Ep. 57: Gabe Brown – Innovator, farmer, businessman, author and soil health pioneer  -ft. co-host: Jay Vilar of Nourish ||

 

On episode 57 we welcome Gabe Brown – farmer, businessman, author and soil health pioneer.   Gabe, along with his wife, Shelly, and son, Paul, own and operate a diversified 5,000-acre farm and ranch near Bismarck, N.D. Their operation focuses on farming and ranching in nature’s image. The Browns holistically integrate their grazing and no-till cropping system, which includes a wide variety of cash crops along with multi-species cover crops and all-natural, grass-fed beef, poultry and sheep. This diversity and integration has regenerated the natural resources on the ranch without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or fungicides. Over 2,000 people visit the Brown’s ranch annually with visitors from all 50 states and 16 foreign countries.

 

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Brown has recently released the book “Dirt to Soil” – which described their personal voyage into regenerative agriculture.  This insight gained over a these decades has established a knowledge-base.  In his this first book Gabe Brown has distilled all that complexity into five (5) principles of a healthy soil-ecosystem.

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  • No disturbance (no-till, no-synthetics)
  • Bolstering Soil’s Natural Defense (the outer-layer protecting all that life)
  • Bio-diversity (marrying nature’s way keeps the system healthy)
  • A living root in the ground as long as possible (covercrops & seasonal diversity)
  • Animal & Insect integration (nature relies on the entire system working together)

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Nutritionist Jay Vilar joins again as co-host.  Vilar is the founder, and a practitioner at ‘Nourish’ – a bespoke consulting company with a mission to educate, teach, and train people on the benefits of using food to heal your body and optimize your health.  Jay has always been on the forefront of using optimal health techniques, and bio-hacking his nutrition to achieve remarkable results in his career. Jay now spends his time teaching people how to use food to heal their body and speaks to businesses on how to optimize focus & productivity using nutritional and behavioral science.  Jay recently completed a Fellowship at the Rodale Institute, and just relocated from DC to join our crew in Boston.
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It’s a fascinating 45 minute conversation with a guy who has a unique ability to tell it like it is.  To clarify and simplify some pretty sophisticated subject matter so that we can all better appreciate the broad-reaching values that soil health and regenerative agriculture can bring to our world.

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@twitter

 



co-host:

Jay Vilar

  • Founder of Nourish
  • A focus on Nutritional Therapy
  • Rodale Institute Fellow
  • Host of  ‘listen to your mother’ show

@twitter

Ep. 56: Sylvia Wulf – CEO of AquaBounty -ft. Jay Vilar of Nourish ||

 

On episode 56 we welcome newly appointed CEO of AquaBounty, Sylvia Wulf for an engaging conversation that explores a new frontier of food production.  Wulf is an industry leader who’s directly responsible for coaxing large scale production and distribution to become more sustainable, more responsible and more appreciative of market trends of a modern consumer over the last 25 years.
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Prior to AquaBounty, Sylvia was President of StockYards, SVP of Merchandising, and President of the Manufacturing Division for US Foods.  A $23 billion broad line foodservice distributor, US Foods is the the 2nd largest foodservice distributor in the US.  Wulf was responsible for the P&L of the $10 billion protein and produce categories and the $1 billion Manufacturing Division of U.S. Foods Meat, Seafood and Produce operations. While leading this anchor division, Wulf developed a source to sale strategic approach that not only improved profitability but drove growth in market share at 3X the industry average. In her numerous roles responsibilities included the P&L of Perishables categories, centralized sourcing/replenishment, 15 manufacturing facilities for Meat and produce.
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As of January 2019 Sylvia Wulf has taken the reins at known salmon producer and seafood innovator – AquaBounty.  For the past 20 years AquaBounty has sought federal approval for their transgenic engineered fish which sets to localize domestic production while reducing the use of synthetics and antibiotics in their approach of farm raising fish.  It’s not the molecular scalpel used in tweaking RNA expressions as we’ve learned about with CRISPR, it’s DNA manipulation. But, it’s done for a different purpose and with different intent than we’ve seen with past GE or GMO crops so prevalent in seed production. The IP AquaBounty is interested in moving is a methodology for producing fish, cleaner and healthier fish they say.  It’s surely not designed to move more harmful proprietary chemicals sterilizing soils and the planet. And, BTW – the fish they produce are sterile, so there’s no concern with cross-pollination with natural stock.
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It’s fascinating to explore this from a few different angles.  No doubt it’s a pressing and timely subject with a stigma.  We must all appreciate that this is being rolled out, now – through-out the US.  AquaBounty has FDA approval and will soon be part of our current food production system. What needs to be determined is how it’s labeled.  They’ve instituted numerous fail safes and they have a compelling message to why they believe the time is now to use their technology to clean-up many of the approaches used in farming fish.  So, how do we all find commonality?  How do we evaluate all the biological, ethical, social and environmental issues reaching our plate?  Tune-In to hear more.

