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For Food's Sake

Down-to-earth, easy-to-follow, genuine dialogues about the food on our plates and its impact on people and the planet. Conversations with individuals working closely with food and sustainability issues. Keeping an open mind, staying curious, and learning about what we can do.
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Aug 1, 2020

What is the future of protein, and of animal agriculture? Can we raise animals sustainably or should we move beyond meat?

To feed a growing world population, we need protein. For many, protein means meat. As our reliance on animal products grows, so does its destructive impact on the natural world. Mass deforestation, biodiversity loss, and significant greenhouse gas emissions of livestock put our dietary habits into the spotlight.

In this panel discussion, I am joined by Nathalie Rolland (Cellulaire Agriculture France & ProVeg), Andrew deCoriolis (Farm Forward) and Patrick Holden (Sustainable Food Trust).

We discuss:

  • The current COVID-19 context and its impacts on food systems
  • How sustainable are plant-based alternatives to meat?
  • What is “Better meat” and where can we find it?
  • Cellular agriculture: meat without slaughter?
  • What could the future of food look like in 2050?

This episode is a recording of the live webinar “Protein in the 21st Century”, organised by The SASI Co., a global sustainability agency.

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Mar 8, 2020

Everything begins with a seed. Seeds are both a story of loss and a story of hope in our food system.

On the one hand, we are rapidly losing seed diversity, and with it, perhaps the single best weapon agriculture has to withstand an increasingly volatile climate. When we lose biodiversity, we lose our ability to be resilient. What (or who) is causing this loss? 

On the other, seeds are central to resistance and hope. From seed saving, sharing and storing to embracing indigenous farming practices and knowledge, seeds are central to food justice and resilience of our food system to a changing climate.  

"Every seed is both a simple pocketful of genes, and a multi-multi-dimensional and complex “packetful” of stories’. - Mark Schapiro

We talk about: 

  • What losing seed diversity means, and who is driving it
  • How climate change has put industrial agriculture on trial
  • Agricultural subsidies and climate equity
  • Stories of resistance and seed saving: from Aleppo to Kansas 
  • How hopes of genetic engineering are outpaced by climate volatility
  • The belated recognition of indigenous practices and knowledge in building a resilient agriculture


Mark Schapiro is an award-winning investigative journalist specializing in the environment. His most recent book, Seeds of Resistance: The Fight to Save Our Food Supply, investigates the search for seeds to respond to climate disruptions, the battle with agri-chemical companies to control them, and the global movement underway to save them.

Previous books include CARBON SHOCK: A Tale of Risk & Calculus on the Frontlines of the Disrupted Global Economy, an investigation into the hidden costs and consequences of climate change; and EXPOSED: the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power, on the public health and economic impacts of the U.S. retreat from toxic chemical protections.  He is also a Lecturer at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and conducts trainings in science and environmental journalism in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

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Jan 26, 2020

2019 was the year of climate strikes. Animal rights activists, emboldened by a new wave of mass civil disobedience, are determined to end industrial animal agriculture.

Millions of ordinary people took to the streets in 2019. They put their bodies on the line, engaging in mass civil disobedience to demand climate action.

In an era where food is produced in factory farms with an immeasurable scale of suffering and destruction, what role should animal rights activists play in the transition towards a just food system?

In this episode, we talk with Jeff Sebo (New York University), Nico Stubler (Direct Action Everywhere) and Kerri Waters (Animal Rebellion) about the history, strategies and actions of animal rights activists. 

We discuss:

  • The origins of civil disobedience in the animal rights movement 
  • The different types of action and activism
  • Strategies and tactics: who to target and why
  • The stakes today: animal liberation as domestic terrorism? 60 years in prison? 
  • The dangers of rationalising inaction
  • The new kids on the block: Extinction Rebellion and Animal Rebellion
  • An inclusive approach: how to bring farmers on board 

Jeff Sebo is the Director of the Animal Studies M.A. Program at New York University. He teaches Animal Studies and Environmental Studies and works primarily in moral, social, and political philosophy with an emphasis on bioethics, animal ethics, and environmental ethics. He is the co-author of Animals, and the Environment: An ethical approach and author of the forthcoming book Why Animals Matter for Climate Change. 

