Ep. 58: David Montgomery – author ‘Growing a Revolution’  &  ‘Hidden Half of Nature’ & ‘Dirt’ ||

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For episode 58 we’re lucky to be joined by David R. Montgomery. A MacArthur Fellow and professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington, Montgomery is an internationally recognized geologist who studies landscape evolution and the effects of geological processes on ecological systems and human societies.  He is the author of numerous scientific papers and has been featured in documentary films, network and cable news, and on a wide variety of TV and radio programs.

 

 

In his book ‘Growing a Revolution’, Montgomery introduces us to farmers around the world at the heart of a brewing soil health revolution that could bring humanity’s ailing fertile grounds back to life remarkably fast. Montgomery assessed different approaches being used to instigate health into the living systems making up our food. It’s called Regenerative, and with it agriculture can help cure what ails us, and the planet.  Cutting through standard debates about conventional and organic farming, Montgomery explores why practices based on the principles of conservation agriculture help restore soil health and fertility. Drawing on visits to farms in the industrialized and developing worlds he finds that the combination of no-till planting, cover crops, and diverse crop rotations provides a profitable recipe to rebuild soil organic matter. Farmers using these unconventional practices cultivate beneficial soil life, smother weeds, and suppress pests while spending far less on diesel, fertilizer and pesticides. It’s revolutionary stuff.

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With his wife Anne Biklé, David is currently framing out his fourth book. We learned that with “What your food eats” – working title of this latest deep dive – this husband & wife writing duo seek to connect soil fertility to human health. Anne and David have also worked together to pen the book ‘Dirt’ —about the plight of soil and what we’ve done to it since the dawn of agriculture. And, ‘The Hidden Half of Nature’, a revealing exploration of how microbial life underpins the health of soil and, even our own bodies.

.It’s great to speak with David. He’s always a wealth of information. His concise and logical explanations of complex subject matter and interconnected systems is pretty special. That comes across in his books, and it came across in 45 minute conversation.  I listening in pre-production I realized that this may be the guy who may finally stitch soil health -to- human health.  That would be a game changer in establishing broader awareness and appreciation to the fact the Sourcing Matters first.  An investment in food and its production is our silver bullet of change.

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@Dig2Grow

 

 



Ep. 57: Gabe Brown – Innovator, farmer, businessman, author and soil health pioneer  -ft. co-host: Jay Vilar of Nourish ||

On episode 57 we welcome Gabe Brown – farmer, businessman, author and soil health pioneer.   Gabe, along with his wife, Shelly, and son, Paul, own and operate a diversified 5,000-acre farm and ranch near Bismarck, N.D. Their operation focuses on farming and ranching in nature’s image. The Browns holistically integrate their grazing and no-till cropping system, which includes a wide variety of cash crops along with multi-species cover crops and all-natural, grass-fed beef, poultry and sheep. This diversity and integration has regenerated the natural resources on the ranch without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or fungicides. Over 2,000 people visit the Brown’s ranch annually with visitors from all 50 states and 16 foreign countries.

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Brown recently released the book “Dirt to Soil” describes their personal voyage into regenerative agriculture.  This insight gained over a these decades of hard work has established a nimble knowledge-base.  In this his first book – Gabe Brown has distilled all that complexity into five (5) principles of a healthy soil-ecosystem.

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  • No disturbance (no-till, no-synthetics)
  • Bolstering Soil’s Natural Defense (the outer-layer protecting all that life)
  • Bio-diversity (marrying nature’s way keeps the system healthy)
  • A living root in the ground as long as possible (covercrops & seasonal diversity)
  • Animal & Insect integration (nature relies on the entire system working together)

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Nutritionist Jay Vilar joins again as co-host.  Vilar is the founder, and a practitioner at ‘Nourish’ – a bespoke consulting company with a mission to educate, teach, and train people on the benefits of using food to heal your body and optimize your health.  Jay has always been on the forefront of using optimal health techniques, and bio-hacking his nutrition to achieve remarkable results in his career. Jay now spends his time teaching people how to use food to heal their body and speaks to businesses on how to optimize focus & productivity using nutritional and behavioral science.  Jay recently completed a Fellowship at the Rodale Institute, and just relocated from DC to join our crew in Boston.
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It’s a fascinating 45 minute conversation with a guy who has a unique ability to tell it like it is.  To clarify and simplify some pretty sophisticated subject matter so that we can all better appreciate the broad-reaching values that soil health and regenerative agriculture can bring to our world.