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‘Nutritionist to The Hill‘ Jay Vilar joins me as a first-time co-host.  Vilar is the founder, and a practitioner at ‘Nourish’ – a bespoke consulting company with a mission to educate, teach, and train people on the benefits of using food to heal your body and optimize your health.  Jay has always been on the forefront of using optimal health techniques, and bio-hacking his nutrition to achieve remarkable results in his career. Jay now spends his time teaching people how to use food to heal their body and speaks to businesses on how to optimize focus & productivity using nutritional and behavioral science.  Jay recently completed a Fellowship at the Rodale Institute, and just relocated from DC to join our crew in Boston.
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Sylvia Wulf knows large-scale production and food distribution.  Throughout her career she’s worked diligently to elevate standards and improve the experience for a broad swath of consumers and food animals.  Tune-In to hear what she’s up to in her latest venture – for many reasons I know our audience will find intrigue in this 45 minute conversation.

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@SWulf

 

 



co-host:

Jay Vilar

  • Founder of Nourish
  • A focus on Nutritional Therapy
  • Rodale Institute Fellow
  • Host of  ‘listen to your mother’ show

@twitter

Ep. 55: Gray Harris – Senior Vice President of Food Systems @ Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI)  ||

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On episode 55 we welcome Gray Harris, Senior Vice President of food systems at Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) in Brunswick Maine.  Harris is responsible for the strategy, development and implementation of action-oriented business initiatives in the agriculture, food systems, and aquaculture and fisheries sectors. In her role, Gray assesses sector needs and identifies sources of specialized technical assistance and financing for start-up and expanding food businesses; this includes spearheading the development of funds for sector-specific lending and investing at CEI.
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In our 45 minute conversation we discuss the ins and outs of investing in regional and sustainable food systems of the Northeast and beyond.  CEI is a mission-driven lender and investor specializing in rural business development and financing. In Maine, and throughout the U.S., CEI helps to create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential.  CEI is unique with its dossier of offerings which include business loans, micro-loans, new market tax credits, sub-debt loans, SBA 504 loans, business plans, marketing plans, business advising, financial advising, and public policy leadership.
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Gray Harris  is a former director of the Maine Farms for the Future program, a statewide business planning and grants program for Maine farmers. She participates in numerous action-oriented initiatives statewide, including the boards of Wolfe’s Neck Farm and the Maine Harvest Credit Union,  the Tech Board of the Maine Technology Institute, and she’s a marathon runner!  This all comes in handy with her role of conducting Maine’s Value chain.

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Dutch-American agricultural economist Renée Vassilos joins again as our co-host.  Stemming from fifteen years of agriculture industry know-how with John Deere and the USDA, Vassilos leverages her global cross-functional experience to support the growth of sustainability-focused agriculture business.  We’re lucky to have her wealth of knowledge in the co-pilot seat for these types of conversations.
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Tune-In to hear more from our conversation which ranged from place-based investment, circular economies, Maine fisheries and we profile the vertical integration of some of the best beer you’ll ever get to experience with Lunch!

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@CEIMaine

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co-host:

Renee Vassilos

  • Agricultural Economist
  • Regenerative & Big Ag intermediary
  • past portfolio manager: Deere China
  • Bilingual Dutch / American citizen 

Full bio: Renée Vassilos is a Dutch-American Agricultural Economist with over fifteen years of agriculture industry experience. Her expertise ranges from strategic market analysis and product development to sales, marketing and distribution strategy. She has lived and worked abroad- three years in Amsterdam and six years in Beijing- contributing to her robust global experience, cultural competence, and network. 