Nico Stubler is an animal rights activist and organiser with the New York chapter of Direct Action Everywhere. He is passionate about animal liberation, decolonialism, racial and gender equity, and the natural world and through his activism is committed to tear down institutionalized oppression and structural inequity and organizing to replace these systems with just and sustainable alternatives. 

Kerri Waters is an animal rights activist and the editorial coordinator, soon to be political strategy coordinator of Animal Rebellion. She is also a freelance translator and English language teacher.

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Dec 16, 2019

To transcend infighting in the food movement, finding our common ground is as important as targeting our common enemy.

The food movement is amazingly diverse. From personal health and animal rights to protecting worker’s rights and precious ecosystems, our why’s for wanting to radically transform our food system widely differ. So do our tactics and our strategies. 

That diversity may just be the food movement's greatest strength, yet it also risks being its biggest weakness. 

Infighting is as invasive as it is destructive. The ‘circling fire squad’ - where people with common enemies choose to shoot one another instead - is deeply counterproductive.

To transcend infighting, finding our common ground is as important as targeting our common enemy. 

Tom Newmark - co-founder of The Carbon Underground - sees an answer in Regenerative Agriculture - and a focus on soil as our common ground. 

Tom and I discuss:

  • What led him to regenerative agriculture and why its focus on outcomes rather than practices is transformative
  • How common ground exists between seemingly insurmountable visions in the environmental food movement
  • The differences that do matter: the case for remaining vigilant not only against the expansion of factory farms, but also against the new discourses of 'sustainable intensification' and 'Climate-Smart' Agriculture

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Feb 23, 2019

The continued expansion of industrial-scale chemical-intensive agriculture around the world relies on one central powerful myth: only industrial agriculture can feed the world.

 

Timothy A. Wise - author of Eating Tomorrow - joins us to discuss why, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, governments continue to invest in a model of farming that is devouring the natural resources on which future food production depends. By choosing the path of industrial agriculture today, we are, quite literally, “eating our collective tomorrows”.

Tim and I discuss:

  • Who actually “feeds the world”
  • Who (or what) industrial agriculture feeds
  • The failing Green Revolution in Africa: feeding corporations, not the hungry
  • Alternative local agroecological solutions in Malawi and Mozambique nourishing people and planet
  • How agroecology, not hybrid seeds, builds lasting resilience against floods and drought, the ‘evil twins of climate change’:
  • Global trade and market failure: NAFTA devastating biodiversity and Mexican farmer livelihoods
  • India’s National Food Security Act: the most ambitious anti-hunger program in the world and why the US opposes it

 

Timothy A. Wise directs the Land and Food Rights Program at Small Planet Institute. He is a Research Fellow in the Globalization Program at Tufts University’s Global Development and Environment Institute. With a background as an economic journalist and an international development practitioner, Wise’s research and writing have covered U.S. farm policies, trade and agricultural development, agricultural biodiversity, food prices and biofuels, and Mexico’s maize economy under the threat of genetically modified maize. He is also the former Executive Director of Grassroots International and a writer and editor at Dollars & Sensemagazine, and co-author of Confronting Globalization: Economic Integration and Popular Resistance in Mexico,The Promise and the Perils of Agricultural Trade Liberalization: Lessons from Latin America, and A Survey of Sustainable Development: Social and Economic Dimensions.

 

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Jan 19, 2019

We are on the cusp of a post-antibiotic era. The golden age of miracle drugs may be coming to an end.

To understand why, award-winning author Maryn McKenna joins us on the show to discuss the long intertwined history of antibiotics and industrial animal agriculture. 

