Credit: Fedele Bauccio
Gratitude Gourmet readers know that Fedele Bauccio, CEO of Bon Appétit Management Company, is my Hero.
Fedele's company was the Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) 2009 Innovations Review Food and Beverage Innovator, recognized for reducing the environmental and carbon footprint and Winner of the National Resource Defense Council's (NRDC) 1st Annual Growing Green Awards.
Fedele has written a wonderful February 2013 Sustainability Editorial called: Redefining Sustainability - or Practicing What We Preach. His Editorial is a must-read for those concerned about our food policies, health, farm worker treatment, humane animal conditions, antibiotics ... and our Future.
The article link is here: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/SUS.2013.9900
Please share with your colleagues, friends, families, communities, and policymakers. Thank you.
Mary Vincent & Kesang Choedon
While in Bhutan for mobile health meetings with community health workers, IT representatives, and government officials on behalf of the Global Health Research Foundation (GHRF) in July 2012, our team had the great pleasure of being invited to visit the Folk Heritage Museum and Restaurant in the capital, Thimphu.
Chef Kesang Choeden, featured in the video below, is working to preserve traditional Bhutanese cuisine by reviving recipes that are becoming extinct. Kesang is partnering with Farmers to grow products that used to be grown by Bhutanese ancestors and are disappearing and no longer growing. The restaurant doesn't have a set menu because it depends on the products that are seasonal and are growing at the time. She is currently doing research on the historical foods and preparing a cookbook.
Pictures below include Red Rice, Ferns, Ema Datsi, (Chili Cheese), Dumplings, and Tea. On a recent January 2013 trip, I tried Orchids and Cheese (Olachoto Datsi) - These fascinating and delicious foods are vegetarian, and spicy, which is how I like it! :)
Interview with Kathleen Merrigan Deputy Secretary of Agriculture USDA, James Beard Foundation Award Winner
Kathleen Merrigan, USDA
Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is a James Beard Foundation Award Winner for her efforts to strengthen the critical connection between farmers and consumers, create new opportunities for farmers, support regional food infrastructure and bring agriculture into our daily conversations through efforts such as USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.
Our interview is below.
Gratitude Gourmet: Congratulations on your Award! Please tell me more about your efforts to strengthen the connection between farmers and consumers.
Kathleen Merrigan: There has been a renaissance of interest in the world of agriculture and how food was produced. For me it is so exciting. Before people didn't want to talk about this, but we've really come into a new time period where people are just all about food, where it's local/regional, i.e. the drought farmers are dealing with. I have been to over 30 college campuses talking to young people about American agriculture.
The average Farmer age is 59, most are over 65 – we need to talk to people about getting engaged in policies relating to agriculture and transition people into agriculture. I was just up in Portland, Maine and Cleveland discussing how food systems can connect to jobs.
Gratitude Gourmet: How has the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative grown since its inception in 2009 and where do you see the program headed in the future?
Kathleen Merrigan: It's a huge bureaucracy. How does someone know how to navigate system? We want to decode and demystify that to help people figure out what systems are available. On the GIS map, communities can go to the map and have their own conversations. It gives them more information about our resources, how do we build up our local resource systems and empower communities across the US.
Gratitude Gourmet: Can you share some case studies of Communities which have benefited?
Kathleen Merrigan: I can't share the community names but there are three community examples in cities and rural areas, i.e. a hoop house, a seasonal high tunnel structure and we've funded a variety of them. What an amazing difference it has made in their production. In Alaska, we have a cost-share program which has been transformative. When I was up in Maine and New Hampshire, farmers have said it has been great to provide local products to consumers including during colder weather.
Gratitude Gourmet: Thank you.
Note: Post Interview per the USDA site, I noticed that in Ohio, Flying HIGH will use Farmers Market Promotion (FMPP) funds to "recruit and train young urban adults as farmers, showing them how to grow and sell produce at new farmers markets in Youngstown and throughout Mahoning County. A combination of production and marketing education, technical support services, supplies and professional development will have significant impact on the long-term success of young farmers in the community."
Related James Beard Foundation Leadership Award Articles:
Interview with Tensie Whelan, President Rainforest Alliance
Interview with Dr. Jason Clay World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Have you tried Original Oaten Biscuits from Duchy Originals, where profits benefit charities through The Prince of Wales's Charitable Foundation?
This product is an example of the message Prince Charles gave in his Documentary, Harmony, where I was on a conference call with the Executive Producers.
See my article on the Harmony Documentary here.
The Prince has an initiative called Dutchy Originals which acts a lot the way Newman’s Own does where natural and organic products are sold and proceeds are given to charities. Named after the Duchy of Cornwall estates, Duchy Originals was launched in 1990. Their first product, the oaten biscuit, was launched in 1992. They grew the wheat and oats themselves on Home Farm, before sending it just down the road to Shipton Mill, where they were stone-ground. As the biscuits have grown in popularity, they've expanded the number of farms used for wheat and oats. They're all from organic farms in the UK and most grow a traditional variety of wheat called Maris Widgeon - which grows unusually tall. As a result, it gives protection to native birds and insects while preventing weeds without the need for pesticides. And by the way, these biscuits are delicious!
FAO and IIED (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and International Institute for Environment and Development) have just released a NEW 5-step guide to help farmers evaluate the benefits, and costs of applying pollinator-friendly practices, called Handbook for Participatory Socioeconomic Evaluation of Pollinator-friendly Practices.
This publication provides guidance aka Handbook on an "ecosystem approach” implemented in seven countries - Brazil, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, and South Africa. It may be used in farmer-field school formats, community meetings with farmers, or other instances where farmers can benefit from keeping records to better assess the value of specific practices. The outcomes of the global project are expected to expand global understanding, capacity and awareness of the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators for sustainable agriculture.
Per the Document:
"..in agro-ecosystems, pollinators are essential for orchard, oilseed crop, horticultural and forage production, as well as the production of seed for crops. Pollinators such as bees, birds and bats boost 35 percent of the world’s crop production, increasing outputs of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide, such as coffee, cocoa, chilies, apples, palm oil, tomatoes, papaya, mango, avocado, cardamom, vanilla, pigeon pea, most spices, most vegetable seeds, plus many plant-derived medicines in the world’s pharmacies."
I would advise reading the complete Document for all the details. The 5 Steps are:
1. Characterize Current Production Systems
- identify challenges farmers face
- examine farmers' current use of pollinator-friendly practices
- collect baseline information
2. Identify Appropriate Pollinator Friendly Practices To Test
- draw up a short-list of practices
- discuss implementations of short-listed friendly practices and make final selection
3. Select Plots Where the Pollinator-Friendly Practices Will Be Tested
4. Plan Tests of Selected Practices With Farmers
- explore impacts in more detail
- select indicators and determine how they will be recorded and tracked
5. Analyze and Evaluate The Practice
- analyze quantitative information on the indicators
- draw comparison between plots
- evaluate based on qualitative information