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

.

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.

.

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.

.

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.

.



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…
.
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.
.
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.
.
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!

.



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.
.
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.
.
What most may not know is about her efforts that saved humanity and all living planets on this planet.  You see…

.
“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.
 .
“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. “
.
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.

..



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.

.
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.

.
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.

.

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.

.



Ep. 48: Michael Leviton, Chef-advocate, food system reformer -ft. cohost: Scott Soares, past Mass Ag Commish & shellfish farming leader  ||

.

On episode 48 we welcome celebrated chef, advocate and food system reformer – Michael Leviton.  As past chef-owner of Boston area favorites Lumière and Area Four, Michael has recently spawned “Region Foodworks” – an initiative providing regionally sourced and produced bulk products for the institutional food service market.

.

After working alongside some of the world’s best chefs at Square One, Le Cirque, and La Bernadin – Michael Leviton returned to his hometown of Newton, Massachusetts in 1999 to open Lumière.  In Lumière’s first two years in business, the restaurant was recognized as one of the Best New Restaurants in America by Bon Appétit, and Michael was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine.  In 2011, Leviton opened Area Four, a wood-burning oven/bar and attached coffeehouse/bakery. Modern and minimalistic in both menu and design, each property earned local and national recognition for serving highest quality product, sourced locally and all scratch made, at a price point and in a setting that is accessible to all.

.
Tune-In to our conversation to hear how Michael’s experience San Francisco, New York and in Paris influenced this launch of these world-renowned restaurants in the suburbs of Boston.  Sourcing local food from regional farms using elevated production standards in the Northeast is surely how Leviton cast his name. But, his influence has since created a movement – and not just here, in the Northeast.  Leviton’s time as chair of the organization ‘The Chef’s Collaborative‘ from 2010-2014 influenced a generation of top chefs.  He’s established a tree of disciples and understudies who share similar interest for values in the food and neighborhoods they serve.   In fact, he’s cultivated a formula that when put in the proper hands can be overlaid in many metropolitan burbs throughout the US.

.
Now, Michael works to maximize throughput of local and regional production by focusing his business on “offering producers a fair price for the work they do.”  Through Regional FoodWorks it’s Leviton’s objective to rejigger supply chains by offering consistent demand for regional food – with –  business commitments for local producers – offering new growth and capacity-building opportunities for the regions he serves.
.
Joining the chat as co-host is Scott Soares – former commissioner of Massachusetts Agriculture, and served as the Director of USDA Rural Development for Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for the Obama administration.  Scott has 15 years of fishery and aquaculture experience prior to that – including early in his career serving as the 1st Massachusetts coordinator of aquaculture for nearly a decade.
.
The scale that Leviton works in has changed, but he’s maintained a commitment to food’s value throughout each market he enters.  As he explains – he didn’t start a chefs movement towards more local food on the East Coast, but he’s surely instigated i!  And now, as a rock start of local and sustainable food – Michael Leviton is leveraging his voice to make more great things happen.
..

@MLeviton1



co-host:

Scott Soares

  • Past Commissioner MA Agriculture 
  • Dir. USDA Rural Dev Northeast for Obama administration
  • 15 years of fishery & Aquaculture experience
  • Served as 1st MA coordinator of aquaculture for a decade

@SjSoares65

 

Ep. 47: Live recorded at Johns Hopkins “Choose Food” Symposium – we welcome Maisie Ganzler, Chief Strategy & Brand Officer at Bon Appétit Management Company ||

 

