Farm Bill and the Organic Movement (part 5) Plus: Global Plant Forward Summit, April 18 – 20 | The Food Party! | Laura Stec | Palo Alto Online |

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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Farm Bill and the Organic Movement (part 5) Plus: Global Plant Forward Summit, April 18 – 20

Uploaded: Mar 22, 2023

Let's continue our ongoing Food Party! book group read of Food Fight, Citizens Guide to the Next Food and Farm Bill (Dan Imhoff). Discussions are happening now in Congress with a fall deadline to pass an updated version of the Farm Bill.

Last post we were learning that concerns about land conservation and protection first appeared in the 1985 Farm Bill. Fast forward to 2000, and a ground swell of environmental interest emerges from the public, with hopes to influence Farm Bill 2002. Official organic standards were just being developed for the country, and I am sure some of you were part of the public outcry against sewage sludge, GMO‘s, and nuclear radiation becoming acceptable organic practices. A broad coalition of organic trade associations, nonprofit groups and companies joined with individuals in a country-wide effort generating 300,000+ public comments, and blocking these egregious additions. I worked for Michigan-based Eden Foods in 2000 and we were very involved in the campaign, a big win for The People and a quickly growing organic movement.

In 2008, the country falls into recession and the Farm Bill falls back into food insecurity. Obesity is on the rise; one third of US adults and 17% of children are now considered clinically obese, a number which has continued to increase dramatically. (chapter 10). 49.9% of American adults and nearly 20% of our children are considered obese as of 2022.

- courtesy of CDC

Congress responds by awarding $10 billion to boost vegetable and fruit consumption in the Farm Bill. It marks the first time fruits, nuts and vegetables, termed specialty crops, finally get some attention; good and bad. Imhoff reports that nearly “$1 billion was dedicated to research and marketing programs (of produce), including a dubious California media campaign to convince the public about the safety of pesticides applied to fruit and vegetables.”(pg. 73) Additional solutions sent Farm Bill funding toward increased vegetables and fruits in school meals and after-school snack programs, and setting up farmers markets to receive SNAP dollars. If we are serious about fighting obesity in this country, we must designate more money to vegetables and fruits in the Farm Bill.

The good news is agricultural research remains one of the few areas left in Congress where bipartisan legislation lives on. A January 2023 blog post from Organic Farming and Research Foundation (OFRF) of Santa Cruz lays out three priorities for organic research that might be possible in the 2023 Farm Bill:

1. Increase the organic research funding at the Agricultural Research Service to represent its market share, producing environmentally and economically sound management systems for all producers.

2. Continue to support and develop investments made by the National Institute for Food and Agriculture in organic agriculture research.

3. Fully fund and expand the Organic Market and Data Initiative.

Many lessons have been learned from these continuously hard-sought negotiations by the environmental, organic and food systems change movement. The People will have to stand up to Congress for better food in the Farm Bill because ag systems are old and entrenched with who's zooming who in the favored states. Farm Bill subsidies don't care about our health, sorry for us. Food Fight offers 3 ways you and I can better influence Farm Bills of the future. (pg. 78) Let's do it!

1. Assess Capacity
How much time do you or your organization have to devote to the farm bill? Who can you collaborate with?

2. Determine Congressional Allies
Do you know anyone on the Agriculture Appropriations committees? Can you connect with their staff people?

3. Create Media Strategy
How will you get the word out about your work, and continue to build a coalition?

Next week we’ll pick up with Chapter 11, Who Gets the Money?


Speaking of noble food systems change, a shout out to the Culinary Institute of America for hosting its 5th year of Global Plant Forward, a three-day immersion welcoming 300+ chefs, food service operators, and experts in food, flavor development, cooking, agriculture and food production, media, and food system transformation from around the world. Coming to Copia in Napa, April 18-20th, the summit will host wall-to-wall cooking demos, hands-on cooking sessions, and facilitate culinary strategy discussions, such as how plant-forward cuisine is being implemented country-wide into institutional food systems such as cafeterias and hospitals. The overall theme of the conference is deliciousness!

Drawing on inspiration from Menus of Change, a joint initiative of the CIA and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition, the CIA is where plant-friendly systems change begins. We’ve Food Partied! from this inspiring gathering before and honored to return in April to report on this year’s effort. For more information, and to learn whether this conference is for you and your food systems business, please click here.

