Local Agriculture – America’s Heartland: Episode 913


America’s Heartland is made
possible by… Farm Credit –
Financing agriculture and rural
America since 1916. Farm Credit is
cooperatively owned by America’s
farmers and ranchers. Learn more at farmcredit.com CropLife America –
Representing the companies whose modern farming innovations help
America’s farmers provide nutritious food for communities
around the globe.  >>Hi I’m Jason Shoultz. At no other time in history
have you had such a myriad of choices when it comes to
the food you eat. Just ahead, we’ll clue you
in on some growing food trends affecting you and
your family. Organic foods are on the
shopping list for many consumers. You’ll meet some California
farmers staking their future on organic farming and “community
supported agriculture”. Ever wonder about those
“gluten free” labels you see on products? We’ll answer some questions
about gluten in your diet and take you to Nebraska
where one farmer is cashing in on gluten free flour. Then, one Virginia school
system takes an active approach to helping students
eat healthier… while benefitting local
farmers. Let’s find out about the food on
your table… just ahead on America’s
Heartland. You havin’ a good mornin’? Yeah. Yeah? ♪You can see it in the eyes
Of every woman and man♪ ♪In America’s Heartland
living close to the land♪ ♪There’s a love for the country
And a pride in the brand♪ ♪In America’s Heartland♪ ♪Living close
Close to the land♪ ♪♪ We’re going to spend a
little time at a one of a kind dinner on a farm right here in
Northern California. I’ll tell you all about that in
just a moment. You know, we’ve all known for a
long time that eating the right foods can help to improve
your health. And there’s a good deal of
concern about childhood obesity. But it’s not always easy to
make a direct connection to a specific diet or food
group as being better for you. Organic?
Gluten Free? Many people, however, are
making food decisions they consider to be beneficial. And some of those decisions
start right on the farm. Diners have shown up
by the dozens for a unique event called
“Outstanding in the Field” Calling itself “a restaurant
without walls”, the event sets up tables in
farm fields and barns- serving up gourmet meals
with local ingredients prepared by celebrated
regional chefs. The aim is to re-connect diners
to the land and the origins of their food by honoring local
farmers and food artisans.>>You know, agriculture has
the word culture in it and, uh that’s something… culture’s
powerful and if people can access that and understand
it and meet the people who are doing that work,
it’s substantial, it’s inspiring and it tastes
good. So, it’s good… You can’t beat
that.>>To get out and actually cook
outside and meet people and talk and just be out. You know we’re surrounded by
fig orchards and stone fruit. The squash we’re using
today was ground here and it’s cool, like,
where did you get that? Over there. You know, isn’t that fun? And you know it’s really
cool to do that. The meat provider, his ranch
is going to be here, my fish provider, the ranch
is going to be here today. You know there’s a big
connection. I can point to everybody that
provided the food today and
that’s fun.>>From May through November,
“Outstanding in the Field” will host more than
80 such dinners in the U.S. and overseas. After a tour of the host farm,
diners, culinary artisans, farmers and growers sit down to
dinner… sharing the bounty
on the long table. The dinner, tonight, is
being hosted here at the Capay Organic farm in
northern California. Organic farming has seen a
double digit growth in the past ten years and the number of
organic farming operations in the U.S. has more than doubled
since the early 1990’s. For the farmers here, the
mission is not only growing organic produce… it’s getting
those crops to consumers. ♪♪ It’s a celebration of the
tomato. Here at Capay Organic Farm
in Northern California. Complete with tomato
tasting!>>I didn’t realize there were
going to be this many varieties. I was blown away. Some were just incredibly
sweet. Some were tart or acidic. Just full of flavor.>>There’s just a lot of
nuances in the flavors. I’ve never noticed that
before. And it’s a really great
experience to be able to do
that. Spend the day out here and
get to taste the complexities.>>The farm’s tomato festival is an annual event at the Capay
Farm. It draws more than a
thousand folks who show up for tomatoes, tasting and
tunes. ♪♪ The Capay farm folks have
good reason to celebrate their bright red tomatoes. Like the vines they grow on,
the tomatoes are deeply intertwined with this farm
family’s success. How long will these produce
fruit?>>So the harvest window is
like eight weeks. So it’ll be kind of- the first
