“There is no box outside of which to think.” This is a motto of the founder of Fresher Sacramento, Rabbi David Azen and perhaps his response to the admonition to Abraham in Genesis to be a blessing to all the families of the Earth. Rabbi David Azen gets that point and is starting in Sacramento where he has founded and serves as CEO of Fresh Sacramento, a CA based non-profit which has launched the Fresher initiative to bring healthier prepared meals and fresh produce to underserved neighborhoods. Fresher Sacramento combines fresher foods sales, nutrition and cooking classes, job training and asset building in one comprehensive model. Rabbi Azen has had a varied career, serving congregations of various sizes while also working outside of synagogues as a writer, actor and producer. He has been building Fresher as a replicable model for empowering youth as agents of constructive change – training over 500 youth to become nutrition educators and advocates, and enabling them to develop workforce skills, entrepreneurship and financial literacy–distributing hundreds of thousands of servings of fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved neighborhoods, as well as putting in garden beds and establishing a gardening curriculum at the Sacramento County Youth Detention Facility.
Human evolution has had its diet du jour for thousands of years. Through the ages one would expect that life expectancy, brain size and height would have improved with the advent of agriculture, 10,000 years ago. That assumption would be wrong. In fact for various reasons, at the advent of agriculture, life expectancy declined from 40 years to 20 years and there is evidence that height and brain size also declined. The E3 Nutrition Lab at Washington University in St. Louis sizes up humans’s dietary progress from three related perspectives: evolutionarily appropriate, environmentally sustainable and economically affordable. Lora Ianotti is the Diretor of E3 Nutrition Lab and Associate Dean for Public Health at Washington University. She takes Farm to Table Talk back millions of year and then forward again to consider the issues of today and tomorrow’s diets. https://e3nutritionlab.wustl.edu
Farmer’s care about their image and they care about the environment. No matter what an individual farmer does to support the environment, if the industry has a bad environmental reputation it’s a black eye for everyone. So industry-wide organizations are getting involved to benchmark current performance and encourage their farmers to keep improving so that the story they can share with today’s sustainability attuned consumers adds environment to the traditional messages about taste, convenience and nutrition. To get a good story you have to be a good story and the Dairy industry has a good story that is told to Farm to Table Talk by Tara Vander Dussen and Krysta Harden. Tara is a Dairy Farmer, Environmental Scientist and host of the New Mexico Milkmaid blog. Krysta Harden is the Executive Vice President of Global Environmental Strategy at the Innovation Center of US Dairy, the former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Georgia farm native. www.usdairy.com
The next time you stare into your morning coffee, stop to think that there is more to coffee than the ground beans. The fruit that surrounds the bean on the plant is highly nutritious and is now used to produce a high quality flour – “coffee cherry”. Carole Widmayer of the Coffee Berry Company joins Farm to Table Talk to discuss this surprising product and the company’s goal to combat food waste and create jobs by upcycling coffee cherries into a gluten-free, high fiber, antioxidant-rich food ingredient. They deliver economic and environmental sustainability for workers, communities, and the environment in coffee-growing communities using a patented process to upcycle coffee cherry pulp, the 45 billion lbs. of byproduct created annually from the production of green beans, into a functional product. The organization has bee recognized for taking leadership in helping achieve the UN’s Global Sustainability initiatives while improving the quality of life of coffee farmers.
Just try to find anyplace in the world that doesn’t celebrate farm to table in one way or the other. It’s a challenge. For example you can take a flight to Katmandu, then a propeller plane for another hour or so and top it off with mules trailing up a mountain where you can still find farm to fork principles such as school gardens, seed distribution, coop formation and eating what they grow, locally. That journey is one often taken by our guest Katherine Parker. Her personal journey included working with Concerned Farmers of Iowa after advanced studies as a conservation biologist. Today she is the Health & Community Transfomation Advisor for the United Mission to Nepal and a missionary for the Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. She shares a story of communities growing and sharing together, with help from around the world.