To follow the conference and the eye candy meals brought to you by the staff an students of the CIA, I'll be posting on Instagram. Last year we went LIVE on Facebook during the hands-on meal prep sessions. Organized chaos - what a blast! 30 teams cooking lunch for 200 people in a huge kitchen.

2022: Plant-Forward Future with the Culinary Institute of America

2022: Plant Forward Futures with the Culinary Institute of America (Part 2)

- Multigrain Crepe with 9 Delicacies

Global Plant Forward Culinary Summit
April 18-20, 2023
The CIA at Copia
Napa, CA

- photos by LSIC unless noted

Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Teresa Yount, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 22, 2023 at 2:02 pm

Teresa Yount is a registered user.

As a semi-vegan who consumes dairy & egg products, are the recent scientific breakthroughs in creating lab-grown meats a boon to both the ecosystem & animal rights activists?

My husband says that it OK to consume lab-grown meat because it no
longer impacts the environment in an adverse manner.

To date, I am only aware of lab-grown chicken breasts but rumor has it that lab-grown beef is also on the horizon.

This is a terrific development because soy-based burgers (i.e. Boca Burgers) are actually more unhealthy than real beef.

Posted by Ron Jackson, a resident of Barron Park,
on Mar 22, 2023 at 3:27 pm

Ron Jackson is a registered user.

In addition to being antibiotic-free, growth hormone-free, and safe from zoonotic diseases, lab-grown meat has immense health benefits. Scientists have also suggested the possibility of altering the nutritional contents of cultured meat according to the necessary requirements as well.

The FDA has declared that lab-grown meat is safe to consume which means no longer having to rely on tofu (or rice & beans) to replicate meat protein for countless vegetarians who decry & have based their vegetarianism on the inhumane treatment of animals.

Posted by John Charles, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Mar 22, 2023 at 11:17 pm

John Charles is a registered user.

This is amazing and incredible.

Posted by Robert Longmire, a resident of Stanford,
on Mar 23, 2023 at 8:51 am

Robert Longmire is a registered user.

Using stem cells to recreate beef & poultry products will gradually eliminate the need for vast grazing lands, feed costs, related H20 requirements, & meat processing expenditures. This in itself is an eco-friendly development.

It will also allow countless vegans to consume meat again by eliminating the guilt-ridden angst that many of them adhere to regarding the inhumane treatment of animals.

The key will be reducing laboratory production costs to the absolute minimum while ensuring safe and healthy meat products.

This is turn will reduce the price of meat and make it an affordable protein source for all socio-economic income levels.

Organic natural beef/chicken will eventually become an anachronism and then only the die-hard vegans will cling to their rigid dietary dogmas...for whatever it's worth.

Posted by John Charles, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Mar 23, 2023 at 9:02 am

John Charles is a registered user.

I really love this. I hope to read more about this. This is very helpful thanks.

Posted by Cecelia Patterson, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Mar 23, 2023 at 9:19 am

Cecelia Patterson is a registered user.

Lab-grown meat looks to be the another answer towards balancing our nation's ecology concerns but it will put a lot of ranchers out of business if conventional meat products are eventually banned by the USDA. This measure would also eliminate the natural and organic designations which often add to the price of meat.

When it comes to replacing natural/wild seafood, the mass production of lab-grown fish meat will reduce overfishing (at least on the part of the United States) & ideally cut the price of costly imported and domestic items like sushi ingredients, salmon, lobster, and abalone.

It is a win-win scenario and all it takes are a few stem cells + the technology.

Posted by Eric Johansen, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Mar 23, 2023 at 9:54 am

Eric Johansen is a registered user.

Lab-grown meat will also enhance the dietary needs and preferences of those embarked on interstellar travel.

Imagine an onboard food technologist creating steaks, lobster, and just about any meat product desired by the crew.

Meanwhile back on Earth, lab-created beef products could also be designed with reductions in cholesterol and other heart-clogging byproducts reaffirming the old beef industry adage that "Beef is what America Eats for Dinner."

The fledgling lab-grown beef industry is the Tesla and Apple of the future. Saavy investors take heed as I imagine even some hardcore vegans will invest in this novel concept.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Mar 23, 2023 at 10:07 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

@JohnCharles, What do you love? What do you want to read more about? What was helpful? thanks.