For episode 47 we speak with Maisie Ganzler of Bon Appétit Management Company live recorded at the Johns Hopkins ‘ChooseFood’ symposium in Baltimore Maryland.  Ganzler is Chief Strategy & Brand Officer at Bon Appétit Management Company, an on-site restaurant company offering full food-service management to corporations, universities, museums, and specialty venues. Based in Palo Alto, CA, the company operates more than 1,000 cafés in 34 states for dozens of marquee clients. Maisie has been instrumental in shaping the company’s strategic direction.  We focus our discussion on the diverse sustainable initiatives and purchasing policies Ganzler has implemented in her 25 year career at Bon Appétit management company.
.
The “ChooseFood” gathering was a collective effort of the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.  The goal of the event was to evaluate the broad reaching ethics of food, and its production.  Issues like Labor, environmental impact, externalities, animal welfare, health risk factors & new tech were all part of the ethical questions for food.  Maisie was asked to share with the group some of the impact her work has had, and how the commitments at Bon Appétit have influenced some vast changes in the foodservice industry.
.
During our 40 minute discussion we dig deep into a few of the initiatives Ganzler described in her presentation, including her 1999 initiative “Farm to Fork” that buys meat, vegetables, and other products within a 150-mile radius of a client.  In fact, (at a national level) at least 20% of Bon Appétit purchases meet this criteria.  You’ll hear how of their pioneering initiatives to reduce food waste, work with small farmers, improve animal living conditions and ability to influence industrial scale agriculture to become more conscious & conscientious have evolved a minimum market entrance for their competitors.  For this innovative company not afraid to draw a line in the sand – a dedication to ethics is paying off with positive business results.   As you’ll hear in my conversation with Maisie, it’s all working for Bon Appétit because… it’s all authentic.
.
To hear of lessons learned and milestones gained by an industry leader at Bon Appétit is invaluable for us all. As we’re all consumers of it, we all have equal stake in food.  For me, it’s inspiration and hope for what tomorrow can bring if/when we embrace ‘business ethics’ as a core competency in how we decide to vote for what we believe in – with our dollars – with our forks.   TUNE-IN.

.


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!
.
..

@MaisieGreen || @BAMco



Ep. 46: Alex McIntosh – CEO & co-founder of Thrive Natural Care ||

.

On episode #46 we welcome Alex McIntosh, CEO & co-founder of Thrive natural care.  Thrive designs and sells high-performance skincare, powered by regenerative plants.   Since 2013, Thrive’s team of American and Costa Rican entrepreneurs, farmers and scientists have produced new-to-market botanicals for the company’s products by means of an inspiring regenerative farming model that helps restore degraded ecosystems and communities. Thrive’s vision and 500% growth over the past year has attracted retail partners such as Whole Foods and Amazon, national media such as Travel+Leisure and Esquire, and investors from Clorox, Nestlé, Unilever, venture capital and the NBA.
.
Prior to Thrive, McIntosh was the founding Director of Sustainability & Corporate Citizenship at Nestlé Waters North America, the $4B division of the world’s largest consumer water company. At Nestlé Waters, Alex developed the vision and strategic plan, and provided hands-on leadership to build the corporation’s first sustainability program from the ground up during a time of intense social scrutiny.  Prior to Nestlé, Alex was Director of Philanthropy at The Nature Conservancy, where he helped raise a record $75MM in private capital for two of the largest watershed conservation projects in the organization’s history.
.
Male grooming market is booming global.  In fact, from the $15.5 billion in worldwide sales in 2012 – the Male grooming market is estimated to be worth about $29.14 billion U.S. dollars by 2024.  In our 45 minute discussion on Sourcing Matters.show we explore how personal care, especially for men, is a category yet to mesh with modern consumer interest and demands.  The blue goop we shave with will increasingly be a thing of the past.  McIntosh and team see this horizon when this macro trend leaning towards safer and cleaner ingredients will mesh with the growth projections in personal care.   This is a sound business  set on leaving this place better than they found it.

.
Looking forward, levering an impressive background which had him participating in those diverse stakeholder seats – Alex McIntosh will continue to build Thrive as an example; better yet, a model for a “regenerative” supply and business across any sector.
.
.


Ep. 45: Bill Mook, CEO and Founder of Mook Sea Farm -ft. cohost: Scott Soares, past Mass Ag Commish & shellfish farming leader  ||

.