week is not very much and then it slowly ramps up.>>Thaddeus Barsotti is the
chief farmer here. His parents Kathleen
Barsotti and Martin Barnes started this farm in 1976. They created a Community
Supported Agriculture program in 1992 to sell produce. When the couple divorced
Kathy took ownership.>>The rumor is that my dad saw
some thrown away heirloom tomatoes in the dumpster of
a food service provider. And he said, wow, those are
cool looking tomatoes. Grabbed them and saved
some seeds and we planted a few
rows of them.. We grew ten acres in ’99
and my mom said, “You know, Thad, I think I can
sell twenty acres of these tomatoes but I just don’t
have the energy to do them, to plant them and harvest
them and take care of them all.” I was in college and I said, “you know mom,
plant the twenty acres, I’ll come back and help
you that summer.” That was actually the summer
my mom passed away, she was sick, she had breast
cancer so I took the farm over that summer with the
twenty acres of tomatoes and we’ve been growing the
program ever since. And so now we manage just over a hundred acres of
heirloom tomatoes.>>Every week she would do a
recipe and news about the farm. And in 2000 she kind of
introduced Noah, Thaddeus and I, you know, we
still have that final farm news she wrote,
um, introducing us and saying, “Hey your quality of
the produce delivered right to your homes is going
to stay the same and they’re going to
continue it on.” And I think
that’s been an important part too is that
she past away, the four of us really bonded
together and said hey, we’re going to take this to
the next level.>>We were definitely left for
the choice of “Do we want to keep the
business going or not?” And we unanimously decided no,
we’re going to keep this going.>>Since taking over, Thaddeus,
Noah and Freeman have taken the farm to a size that
they admit their mother could not have
imagined. Besides selling produce
wholesale and to restaurants, today they
operate the largest Community Supported Agriculture
program, or CSA, in the country. Customers pay for deliveries
of fresh produce directly to their home. They deliver in Northern and
Southern California.>>We’re delivering throughout California’s most
populated areas. And I think the key is to really
support local and support organic. It’s going to be seasonal and it’s going to be as local as
possible.>>The family works with other
organic farmers across the state to make sure the CSA produce
deliveries have various options. The brothers admit that
becoming the largest CSA in the country with 500
employees and farm properties across the state was not their
parent’s original plan.>>I really kind of wonder what
she’d think. You know, she had some amazing
ideas that we’re still doing the same business model that she
developed in 1992. Um… we’re growing
the same crops with the same home delivery
concept. We’re just… took her basic
concept and just expanded the distribution and the
size. And so, really I think that
if she looked at us today she would see her
fingerprints everywhere.>>They believe that working
despite their size, working together as a family
and with other farms ensures they are sticking to their
parent’s original mission. The family holds on to the
belief that directly connecting with customers is key to their
family’s farming future.>>So our children, are growing
up on the farm we’re wondering how they’re going
to fit in. The reality is is that we’ve taken a great
thing our parents started and we’re delivering it to more
people The real challenge is when
our kids get it, you know, what are they going to do
with it? So we’re thinking a lot
about that and watching the kids and realizing that you
know, they need to have good work
ethic and understand how it works so when they get it,
it’s going to stick around for them to give to their
kids. ♪♪>>While California leads the
nation in the number of organic farms in the U.S.,
several other states have ramped up organic production
as well. They include Wisconsin,
Washington State, New York, Maine, Minnesota, and Iowa. ♪♪>>The demand for locally grown
foods has sparked a dramatic growth in
farmers markets. There were some 1,700 across the
country in the early 1990’s. By 2013 that number had
grown to more than 8 thousand. Food trends are ever
changing. You’ll see many more organic
products today and that’s also true for products
labeled “gluten free.” We’ll run down some details
on gluten, but first Sarah Gardner takes us to
Nebraska where gluten-free flour is the cash crop for one
farm family. ♪♪>>Getting a crop to market
involves harvest time in the field for most farmers. That’s true for Gerald
Simonsen and his son, Brian, but for this crop there’s
another step in the process.>>Well how many different states
do we have going out today?>>We’ve got South Carolina,
