. She told a surprising and encouraging story of creation of the new Farm Bill and it’s substantial new initiatives. Because it is such an important story we share her speech and then follow it with some questions for the Senator about bipartisanship and the future of farming and food policies.
If more diversity in the food system is desired, why isn’t it accomplished? Karen Washington, food system activist and partner in Rise and Root farm, says that the reason is that no one asked, invited and welcomed others to a farming, gardening, school garden or other food and farming related event or organization. Karen resides in the Bronx and also in the country at her Rise and Root Farm. She is a co-founder of Black Urban Growers, an organization of volunteers committed to building networks and community support for growers in both urban and rural settings. She has been recognized as one of the 100 most influential African Americans in the country, has been awarded the James Beard Leadership Award and was a keynote speaker at EcoFarm where she visited with Farm To Table Talk about diversity and the power and dignity that comes from growing your own food. www.riseandrootfarm.com