Today, Vassilos is sharing her expertise through her consulting business. She utilizes her global cross-functional experience from working for the USDA and John Deere to support the growth of sustainability-focused agriculture businesses. She has a BS and MS in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana and University of California, Davis, respectively.

Ep. 54: Dr. Alan Goldberg – Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health -ft. Jennifer Hashley of New Entry Sustainable farming ||

 

Dr. Alan Goldberg of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University joins us for episode 54 of Sourcing Matters. Goldberg is a professor of Toxicology, the Founding Director of the Johns Hopkins ‘Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing’, and a Principal of the Berman Institute Global Food Ethics Policy Program. In 2007 he was appointed to the Pew Commission on the Impact of Industrial Farm Animal Production.

 

Goldberg has served in several Administrative positions at Johns Hopkins. He was The Associate Chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Director of the Division of Toxicology, and for 15 years was the Associate Dean at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. As a Dean, he was responsible for Research with specific responsibility for technology transfer, conflicts of interest, & work with the private Sector.
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Ethics are: A set of moral principles : a theory or system of moral values.  Basically – “A guiding philosophy”.   Dr. Goldberg’s work over the last 50 years has reframed our perspective on ethics in food and animal management, and what the resulting impact means to each stakeholder.  In 2007, Dr. Goldberg served as a PEW Commissioner on the study of the Impact of Industrial (US) Farm Animal Production, on issues of public health, environment, animal welfare and social justice.  Listen-in and learn what Dr. Goldberg has to say about this monumental report which has reframed our approach to production and consumption of proteins, yet unexpectedly it’s had almost no impact on our public policy.  It’s been the consumer acting as the agent of change in adopting ethics on the plate.
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In early November 2018 Goldberg hosted The “ChooseFood” symposium in Baltimore.   It was a gathering to evaluate some of the core ethical questions of food and its production. Top brass speakers shared insight on ethics of in food labor, environmental impact, externalities, animal welfare, health risk factors & new tech – all were on the docket.  Coming it at from the food animal side It was a fascinating exercise for me to see how far we’ve come since the 2007 PEW commission report, what more needs to be done with food animal production, and how broad the aperture has grown to encapsulate ethics into our food and global production.
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Joining again as co-host is Jennifer Hashley – founder of the The New Entry Sustainable Farming project, and Pete & Jen’s Backyard Birds on the renowned Codman Community Farm in the heart of Lincoln MA.
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Tune-in for our fascinating 45 minute conversation about all things related to food ethics.


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ChooseFood offered an opportunity to learn from leaders with a vested interest in food and how we produce it.  Hearing from these diverse stakeholders fighting a similar battle reminded me how much our food is so deeply intwined into family, beliefs, culture and society – no matter where you come from on the planet.  I left the symposium wondering if food ethics could be that common development language which would transcend many of the current differences we find in each other?   We’re so much more alike than different– could food ethics be a reminder if not the primary ingredient for this panacea? Not sure, but a goal to find some insight and codify better practices that harmonize us and our surroundings on a shrinking planet just seems like a good idea!

 

@JohnsHopkinsSPH

 



co-host:

Jennifer Hashley

  • Founder of Tufts New Entry Sustainable farming project 
  • Owner of Pete & Jen’s backyard birds
  • Evangelist | Activist| Innovator
  • Eisenhower Fellow 2016

@JHashley

Ep. 53: Dorothy Suput – Executive Director & Founder of The Carrot Project, with Judith Shanks of Judith Shanks Food Consulting -ft. Jennifer Hashley of New Entry Sustainable farming & The Carrot Project Advisor ||

 