Wyoming, eight to Montana, California.>>This year we’re on track to
ship about 95 thousand bushels.>>These 25 pound buckets contain
food grade sorghum flour, a wheat flour
substitute. Sorghum flour is used to
make breads, cakes and baked goods for
those with Celiac Disease. The disease affects people
whose digestive systems have difficulty handling the
protein glutens found in wheat, barley and rye.>>This is what the flour looks
like. It’s a little.. got a little
more of a yellow tint than say white wheat flour. But as far as texture and
consistency, it’s very close to white
wheat flour. A lot of people… everyone
knows whole wheat flour is healthier for you, better for
you, than white wheat. But most people prefer white
wheat and our customers are looking for, they miss white
wheat flour. They want something as close to
that as they can possibly get.>>Neither Gerald nor his wife
Julie suffer from Celiac disease but a growing demand for the
flour alternative has provided them with an opportunity to
expand their sorghum operation. It has also generated
positive feedback from their customers across the
country.>>Every once in a while we’ll
get a letter that will say “I made pancakes for my husband
and he hasn’t had pancakes for seven years and he was
thrilled.” Or somebody who made a
birthday caked for their daughter who was diagnosed
or people will tell us… sometimes you get on
phone calls, it’s hard to get off them
because people will tell you they’re newly diagnosed.>>Well roughtly sixty percent of
our customer base is people who have Celiac Sprue or another
wheat intolerance. Well this looks like it’s
coming up pretty good. There’s a few blank spots. But, for the most part, it’s
in good shape.>>Gerald and Brian are
inspecting the fields on the 3,500 acres Gerald shares
with his brother. To conserve water and reduce
erosion, they use the no-till method
of planting where old sorghum stocks are allowed
to become compost for new crops, in this case soybeans.>>This residue, compost or
whatever you want to call it, it’s great for growing
crops. And your microbial activity,
the insects and all the natural things occur when
you don’t till the land.>>Their recently planted sorghum
crop has just broken through. At maturity the stalks will
stand as tall as corn, and their tops will bristle
with hundreds of seeds.>>It has a bushy head and the
seed is all completely exposed. There’s no sheath on it or
husk like what you would have with wheat or barley.>>Seeds from the stalks are what
Gerald grinds into flour. Frist using a stone mill and
then a sifter, separating the flour from the abrasive
particles known as grits. But, nothing is wasted. The grits are used as a high
protein livestock feed.   Gerald is a fourth
generation Nebraska farmer continuing a heritage his
great grandfather started when he planted milo, an
older name for sorghum.>>My granddad was one of the
first people to start growing milo around here
back about 1929. And we’ve been growing it
ever since.>>Whether the Simonsen children
continue the farming legacy is still
uncertain. It’s a question asked in many
households across the heartland. For Brian, there’s no
definite answer yet.>>Well, there’s a lot of other
things that I’d like to do, but being out here it’s kind
of hard to say no.>>Ya know, there’s people who
say the last thing they’d do is encourage their son to
stay on the farm. And other people who want
nothing more. And I think that choice has
got to be with Brian.>>Grown on millions of acres
from Texas and Oklahoma through the Dakotas, sorghum’s
need for less water than some other crops makes it a popular
choice for many farmers. Livestock feed and ethanol
production provide possible markets, but the Simonsens
say the plant… as a food source… is important
for the nation.>>Oh, I see big increases for the food sorghum industry
in general. Ya know, we’re not getting
rich, but the business is growing
and it’s hold its own. ♪♪>>Sorghum comes originally
from Africa and… in many regions…. was grown…
primarily… as a source of syrup for
sugar. But production really flourished
when it was discovered that sorghum could grow in
arid regions and be used as animal feed.>>You’ll see the “gluten free”
label on everything from meats to beverages these
days, so let’s give you a bit more information on gluten and
how it may impact you. ♪♪ Hi, my name is Rose Mendonca and I have a question
about agriculture. I see “Gluten Free” on lots
of food products at the supermarket these days. I’m not quite sure what
“gluten” is… where it comes from or just what kind of
role it plays in the food I eat.>>Understanding gluten and
discovering whether some foods have gluten requires a
little homework… so let’s give you the basics. Now there’s nothing wrong
with gluten by itself. It’s simply a natural
