Food Tank’s Farm Tank Summit in Sacramento Reveals Knowledge Gap

Food Tank’s 1st Annual Farm Tank Summit in Sacramento Reveals Gap in Agricultural Knowledge

Good Starting Point for Constructive Conversation

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

Several hundred food activists attended the First Annual Farm Tank Summit in Sacramento last week, hosted by Food Tank, in partnership with the Visit SacramentoCalifornia Farm-to-Fork Program, and University of California, DavisDanielle Nierenberg, co-founder and president of Food Tank noted having the event in Sacramento enabled West Coast agricultural experts to contribute to the discussion.

“We were really excited to feature California agriculture, because it’s such a huge part of the American economy,” said Nierenberg. “Californians are feeding the world, and we need to really highlight what these amazing producers are doing. When the Farm to Fork program of the Visitors Bureau reached out to us, we were thrilled to partner with such an amazing group of people, as well as UC Davis folks and the Center for Land-Based Learning,” she said.

Food Tank, an abbreviation of Food Think Tank, is a 501(c)3 non profit organization focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters that values education, inspiration and change.

According to their website:

Food Tank is for the 7 billion people who have to eat every day. We will offer solutions and environmentally sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty by creating a network of connections and information for all of us to consume and share. Food Tank is for farmers and producers, policy makers and government leaders, researchers and scientists, academics and journalists, and the funding and donor communities to collaborate on providing sustainable solutions for our most pressing environmental and social problems.

The organization begins with the premise, “Our food system is broken. Some people don’t have enough food, while others are eating too much. There’s only one way to fix this problem—and it starts with you and me.”

Food Tank, Farm Tank SummitWith the goal of feeding the hungry world of nine billion people in a few years, “Food Tank highlights hope and success in agriculture. We feature innovative ideas that are already working on the ground, in cities, in kitchens, in fields and in laboratories. These innovations need more attention, more research, and ultimately more funding to be replicated and scaled-up. And that is where we need you. We all need to work together to find solutions that nourish ourselves and protect the planet.”

Nierenberg clarified, “I don’t necessarily think we need to scale up food production; I think we need to scale out different innovations that are working. We’re wasting about 1.3 billion tons of food annually. That’s enough to feed everyone who’s hungry today, so we don’t necessarily need to ramp up production. We need to have better distribution, and processing practices that can help get food to people who need it the most,” she said.

“We need the political will behind those things,” she continued, “to build the infrastructure necessary for farmers to have better processing facilities, to have better storage facilities, to have better roads—if we’re talking about the developing world. I don’t necessarily think that we need to invest in producing more calories; we need better calories. We need more nutrient-dense food, and we need less starchy staple crops,” she noted.


Editor’s Note: Activists overtook the stage during the event, and the conversation was notably challenging for panelists. In an effort to Cultivate Common Ground to link consumers with the farmers who grow their nutritious food—and vice versa—California Ag Today has chosen to share some interesting statements from presenters and attendees to illustrate, perhaps, where the discussion could begin:

Regarding farms and processing facilities, big is bad, and small is good.

Regarding food quality, organic produce is healthy and safe, while conventional produce is unsafe and full of pesticides.

One of many moderators from the Bay Area, Twilight Greenaway, managing editor of Civil Eats mistakenly introduced Oscar Villegas, Yolo County Supervisor, District 1, as being from Sacramento County. When Villegas corrected her, Greenaway said, “I’m showing my Central Valley and Bay Area eliteness.”

Eric Holt-Giménez, executive director of Food First, noted that farmworkers are invisible in California agriculture. “There is racism in the fields. We need more worker unions and we need farmworkers to be paid much more than they are now and the farmworkers should be getting pensions from the farmer.”

Michael Dimock, president, Roots of Change, said to the audience, “You guys are doing a great job. Keep doing it. Keep working with your NGOs. They know policy. In turn, they can work with the legislators.”

“You need to be in the capital, pursuading the legislatures to support their bills. They want to be reelected, and if they don’t do what we ask them to do, they are scared.”