We discuss:

  • What antibiotic resistance is and why it’s ‘the greatest slow-brewing health crisis of our time’
  • Why bacteria are winning and why Big Pharma are dragging their feet
  • The birth of antibiotics and how it enabled industrial livestock production
  • Why chicken lies at the centre of the story of antibiotics and industrial meat
  • A bizarre footnote in the story of antibiotics called “Acronizing” 
  • The fight to ban the use of growth promoting antibiotics
  • The legislative battles ahead in fighting preventive use of antibiotics
  • Beyond the doom and gloom: different models of antibiotic-free animal agriculture from around the world
  • Wider lessons for the food movement from the story of antibiotics

 

Maryn McKenna is an independent journalist who specializes in public health, global health and food policy. She is a columnist for WIRED, a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University. Her latest book “BIg Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats” (also published internationally under the title Plucked) received the 2018 Science in Society Award and was named a best book of 2017 by Amazon, Smithsonian, Science News, Wired, Civil Eats and other publications. She writes for The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Mother Jones, Newsweek, NPR, Smithsonian,S cientific American, Slate, The Atlantic, Nature, and The Guardian, among other publications.

 

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Dec 18, 2018

Four grain trading giants - collectively known as the ABCDs - dominate international grain trade in our global food system. Knowing who they are and what they do is vital to understand the whys and hows of our modern food supply. 

A key branch of ABCD power and influence are their financial subsidiaries. Financialisation in the food system today has widespread and alarming implications. Local food movements, farmers and consumers must take heed of these global forces, or risk being crowded out by private interests pursuing profit over people and planet.

Dr. Jennifer Clapp joins us to discuss:

  • Who the ABCDs are, where and how they operate, and why they dominate
  • Recent ABCD mergers and acquisitions and the impact of Trump’s trade war with China
  • The merging of food & finance: the financialisation of futures markets
  • How financial speculation helped fuel the 2008 food price crisis
  • Why financial investors moved en masse to acquire farmland
  • ABCD involvement in the financialisation of the food system
  • How to regulate invisible giants and the financialisation of food

 

Dr. Clapp is a Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security and Sustianability and Professor in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo, Canada. She has published widely on the global governance of problems that arise at the intersection of the global economy, the environment, and food security. Her current research focuses on the implications of financial markets and transnational corporations for food system sustainability. Her most recent books include Speculative Harvests: Financialization, Food, and Agriculture (with S. Ryan Isakson, Fernwood Press, 2018), Food, 2nd Edition (Polity, 2016), Hunger in the Balance: The New Politics of International Food Aid (Cornell University Press, 2012), and Corporate Power in Global Agrifood Governance (co-edited with Doris Fuchs, MIT Press, 2009).

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Nov 23, 2018

The global fertiliser market is a $200 billion industry. But who does it serve?

Produced in large-scale, centralised facilities in developed countries, conventional fertilisers are neither cheap nor reliably accessible for rural smallholder farmers in emerging markets in Africa and India.

Safi Organics in Kenya has a vision to decentralise and downsize fertiliser production. Using recycled waste from local farms, carbon-negative organic biochar fertilisers empower farmers by making their farms more resilient with lower costs, higher yields and better soils.   

We talk to co-founder Samuel Rigu about:

  • His childhood memories of growing up on a farm in Kenya
  • The conventional model of fertiliser production and use
  • The crippling costs and logistical challenges of fertiliser use in Kenya
  • Decentralising fertiliser use
  • Carbon-negative, organic biochar fertiliser
  • The role of fertiliser in facing the reality of climate change
  • A vision of empowering smallholder farmers for lasting food security

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Nov 2, 2018

When we stop treating dirt like dirt, when we accept it’s neither ‘dirt cheap’ nor ‘dirt poor’, we will come to realise it is the most precious resource we have. Treat dirt, or soil, the way you want to be treated.

In this episode, David R. Montgomery joins us to talk about how soil has shaped the course of civilisations. From the Classical Greeks and the Romans to the Maya civilisation – the story of soil and its mistreatment has been central to explaining why civilisations collapse.

The plow – the tool that defines farming - is the number one culprit. Some argue it has been more destructive than the sword.

David is a Professor of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of Washington, he is a MacArthur Fellow, and author of King of Fish: The Thousand-year Run of Salmon; The Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood; Dirt: The Erosions of Civilizations; The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health (which he co-authored with Anne Biklé); and Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life.