Posted by Mike Tomkins, a resident of Midtown,
on Mar 23, 2023 at 10:17 am

Mike Tomkins is a registered user.

Curious...will they also be able to replicate bones in these lab-grown meats?

Hamburgers and tenderloin cuts aside, I cannot picture dining on a rack of lamb or prime rib roast without any bones intact.

Posted by Jessica Zhiang, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Mar 23, 2023 at 11:00 am

Jessica Zhiang is a registered user.

Organic-labeled produce is overpriced hyperbole...just another way to charge more for basic fruits and vegetables.

Until organic produce is priced the same as regular produce, only the wealthy can afford to buy it on a regular basis.

And from a practical standpoint, it is not cost-effective for commercial growers to go all-organic.

We get our produce at the Food Bank and it is sufficient for most of our dining necessities.

Posted by Melissa , a resident of Palo Verde,
on Mar 23, 2023 at 1:55 pm

Melissa is a registered user.

@Mike Tomkins...I was pondering the same thing. Will lab-grown chicken wings have bones or will they be more like chicken nuggets?

If they do not have actual wing bones, to label them as actual chicken wings would be false advertising.

In addition, you cannot have chicken wing 'drumettes' without a bone.

Laboratory produced spare ribs would also come into question as ribs without any bones would be more akin to the MacRib sandwich which is a piece of pork indented with fake bone markings.

Posted by Devin Cross, a resident of Downtown North,
on Mar 23, 2023 at 2:13 pm

Devin Cross is a registered user.

It is refreshing to learn that these advances in food technology will allow for the production of healthy meat products without adversely impacting the environment.

Following our marriage, my husband advocated that we adhere to a strict vegetarian diet but every now and then, I would stop off at In & Out Burger prior to arriving home for dinner with no remorse.

Lab-grown meat will finally free reluctant vegetarians (such as myself) by offering healthy meat products and alternatives.

No more tofu for me.

Posted by Loretta Montoya, a resident of another community,
on Mar 23, 2023 at 3:30 pm

Loretta Montoya is a registered user.

Smithsonian Magazine reported studies by Finnish food scientists who are designing a bio-replicator to produce fruits.

To date, they have only succeeded in recreating berries (sort of) using natural fruit cells to initiate the process.

The result is a crystalline substance that contains all of the natural ingredients found in the berries they were attempting duplicate.

Laboratory created meats and produce will be good for the environment but bad for the many farmers who will eventually go out of business once the process is perfected and accelerated to meet the needs of domestic and global consumers.

Future generations may never know what real food is (or was).

Posted by Kenneth Noble, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Mar 24, 2023 at 3:26 pm

Kenneth Noble is a registered user.

"...many farmers who will eventually go out of business once the process is perfected and accelerated to meet the needs of domestic and global consumers."

^ And the same will probably apply to meat-packers & the butcher trade.

The FDA will need to further investigate the by-products that will emanate from laboratory-crafted meats. Will they be eco-friendly and bio-degradable?

Lastly...when lab-created meats become a mainstream offering, I imagine there will still be some cattlemen & chicken ranchers promoting their products as boutique/organic while charging more for the privilege on dining on these limited offerings.

Eliminating most of the farms, orchards, ranches, and grazing land in America will provide additional acreage to accommodate future housing for our newly arrived (and aspiring) immigrants from abroad.

Posted by Jeff Wilkens, a resident of Stanford,
on Mar 25, 2023 at 10:35 am

Jeff Wilkens is a registered user.

Laboratory-designed meat products are no different than creating cultured pearls or cubic zirconium diamonds.

Very few people can actually tell the difference and in a best case scenario, the escalating prices for conventional meat products will decline making lab-grown an affordable and readily available source of protein for all consumers.

Having worked in stem cell research, it is amazing what these 'builder' cells are capable of replicating.

Posted by Robert Lawrence, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Mar 26, 2023 at 9:00 am

Robert Lawrence is a registered user.

"If we are serious about fighting obesity in this country, we must designate more money to vegetables and fruits in the Farm Bill."

It is one thing to designate the dollars and another to get Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Salt, sugar, and fat are key ingredients of the typical American diet and though unhealthy in excess, most Americans will opt for obesity rather than succumbing to tiresome and contrived semi-exotic menu items/recipes overdubbed with ethnically-themed herbs and spices (i.e. East Indian, Caribbean, Asian, African, Arabic/Middle Eastern cuisine and trendy contrivances called 'fusion').