On episode 45 we welcome Bill Mook, founder and CEO of Mook Sea farm. Mook Sea Farm is an oyster farm founded in 1985 on the Damariscotta River in Midcoast Maine. They rear the American oyster from egg to adult size. Currently, the hatchery produces 120 million juvenile oysters (seed) annually for sale to other oyster growers throughout the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, and for our own cultivation of Wiley Point and Pemaquid Point oysters for the half-shell market.

.

They’re surely good eating, but oysters represent so much good to their surrounds, the shared environments, and the communities they support. You see, each adult oyster filters 50 gallons of water daily, they restore keystone marine ecosystems, and they build protective reefs around susceptible coastal communities – protecting us from storm surge and severe weather events. In this 45 minute discussion Bill Mook goes into details describing why Oysters are so important to the stability of seas, and to our planet.

.

As you’ll hear, Mook has implemented bleeding-edge R&D in his hatchery that is second to none. Innovations include development of methods for overwintering seed out of the water; a tidal powered nursery system; a vessel and gear for mechanizing the use of OysterGro™ cages; and a unique, energy efficient, and highly productive system for growing the micro-algae we use for food in the hatchery.  Effectively his approach to “brew” feed for Oysters, or for other animals for that matter, sets to be revolutionary.

.

Joining the conversation as a first time co-host is Scott Soares.  Soares is former commissioner of Massachusetts Agriculture, and served as the Director of USDA Rural Development for Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for the Obama administration.  Scott has 15 years of fishery and aquaculture experience prior to that – including early in his career serving as the 1st Massachusetts coordinator of aquaculture for nearly a decade.

.

If you care about the health of the Oceans, the solidarity of working waterfronts & local economies, the sanctity of place, or if you just like to eat great seafood – have a listen to what this agent of change is doing in the clean cold waters of Maine.

..

@MookSeaFarm



co-host:

Scott Soares

  • Past Commissioner MA Agriculture 
  • Dir. USDA Rural Dev Northeast for Obama administration
  • 15 years of fishery & Aquaculture experience
  • Served as 1st MA coordinator of aquaculture for a decade

@SjSoares65

 

Ep. 44: Marion Nestle – Author & Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University -ft. Jennifer Hashley of New Entry Sustainable farming ||

Today we welcome Marion Nestle, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University.   An icon in the food movement, Nestle’s research examines scientific and socioeconomic influences on food choice, obesity, and food safety, emphasizing the role of food marketing.

.
Nestle coined the term “vote with your fork”.  Effectively, this mantra empowers us all to reevaluate our food choice as a daily decision and endorsement to how we see the future.  For this spirited dialog delving deep into how much politics influences food choice, and robust support systems – Jennifer Hashley of the New Entry Farming Project  joins as co-host for Sourcing Matters episode #44.  Throughout our 45 minute discussion we evaluate what it will take to change food, nutrition and broader perspective.

.
Nestle has some pretty impeccable chops in the space, and shares this unique wisdom with us.  You see, Marion Nestle is author of six prize-winning books re: food, policy, health, diet and more.  Acclaimed titles include: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (2002), What to Eat (2006), Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics (2012), Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (2015) Additionally, she has written two books about pet food Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine (2008) and Feed Your Pet Right (2010).

.
Despite all the truths she knows, Nestle is supremely positive about the future of food in this country.  Her efforts to engaged younger generations in these daily decisions have already seen monumental impact, and seem to be just the tip of the iceberg set for transformative change within a decade.  Tune-in to hear to how Marion addresses questions about subsidies, land access, food waste, awareness and the importance of diverse food value.

.

Finally, Nestle shares additional insights on her forthcoming book, Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat.  So, whether for you or your dog – listen and learn to how and what you eat is being pre-determined in a boardroom of Big Food and Big seed with no concern for your best interest.  It is clear that most often in a modern US food system it’s your commitment to being part of a throughput engine chock full of waste, externalities, and abuse is your desired role.  Tune-in and learn how to “vote with your fork!”

..

@MarionNestle



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