We cover:

  • A crash course on soil, soil formation, erosion and degradation
  • The myth that ancient civilisations lived and farmed in harmony with nature
  • The central role of soil in the fall of ancient Greece and Rome
  • The plow: more destructive than the sword?
  • Soil erosion and colonialism, slavery and empire
  • Soil and climate change
  • Soilutions: the promise of conservation agriculture  

 

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Oct 18, 2018

The end of Capitalism is nigh. Or we should certainly hope so.

Raj Patel makes a convincing case for the urgent need to think beyond capitalism if we are to move towards a zero-carbon economy. “Let us recognise that the system itself is dooming us and that we need to think outside it rather than within it” – Raj Patel.

If this sounds revolutionary, that’s precisely the point.

Raj and I discuss:

  • Why we shouldn’t call this era the “Anthropocene”
  • What Capitalism actually is
  • The frontiers of Capitalism and the search for the next best “cheap thing”
  • The Chicken McNugget: the symbol of modern capitalism
  • The Market Approach: Carbon pricing, Natural Capital, and voting with your fork
  • Thinking beyond Capitalism: a Theory of Change to get us to a zero-carbon economy

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Oct 5, 2018

Monsanto has been found guilty in the world’s first-ever court case over claims its Roundup herbicide causes cancer. It faces thousands of similar lawsuits. Is this Monsanto’s (Bayer AG) tobacco moment?

Veteran investigative journalist Carey Gillam walks us through, step-by-step, the Monsanto trial that shocked the world.

We cover:

  • Who Dewayne “Lee” Johnson is and why he sued Monsanto
  • What happened during the trial: the jury selection, the plaintiff and defendant’s arguments, the jury’s verdict
  • What’s next: the implications, the appeals, and other trials

 

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Sep 22, 2018

Are you a Wizard or a Prophet? Two largely forgotten 20th century thinkers – Norman Borlaug and William Vogt – continue to shape our competing visions of the future of our planet.

 
In this episode, we talk to Charles C. Mann, award-winning author of The Wizard and the Prophet, about these remarkable scientists and their lasting influence.
 
Borlaug – the Wizard – is a Nobel-winning scientist who kickstarted the agricultural ‘Green Revolution’, while Vogt – the Prophet – laid the foundations for the modern environmental movement.
 
The path we choose to solve our environmental dilemmas hinges on how we understand and frame the problems we face. Is innovation and technology the solution that will push us beyond our predicaments to overcome earth’s natural boundaries, or is the answer to scale back and respect the ecological limits of our planet?
 
Charles and I discuss:
  • Who the Prophets and Wizards are, what they believe in and what they’ve achieved, and how they envision the future
  • Who the contemporary Prophets and Wizards are that continue to shape public debate
  • How these competing visions dictate debates in agriculture, water scarcity, energy, and climate change
  • The politics and power dynamics behind the visions of Prophets and Wizards
  • What’s at stake if we choose one path over another
  • A sobering (and rather terrifying) alternative third vision
 
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Sep 7, 2018

What role can livestock play in a sustainable food system? In Meat: A Benign Extravagance, Simon Fairlie lays out a convincing case as to why eating meat and dairy is part of a holistic and sensible agricultural system.

 
In this episode, we discuss:
  • Why widely quoted figures on livestock’s impact on the environment are misleading: from feed conversion ratios to water use to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • How a ‘default livestock diet’ makes ecological sense
  • The uncertainties and potential shortcomings of veganic farming
  • An (uncomfortable) reality: truly sustainable agriculture calls for the ruralising of society
 
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Jul 10, 2018

The urban-rural divide is more pronounced than ever. The 'last acceptable prejudice' - that against rural people and places - is not only real, it is destructive.


As in our politics, the debates around food and sustainability are increasingly polarised. Conventional agriculture is pitted against organic agriculture, vegans face-off against carnivores, urban city-dwellers clash with countrymen and women. How do we bridge these divides?

In this episode, we talk to Ash Bruxvoort about their story growing up as the daughter of a conventional farmer and a sustainable agriculture advocate.

Ash Bruxvoort is a writer and program coordinator at Women, Food and Agriculture Network. They grew up on a family farm outside of Des Moines, Iowa, where their father produces corn and soybeans. Their writing and work focuses on empowering women and gender non-conforming people to tell their stories about the urban-rural divide. 

