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There is smart science on both sides of the table about organic or conventional, genetically modified or hybrid or heirloom seeds, and the quality and quantity of the world’s food supply. The noise is loud and the topic is broad. Strong opinions can be confusing. We need healthy, delicious food at reasonable prices, on terms that are fair to the farmer – and enough to feed the world. Is that too much to ask?

Package labels, vendors at farmers markets, and restaurant menus raise questions about food sources, health, and personal choices, questions including

  • What foods should we choose for best health and flavor?
  • Is it only privileged consumers with money and time who question where and how their food is grown?
  • Are there scientific reasons for making our choices or is it marketing hype?
  • What about the farmers?  What is their position on their farming practices from an agricultural, financial and moral stance?

The food landscape is flooded with conjecture. Consumers and people working in agriculture grapple with the current and future of the food supply.

In this moderated conversation, we hear from growers and industry professionals about their challenges and choices to bring food to our tables. It’s a vast topic with many directions. Let’s have a conversation to help us make well informed decisions about the food we eat.

 


PANELISTS:

Andy Mariani
Andy is educated in both horticultural and behavioral sciences, continues his family’s tradition of growing specialty stone fruit along with persimmons and citrus in Santa Clara County. An innovative farmer, he practices Integrated Pest Management as an approach to fruit growing. As a member of the California Cherry Research Committee, he has helped initiate research in cherry growing. He has also authored a book on fruit varieties, several articles and lectures on various aspects of fruit growing. https://andysorchard.com/

Deborah Olson
Deborah is a member of SFPFS whose family has grown cherries in the Silicon Valley for over 100 years.  Deborah is educated in Food & Nutrition & the culinary field, maintains the family fruit stand business along with growing cherries and apricots. She contributed to setting up OPHIE, an agricultural interpretive exhibit museum in Sunnyvale, celebrating the history of agriculture in the Silicon Valley. She has served on the boards of the San Francisco Food Society, California Cherry Advisory Board, American Institute of Wine and Food & Western Ballet. www.cjolsoncherries.com.

Shannon Douglass
Shannon is a part-time farmer, wife and mom. She and her husband started their farm in Northern California (Glenn County) by renting smaller pieces of land that become available in the area. They raise beef cattle, forage crops like hay and silage, sunflowerss and a few other specialty items that differ from year to year. They sell some of their beef direct to local customers by the half or quarter. You can learn a bit more on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/douglassranch.

Cannon Michael
Cannon is a full-time farmer – he runs a larger operation, Bowles Farming Company, that has been in the family for generations. His Los Banos-based farm keeps an eye on water, the environment, and ethical treatment of workers. They plant tomatoes (processing and fresh market), melons, Pima cotton, and alfalfa annually as their primary crops, with many others in the mix, and employ both organic and convention production practices.  http://www.bfarm.com/

Janice Person
Janice is one of the founders of the farmer-led AgChat Foundation which seeks to empower farmers to tell their stories online and remains active with the organization’s programs. As Online Engagement Director at Monsanto, she helps connect with members of the general public to increase the understanding of agriculture and the company specifically.

MODERATOR:

Robin Chapman
Robin is a Californian who had a long career in television news, including covering the news for KRON-TV and covering Congress and the White House for the ABC-TV station in Washington D.C., before she returned to the Santa Clara Valley in 2009. She now writes for Edible Silicon Valley magazine and is the author of four books, most recently, California Apricot: the Lost Orchards of Silicon Valley published by the History Press.