Given the choice, a traditional American diet of steaks, hot dogs, chicken, pizza, ice dream, Oreos, and fast food burgers will always supercede foods from other cultures outside of the United States.

Perhaps the key to better health is creating healthier meat products with no growth hormones or antibiotics and reduced fat.

This can now be done in a lab and so over time, environmental concerns over land usage and irrigation will become yesterday's news.

Posted by Mallory Hinch, a resident of Los Altos,
on Mar 26, 2023 at 9:24 am

Mallory Hinch is a registered user.

Even if more SNAP dollars are allocated towards the environmentally-friendly production of organic fruits and vegetables, it doesn't mean that more consumers are going to opt for them.

Since much of our everyday produce now comes from Mexico, is the USDA also going to enforce these proposed guidelines on Mexican farmers and ranchers? Fat chance.

Lastly, as a fan of Hawaiian-style Kalua Pig and Spanish-inspired barbacoa, I cannot even imagine pulling a glob of laboratory-created pigmeat from a pit without the bones, snout, and appendages intact.

It wouldn't be the same and besides, how does one stuff an apple into the mouth of a pig if there isn't one to begin with?

The crinkly pork skin and excess fat below its surface would also be non-existent.

Real food for real people involves traditional animal husbandry and agricultural practices.

The problem is that we now have too many people living in the United States and so streamlined and oftentimes unhealthy production processes are warranted.

We did not have these pressing ecological problems in the 1960s when the population was only 250M people as there was less demand for gasoline, electricity, natural gas, and living space.

Posted by Hank Thompson, a resident of Downtown North,
on Mar 26, 2023 at 9:49 am

Hank Thompson is a registered user.

In some countries (e.g. India & China) the population is in the BILLIONS...that's way too many people adversely impacting their local ecologies and food supplies.

On the other hand, it is not our problem unless these adverse impacts directly affect the well-being of American citizens.

Posted by Penelope Johnson, a resident of Barron Park,
on Mar 26, 2023 at 10:43 am

Penelope Johnson is a registered user.

SNAP recipients should also be encouraged to purchase healthier foods whether it involves organic or conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.

SNAP restrictions on junk food (pastries and snack foods) should also be initiated but a mandate such as this is bound to be met with some resistance among recipients.

As for 3rd world countries experiencing overpopulation and potential starvation, government mandated birth control laws should be implemented regardless of culture or religion.

It is not America"s responsibility to feed other impoverished countries free of charge because we still have a pressing hunger issue in our own country.

Let UNICEF handle 3rd world hunger.

Posted by Mark Rendon, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 26, 2023 at 11:03 am

Mark Rendon is a registered user.

SNAP should limit purchases to food products with nutritional value and ban the purchase of foods with empty calories. Stuff like junk food and soft drinks.

There are still a lot of people going hungry in the United States and this is shameful for a country of its magnitude and wealth.

As for underdeveloped countries experiencing hunger and famine, that's their problem.

Posted by Rory Jansen, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Mar 26, 2023 at 12:14 pm

Rory Jansen is a registered user.

If everyone ate healthier then death rates from poor nutrition and associated ailments would drop, leaving us with even more people on Earth and who needs that?

Better to partake in whatever one wants to eat and leave it at that.

Posted by Yolanda Morales, a resident of Mountain View,
on Mar 26, 2023 at 12:19 pm

Yolanda Morales is a registered user.

As a periodic SNAP recipient, I feel that it is no one else's business what I purchase or consume providing it falls within the realm of SNAP approved purchases.

Fresh organic fruits and vegetables may be healthier but they do not appeal to everyone.

If anything, SNAP should be encouraging the use of air-fryers or include them free -of-charge to all SNAP recipients.

Posted by Max Rickert, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Mar 27, 2023 at 7:33 am

Max Rickert is a registered user.

Large-scale lab-grown meat will also eliminate zoonotic diseases that can pass from the handling of natural poultry, and pork products.

On an international level, zoonotic diseases passing from physically handling raw camel meat (MERS) and raw bat/civet meat (SARS) can also be reduced provided all wet markets are banned.

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