We discuss:

  • How the urban-rural divide shapes how we see politics and debates around sustainable agriculture
  • Ash’s take, as a daughter of a conventional farmer, on sustainable agriculture
  • How we address ‘the last acceptable prejudice’ : the prejudice against rural places and people (Wendell Berry)

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Jun 26, 2018
In this episode, we talk to Patrick Holden about the hopes and fears of British farming after Brexit.


Patrick is a pioneer of the modern sustainable food movement. He is the Founding Director and current Chief Executive of the Sustainable Food Trust, an organization dedicated to accelerating the transition to more sustainable food and farming systems. Previously, he has been the founding chairman of British Organic Farmers in 1982, and the former Director of the Soil Association, where he played a key role in the development of organic standards and the market for organic foods for nearly 20 years. Patrick is also a farmer, and runs the longest established organic dairy farm in Wales, and wrote the world’s first draft of the organic dairy standards in the 80s.

In this episode, Patrick and I discuss:

  • The mood in British agriculture towards Brexit
  • The UK government’s Brexit plan for agriculture
  • Brexit: an opportunity for a decisive shift towards sustainable agriculture?
  • Brexit’s impact on subsidies, trade deals, EU migrant farmworkers, animal welfare and abattoirs
  • What Brexit can teach the EU about agriculture

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May 7, 2018

Shifting mindsets at the grassroots level lies at the heart of The Art of Living’s approach to sustainable agriculture.


An epidemic of farmer suicides has claimed over 300,000 lives in India since 1995. By investing in social capital, The Art of Living focuses on bringing back self-esteem and self-confidence in rural communities.

Farmers practice yoga, breathing exercises and meditation for stress-relief and personal development - investing in themselves to become productive and proactive advocates for change. Livelihoods are transformed by taking charge and ownership of the challenges faced.

This episode was recorded live at The Art of Living International Center in Bengaluru, India during the visit of students from HEC Paris. Himanshu Kelra, Director of Institutional Relations of the Center, explains The Art of Living’s approach to building social capital. The talk covers:

  • A brief history of international development aid models in India
  • Boreholes crops, depleted aquifers and the tragedy of the commons
  • The Art of Living’s river rejuvenation projects
  • How to build trust, engage and empower rural communities
  • How to measure the impact of changing mindsets

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Apr 15, 2018

Restaurants around the world are taking action against Climate Change by going carbon neutral.


A new generation of chefs – the modern-day ambassadors of the food movement – have a vision: radically transform the restaurant industry by turning sustainability into a culinary virtue.

By sourcing differently, cooking creatively, and eliminating the by-products of their restaurant operations, carbon neutral restaurants are pioneering the sustainable dining movement.

In this episode, we talk with ZeroFoodprint and two critically-acclaimed restaurants Amass and The Perennial leading the carbon neutral restaurant movement.

We discuss:

  • What it means and what it takes for a restaurant to go carbon neutral
  • How The Perennial supports Carbon Farming to combat climate change
  • How Amass Restaurant is eliminating its waste by turning food scraps into culinary gold
  • How carbon neutrality affects your dining experience and what you’ll find on a carbon neutral menu
  • How carbon neutrality can find ways to scale and conquer the fast food industry

We interview:

  • Elizabeth Singleton – former Executive Director of ZeroFoodprint
  • Matthew Orlando – Head Chef and Owner of Amass Restaurant
  • Karen Leibowitz – Co-owner of The Perennial

 

ZeroFoodprint works with restaurants to help them understand and drive down their foodprint by taking action on operational efficiency, ingredients, and carbon offsets. It works with restaurants all around the world including Noma, Mission Chinese Food, Pistola y Corazón, Amass and The Perennial.

Amass opened in Copenhagen in 2013 by Matthew Orlando, former chef de cuisine of Noma. The world-famous New Nordic restaurant is radically rethinking the use of by-products in all of its operations.

The Perennial is a restaurant in San Fransisco pioneering the sustainable dining movement. By supporting and sourcing from carbon farming initiatives, The Perennial highlights how regenerative agriculture and sustainable dining can become part of the solution to climate change.

