Fri, 16 October 2009
This week's podcast brings home the reality of French gourmet and lawyer Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's oft misquoted, "You are what you eat." We visit a special educational farm that helps us understand the circle of life and the need to pay attention to where our food comes from.
The Lands at Hillside Farms is a non-profit organization working to restore its farm estate to create an educational center for the community. Hillside Farms offers school programs that teach children about healthy eating, and the Peace and Carrots Day Camp that promotes nonviolent communication by getting kids out into the garden. This podcast features PennFuture intern Sarah DeCesaris as she interviews farmer and educator, Christine Dorherty about the educational programs at Hillside Farms. Hear Christine explain why it is important to teach children and their parents about healthy eating and sustainable agriculture.
If you aren't already a member of PennFuture, what are you waiting for? PennFuture was called the state's "leading environmental advocacy organization" by the Philadelphia Inquirer. So join the leader on our secure website, and sign up for our publications. And remember, you can make sure you don't miss any podcasts by subscribing to them through iTunes.
Fri, 3 April 2009
This week’s podcast features PennFuture’s Tanya Dierolf interviewing State Representative David Kessler (D-Berk) about the Organic Farming Transition Program.
Kessler details his work with the Rodale Institute in proving organic farming fights global warming and water pollution, grows healthier food, and improves the farmers’ bottom line. The new program, which Kessler successfully advocated last session, provides funding and expertise to farmers who wish to convert from non-organic to organic farming.
Applications for the program are online at the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s website.
Fri, 13 February 2009
This week's podcast features a wide-ranging conversation between PennFuture's staff attorney specializing in farming issues, Kimberly Snell-Zarcone, and Amy Leber of Shared Earth Farm in Mechanicsburg. Amy explains how CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) work, and how using this method to buy a share of a farm’s products creates a bond between farmers and families. She also discusses the journey from "what is this and what am I supposed to do with it” to foodie-dom, where shareowners are delighted to discover the new tastes and new (and sometimes old) foods available during different growing seasons. They also discuss the real connections CSAs and buying local campaigns make between the farmers and families - especially kids – that help keep organic farmers succeeding.
This discussion took place during last weekend’s Farming for the Future Conference 2009 in State College, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA). This phenomenal conference, held every year, is a veritable potpourri of workshops, major speakers, art, music and, of course, food. All meals at the conference come from sustainably, organically, and regionally raised foods from over 50 PASA members and friends.
You, too, can join this good food movement; and find a local organic farm or join a CSA here.
Wed, 16 July 2008
Pennsylvania has an opportunity to make sure that medicines keep working for us, by passing new legislation aimed at banning the use of antibiotics in healthy animals to promote growth and prevent disease. This overuse and unnecessary use of important antibiotics that are also used to treat dangerous bacterial infections in humans is helping to contribute to a widespread public health crisis as bacteria are becoming resistant to the very medicines we need to use to fight them.
In this podcast, PennFuture's Jan Jarrett speaks to environmental health expert Dr. Ellen Silbergeld, professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Silbergeld came to Pennsylvania earlier this summer to support the introduction of the Safe Food and Safe Families Act, House Bill 2195 (HB 2195), sponsored by Rep. Daylin Leach (D-149).
Dr. Silbergeld has been researching the area of the health and environmental impacts of industrial food production for over nine years. She describes how bacteria (pathogens) become resistant to antibiotics, and the linkages between many current livestock practices and this major public health threat. Many "conventional" livestock operations routinely administer antibiotics in animal feed, not to treat or prevent disease in the animals, but out of a belief (that Dr. Silbergeld's research has proven is incorrect) that these antibiotics promote growth in the animals and reduce costs to the farmers.
Humans can become exposed to antibiotics-resistant bacteria through the food supply, one reason why safe food-handling procedures is so important. But in places like southeastern and central Pennsylvania, where there are enormous numbers of concentrated animal feedlot operations, or factory farms, farmers and farm laborers as well as nearby community members are also at risk from these pathogens, since air-borne contamination and animal waste disposal problems occur.
What's worse is that we are now beginning to see problems in produce as well as in livestock. Dr. Silbergeld describes how application of contaminated livestock waste to farm fields ran off into irrigation water and subsequently contaminated lettuce, spinach, and green onions, for example.