“In the meantime, we have to be nice to farmers because farmers are scared. We are putting a lot of pressure on them; They are in a vice. Our movement has supported bills AB 1066 – the overtime bill, minimum wage increases, organic farming legislation,  and workers’ rights.”

Kerryn Gerety, founder and CEO, Lazoka, referred to John Purcell, vegetables global R&D Lead, Hawaii business lead, vice president and distinguished fellow, Monsanto Company, and said, “There is an elephant in the room, the Monsanto rep. Monsanto has all the technology patents. We all want transparency and we need you to be more transparent.”

Continuing, “Why doesn’t Monsanto open-source some of your patents and release the intellectual property so others can take advantage of your teçhnology?”

Purcell answered, “We are an Ag company. Why would our company invest a million dollars on technology and let everyone have it? It is our investment and we need to have the opportunity for a return on that investment.

During a panel discussion of food companies including Blue Apron, Almond Board of California, and Bayer CropScience, that covered organics, Jennifer Maloney, food chain sustainability manager, Bayer CropScience, said, “We do support  the organic industry, because we have biological products that work in organic as well as conventional [farming].”

Maloney also talked about agricultural Integrated Pest Management (IPM) technology such as smart sprayers that spray only targeted areas.

Matt Wadiak, founder & COO, Blue Apron, responded, “It’s not about smart sprayers; it’s about biological systems in the field and trying to lean on them instead of spraying.”

Maloney replied, “Yes, that is exactly what IPM is.”

Keith Knopf, COO, Raley’s Family of Fine Stores, commented on the organic question, “the way we see organic versus inorganic—that is not the discussion for us. What’s more important to us is, is it the candy bar or the apple?”


This two-day event featured more than 35 speakers from the food and agriculture field, interactive panels moderated by top food journalists, networking, and delicious food, followed by a day of hands-on activities and opportunities for attendees. This was the second in a series of three 2016 Summits, following the Washington, D.C. Food Tank Summit that completely sold out and drew in more than 30,100 livestream viewers. The third Summit will be held in Chicago on November 16, 2016.

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BASF Helps Fight Hunger With $75,000 Donation To Feeding America

Contribution will help provide nearly 340 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables to U.S. food banks

 

By Laurie Greene, CalAgToday Editor, Reporter

 

BASF is donating $75,000 to Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, to help feed struggling families and individuals throughout the U.S.

“Hunger is a very real problem for tens of millions of people in America, including low-income families and seniors,” said Scott Kay, Vice President, U.S. Crop Protection for BASF. “Through our contribution to Feeding America, we can help provide healthy fruits and vegetables to people and communities who may not have regular access to them. In many ways, this partnership is an extension of the work we do every day with growers to help them feed our hungry world population.”

The donation will support Feeding America’s National Produce Program, an initiative that helps with planning, transportation and logistics to ensure fresh produce deliveries to the 200 member food banks around the country.

The commitment from BASF will help Feeding America provide 675,000 pounds of produce to families and individuals in need. The donation includes $5,000 in contributions from BASF grower customers who chose to be part of this donation.

“BASF was a natural fit to partner with Feeding America as we continue to focus on providing more nutritious fruits and vegetables for the clients we serve,” said Nancy Curby, vice president of corporate partnerships for Feeding America. “Their support will help extend the reach of our National Produce Program and help more Americans in need.”

Employees at the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, BASF headquarters also raised more than $18,000 for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina through a virtual food drive and a special showing of the movie “Farmland.” The BASF Crop Protection division is also sponsoring the local ABC network affiliate WTVD’s “Heart of Carolina” food drive during the holiday season to collect food and raise money for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and the Second Harvest Food Bank.

“Our business and our employees are very pleased to partner with the many dedicated food bank volunteers who share our commitment to feeding those facing hunger, not only during the holidays, but all year long,” Kay said.

 

BASF’s Crop Protection division provides innovative solutions in crop protection, seed treatment and biological control as well as solutions to manage water, nutrients, plant stress, pest control and public health. The Crop Protection division supports growers to optimize agricultural production, improve their business efficiency and enhance the quality of life for a growing world population. Further information can be found on the web at www.agro.basf.com or through our social media channels.

