The Foodie Farmer- Jenny Schmidt and Her Husband Hans.

The Schmidt’s are extremely active in the farm industry as advocates for agriculture in general and are focused on trying to dispel some of the myths they see as villainizing family farms and larger farm enterprises.

Visit Jenny’s Facebook page and her blog The Foodie Farmer.

This is a fascinating conversation with the owners of an extremely large farm and believe me, it’s all about family. I think they think just like I do with just some extra zeros on the ends of their numbers.

Paying the Bills with Alison Howard of Homestead Farms

In this episode I talk with Alison Howard of Homestead Farms in Millington, Md. Homestead Farms is a USDA Certified Organic produce and small grain farm. Allison shares her experience with starting Homestead with her husband, Luke.

This is a very good conversation which includes the subtle struggles of a true working farm: paying the bills through scale; the ego battles of the farmer with herself; the fact that farming is a commodity business and the mixed messages that consumers send to farmers.

Thanks to Tin Bird Choir for the music and to Tek Management for sponsoring the episode.

 

A Traditional Seedsman- Steve Freeman

I visited several food industry people on the Eastern Shore of Maryland this spring. This is my conversation with Steve Freeman a traditional seedsman who supplies his farmer clients with seeds and service. This is an interesting discussion about the practical aspects of supplying seeds and the seed industry. A big takeaway from this is that selling GMO seed isn’t always easy. This episode is brought to you by the generous support of Technology Management Phoenixville, Pa.

Robyn O’Brien Author of The Unhealthy Truth talks about GMO and More

I first learned about Robyn O’Brien through a random internet search. She has a really good TED-X talk about food allergies and their link to food. In her book, The Unhealthy Truth, she shares her story about her children’s food allergies and the fight to overcome them.

I talk with her about food, food allergies, disease and global health and food trends.

Here’s her story from her website:

My Story

“Robyn O’Brien’s message describes the toxic tangle of American food, government, and culture. THE UNHEALTHY TRUTH is a healthy dose of medicine that we all need to swallow, and I say this as an advocate for the environment, but more importantly, as a father of five.” —Graydon Carter, Editor-in-chief, Vanity Fair

A former financial and food industry analyst who had the opportunity to meet Goldman Sachs’ Henry Paulson, Ebay’s Meg Whitman and Martha Stewart while working on the desk, Robyn O’Brien triggered an allergic reaction in the food industry when she asked: “Are we allergic to food or what’s been done to it?”

She is a best-selling author, public speaker, strategist and mother of four.  She brings insight and detailed analysis to her research on the health of the American food system as documented in her first book, The Unhealthy Truth, and has been called “food’s Erin Brockovich” by the New York Times.

Her work has appeared on CNN, the Today Show, Good Morning America, FOX News, in the Washington Post and countless media outlets, and she currently writes a popular column for Prevention while serving as the Executive Director of the AllergyKids Foundation and doing strategic advisory work for companies making trend-setting changes in the food industry.

Robyn has been named by SHAPE Magazine as a “Women To Shape the World”, along with First Lady Michelle Obama, by Forbes Woman as one of “20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter,”and by The Discovery Channel as one of its 15 Top Visionaries. Her TEDx talks have been widely received.

Recruited by institutions like Enron and the oil and gas industry, Robyn grew up in Houston before moving to Colorado and is the founder of the AllergyKids Foundation, a 501 c3 non-profit.

The mission of AllergyKids is to make clean and safe food affordable to all families.  Her focus is on restoring the health of American families in order to address the  burden that disease in placing on our economy. AllergyKids addresses the needs of the 1 in 3 American children that now has allergies, autism, ADHD and asthma and the role that additives in our food supply are having on our health.  The Foundation also works closely with those fighting cancer, particularly those with specific dietary needs.

On Mother’s Day 2009, Random House published her acclaimed book, “The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It” and today, Robyn is regarded as a food and health expert and sought after speaker who lectures and writes extensively, addressing the economic burden that disease is placing on our families, our companies and our country.

Robyn earned an MBA on a full scholarship, graduating as the top woman in her class.  And today, her work is recognized and supported by renowned individuals such as Dr. Oz, Robert Kennedy Jr., Ted Turner, Bonnie Raitt and Prince Charles.