 

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Mar 9, 2018

Farm subsidies are central to agricultural policy. But do farmers need them?


In this episode, we discuss the ins and outs of the EU Common Agricultural Policy with Dr. Alan Matthews, Professor Emeritus of European Agricultural Policy at Trinity College, Dublin.

We discuss:

  • The origins of the EU Common Agricultural Policy
  • Hectare-based subsidies: how larger farms receive larger subsidies
  • Subsidies: a barrier or incentive for sustainable farming?
  • Agricultural lobbying in the EU
  • A silver lining of Brexit
  • A way forward for farming in Europe

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Feb 16, 2018

Is chocolate going ‘extinct’? Are we heading towards a ‘world without chocolate’?

In this episode, we explore what lies behind these recent media headlines that suggest chocolate may not survive climate change. To find answers, we deep dive into the world of chocolate with Simran Sethi.

Simran Sethi is a journalist focused on food, sustainability and social change. She is the best-selling author of Bread, Wine and Chocolate: The Slow Loss of the Foods We Love, a fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First) and the creator and host of The Slow Melt: an award-winning podcast about chocolate.

We discuss:

  • What chocolate actually is: how its grown and processed, and by who
  • Chocolate in the spotlight: going "extinct", or not quite?
  • Costly northern appetites: mass deforestation and biodiversity loss
  • A real and present threat: farmer livelihoods, low prices and the cruel irony of oversupply
  • Consumer consciousness: how we can take positive action


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Feb 4, 2018

Over the past decade, Monsanto has become a pop cultural bogeyman. Surrounded by controversy, cover-ups, and conspiracies, the agricultural giant is for many the face of corporate evil.

At the same time, the company continues to deliver commercial success. Reporting record sales, the world’s largest seed company shows no signs of slowing down.

In this episode, we talk with Carey Gillam, veteran investigative journalist and author of Whitewash: The story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science.  A former senior correspondent for Reuters, Carey has spent over 20 years covering the agricultural industry and big food business. Today, she continues her work as the research director for consumer advocacy group US Right to Know.

We discuss:

  • The origins: how Monsanto came to be the agricultural giant it is today
  • Monsanto’s lucrative business model: patented GMO-seeds & ‘Round-up’ weed-killer
  • Monsanto, farmers and the Green Revolution
  • The GMO controversy
  • The rise, dominance (and eventual fall?) of Glyphosate: a controversial pesticide in our food, water, air and bodies
  • The ‘Monsanto Papers’: decades of deception come to light
  • The EU and Monsanto: head to head
  • The Bayer-Monsanto merger: another twist
  • Our role as consumers: more than spectators to a horror show?  

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Jan 22, 2018

This week, we talk with Natalie Pukasemvarangkoon about the Paleo diet.

Natalie has experimented with pretty much every diet in the book. She’s been a carnivore, a pescatarian, a vegetarian, and a vegan for a solid 3 years. She’s tried the 80/10/10 diet, raw till four, the HCLF diet, and yes, the Paleo diet.

Natalie is the founder of the Paleo Collective - an umbrella for the Paleo lifestyle: providing Paleo-friendly caterings, personal chef services, they host pop-up dinners and provide corporate talks and demos to educate people on the diet and lifestyle. They also run a blog with recipes and health tips related to the Paleo diet.

In this episode, we discuss what the Paleo diet is, and why its Natalie’s diet of choice. We explore:

  • How to pronounce Paleo – the little things matter!
  • How to eat Paleo: why eating grains and beans are a big no-no, why gluten is sin, and how choosing quality meat is essential
  • What the gut microbiome is, how gluten can affect the gut, and how it influences our health and mood
  • The common cause: why the rift between vegans and paleo obscures important values these diets or lifestyles have in common

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Dec 26, 2017

In the Age of People, the plow was, and remains, one of the most destructive inventions. In his new book Growing A Revolution, award-winning author David R. Montgomery calls on farmers to ditch the plow, bring back cover crops, and grow for diversity.

Such an agricultural revolution puts soil health at the center of farming. It transforms agriculture from a destructive practice that is very much part of the problem to a major solution that combats climate change.

