Education

Ep 24: Rebecca Thistlethwaite – Author, Farmer and Sustainability Consultant

Rebecca Thistlethwaite discusses her passion for food, farming, and sustainable business models that advance equity, ecological integrity and restore human relationships.

Bio:
Rebecca Thistlethwaite is the author of Farms with a Future (Chelsea Green, 2012) and The New Livestock Farmer (Chelsea Green, 2015). As the Program Manager of the eXtension community-of-practice Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN), she develops and delivers technical assistance and educational content for niche meat producers and processors around the country. She also runs Sustain Consulting, which specializes in building thriving farming and food businesses and is a freelance writer, writing for LocalHarvestOn Pasture, and other newsletters. Formerly, Rebecca ran a successful pastured livestock and poultry farm in California, direct marketing meat and eggs around the Bay Area. She currently lives in the Columbia River Gorge with her two children and trail runs whenever she is not volunteering for local schools. Her website is rebeccathistlethwaite.com.

Websites:
https://rebeccathistlethwaite.com/
http://www.nichemeatprocessing.org/

Books:
https://www.chelseagreen.com/product/the-new-livestock-farmer/
https://www.chelseagreen.com/product/farms-with-a-future/

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Ep 23: Raleigh City Farm – Rebekah Beck, General Manager

Our guest is Rebekah Beck, General Manager of Raleigh City Farm in North Carolina. Listen as she teaches us about Raleigh City Farm, the importance of urban farms, community development and her dreams for Urban Farms in the Future.

Rebekah Beck Bio:
Rebekah was invited to volunteer for Raleigh City Farm in early 2015 by serving on their marketing and communications committee until a part-time role as General Manager became available later that year. With a background in social work and nonprofits/program management, she remains inspired by the mission of RCF to promote education and awareness about where our food comes from. Rebekah enjoys supporting those doing the valuable work of growing that which sustains us, all the while promoting the resiliency of our natural environment for generations to come.

About Raleigh City Farm
Raleigh City Farm is a nonprofit urban farm founded in 2011 on a formerly vacant one-acre lot in downtown Raleigh. Our mission is to grow the next generation of farmers by connecting our community to sustainable agriculture. We believe in the power of urban farms to reduce waste, create healthier communities, and reconnect city-dwellers with healthy food production through more frequent encounters with agriculture. We believe that turning vacant lots into productive, nourishing farmland can create something from nothing – an amenity from an eyesore. We believe that urban farms bring people together, make our neighborhoods more beautiful and safer, and spur economic development and growth. And we believe that our impact can extend beyond the perimeter of our small farm site as we create business opportunities for new farmers in the region, helping them sell their products to local chefs and restaurants and directly to the community.

Find out more at: raleighcityfarm.org/

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Ep 22: For the Sake of Soil – A Seasoned Perspective from Eastern Iowa Farmers

A panel of Eastern Iowa Farmers who care deeply about soil health and water quality. These Iowa natives have decades of experience in agriculture and have seen first-hand the effects of un-sustainable agricultural practices on the landscape of Iowa. Listen as we discuss the importance of soil health, the problems and opportunities future farmers face, and ways we can improve agriculture for better food and environment.

Ep 20: Alemany Farm – San Francisco’s Largest Urban Farm

Chris Chimenti, Volunteer Co-Manager at Alemany Farm teaches us about San Francisco’s largest urban farm and its role in building a better food system

About Alemany Farm
Friends of Alemany Farm is a volunteer group that manages the horticulture, volunteer, and educational programs at Alemany Farm, a 3.5 acre organic farm ecosystem in southeast San Francisco..

Mission:
Friends of Alemany Farm grows food security and educates local residents about how they can become their own food producers. They strive to increase ecological knowledge and habitat value, and to sow the seeds for economic and environmental justice.

They pursue four main goals:
1. Fostering Environmental Education by introducing children and adults to the idea that local food production can be part of a healthy ecosystem, and inspiring visitors to start their own gardens at home.

2. Boosting Food Security by providing organic, healthy food to community members.

3. Growing Leaders through the communal ethic of the barn-raising that encourages people to play an active role in decision-making.