On episode 53 of Sourcing Matters we welcome leadership from the The Carrot Project.  Based out of Massachusetts, The Carrot Project creates a sustainable local farm and food economy by providing financing and business assistance so farm and food enterprises thrive. With a goal to foster a sustainable, diverse food system by supporting small and midsized farms and farm-related businesses – The Carrot Project is expanding accessible financing and increasing farm operations’ ability to use it to build successful, ecologically and financially sustainable, businesses.
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Joining us for the 45 minute discussion is The Carrot Project founder and Executive Director Dorothy Suput. Suput’s commitment to a sustainable food system grew out of the incredible contrasts between Midwestern agriculture, with which she grew up, and the locally focused food and farming system in Switzerland, where she lived after graduating with a BS from Purdue University. Following graduate school at Tufts, Dorothy worked as the first regional organizer on the 1995 Farm Bill for the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group under the auspices of the Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, and subsequently, as a consultant for business and agency.
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Also profiled in this episode is Julia Shanks, who serves as the Senior Business Advisor to The Carrot Project, and is owner & principal of Julia Shanks food Consulting. Shanks brings a broad range of professional experiences to her clients, from pilot to chef to serial entrepreneur. Julia received her professional training as a chef at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, her BA from Hampshire College and an MBA from Babson College. After more than 10 years of professional cooking, Julia became a college professor of accounting and now works with food businesses and farms, helping them maximize profits and streamline operations through business planning, feasibility studies and operational audits. Julia’s second book, The Farmer’s Office provides tips, tools and templates for farmers to successfully manage a growing farm business.
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Co-host Jennifer Hashley of The New Entry Sustainable Farming Project happens to also be a strategic advisor to The Carrot Project, and as always, Jen brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding to round out our interesting conversation. Tune-In to these agents of change focused on a more stable and regional food system based on pragmatic economic modeling and a better understanding of the interests of a modern consumer.

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@Carrot_Project

@Julia Shanks

 



co-host:

Jennifer Hashley

  • Founder of Tufts New Entry Sustainable farming project 
  • Owner of Pete & Jen’s backyard birds
  • Evangelist | Activist| Innovator
  • Eisenhower Fellow 2016

@JHashley

Ep. 52: Kevin Esvelt – Head of MIT Media Lab Sculpting Evolution group ||

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On episode 52 we welcome Kevin Esvelt, Director of the MIT Media Lab Sculpting Evolution group.  At the Media Lab, Esvelt and his world class team of geneticists & biologists invent new ways to study and influence the evolution of ecosystems. By carefully developing and testing these methods with openness and humility, the group seeks to address difficult ecological problems to benefit humanity & the natural world.

Prior to joining the MIT Media Lab, Esvelt wove many different areas of science into novel approaches to ecological engineering. He invented phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE), a synthetic microbial ecosystem for rapidly evolving biomolecules, in the laboratory of David R. Liu at Harvard University. At the Wyss Institute, he worked with George Church to develop the CRISPR system for genome engineering & regulation, and he began the use of bacteriophages and conjugation to engineer microbial ecosystems.

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Esvelt is credited as the first to describe how CRISPR gene drives could be used to alter the traits of wild populations in an evolutionarily stable manner. And recently, he and his Sculpting Evolution group devised a new form of technology, called ‘daisy drives’, which lets communities aiming to prevent disease alter wild organisms in local ecosystems.

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Esvelt offers some of the clearest descriptions of GMOs;  CRISPR gene editing; a scientist’s role as God while wielding the power of modern tech – and, what we do about that as a society – during our hour 1-hour discussion. Whether you’re interested in Genetic Engineering or Fitness Landscapes defining evolutionary biology – this episode will spark your interest.   I was just happy just to be along for the ride.

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Ep. 51: Sonia Faruqi – author of ‘The Oyster Thief’  &  ‘Project Animal Farm’ ||