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@twitter



co-host:

Jay Vilar

  • Founder of Nourish
  • A focus on Nutritional Therapy
  • Rodale Institute Fellow
  • Host of  ‘listen to your mother’ show

@twitter

Ep. 50: Elaine Ingham – Soil Food Web ||

 

Elaine Ingham maintains an active schedule of classes and webinars focused on the most up-to-date knowledge about growing plants without pesticides or inorganic fertilizer.  Ingham consults and educates large scale commercial cotton and soybean growers, large scale berry growers, as well as large commercial fruit producers as well as shrimp production. Tune-In to learn about the great things Elaine is doing for the savior underfoot.
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Ingham is well known for her work on the USDA soil-primer based on a concept she coined called the “Soil Food Web.”  Now, based on her decades of pioneering work as a soil microbiologist – Ingham has made it the objective of her company SoilFoodWeb.com to restore soil to its optimum state, anywhere at any scale.
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What most may not know is about her efforts that saved humanity and all living planets on this planet.  You see…

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“In 1992 the Environmental Protection Agency was only a few weeks away from ending life on the planet as we know it,” so writes George Lawton in the April, 2001 issue of Acres USA (“A Voice For Eco-Agriculture”).  Lawton reports that the EPA, although only having done limited tests at that time on a variety of genetically engineered microbes, all of which had been approved for release into the atmosphere, were prepared to approve the release of a GE variant of Klepsiella planticola (KP), one of the most common bacteria on the planet.
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“This particular variety of GE KP,” he writes, “had the unique ability to convert dead plant matter into alcohol. It was hoped that this would provide a way for farmers to transform their unused stalks, leaves and other types of compost material into alcohol, which could be used for washing, running vehicles. “
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So, it’s worth giving a listen to our discussion to learn more about Elaine’s focus, her interests, and her scope on a stable and prosperous future from the ground up.

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Ep. 36: Shauna Sadowski – Head of Sustainability, Natural & Organic Operating Unit at General Mills ||

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On episode 36 we welcome Shauna Sadowski – Head of Sustainability, Natural & Organic Operating Unit at General Mills. “The way we manage agricultural lands is driving many environmental and social challenges and I seek to create solutions that account for a more balanced, triple-bottom line (people, planet and profits) outcome. I care deeply about the food that ends up on your plate and work to create a healthy and balanced system for people and the planet” explains Sadowski about our role in properly managing natural resources to feed ourselves moving forward.

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Throughout the 45 minute conversation Shauna shares some interesting anecdotes of situations that have arisen in her time at as VP at Annie’s, and most recently while managing the organic allotment of General Mills’ vast arsenal of products.

“I believe that food companies have an opportunity and a responsibility to play a significant and positive role in creating a more sustainable food system. I work cross-functionally and throughout the industry to create programs that enable transparency to the farm and a deeper understanding of how our agricultural and farming systems connect to the foods we eat.”  

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Earlier this year Annie’s and General Mills launched a wireframe for their regenerative scorecard.  The objective of the scorecard tool is to encourage producer commitment and consumer awareness to soil health.  It seems a shared language would be a big win for food values.  Now, heading up Sustainability and Organic brands for a fortune 500 company with 38,000 employees – Shauna continues to demonstrate her commitment to moving the industry more regenerative through creatives approaches that bridge a production divide.    It’s interesting stuff – have a listen:

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@SJSadowski

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Ep. 34: Dr. Daphne Miller – author of farmacology  -ft. co-host: Jennifer Hashley of the New Entry Farm project ||