4. Promoting Ecological-Economic Development by using urban agriculture as a way to develop job skills

Links:
http://www.alemanyfarm.org/
http://www.alemanyfarm.org/donors/ – To Donate

About Chris Chimenti:
Chris Chimenti is an Urban Farming and Customer Success professional who for the last decade has worked as a volunteer co-manager of Alemany Farm, San Francisco’s largest urban farm, which produces over 24,000 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables annually. As a Customer Success professional he has over a decade of experience working for early stage tech start-ups and Google, with a focus on leadership and account management in the mobile, advertising and marketing industries. Chris holds an MA in Multimedia Interface Design, a BA in Broadcasting & Electronic Communication Arts, and an Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. He can be contacted at christopher.chimenti@gmail.com or on Linkedin.

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Ep 18: The Role of Today’s Physical Therapist – Matt Foster, DPT

Matt Foster, DPT teaches us about the evolution of the physical therapy profession, treating chronic injury, preventative medicine, and the importance of a healthy diet to fuel our body to be at its best.

Clinical Interests:
Orthopedics and sports injuries, manual therapy, pain neuroscience and clinical research.

Background:
Matt Foster graduated in 2011 from Southern Illinois University with his Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise and Wellness. He went on to graduate in 2015 with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis, MO. Since graduating with his DPT, Matt has practiced in both Illinois and Missouri in outpatient settings. He has spent his professional career treating various orthopedic and neurological conditions, also including aquatics. He has also undergone continuing education in manual therapy, pain neuroscience, and postural restoration to assist with both acute and chronic injuries of all age groups. Matt is also certified in instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM). He is currently working toward attaining his certification as a strength and conditioning specialist. Matt’s hobbies include hiking, watching football, and exercising including powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting.

Degree/Certifications:
Doctorate in Physical Therapy
Washington University, St. Louis, MO

Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise and Wellness
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL

To learn more about sports therapy and physical therapy services in St. Louis, visit http://BarnesJewishWestCounty.org/STAR

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Ep 17: Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Importance of Food Transparency – Aaron Lee, L.Ac

Aaron Lee, L.Ac teaches us about Traditional Chinese Medicine and the importance of knowing where our food comes from.

Aaron Lee is a California Board Licensed Acupuncturist. He is also pursuing his Post-Graduate Doctoral Degree at Five Branches University (FBU) where he obtained his Master’s in Traditional Chinese Medicine. He is the owner of Box Acupuncture Traditional Chinese Medicine, a clinic located in San Jose, California. Aaron has a B.S. in Microbiology from UT Austin and he combined his love of fitness and food by also becoming a Certified Primal Health Coach, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer and Personal Trainer. When he’s not treating his patients, Aaron stays active by working out at his local CrossFit Box or he’s in the kitchen meal-prepping or cooking a delicious meal for him and his friends. Aaron believes that the key to longevity is living a well-balanced life surrounded with friends, family, and loved ones.

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Ep 16: CompostNow – Kat Nigro, Head of Marketing and Engagement

Kat Nigro teaches us about CompostNow and how they are doing their part in building a better food system. Composting, healthy soil, community building, and education are essential for us to build a better world.

Kat Nigro lives in Durham, NC and is the Head of Marketing & Engagement at CompostNow. Kat studied Environmental Science with a focus in Soil Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She’s been involved in the community composting movement for the past 4 years and is enjoying watching it grow throughout the country. She’s passionate about healthy soil, community building, intersectional feminism and writing her own introductions!

CompostNow is a doorstep collection service who empowers community members and businesses to divert their compostables from the landfill and, instead, use those nutrients to build healthy soil. Since 2011, their members have diverted over 6.5 million pounds of compostables from the landfill and have created over 2.8 million pounds of compost for local use.

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The Path of Produce from the Farm to the Store

Think about your favorite grocery store and mentally go through the aisles. Appreciate the products that are there. Now, as you pick your favorite fresh fruit or vegetable, imagine the story of where it was grown, how it was picked, and the events that took place to get it in the store.

I would not have been able to imagine this process if I was asked a few years ago. I was blind to the steps and unaware of the complexity of our food system. Today, we will discuss more generally how a piece of produce might end up at your store.