For episode 51 we welcome critically acclaimed author Sonia Faruqi to the show.  In our 40 minute discussion Faruqi goes deep into her recent work ‘The Oyster Thief’ which blends fantasy and environmental activism.  It’s a Sci-Fi novel which depicts an underwater civilization of mer-people themed amongst true ocean science, and acts of conservation living out in a deep-sea community.   Tune-In and hear her out…
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Think of if this way:  Many folks have found their calling in STEM through an interest in Science Fiction – which was introduced to them at a young age.   Our interests in space travel & Super Heroes have changed our society (and some’s belief structure) within a generation.  Sonia believes that the genre of Sci-Fi sparks interest and passion in young folks – and, this has incubated broader interest in more sciences & maths.  Getting them interested in this stuff at a you age makes them inquisitive, and more adoptive of science through-out their life.  That’s a theory which has a great deal of merit.
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Faruqi’s previous work ‘Project Animal Farm’ was released in 2015.  This non-fiction work looked at the world’s food system through chronicling a journey to 60 animal farms in 8 countries.  Faruqi combines her hands-on immersive learning with analysis on modern global agricultural models.  The well researched book comes in tow with recommendations, and food sustainability solutions for many of these international issues.  She has some heavy hitters in food, agriculture and ocean health singing her praises.
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So, If we’re going to address the many issues facing our shrinking planet – our oceans – we’ll need more great minds interested in planetary sciences. That’s a fact.  Environmental Sci-Fi seems to be an interesting strike-point to trigger more interest within the right groups, at the right time, for all the right reasons.  Sonia Faruqi has me convinced!

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Ep. 50: Elaine Ingham – Soil Food Web ||

Elaine Ingham maintains an active schedule of classes and webinars focused on the most up-to-date knowledge about growing plants without pesticides or inorganic fertilizer.  Ingham consults and educates large scale commercial cotton and soybean growers, large scale berry growers, as well as large commercial fruit producers as well as shrimp production. Tune-In to learn about the great things Elaine is doing for the savior underfoot.
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Ingham is well known for her work on the USDA soil-primer based on a concept she coined called the “Soil Food Web.”  Now, based on her decades of pioneering work as a soil microbiologist – Ingham has made it the objective of her company SoilFoodWeb.com to restore soil to its optimum state, anywhere at any scale.
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What most may not know is about her efforts that saved humanity and all living planets on this planet.  You see…

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“In 1992 the Environmental Protection Agency was only a few weeks away from ending life on the planet as we know it,” so writes George Lawton in the April, 2001 issue of Acres USA (“A Voice For Eco-Agriculture”).  Lawton reports that the EPA, although only having done limited tests at that time on a variety of genetically engineered microbes, all of which had been approved for release into the atmosphere, were prepared to approve the release of a GE variant of Klepsiella planticola (KP), one of the most common bacteria on the planet.
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“This particular variety of GE KP,” he writes, “had the unique ability to convert dead plant matter into alcohol. It was hoped that this would provide a way for farmers to transform their unused stalks, leaves and other types of compost material into alcohol, which could be used for washing, running vehicles. “
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So, it’s worth giving a listen to our discussion to learn more about Elaine’s focus, her interests, and her scope on a stable and prosperous future from the ground up.

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Ep. 49: Karen Karp – CEO & founder of KK&P ||

Karen Karp is a fourth-generation food entrepreneur. Her great grandfather Morris, a first generation immigrant from Ukraine, opened a butter, eggs, and cheese wholesale outlet on Manhattan’s far west side, and later a feed and seed company on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn. Karen’s father served the farmers of Long Island’s East End as a real estate broker concentrating on industrial and agricultural properties, and brokered the country’s first Transfer of Development Rights deal in the 1970s.  This stuff and that area are in her blood.  Karen Karp is now leveraging her diverse background in food and its production, in public health, and within investment communities in The City to empower more young women to assess things differently; to take more control of their own destinies.

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For episode 49 of Sourcing Matters we focus on Karp’s recent project – “Investigating the Role of Women, Capital, and the Transformation of Food and Agriculture.” Co-chaired by leadership at AgFunder and ‘The New Food Economy’, this analysis sets to find some answers to timely and important questions that we all need to pay more attention to.  As sons, husbands, brothers & fathers – we all need to pay better attention too.

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Since establishing Karen Karp & Partners in 1990 she’s focused efforts on developing a range of bespoke strategies that explore the interconnections between agriculture, food, policy and people, and how to marry common interests of the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. KK&P has grown to become a nationally respected boutique consultancy with a uniquely skilled staff and a diverse roster of clients – including nearly a decade co-producing the James Beard Foundation conference.

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Karen and her team are equally adept in the boardroom, in the kitchen, or on the land – their systems-based approach is always both conceptually rigorous and grounded in practical understanding. Have a listen to our discussion about finding gender equality in innovation economies; at the workplace; at home; within food and its production.

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