protein composite that you’ll find in foods
processed from wheat or other grains like barley
or rye. Gluten helps to make your
favorite bread chewy by giving texture and
elasticity to the dough. You’ll find gluten in breakfast
cereals and baked goods. But gluten is also widely
used as a thickener in foods, a flavor enhancer,
even a protein supplement – which means you’ll find
gluten in everything from soups and gravies, to salad
dressings, dairy products…
even liquors. So…why are you seeing
“Gluten Free” on product labels? It has to do with lots more
consumer information coming your way these days from
farmers and food processors. And it ties to the effect that
gluten can have on some folks. A small segment of the
population… estimated at one half to one
percent… suffers from something called
celiac disease. Gluten can trigger things
like stomach disorders, joint pain or headaches. And some other people may
have gluten “intolerance” not associated with the
disease. So, what about food choices
without gluten? That includes foods made
from corn, rice, soy, buckwheat or sorghum and
sorghum flour. But remember that even some
beverages can contain gluten. So be aware of that when you
raise your glass. ♪♪>>Well my name is Kent Bradford and my work is involved
in seed biology, seed production and related
to improving crop varieties for production in
agriculture. It is true that seeds are
little miracles, that’s certainly true. This is a wild tomato
species… In a very real sense seeds
are critical to our future. …not all of our agriculture
but a very large fraction of our agriculture depends upon being
able to reproduce seeds annually Wow, this is nice… The seeds that are used by
farmers to grow crop have to be produced every year or at
most every other year to provide good quality seed
…and efficient agriculture requires uniform crops that
germinate quickly and establish quickly and grow
rapidly. We need to be
improving crops because the environment, the tests,
the markets and so on are changing
all the time. For example, the size of
watermelons has shrunk recently from large
watermelons that used to be the case to the small
personal watermelons. And that’s all done by
developing new varieties that appeal to consumers. We have so many new tools that we didn’t have in previous
years. In the last 20 years certainly
our ability to understand the basis of traits that we want
have improved enormously. Its as if it’s a GPS for
breeders. I think if someone is looking
for a career in plant science, this area of plant breeding and
seeds is a great place to be. Its really the intersection
between the technology and the practical aspect. They way to think about
seeds in agriculture these days, in a sense, they’re
the microchip. They’re the heart. You plant a seed and that
carries all of the traits, all the efforts that the
breeders have put together. …and the more that we can
do that, the less we have to
add later. The less fertilizer we have
to add later, the less pesticide we have
to use to control diseases. The ability to now feed 6
1/2 billion people is largely due to plant
breeding. Clearly as we go towards
9 billion people in the next 30 years, we’re going to need to
double food production again and we simply cant do that
without improved varieties. ♪♪>>You know, we mentioned
childhood obesity at the start of the show… Many communities have kicked
off programs that aim to help youngsters eat
healthier. That includes better
information about food choices and menu changes for
things like school lunches. Let’s take you to Virginia
where one school district has combined that effort with a
program to benefit local farmers ♪♪ The kitchen is bustling this
early morning at Smithland Elementary School in
Harrisonburg, Virginia. And while the lunch ladies
chop, mix and bake. A visitor shows up at the
kitchen.>>You havin’ a good mornin’?>>Local farmer Marlon
Showalter drops by the kitchen with bins of bib
lettuce ready for chopping. Showalter sells about 300
cases of hydroponic greenhouse-grown lettuce to
area schools each week. The stuff that you just brought
in today, when was that picked?>>Well actually this was
harvested this morning.>>Really?>>Uh, yeah it was.>>The lettuce gets turned
into salad and is among the locally grown
lunch choices that the staff and students here
are proud of.>>We’ve always had the goal to
make our meals healthier so for the past several years
we’ve done a lot of things like increasing fresh fruits
and vegetables and whole grains, lowering fat, eliminating fried
foods, things like that. So the next logical step for
us was to think about trying to get an even fresher product to
students when we can.>>The schools effort is part
of a statewide initiative in Virginia to help schools buy more lunch ingredients