We have a few key players in this story:

1)   The farmer
2)   Post-harvest methods
3)   A regional distribution center
4)   The retailer (aka, the store or restaurant)
5)   Finally, you – the consumer.

Meet the farmers and the decisions they must make:

  • A product is chosen. The farmer must decide what will be grown and the variety of the product they are growing. Choosing the plant variety can depend on the plant’s tolerance to the farmer’s growing environment, temperature, time of year, location, resistance to disease, and type of production.
  • Planting methods are executed. Plants have different seeding, transplanting, and growth cycle needs. Farmers must decide how they will address those needs based on cost, their production capabilities, technology of the farmers, and the intent to optimize the environment of the crops. They must determine the right time of year, soil conditions, plant spacing, irrigation methods, fertilization, and pesticide use.
  •  Harvesting. When the produce is ready to harvest, farmers must choose appropriate harvesting containers, equipment, and transportation to be efficient and clean.1 In most scenarios, the harvest containers get transported to a packinghouse where they will be prepared for the next step.

Post-harvest methods:

  • After harvest, time is of the essence to make sure the produce is as fresh as possible. At the packinghouse or shed, the environment must be well controlled, and there are deliberate techniques to transfer the product into the facility.
  •  It is common for post-harvest facilities to prepare the produce to be transported to a processing center where it is inspected, cleaned, and assessed for quality. Often, preservation is emphasized through cooling measures, slow respiration, water-loss techniques, and/or the use of salt, sugar, or other chemical preservatives.2
  •  Farmers need to ensure the crop they are shipping is optimal maturity by the time it hits the store, not necessarily when it is picked. Destination location plays a role in the timing of the harvest. In addition, size, color, firmness/tenderness, days of bloom, heat accumulation, and other considerations must be taken in account to provide a product consumers would want to buy. 2
  •  Information is gathered on all the produce coming into to identify the grower/supplier, the date of the harvest, the field, the shift, and production records to be able to trace products when transported. 3
  •  Packaging must protect the items, be appealing for sale, and promote a clean environment to reduce contamination risk. When packaging, the products are put in bags, crates, baskets, cartons, bulk bins, hampers, and/or palletized containers. It is has been reported there are more than 1,500 different types of packing for produce in the United States.4
  •  Transportation is the next stop of the produce story. The products must be transported s through non-damaging and non-contaminating means. The transportation vehicle must be free of debris, maintain proper humidity and temperature levels, and loaded in a way that minimizes storage time and maximizes accessibility to get fresh-cut produce to the shelf as quickly as they can.5

Regional distribution centers:

  • Distribution centers are locations where food is collected and redistributed to retailers, wholesalers, or directly to the consumers.These centers face the challenge of ensuring the food-safety regulations continue to be followed. Centers report organic regulation, ensure Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points compliance (HACCP is a systematic preventive approach required by the FDA and USDA to promote food safety in the production processes), and log food defense and vulnerability. Employee training and awareness programs are necessary to help keep the products up to industry standards.6
  •  The food industry requires consistent deliveries of the right products, in the right quantity, in the right condition, to the right place, at the right time, and for the right cost.7 With the regional distribution of food from all over the country and world, this can be a great challenge for ordering, processing, and transporting foods. Distribution centers means food products that are seasonal can  still be present in the store. 7
  • When food leaves the distribution centers, it most often travels to retailers or wholesalers. It has been reported that meals in the United States travel about 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate. 8

Our journey is almost complete! Meet the retailers and the hero of our story – you, the consumer!

  • Once delivered, it is the job of the retailer to inspect, display, and store produce to maintain shelf-life, while still promoting healthy standards. Stores order and reorder inventory to ensure they have the produce consumers want in stock and looking fresh.
  • In-season produce  may be purchased more locally, therefore bypassing distribution centers. This can be why you might see sales or signs for locally grown products in the summer, because they are more available to the retailer.
  • Finally, the journey ends with you making your food purchase!

This is a very watered-down synopsis of the general path a food item might take to get to your plate. There are many players and stops involved to take produce from farm to table. This is why you may be hearing an increasing demand from consumers to be able to track and follow the supply chain of their food. With so many twists and turns, as a consumer it can be difficult to know the true quality of an item.