In this episode, we talk to David and discuss:

  • What soil is, and why farming depends above all on healthy soils
  • What conservation agriculture is and why it works better, including:
    • why tilling your land is not a good idea
    • why an overdependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides turns plants into ‘botanical couch potatoes’
    • Why monocrops are vulnerable to pests, disease, and climate change
  • How labels such as organic or conventional are missing the point
  • How farming can shift from a carbon-emitting activity to a carbon-storing activity
  • What obstacles still remain to making conservation farming the norm

 

“The debate over the future of agriculture is misrepresented when cast as the simple choice between organic methods and AgroTech approaches like GMOs. It really comes down to the philosophical rift between agricultural practices based on enhancing nutrient cycling and soil health versus those that mine soil fertility and attempt to replace or compensate for degraded soil health with technology and commercial products”  David R. Montgomery 

 

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Dec 1, 2017

As the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) comes to a close in Bonn, Switzerland, where do we stand on our climate commitments? What issues are on the table, and which have been swept under the rug? How are we tackling what many consider to be one of the biggest elephants in the room – the role of livestock and global overconsumption of meat and dairy products?

In this episode, we welcome back Mark Pershin on the podcast, founder and CEO of Less Meat Less Heat, an organization committed to shifting societal attitudes towards meat consumption to curtail agriculture’s damaging impact on the environment.

 

Mark and I discuss:

  • Why so little progress has been made in reaching agreements on agriculture and food in UN Climate Change Conferences
  • How a coalition is forming that aims to put the overconsumption of meat on the negotiating table and the role of livestock in climate change front and centre of policy debates
  • Why grassroots movements and individual actions remain vital in the fight against climate change

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Nov 16, 2017

This year for Thanksgiving, Americans will consume 46 million turkeys. Factory farming has never been more 'efficient'. This same year, the US has consumed 9 billion chickens. Worldwide, we managed to eat 50 billion. How does this system function? What makes it so effective and profitable?

It all comes down to one word: genetics.

Since the 1950s, heritage breeds of poultry, or standard-bred poultry, have been gradually replaced by an army of uniform hybrid birds. Bred to grow as large as possible and as quickly as possible, hybrids are exceptionally profitable for Big Agriculture, and have come to dominate the global poultry industry.

In this episode, I talk with Andrew DeCoriolis from Farm Forward and Frank R. Reese Jr., owner of the Good Shepherd Poultry Farm, about the need to preserve heritage breeds. We explore:

  • How animal welfare, the livelihoods of farmers and the environment are best protected when the genetic diversity of these birds is preserved.

  • How free-range, pasture-raised and organic meat movements are counterproductive if we fail to win the battle of genetics.

  • How supporting heritage poultry this Thanksgiving is one of the strongest and most effective ways to boycott factory farming and support sustainable agriculture.

Farm Forward is a US-based non-profit that implements innovative strategies to promote conscientious food choices, reduce farmed animal suffering, and advance sustainable agriculture. Farm Forward is helping Frank Reese share his knowledge with the next generation of farmers by launching the Good Shepherd Poultry Institute (GSPI). 

Frank Reese is a fourth-generation Kansas farmer with more than 60 years of experience breeding and raising heritage poultry. An award-winning master breeder and American Poultry Association (APA) judge, Frank owns and operates one of the few successful heritage poultry farms in America, the Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch, which has garnered praise from Martha Stewart, celebrity chef Mario Batali, the New York Times, and is featured centrally in the documentary film Eating Animals, which recently premiered at the prestigious Telluride Film Festival.

 

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Oct 31, 2017

In this episode, I talk about my beef with Veganism. I explain why, after a 30-day vegan challenge, I remain a sceptical vegetarian. I talk about:

  • How Vegan-endorsed health hypes and food fads create their own ethical dilemmas which vegans need to confront

  • How the ‘Go Vegan, save the planet’ discourse is unhelpful for the movement, and factually questionable.

  • How Veganism needs to move away from a self-understanding as the movement, and instead embrace its place as a movement among many (imperfect) dietary movements that support a move away from factory farming and industrial food production

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