On Sourcing Matters ep. 34 Jennifer Hashley joins me for an interesting discussion with physician and author Dr. Daphne Miller.  We get under the hood connecting soil, human & planetary health.  Dr. Miller offers these reasons why physicians must become involved in future food and agriculture:

  • The frontline of knowledge – “Doctors can tailor agriculture to be health centered.”
  • Access to resources – “Health care has the deep pockets in this county. If we started to do the math on the true cost of our food system to health – this spending at the end-effect of our care could be better invested earlier on (in food & soil).”
  • Advocacy – “People in health care are excellent advocates in changing things.”  Dr. Miller cites emissions, car safety, Tobacco – all environments where Drs. were agents of change uniting communities and eventually our society behind a precautionary principle. “We need people in health to weigh-in on the food system.”

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Dr. Daphne Miller is a practicing family physician, author and Associate Clinical Professor at the University of California San Francisco. For the past fifteen years, her leadership, advocacy, research and writing have focused on the connections between food production, ecology and health.
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Miller founded WholeFamily MD, San Francisco’s first integrative primary care medical practice, in the Fall of 2001. Her mission was to reclaim the heart of medicine by focusing on her patients rather than on the business and red tape of medical practice.  Over the ensuing years the practice has grown, but Dr. Miller has not strayed from her early vision.
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When she is not seeing patients or teaching, Dr. Miller writes books and articles related to food, farming, the environment, and health. She has authored two best-selling books: The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets from Around the World, Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You (HarperCollins 2008) and Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up (HarperCollins 2013).
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Miller is a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Medical School and completed her family medicine residency and an NIH-funded primary care research fellowship at UCSF. She is also a Bravewell Fellow with the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine. Since 2005, she has consistently been elected by her peers for inclusion in Best Doctors in America.
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@drDaphneMiller



co-host:

Jennifer Hashley

  • Founder of Tufts New Entry Sustainable farming project 
  • Owner of Pete & Jen’s backyard birds
  • Evangelist | Activist| Innovator
  • Eisenhower Fellow 2016

@JHashley

Ep. 33: Ridge Shinn – CEO of Big Picture Beef ||

On episode 33 we welcome Ridge Shinn, CEO of Big Picture Beef – a businessman making us all a little more regenerative through a smarter regional production approach.  In 2010, Time Magazine cast Ridge as the original  Carbon Cowboy.  He lives with that mantra everyday.

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It’s as fundamental as investing in animal well-being for the betterment of our planet’s wellbeing and your health.  As the financial landscape in production continues to evolve, Shinn sees a sustainable business model for future food being of more regional production – an approach that he believes others will soon follow. Founded in 2015 – Based out of Hardwick, MA – Big Picture Beef’s mission is to establish an environmentally sustainable and economically viable model of producing beef through managed grazing—no feedlots and no grain, ever. Shine & Big Picture envision a system that produces healthy animals, healthy food, healthy soils, and fair wages for farmers.

 

“We work with numerous farms in the region that produce young stock according to our standards. Then we aggregate these cattle for fattening on several large finishing farms, also in the region, that are staffed by skilled graziers. A variety of regenerative farming techniques, notably rotational grazing to foster soil health and fertility, are key to our success. We harvest the finished cattle and sell 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef and beef products to wholesale customers.” – Ridge Shinn

 

In our 40 minute conversation we discuss topics ranging from bioregions; consumer’s role as change agents; drawdown; and one-health of animal, planet & consumer.   Ridge offers insights into an operating model that seeks to be benefit diverse stakeholders interested in preserving a regional provenance, and commitment to a production approach.  Decades of experience offers Shinn assurance that all of that hard work developing protocols in the fields are now queueing market interest.  It’ll be fascinating for all, but if you live in the Northeast – you should give it a listen.

