There is a scarcity of successful communications in Agriculture and the result is misconceptions and mistrust. Consumer are worried about Big Corporations controlling food system and cutting corners whenever they can get away with it. Author of the Communications Scarcity in Agriulture, Jessic Eise of Purdue Univesity, shares how to work with , not against the power of diversity of perspectives. “The small percent of people who will never open themselves up to a diversity of perspectives…….should not be allowed to dictate the course of our dialogues nor dissuade us from communications efforts.”
“Heretics of the World unite!” Joel Salatin farms, writes, speaks and stirs up people all over the world with his perspective. Joel says that everywhere in the world the number one issue is “who will replace the aging farmers.” The average age of farmers in the US is now 60 (70 in Japan) and within 15 years 50% of all the the Ag equity in the world will change hands. It’s a brand new phenomenon that creates unprecedented opportunity for young people to start farming. If you want to farm and are not sponsored or rich, take the “craft” door instead of the “commodity” door. Joel explains how to take first steps. He also sees the current distrust with international pesticide/seed corporations shifting to “Global Industrial Organic” companies that have put on white hats while they take business from local direct farm sales, farmers markets, and CSA’s, If you want to be a farmer, start now.
While the political pendulum may swing towards self-absorbed isolationism, the better nature of the food movements keeps moving forward. Few of the many ‘movements’ within the global movement, are as inspiring as “Agroecology”. Steve Gliessman, literally wrote the book on Agroecolodgy and shares reasons to be encouraged that range from your morning cup of coffee, to coffee farms in Nicaruagua and farmers teaching farmers in Mozambique. www.canunite.org www.FAO.org
Finally a Farm To Table Book! The tide is steadily turning to what has been broadly termed the “farm-to-table” movement. In this podcast Farm to Table authors, Darryl Benjamin and Chef Lyndon Virkler explore how the farm-to-table philosophy is pushing modern, industrialized food production and moving beyond isolated “locavore” movements into a broad and far-reaching coalition of farmers, chefs, consumers, policy advocates, teachers, institutional buyers, and many more all working to restore healthful, sustainable, and affordable food for everyone. The authors of the long-awaited tome examine the roots of our contemporary industrial food system, from the technological advances that presaged the “Green Revolution” to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz’s infamous dictum to farmers to “Get big or get out” in the 1970s. The authors explain the food system alternatives―from permaculture to rotation-intensive grazing―that small farmers are now adopting to meet growing consumer demand. They also identify best practices and strategies for schools, restaurants, healthcare facilities, and other business and institutions to partner with local farmers and food producers, from purchasing to marketing. No longer restricted to the elite segments of society, the farm-to-table movement now reaches a wide spectrum of America.
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