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Silicon Valley Needs Farmers Too – Farm to Food Bank Month Spotlight

Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties is centered in one of America’s wealthiest regions. But as the cost of living soars, nutritious food has become a luxury for the nearly 250,000 people who depend on us for food every month. A recent article in USA Today highlights this disparity.Second Harvest

More than two-thirds of our clients purchase unhealthy food. They know the food is unhealthy, but it’s what they can afford. We’re on a mission to not only end local hunger, but to provide everyone with access to the nutritious food they need to thrive.  Local farmers are some of our strongest allies.

Thanks to generous growers throughout our region, Second Harvest was able to distribute nearly 30 million pounds of fresh produce last fiscal year, more than any other food bank in the nation. Much of this food was donated from family farms, demonstrating the deep connection that farmers have to local community.

Together, farmers and the food bank community can ensure that anyone who needs a meal—especially a healthy meal—can get one.

 

Kathy Jackson was named a “Woman of Influence” by the Silicon Valley Business Journal in 2010 and currently serves on the boards of the California Association of Food Banks and Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity. In 2014 she was honored as Network Leader of the Year across the 202 food banks within Feeding America.

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World Food Day: Hunger is a Matter of Food Access, Even at Home

By Laurie Greene, California Ag Today Editor

“It is encouraging to see World Food Day observed today, a designation made possible by the inspiring work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,” says California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross in a statement released TODAY.

The goal of World Food Day is to eradicate hunger. Ross explains the world produces enough food to feed everyone; the ongoing problem is food access.

Globally, reports University of California, Davis, over 800 million people today suffer from malnutrition and hunger, nearly 15.9 million children in the U.S. struggle daily to get proper nutrition and approximately 18% of residents in this region lack regular access to food. Ross states, “In California, almost four million people are food insecure; they could not afford enough food at least once in the previous year.

World Food Day Logo

CDFA addresses access issues daily through its programs. Ross explains that CDFA’s Certified Farmers’ Market program has helped increase the number of markets statewide, providing communities with fresh, nutritious food directly from farms. Many of them now accept CalFresh cards used by California’s low-income families to obtain nutritious food. Likewise, CDFA’s Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program helps provide these foods to needy senior citizens.

CDFA’s Office of Farm to Fork connects school districts with local farmers and also helps teachers provide quality nutrition education to their students. Ross says, “I was very pleased to see these efforts play a role in bringing a truly exceptional honor this week to a group of Contra Costa County students – they were invited to the White House garden to meet First Lady Michelle Obama and help harvest vegetables for the White House kitchen!”

CDFA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program provides USDA Farm Bill funds, nearly $20 million in 2014, through a competitive grant process for some specialty crops projects. Projects includ programs in Chico and Sacramento to improve access through community gardens for low-income residents and educational opportunities in both nutrition and urban production.

The California State Board of Food and Agriculture and CDFA collaborate to generate donations to state food banks. “We declare each December as Farm-to-Food Bank Month,” Ross comments, “and ask our farmers and ranchers to make a donation or a pledge.” Last year, donations exceeded 127 million pounds of food, and this year’s goal is 200 million pounds.

Ross continues, “We want to thank our partners at California Grown for its commitment to the food bank effort with its “Snap a Selfie” Program.” California Grown donates a pound of food to California food banks for every #cagrown selfie—a photograph of the CA Grown logo or anything grown or produced in California and is posted with ‘#cagrown’ in the posting on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook by end of this month. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations established World Food Day on October 16, 1981, the anniversary of the organization’s founding in 1945.

The 2014 World Food Day theme – Family Farming: “Feeding the world, caring for the earth” – has been chosen to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers. World attention will focus on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.

The UN General Assembly has designated 2014 “International Year of Family Farming.” This is a strong signal that the international community recognizes the important contribution of family farmers to world food security.

Eight days after World Food Day, held every October 24th, “Food Day” organized by the Washington, D.C.-based, nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), aims to unite Americans to celebrate and enjoy real food and to push for improved food policies. “Real Food, Just Food”is the 2014 slogan.

Sources: CDFA, UC Davis Dateline, FAO of the UN, CSPI

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