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FOOD GLORIA'S FOOD - June 2016 - Kansas City

Cows to Ploughs

Welcome to the conversation: An evening exploring dynamic issues confronting sustainable food agriculture

By Gloria Gale


NPR’s Weekend host of All Things Considered, Michel Martin, recently hosted a conversation on the subject of food—how it’s grown, how it gets to the table to an overflow audience at the Jazz District’s GEM Theater.  


Martin’s upbeat Q and A coaxed a lively, often provocative, two-hour dialogue from three sets of guest panelists covering the spectrum of How We Eat.


The Farm

Blake Hurst, Missouri Farm Bureau President, Linda Hezel, Owner, Prairie Birthday Farm and Chris Boeckmann, Hybrid Farmer, Boeckmann Family Farms focused on the pros and cons of farming organically or not.


The audience respectfully listened to the banter between the panelists ultimately giving the nod to Hezel, owner of Prairie Birthday Farm for her insightful commitment to growing healthy food. “Let the land teach me,” Linda Hezel, Prairie Birthday Farms.


The discussion triggered applause for the advocates of farming without pesticides/herbicides and antibiotics and encouraged people to get growing their own gardens to regain a relationship to food.


The Future

Wes Jackson, Founder and President, The Land Institute, JohnElla Holmes, Director, Veryl Switzer/Kansas State University Agriculture Camp  and Ted Genoways, Author of The Chain: Farm Factory, and the Fate of Our Food  addressed the plight of the farmer, the disconnect between the soil, the cultivation of seed, and the packaged/processed food we eat.


Consider these statistics cited by Jackson:

  • 1 in 7 people can’t afford to put food on the table, much less organically grown food that’s often unaffordable.

  • 40-percent of our food in the United States is going into the landfill.

  • 40-to 50-percent of the food grown is used to produce bio-fuel.

  • Problem number 1 is annual grain production which contributes to a buildup of harmful greenhouse gases.


“It’s an eons-old problem,” says Jackson.  “Nature was ignored when we, as land animals, started cultivating wheat, rice, and corn. We started pulling weeds, trying to eradicate them by dumping all sorts of chemicals onto the soil.  The ecological capital of our soil has been degraded over the millennium.”


Jackson wants us to think about the cultural capacity for protecting the soil instead of the ‘yield’ per acre, “We need to think about what we value, moving away from high tech/carbon driven cultivation to informative biology.”


Genoways spoke of the “fruitless labor” revealed to him by farmers.  “Many said they don’t want to live their lives by the weather, much less be put in harm’s way by the lack of safety concerns for workers (i.e., processing plants).”


The Fork

James Worley, Educator, Missouri Department of Conservation, Shanita McAfee-Bryant Chef and Owner, Magnolia’s Contemporary Southern Bistro, and Alex Pope, Founder, The Local Pig delivered a tasty finale.


“People who want good food are willing to pay for it,” said Pope urging the curious to come to his butcher shop and charcuterie exclusively carrying products from humanely-raised animals from small family farms.


Shanita McAfee-Bryant invited everyone to come to her restaurant and savor a good meal where every dish is infused with her extensive skill and creativity.


Finally, James Worley regaled the audience urging those interested to eat seasonal, raise your own garden, and learn about the natural environment while we still have one.


The enthusiastic professionals delivered an excellent, thought-provoking evening on the subject of food, followed by a reception featuring local food vendors. 


The bustling crowd showed their appreciation by adjourning across the street to the American Jazz Museum, sampling tastings from local vendors and left with the fate of how we’ll feed our planet to ponder.

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Kansas City writer, producer, and photostylist Gloria Gale is a sleuth when it comes to discovering interesting features for the media.


As a native she's compiled a burgeoning collection of editorial features on food, travel and lifestyle for national and local magazines, books, individuals, and corporate clients. 


Most recently, Gloria profiled area restaurants as a columnist for 435 Magazine and was one of KCUR's Food Critics radio program. 


Want to know where to find the best tastes in town? Contact Gloria:

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