She serves on the Board of Directors of Healthy Child Healthy World and Just Label It .  She also serves on advisory boards for several companies.

Since giving her first TEDx talk in which she discusses research she conducted six years ago, the World Health Organization now reports that the U.S. ranks 7th out of almost 200 countries worldwide in cancer rates due to the remarkable efforts to reduce tobacco use in our country.

And she firmly believe that while we can’t change the beginning of our stories, we can change the end.  And hope is the knowledge that change is possible, even when it seems hard to imagine.

Commercial Salmon Fishing

Wild For Salmon is a local business that makes fresh/frozen wild Alaskan sockeye salmon available to you at a common good price. Because we are the fishermen and we are local, we are able to provide you with the highest quality, flash/frozen, Alaskan sockeye available. Wild For Salmon is owned and operated by Steve and Jenn Kurian of Bloomsburg, PA.

Wild For Salmon began as only an adventurous trip to Alaska in 2002 to do some commercial salmon fishing with a friend. Following our first fishing excursion, we arrived home with 2 coolers of salmon for our friends and family. This is when we quickly realized the uniqueness of the product and the possibilities that lie ahead. We have grown to serve individuals, buying clubs, local farm markets, restaurants, and health food stores. Because Wild For Salmon has increased its sales by an average of over 20% per year over the last 4 years, Steve and Jenn have recently purchased their own boat and commercial fishing permit for Bristol Bay, AK.

Our Boat – The R-J
Our Boat – The R-J

June and July are busy months on the boat. The fishing season lasts approximately 5-7 weeks. Steve is the skipper of our 32’ boat, while Jenn, the first mate, and two other local men are deckhands. While on the boat, we listen to the satellite radio to hear the official fishing periods. As we catch the salmon they are kept in refrigerated holds, making sure the quality is preserved. Every 10 hours we offload our fish onto a larger crab boat which takes the fish in for processing. It is quickly filleted, flash frozen, and vacuum sealed to capture the “direct from the boat” flavor. After fishing, the salmon is sent back to PA where we sell the salmon at local farm markets and other venues.

We created this business to provide natural, sustainably harvested salmon products of superior quality, priced for the common good. We offer wild, Alaskan sockeye salmon because we believe the health benefits received from wild salmon are an essential part of our mind and body health.

As the fishermen, we are able to experience the beauty of Alaska and participate in the native culture of the land. As the demand increases for wild salmon and Omega3 rich diets, we are proud to be able to make this product available to you at an affordable cost. Wild For Salmon is delighted to be able to supply you with the best sockeye salmon in the world. Our tireless hours of commercial fishing are rewarded with your love for our product.

Sincerely,

Steve and Jenn

 

Genetically Modified Organisms in Agriculture- The Start of My Journey to Understand

Jon Entine from the Genetic Literacy Project joins me today to discuss his decidedly pro- point of view on GMO (genetically modified organism) seed and farming. This topic tends to bring strong emotional reactions no matter what side of the argument you are on. According to the USDA over 75% of corn, soybeans and cotton grown in the USA is GMO and the USA accounts for over half of the global production in acres.

It is quite difficult to to get unbiased, trustworthy information about this controversial topic. The extremes seem to rule the information on the internet. The World Health Organization appears to take a fairly centrist point of view, recognizing that there have been no studies to overtly discredit the safety of GMO agriculture yet at the same time acknowledging there could be potential problems. They also have recommended protocols for the companies engaged in the modification process.

As for me, I’m still not entirely sure what I believe on the subject. I have made what I consider the safest choice for now I LIVE IT; I own and opperate a USDA Certified Organic vegetable farm. No GMO seed is allowed.

This episode is the beginning of my journey to talk with multiple people with multiple points of view about the subject of GMO. At some point I’m going to form a definitive opinion.

Each person must make their own choice though and I recognize as a reasonable person, that the arguments for and against are not clear. The unintended consequences that are potentially harmful to the environment appear to be the biggest risks from my point of view. Uncontrolled pollination, what the WHO calls “outcrossing” seems to be a genuine issue. The potential effects of outcrossing or pollen drift, are highlighted in the fight by Organic farmers to prevent contamination by cross pollination.

In another episode I will talk with an anti-GMO person and we’ll get their point of view.

The food industry is fascinating. Thanks for listening to JACK’S FARM RADIO please subscribe at iTunes.