@RidgeShinn

photo credit: Jason Grow
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Ep. 23: Jason Haas – Partner & General Manager at Tablas Creek Winery ||

 

Wine is more than just any libation, it’s an experience steeped in history. It’s part of ritual and beliefs, it ties us with friends, family, cuisine, and for many – with their lineage. From the highest-end vintages that are matured & aged for decades, to the low-end box of wine at the corner store costing a few bucks – this cold fired fermenting extends a full spectrum of offerings that now accounts for a $62B domestic industry.  The success of the industry is tied to its ability to differentiate those offerings throughout that spectrum. From the region it’s from, to an elevated production approach, to the aging process, or its unparalleled cuisine connection that helps develop an ecosystem of aficionados that have become increasingly interested in each of all of these unique factors further connecting the consumer with their drink of choice and its affinities – it matters in wine.

 

Producing Châteauneuf-du-Pape style Rhone wines native to the Southeast Corner of France, today we welcome Partner and General Manager of Tablas Creek Winery Jason Haas to Sourcing Matters.  Situated squarely between San Francisco & Los Angeles, Jason’s family began their California winery in 1989 using elevated practices that focused on Organic and regenerative in effort to benefit their soils, and the flavor of their wines.  Now, producing 360,000 bottles a year of biodynamic and diverse vitas – Tablas Creek has established themselves as a desired brand that engages consumers and progresses the industry through their commitment to producing world-class wine.

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From “Place” & provenance, to cleaner & transparent production, to agritourism which engages & retains,  to preservation of values throughout the supply chain – have a listen – hear how this approach in wine can act as a new baseline for more food categories to follow.  So, when next marrying wine with your cuisine – we hope those expectations for quality and associated values on wine thus ports (carries-over) to the food you’re pairing.
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@TablasCreek

 

 

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photo source: 


 

Ep. 22: Fiona Wilson, Chair of Board  & Dave Herring, Executive Director – Wolfe’s Neck Center on Casco Bay, Maine ||

 

Situated on over 600 acres of preserved coastal landscape in Freeport, Maine – Wolfe’s Neck Center uses its setting to connect people of all ages to the food they eat and where it comes from. As a nonprofit, Wolfe’s Neck Center draws upon a rich history of innovation and experimentation to continue the legacy of this place today. Through regenerative farming, innovative soil health research, and visitor interactions, the land is now used as an educational resource to create a healthier planet for all.
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Joining for episode 22 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Dave Herring: Executive Director at Wolfe’s Neck Center; and Fiona Wilson, Chair of the Board at Wolfe’s Neck, and ED at Center for Social Innovation and Enterprise, Asst. Prof. at UNH’s Paul College of Business.
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Our 45 minute discussion ranges from regenerative best practice -to- the current state of milk -to- the business potential of regional production -to- encouraging more connection to nature, and systems, through getting out – and camping.  Fiona and Dave have begun a new epicenter of food, agriculture and environmental research on Casco Bay in Maine. It’s a marquee example of Sustainable Coastal Farming that works to “Transform our relationship with farming & food, to transform the planet.” Hear how these folks are amplifying, educating and curating an ecosystem.

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@wolfesneck 

 

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Ep. 21: Volkert Engelsman – CEO & Founder of EOSTA & Nature & More ||

 

Did you know that the thin walled produce you eat can be some of the most concerning foods in your diet. From everything we think we know – that just seems counterintuitive. How can Fruit & Veg possibly worse than processed food, high fructose sugar, feedlot beef?  Well, that may come down to the eye of the beholder.  Concerns with neurotoxins and hormone disruptors used extensively in common pesticides throughout conventional production, or that of glyphosate are real and are worthy of scrutiny.