New research from a number of countries is revealing that the very dangerous MRSA bacterium (commonly thought of as the hospital bug), that is responsible for very difficult-to-treat infections in humans, is being found in non-hospital settings, namely hog and dairy farms. People working at these contaminated facilities not only are at risk themselves, but can serve as human carriers of MRSA into their communities.
The bottom line is that it is becoming increasingly important to eliminate as many of the pathways as possible that exist toward creating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. That's why the Safe Food, Safe Families campaign is so important in Pennsylvania. Learn more on our campaign page, where you can also sign up to support the effort and receive updates and alerts about the campaign. You can also make a tax-deductible contribution to PennFuture to help us continue our successful work in promoting Responsible Farming.
Fri, 7 March 2008
Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a growing problem. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that 70 percent of all antibiotics manufactured are fed to healthy animals at livestock operations. Because of the concern of the role that the routine use of antibiotics plays in creating these super germs, many public health organizations have called for a complete or partial ban on the practice. These organizations include American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, the World Health Organization, and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians.
Animals at factory farms (large, concentrated animal feedlots that are becoming all-too-commonplace in the Commonwealth) are routinely fed low doses of antibiotics to enhance growth and to prevent outbreaks of disease. The constant low doses of antibiotics kill susceptible bacteria, but bacteria resistant to the drug survive and multiply. In short order, most of the bacteria become resistant to treatment by antibiotics.
In this podcast, PennFuture's Heather Sage talks with public health expert Dr. Amy Sapkota from the University of Maryland School of Public Health/Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health. Dr. Sapkota's work focuses on evaluating the relationships between human diseases stemming from infection, and the pathways to humans from agriculture, water production, and the environment. She explains the basics of antibiotics resistance and why public health officials worldwide are so concerned with this situation.
While overuse and misuse of antibiotics in agriculture are certainly not the only contributing causes to antibiotics resistance, they are a significant part of the problem, and one that must be addressed. Many of the antibiotics used in animal feed are also used in human medicine. If a person becomes infected with resistant bacteria, the use of antibiotics to treat a resulting disease may not work at all, or less effectively. People can be exposed to these bacteria by handling contaminated meat, drinking contaminated water or breathing contaminated air.
There are ways that we can protect ourselves from exposure to bacteria in our daily lives. Dr. Sapkota advises to wash hands regularly with warm water and regular soap (not antibacterial soap-- which is also contributing to antibiotics resistance), avoiding the use of personal products that are labeled as antibiotic, employing safe meat handling and meat cooking practices, buying organic products, and by taking any prescribed antibiotics properly.
But what about exposures from other pathways, such as contaminated air or water? This is where policy changes must be implemented. Part of the answer lies in limiting the use of antibiotics at livestock facilities. PennFuture's Safe Foods, Safe Families campaign is beginning to do just that. Visit our Web site to learn more about how we are working to keep medicines working for you. There is also a wealth of information at the Keep Antibiotics Working site.
We welcome your comments. Simply click on "Comments" below, or send us an e-mail.
Thu, 17 January 2008
Every year in Harrisburg those who cultivate, grow, harvest, and farm the bounty of land throughout the state gather together for the largest indoor agricultural convention in the country, the Pennsylvania Farm Show. This year marked the 92nd annual gathering, and PennFuture’s Jan Jarrett was on site to talk with some of the leading renewable energy groups at the convention this year.
Not surprisingly, more and more sustainable, green products are cropping up at the annual convention. This year, show organizers embraced this detail and called the show “New Ideas for New Markets?. Special attention was given to promoters of wind energy, biofuels, solar energy, and other state-harvested sources of fuel and power.
Tune in to explore with us research advancements in biofuels, integrated solar energy construction methods, Pennsylvania carbon trade, and the International Solar Decathlon.
To learn more about PennFuture's Safe Foods, Safe Families campaign and our other work to promote healthy, sustainable agriculture policies, visit our Web site. There you can also make a donation to support our work. We welcome your comments! Simply send us an e-mail or click on "Comments" below.