Efforts are being made to improve the efficiency and standards for food traceability in hopes of reducing contamination risks, promoting local sourcing and better farming practices, improving environmental awareness, reducing packing and transportation consequences, and more. The journey of food can be long, but being educated on the process can help direct our food choices – and may help to create the demand for a more direct and more efficient system.

  1. http://www.greentechchallenge.eu/single-post/2017/07/04/From-Farm-to-Table-%E2%80%93-The-Food-Shipping-Process
  2. https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/vegetable/guides/texas-vegetable-growers-handbook/chapter-x-harvesting-handling/
  3. https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/ProducePlantProducts/ucm064458.htm#ch4
  4. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/packaging-requirements-for-fresh-fruits-and-vegetables
  1. https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/ProducePlantProducts/ucm064458.htm
  2. https://www.aibonline.org/Food-First-Blog/PostId/25/risky-business-food-safety-in-distribution-centers
  3. Aghazadeh, S.M. Improving Logistics Operations Across the Food Industry Supply Chain. Int. J. Contemp. Hosp. Manag. 2004, 16, 263–268.
  4. https://cuesa.org/learn/how-far-does-your-food-travel-get-your-plate


About the Author:

Alex Uding, PT, DPT, PN1

Co-host of Know Better Live Best, Writer, Creator of Advancing Her (https://www.advancingher.com/)

Alex works with healthy and injured individuals alike, across the lifespan. She has special interest in orthopedic and sports rehab, women’s health, strength and conditioning, nutrition, and development of the female athlete. She is passionate about bridging the gap between rehabilitation and optimizing performance to promote a lifestyle of health and wellness through compassionate, person-centered care.

Alex loves to run, hike, and travel – visiting every national park is on the bucket list! She enjoys exploring new places, culture, food, music, and people. She is Chicago born and raised, but has lived all over the country. She loves hearing people’s story and what makes them tick.

Alex has a Doctorate of Physical Therapy, is Precision Nutrition Certified, and is a Strength and Performance Coach. She works as a Physical Therapist and Performance Coach at Momentum Physical Therapy in Milford, MA.

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Ep 13: Patrick Robinette, Founder of Harris-Robinette Beef (Part 2)

Host Kari Ginger continues her conversation with Patrick Robinette, Founder of Harris-Robinette Beef located in North Carolina. Patrick discusses why quality and transparency in the food industry is important to him and his vision for the future of farming. You can listen to Part 1 with Patrick Robinette at www.knowbetterlivebest.com/2018/10/10/…eef-part-1/ With nothing but faith, family and this dream, Harris-Robinette Beef has grown exponentially over the last eighteen years. They started as a simple operation that provided beef on the farm. However, once people heard about the high quality of their beef and tasted their savory products, new markets quickly opened. Today, Harris-Robinette Beef exists to provide the consumer with an affordable, environmentally sound, high quality, nutritious beef through the raising of livestock exclusively on a grass-based system. Harris-Robinette utilizes a pasture-to-plate system to best serve the interest of their farm and to preserve agriculture in a sustainable fashion for the good of the land, the family, and our society.
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Ep 12: Patrick Robinette, Founder of Harris-Robinette Beef (Part 1)

Harris-Robinette Beef started humbly but with a grand plan: to create the finest beef this world has ever tasted…end of story.

Host Kari Ginger learns about the hard work that goes into producing quality grass-fed beef in Episode 12, Part One with Patrick Robinette, Founder of Harris-Robinette Beef located in North Carolina. Patrick discusses his daily life on the farm, the business side of the beef industry, the importance of food quality and transparency, and the future of farming.

With nothing but faith, family and this dream, Harris-Robinette Beef has grown exponentially over the last eighteen years. They started as a simple operation that provided beef on the farm. However, once people heard about the high quality of their beef and tasted their savory products, new markets quickly opened. Today, Harris-Robinette Beef exists to provide the consumer with an affordable, environmentally sound, high quality, nutritious beef through the raising of livestock exclusively on a grass-based system. Harris-Robinette utilizes a pasture-to-plate system to best serve the interest of their farm and to preserve agriculture in a sustainable fashion for the good of the land, the family, and our society.

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