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On Sourcing Matters episode 21 we welcome Volkert Engelsman, CEO of the EU’s largest importer of organic and biological produce – EOSTA of the Netherlands.  Engelsman is a global thought-leader fighting for cleaner food and healthier soils through a unique process of engaging more stakeholders in sourcing.  “When you commoditize products, you anonymize origin and backstory” explains Engelsman in describing why he launched trans & trace technology platform Nature & More to validate the integrity of his supply chain.  Now, as the backbone of their produce distribution – this framework brought mainstream through a “Sustainability Flower” is used to evaluate, manage and communicate the sustainability achievements of organic growers. The six flower petals deal with ecology: soil, water, air, plants, animals and energy. The heart of the flower shows the words “freedom”, “justice” and “solidarity”, which refer to cultural, societal and economical sustainability respectively.
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Along with the UN and Ernst & Young – Volkert Engelsman and the team at EOSTA have levered the Nature & More framework to prove healthier & cleaner food has greater value than the cheap stuff.  The pilot program has been labeled “True Cost Accounting for Food, Farming & Finance”.   We learn that French Government has calculated a 54b Euro impact of externalized costs from contamination on the water supply and environmental impact tied to conventional food production. More over, the UN calculates $2.8 Trillion of environmental externalized costs and $2.1 Trillion in social damage tied to extractive models of agriculture.  Engelsman explains that’s about the equivalent of the total revenues of all food products from around the world.  “The report makes clear that organic food is not too expensive, but rather conventional food is too cheap.” – details Engelsman.
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in 2015 Engelsman launched a viral initiative to engage everyday citizens, VIPs, and political leaders to Save our Soils.  With 30 football fields of soil being lost every minute to irresponsible farming practices, this UN-backed Save Our Soils initiative aims to inform consumers about the urgent need to halt the loss of irreplaceable soils. To amplify the impact Engelsman employs ambassadors like Prince Charles, Julia Roberts, King of the Netherlands, Dalai Lama, Bishop Desmond Tutu, activist Vandana Shiva and conservationist founder of North Face Douglas Tompkins to support efforts in preserving soils, and promoting clean food on a shrinking planet with a fresh look at true costs.
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Have a listen, and hear what’s going on around the world. There are some pretty exciting concepts ripe for change. This guy, Volkert Engelsman of the Netherlands, is a driving force teeming with insight and creativity set on changing the world for the better.
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natureandmore

SaveOurSoilFund

 

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photo source: William Taufic


 

Ep. 16 Jack Algiere: Farm Director at Stone Barns Agricultural Center ||

 

On Sourcing Matters episode 16 we welcome Jack Algiere, farm manager at Stone Barns Agricultural Research Center.  An insightful guide who has taken the reins in shepherding the future food system more regenerative, Algiere takes great pride and responsibility in his work.  Through a well endowed 80 acre central farm, and an additional 350 acres of pastural lands – Jack and his team manage a multidimensional farm of diverse outputs that fields 150,000 guests a year at their working hub.

 

The goal of this agricultural research and educational epicenter in West Chester NY is to cast a large shadow on consumers and producers alike through better connecting more to natural order through the food we eat.  There are many challenges of this type of agritourism on a working farm, but Jack takes them all in stride – stating: “We can only look ahead.  If people engage in food; if they ask for, and demand more – we can change the food system together.”  Algiere continues, “Where do we learn this stuff?  On the small, beautiful farms we can all access.”

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Algiere defines regenerative agriculture as land and natural resource conservation beginning from the soil up.  This new, but fundamentally old-school of thought in feeding ourselves on a shrinking planet is vastly different than nearly every conventional agricultural model currently using an extractive and/or input-based approach. This too is changing. Algiere states that he welcomes scientific advancements.  Seeing the broad-reaching potential to have a seat at the table, to embrace these current conventional models based on yesterday’s science as essential but tricky – Algiere is equal parts pragmatic farmer, and systems thinking philosopher set on harmonizing man’s role in these systems.
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Algiere explains – “there are very few things we inherit in this world, and (planet & animal) genetics is one.  We must guard that responsibility.”  His Young farmers program which teaches and spawns tomorrow’s guardians of biodiversity with the skills and access to properly manage these interconnected natural systems essential for future planetary, economic and political stability is something we must more broadly evaluate, and thus replicate.   What’s most incredible for any of us – from getting your hands dirty – to witnessing transformative change – to consuming world class food – the entire immersive experience at Stone Barns Agricultural Center is accessible to all.
So, have a listen to what Jack has to say.  Better yet, go visit, and you’ll forever understand the many values good food can have on us all.

@StoneBarns

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*photo source: Stranded on Land