When New Zealand was settled, pioneers from the British Isles missed the red deer that they had hunted in Scotland. So wild red deer were corralled in Scotland and put on boats for the over 11,000 mile journey to New Zealand where they were released and to flourish in that beautiful country without predators. Today descendants of those original immigrant deer are raised on farms in New Zealand and the venison distributed to fine restaurants and specialty retailers all over the world. Farm to table demand is often local demand and there is New Zealand venison is certainly not local, but despite the food miles it is surprisingly sustainable according to Mark Mitchell, President of Broadleaf, a New Zealand based game processing and marketing company. “Shipping a pound of meat from Texas to New York produces more carbon emissions than shipping it from New Zealand to New York by sea freight.” The deer graze on grass and hayh , in vast open pastures and are never subjected to feedlots, confined spaces, hormones, antibiotics or corn-based diets.
Green House Gas Emissions are a major cause of catastrophic climate change. Of Green House Gas Emissions, Agriculture is responsible for 8 % and livestock alone represents 4%. Consequently suggested solutions have included drastic cutbacks in meat consumption. It’s a tough proposal since only a tiny fraction of the earth is fit for produce and crop farming. Much more land is suitable only for grazing by ruminants such as cattle, sheep, dairy, goats, deer and bison. The problem is that when ruminants use their special stomachs to digest the plant material that humans cannot, it causes them to belch. The belching emits methane, a potent green house gas. So how will the world feed 10 billion people when we run out of farmable land and the vast majority of land is only suitable for grazing livestock, emitting green house gas (methane)? Research underway at UC Davis is discovering that seaweed, abundant in the world’s oceans, when incorporated in to feed rations can reduce the methane emission of cattle by 60%. The prospects for this and similar solutions through science are shared in TableTalk with Dr.Ermias Kebreab. Dr. Kebreab is the Director of the World Food Center and UC Davis Dean of Global Engagement.
Vertical integration is the combination of stages of the productions system. With food products, that usually means a farmer or rancher selling to a processor who may then sell to a manufacturer and finally to either a retail store or restaurant. Internet sales and home delivery companies are nudging themselves into that last stage to consumption. While each stage is specialized, there are distinct advantages to tying it all together, such as quality control and efficient communications from the end consumer back to the farm where adjustments can be made in production practices from breeding to feeding. It epitomizes good marketing, “giving the consumer precisely what they want.” A new leader in this space is Belcampo, a northern California farming livestock producer and meat processor with restaurants, direct sales and even an agri-tourism dimension. The sustainable Belcampo farm is directed by James Rickert, a fifth generation Shasta County agriculturalist. The production and processing portions of the operation are located near Mount Shasta in northern California. Belcampo’s restaurant and retail presence is located in the Bay Area, Los Angeles area and now New York City. James joins Farm To Table to tell the story of producing premium, grass fed animal based products for consumers who are discerning in taste and the farm to table journey of their dinners, whether they consume it at a restaurant or at home. www.belcampo.com
The UN FAO states unequivocally “Malnutrition in all its forms – undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity – imposes unacceptably high economic and social costs on countries at all income levels. Improving nutrition and reducing these costs requires a multi-sectoral approach that begins with food and agriculture and includes complementary interventions in public health and education. The traditional role of agriculture in producing food and generating income is fundamental, but the entire food system – from inputs and production, through processing, storage, transport and retailing, to consumption – can contribute much more to the eradication of malnutrition.” Farm to Table visits with Annal Lartey, the Rome based Director of Nutrition and Food Systems. We are at UC Davis where she keynoted the UC Davis World Food Center conference, Aligning the Food System for Improved Nutrition in Animal Source Foods. Dr. Lartey says Agricultural policies and research must continue to support productivity growth for staple foods while paying greater attention to nutrient-dense foods and more sustainable production systems. Traditional and modern supply chains can enhance the availability of a variety of nutritious foods and reduce nutrient waste and losses. Governments, international organizations, the private sector and civil society can help consumers choose healthier diets, reduce waste and contribute to more sustainable use of resources by providing clear, accurate information and ensuring access to diverse and nutritious foods. http://www.fao.org/publications/sofa/2013/en/