One out of every 7 households in the US is food insecure. Over half of our infants receive some type of federal food support (WIC). Beyond “farm to table”, what happens when a nation’s students are unable to get the nutrition they need? Dr. Lorrene Ritchie, Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California, sizes up the issue, explains the research findings and suggests a way forward where everyone can help.
The future of growing food for tables world-wide will utilize new technologies, being used by new farmers growing in non-traditional space, thanks in part to efforts by the Open Ag Initiative at the MIT Media Lab. The leader of the program and “farmer of farmers” Dr. Caleb Harper shares a vision that has room for current farmers and new farmers producing on traditional farm fields or roof tops or in the store you buy your food. He shares the enthusiasm he draws from hundreds of young, curious and highly motivated farmer/scientists of the future, from the lab of the most non-traditional farm school, MIT and its reknowned Media Lab.
Some are celebrating and some are dreading the fact that this is a time of significant change in government. And whether you farm, want to farm or just eat and want to eat well, sustainably well, change at the US Department of Agriculture touches all of us. Programs at the USDA touch everything from commodity support programs, to specialty crops, to farmers markets, conservation, and roof top gardens. To share views on change, including the changing of the leadership team at the USDA, the Administrator of the Farm Services Agency, Val Dolcini joins us for table talk about food and farming matters that impact everybody. This farm to table talk conversation includes advice to help beginning farmers, programs to help commodity and specialty crop producers, urban agriculture and transitions at the USDA.
There is much to be thankful for, and if you’re lucky that includes great artisan bread. If in spite of the periodic dietary cautions, you love bread, you will be jealous of Avery Ruzicka the Baker and Partner in the Manresa Bread company. Avery figured out that bread is her passion and she has been able to pursue this dream from North Carolina to New York to California in 3 Star restaurant Manresa, (surpisingly) next at Farmers Markets, then a bakery store and now national distribution. She share her own story and the story of making great bread–something to be thankful for.
Not everyone can write a food/farming column for the Washington Post or farm oysters in Cape Cod, but Tamar Haspel believes everyone should “come to the table”. Tamar has ideas about divisive food policy issues that she wants to see pursued in constructive conversation. As for government: “I don’t run the zoo..I can’t sit at my desk and tell those who run the zoo what to do…I do have ideas as a starting point” On this Farm To Table Talk she shares her experience and some of those ideas, including the suggestion that one should have lunch with an opponent.
According to the NY Times “Fears about the harmful effects of eating GM foods have proved to be largely without scientific basis.” Oddly the front page headline emphasized a different point: Doubts About A Promised Bounty–Genetically Modified Crops Have Failed to Lift Yields and Ease Pesticide Use. Grist’s Nathaneal Johnson seems to have studied the GMO issues more than any other journalist. On Farm To Table Talk he critiques the NY Times story and paints a picture of what we can learn from this very long GMO journey. Nate also shares his story from a small newspaper in Idaho, to a graduate student of Michael Pollan’s at Berkeley to the Food and Farming editor for Grist, www.grist.org
Should companies that market unhealthy snacks, sweets or sodas be allowed to exhibit at Food and Nutrition Conferences where “influencers” are learning what to recommend to consumers? FNCE, the Food and Nutrition Conference of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics drew criticism in a Time magazine article for allowing participation by “corporations..not aligned with nutrition and public health. FNCE attendee and registered dietitian Lauren Harris-Pincus quickly stepped up in her blog to say “Why I’m OK with soda companies sponsoring nutrition conferences”. This conversation on Farm To Table Talk is about the role of brands and dietitians and healthy or “junk” foods.
Organic is still a very small percentage of the food we consume, yet it is undeniably growing at a very brisk pace. Food Trend Forecaster, Suzy Badaracco of Culinary Trends points out trends from all-day breakfast occasions to Garden(in) Glass Cocktails. When your dream becomes a trend, you may be like Pamela Burns the Chef and Proprietess of Wild Plum Cafe in Monterey and be able to cook with the best ingredients for the pleasure of others.
“Food Hubs” are still a new concept to many of us and we usually guess that they are popping up on either Coast rather than in the MidWestern heart of Corn and Soybean country. Your guess would be wrong; this important part of the food movement is percolating all over America. We talk with a new food hub coordinator who shares what it is all about and how you get the program up and running. In the process, this new Coordinator, East Coast transplant Elaine Vidal, fell in love with Muncie, Indiana.
Whatever is your personal view on GMO’s they are probably here to stay. Future focus will be on safety, transparency and coexistence between farms raising GMO crops and farms not raising GMO crops. So what happens if a herbicide that can be sprayed on a GMO Corn field drifts on to a tomato field? It can destroy the tomato field. This is especially concerning now that weeds are becoming more resistant to Glyphosate (Roundup) and new biotech crops are being used that are resistant to other herbicides, such as Dicamba or 24D, where off-target drift is a bigger risk. The Save Your Crop Coalition and Dow Agro-Sciences are showing that it is possible to work out differences and solve problems of co-existence..