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.

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.

Retailing Whole and Local Foods with Terry Brett – Kimberton Whole Foods

In 1986 Terry Brett was running a humble farm store in Chester County, Pennsylvania, selling organic yogurt made on-site at a biodynamic dairy farm, now known as Seven Stars Farm. During the ensuing 27 years he has grown that store into a group of natural grocery stores that actively reflect his commitment to local farming and his prioritization of organic and fair food. Kimberton Whole Foods is now a multigenerational family business and continues to grow while maintaining a passionate commitment to integrity and sustainability in agriculture. True friends of the farmer, KWF is regularly honored for our ethical business leadership and meaningful contribution to regional sustainable agriculture.

vintage-kwfsmFounders, Terry and Pat Brett

GMO- Science, Fear and Facts with Kevin Folta of The University of Florida

Kevin Folta from The University of Florida joins me on JFR this episode. Kevin is an expert on GMO in food production.

Here’s how he describes himself:

I’m a plant biologist. My job is to contribute to the understanding of gene function, then use this knowledge to inform crop improvement. In the long run I hope to guide the development of better plants that produce more nutritious food and with less environmental impact. Undergraduate and public education are a huge part of my program. If we are going to feed the world and save the planet it is going to require bold new technologies and we will need their support. Many fear technology when applied to food, and the skepticism is healthy. However, a dose of unfounded fear is hampering productive progress in adoption of these safe technologies. I hope to use science and evidence to win the hearts and minds of those that are uncertain of the scientific interface with food.

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.

2500 Member CSA – Mike and Terra Brownback- Spiral Path Farm

Spiral Path Farm, owned and operated by Mike and Terra Brownback is a 200 acre plus USDA Certified Organic vegetable farm in central Pennsylvania. The Brownbacks recently erected 4 acres of high tunnels on a separate piece of property.

As with every operation I’ve talked with both large and small with Spiral Path it’s all about family. These are forward thinking folks that exude passion for growing vegetable organically. Very good business people, the Brownbacks have evolved Spiral Path into an extremely large and successful vegetable farm.

Spiral Path markets about half of their produce through a CSA concept. The rest of their production is sold via wholesale channels. They started their CSA in 1994.

This is a discussion with two pioneers in the organic vegetable industry who are committed to excellence.

You’ll learn a lot from this one.

 

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.

 

Maysie’s Farm and Cucina Verde

Annmarie and Sam Cantrell join me on this episode.

Sam runs Maysie’s Farm Conservation Center. He’s a conservationist at heart and a dreamer too. Sam started his CSA in the ’90’s. We talk about some of the history of the CSA movement including Sam’s 1980’s brush with one of the earliest adopters of the CSA concept in the USA. A look at history I think, is a look at change. From my experience, small farmers are changing their businesses more frequently than most. Face it, farming is a commodity business where it’s quite difficult to differentiate one farmers products from the same ones another farmer is growing.

With this challenge of differentiation comes the need to tweak your business more frequently than most, I think, and you’ll hear how Sam has done that to keep himself afloat. You will hear about the ever-present stress of the business coming from both managing perceived customer expectations and managing the labor to meet those expectations.

Annmarie has worked as an educator her entire adult life. She currently operates Cucina Verde providing culinary wellness training. She also sells her own fermented foods at local farmers markets. Annmarie is a founding member of GMO Free PA where she advocates for food labeling policies.

I mention the book: [amazon text=Tomorrow’s Table&asin=B00BR5LC72] by Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak. This book discusses the practical juggle between the need to supply the world with food and the need for environmental and economic sustainability for the farms that grow your food.

Thanks for listening and subscribe to JACK’S FARM RADIO on i tunes.