Fri, 10 August 2007
In this podcast, PennFuture's Joy Bergey and Alex Bard take us through a whirlwind tour of some of Pennsylvania's many outstanding options for enjoying locally-grown and organic foods. Eating locally-grown and -raised foods (ideally organic) provides a cornucopia of benefits, ranging from personal health, to the health of soil and water, to the health of the planet as we help to reduce global warming impacts, and of course to the vitality of local economies as small farmers thrive.
Our first stop takes us to southeastern Pennsylvania, where Joy speaks with Mary Ann Flaherty Ford, co-owner of Farm Fresh Express (which we are happy to recognize is one of the hundreds of Pennsylvania organizations proudly endorsing our Cool Pennsylvania campaign to stop global warming here at home). Mary Ann details several important reasons to eat local. Farm Fresh Express is a food delivery service in the Philadelphia area that offers only fresh, locally-grown grocery products brought right to your door. You can also visit their storefront farm stand in Lansdowne, PA if you prefer.
Joy moves on to central Pennsylvania talk with David Robb, manager of the Tuscarora Organic Growers Co-Op, which brought together growers and farmers in the region to collectively market and sell their organic products. The co-op now serves the Washington, D.C. metro area and some other mid-Atlantic markets. While there, Joy also spoke with a founding member of the co-op as well as one of the founders of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), Jim Crawford. Jim has been a successful organic farmer for more than 35 years.
Finally, we hear from Alex who stops into the fantastic Six Penn Kitchen restaurant located in downtown Pittsburgh to chat with executive sous chef Keith Fuller. Keith describes the variety of locally-grown foods that Six Penn uses in their ever-changing menus, designed to adjust with the seasons, sometimes a couple times each month. Six Penn even features local products in its bar selections!
Local foods are easy to find with a little looking. Two outstanding sources of information can be found here and here. So no matter what corner of Pennsylvania you find yourself in, be sure not to miss the wealth of local foods that await just outside your door. You are what you eat, so be sure to eat well.
For more information on PennFuture's work to ensure safer foods for our families, visit our Web site. There you can also make a secure, tax-deductible contribution to support our work. We welcome your comments at any time; just send us an e-mail at podcast (at) pennfuture (dot) org, or click on "Comments" below.
Thu, 9 February 2006
Conversation with John Ikerd: Growing the Economy through Sustainable Agriculture and Sustainable Capitalism
PennFuture's Jan Jarrett sits down with economist, author and educator John Ikerd to discuss how agriculture and modern capitalism can and should be sustainable. Dr. Ikerd was one of three keynote speakers at the 2006 Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) Farming for the Future Conference. Ikerd's most recent book is called Sustainable Capitalism: A Matter of Common Sense.
Wed, 8 February 2006
Farming for the Future: Tidbits from the 15th Annual Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture Conference
Pennsylvania farmers are critical to the Commonwealth's economy, health, and future. PennFuture's Jan Jarrett explores the 15th Annual Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture's (PASA) Farming for the Future conference, entitled "Weaving a Diverse Landscape: Food as a Common Thread." Jan speaks with Kim Miller, PASA's Board President, about the PASA mission: promoting profitable farms which produce healthy food for all people while respecting the natural environment. She also speaks with Randy Gray, former State Director of the Nature Conservancy (Pennsylvania), who is now spearheading innovative initiatives that go beyond traditional land conservation practices such as conservation easements, focusing on creating economic drivers that make conservation economically viable. Finally, Jan sits down to dig into what sounds like a scrumptious home-grown feast at the PASA conference dinner.
Thu, 12 January 2006
Listen as PennFuture's Jan Jarrett takes a tour of the 90th annual Pennsylvania State Farm Show in Harrisburg. Jan talks with exhibitors using home-grown Pennsylvania agricultural know-how to forge new ground in the renewable energy arena, helping to lead Pennsylvania to energy independence and boost our economy at the same time. Learn how this year's Farm Show is climate-neutral, thanks to NativeEnergy. Soybeans grown here can be used to fuel vehicles and replace home heating oil. Groups like the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Farmer's Union are working to ensure that family farming in Pennsylvania is good for the land, good for the communities where they are located, and great for long-term growth of our state's economy. Jan has a hard time deciding what culinary delights she will sample at the show's Food Court. And you don't want to miss her stop at the Sand Castle Winery's booth... so be sure to stay tuned until the end! To view more pictures from the Farm Show, click here.