regionally. These are Virginia apples
here?>>They are yes, and Virginia
apples are available to Virginia schools through
most of the school year. They hold very well in cold
storage, so…>>Is this Marlon’s lettuce right
here?>>That is some of Marlon’s and
some from another farmer who grows Romaine lettuce so
we’ve got a mix there of Bibb and Romaine, both grown
locally, and they are grown in
greenhouses.>>This reminds me of the lunch
time line they served up everything in a little
ice-cream scooper, a lunch lady’s favorite
thing. It is portion-control and this
is a good thing especially in our
country where we eat too much. So I know. We sort of have that bad
connotation of the- Lunch lady with the->>That is not that. No, this gives us the
correct portion for students. These are homemade
yeast rolls and we’re using a blend
of 50-50. It’s 50-50 blend of whole
wheat flour which is milled. It’s a local wheat milled
locally as well as a bread flour that we get through a
USDA commodities. So the rolls are half local.>>I see a lot of local
products here today. Now obviously that’s
not necessarily the case all the time, right? It can’t be.>>It can’t be. That’s right,
that’s right. We are serving about 3,500
meals a day in our division. So when we think about he
volume of food that we use it would be difficult to get
all of it local and still be able to give kids lunch.>>The biggest challenge to any locally grown effort is the
weather. Mid-Winter in Virginia means
little growing outside. The school district is
hoping to purchase 10 percent of their lunch
ingredients locally. Right now it’s about
5 percent. But turning to non-weather
dependent choices is also an option. Not too far away in the
small town of Charlottesville another food
producer is a seeing positive impact from
school’s efforts to buy locally. The historic Wade’s Mill uses
stone grinders to produce flour. The school purchases wheat for
bread products from Wade’s Mill.>>It does benefit the bottom
line and we’re pleased to see it because the schools
are not only using local produce but they’re teaching
the kids, the children more about
nutitional value of what they’re eating and where it
comes from, who is producing it. What it all means to the
local economy.>>Improving school lunches has
gotten national attention as childhood obesity continues
to grow in the US.>>What was the favorite thing
on your tray? The spaghetti? Good, okay.>>Chris Shipman from Standard
Produce in Charlottesville, Virginia say incorporating
regionally grown into established distribution
channels is possible.>>So we have to supplement
what we do have locally with what we can pull out of the
California area, the Florida area and then as
spring starts we start moving up the east coast so
the things that we are buying are getting closer
and closer to Virginia until we move into around June 1st
is when we’ll really start into a lot of Virginia
product.>>And back in the lunchroom,
Andrea Early says buying fresh produce is just
one piece of a larger puzzle to get
kids to eat healthier.>>Food manufacturers have
really done a good job of stepping up to the plate to
reduce sodium, reduce fat, make those foods still taste
good and things that kids like, but make them a little
bit healthier version.>>Thank you.>>You’re welcome. You have a
great afternoon.>>Another advantage to buying
locally grown- the kids not only get to eat the food, they get to
meet the farmer who grows it!>>Y’all have any questions?>>Farmers in the classroom and
their products in the cafeteria. A good lesson for kids who may
never plant seeds or till the soil but will have a lifelong
reliance on those who do. We’ve talked a lot about
food and food choices. Just a reminder that we have
lots of great recipes on our website along with video
from this and all of our shows. Log on to
AmericasHeartland.org And of course, there’s lots
going on in our social media arena. You’ll find us there as
well. We’ll see you next time, right
here on America’s Heartland. You can purchase a DVD or
Blu Ray copy of this program. Here’s the cost:   To order, just visit us
online or call 888-814-3923.   ♪You can see it in the eyes
Of every woman and man♪ ♪In America’s Heartland
living close to the land♪ ♪There’s a love for the country
And a pride in the brand♪ ♪In America’s Heartland♪ ♪Living close
Close to the land♪ ♪♪ America’s Heartland is made
possible by… Farm Credit –
Financing agriculture and rural
America since 1916. Farm Credit is
cooperatively owned by America’s
farmers and ranchers. Learn more at farmcredit.com CropLife America –
Representing the companies whose modern farming innovations help
America’s farmers provide nutritious food for communities
around the globe.  

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