Ep. 14 Ayr Muir: CEO & founder at Clover Food Lab ||

Spawned from a food truck in Kendall Sq, Ayr Muir has been advancing food systems for the last decade. Now, with 12 restaurants and zero food trucks around Boston & Cambridge – Muir has his sights set on refining a process that can continue to scale without sacrificing commitment to quality. In our chat we cover supply chain integrity and transparency, Clover’s open kitchen concept where food deliveries come through the front door, the diverse values of the whole wheat berry, the experience of finding good coffee, and more innovations Clover has unearthed throughout the years.

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18 months ago Ayr Muir made a commitment to his employees. National minimum wage is $7.25, and MA today is $11 pr/hr. Ayr commitment to a fair living wage of at least $15 per, and now has upped the challenge again – explaining “if it’s right for the employees, it’s worth fighting for.”  Muir has monitored similar key metrics of success from day one.  Now, with many lessons under his belt – these sound business decisions seem to be second nature as Ayr’s commitment to quality & flavorful ingredients, to good people and to the planet push forward each informed strategy.
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Throughout the conversation Ayr offers insights to the many values of well source food from responsible and progressive agriculture.  With regards to plant-based meats – and how progressive we become “is still something we’re all trying to figure out” according to Muir.  You can’t fake quality with their approach.  Have a listen:

@cloverfoodlab

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*photo source: BostonGPS


 

Ep. 13 Arion Thiboumery: General Manager, Vermont Packinghouse ||

For the past four years Arion Thiboumery has been progressing the regional food movement of the Northeast. Offering services that range from an advanced kill floor -to- full carcass utilization preserving elevated production standards up & down the value chain -to- value-add sausage, bacon, hams and more – Vermont Packinghouse is a full service provider establishing a new niche in domestic production. Through commitment to unparalleled transparency in their process and products coming through their facility, Arion and his team of 60 are defining new expectations in food provenance through their approach to food animal processing.

 

During a 35 minute chat, host Aaron Niederhelman discusses with Thiboumery a wide variety of subjects including the current state of the industry, bioregions for economic growth, new competition from plant-based cellular meat products and growth plans to scale Vermont Packinghouse’s honed process. Thiboumery  explains that he’s “a recovering academic who decided to get my hands dirty in meat processing”.  A deep thinking student of the game, Arion has a vision for the future of the American food system with a more engaged consumer who eat less meat, but better of it.  Have a listen, and learn why modern processing committed to transparency and provenance is cornerstone to feeding a shrinking and resource challenged world.

 

www.VermontPackinghouse.com

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*photos of Arion Thiboumery by Everett Meissner 


 

Ep. 12 Bill Buckner: President & CEO of Noble Research Institute ||

On episode 12 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Bill Buckner, President and CEO of Noble Research institute.  As the largest independent private agricultural organization in the US, Noble has recently focused on bridging the worlds of conventional and Organic production through a commitment to land management and soil health that will provide solutions to the vast challenges facing Agriculture, and humanity as a whole.

 

Founded in 1945 in response to the dust bowl, the core competencies of land stewardship and proper resource conservation to prevent future disaster is part of Noble’s linage.  Earlier this year they’ve launched a market exchange for natural resources currently not even given a commodity value. It’s the hope of Buckner and his team of 400 at the Noble Research Institute that by adding a new cost basis to soil health, carbon and water – we’ll be able to decommoditized food and promote the differentiated values from elevated production models – while furthering commitment to regenerative natural resources.  Collectively, that’s a competitive advantage for all domestic producers.  Raising this minimum market threshold seems an essential next step in on-ramping more farmers to evolve production models often inherited with succession of a farm.  As more consumers appreciate those values of the food sourced with any and all aspirational standards it’ll continue to become increasingly more mainstream in the marketplace.

 

What I learned in our discussion was that Bill Buckner is a practitioner of change.  Gracefully handling language that is often alienating and ostracizing for different sides of the fence, you must listen to our chat as he explains how it’s the farmers who’ll elevate the conversation and transcend much of the infighting that has put us in such polarized position.  I think there are some lessons to be learned in our discussion by our brethren in DC.  For food and managing our resources – it’s the farmers and the consumers that will meet in the middle to balance a system that must become more harmonious, and just.

 

www.Noble.org



 

Ep. 11 Tim Joseph: Founder and owner of Maple Hill Creamery ||

Through the creation of a world-class creamery in upstate New York, Tim Joseph has seen his fair share of learning experiences. Joseph and his growing aggregation of dairy farms have become the tip of the spear in testing and evolving best holistic management practice to maximize the many values of a grassfed production model to benefit animals, land and consumer health.

Beginning with the quality of taste of their products, Tim Joseph has become more than just a student of the game in differentiating their products through elevated production standards.  Maple Hill Creamery has become a market leader in advancing consumer awareness in all food animal production. Simplifying the messaging that focuses on the personal benefits of investing in the animals and their living environments has seemed to resonate with more.  Now, leveraging that with extensive research into growing consumer’s interest in their food and the mirroring of the success witnessed in other products categories like beer, wine, coffee, sweets and savories – Joseph and his growing but never compromising dairy believe they’ve just scratched the surface on an increasingly crowded yogurt shelf.

www.MapleHill.com



 

Ep. 10 Allan Savory: Holistic Management Originator & Founder of Savory Institute  ||

Set on addressing “the greatest problem facing humanity” – Allan Savory has spent a half century teaching us how to better connect with natural order.  Stemming from his early work to remediate desertification in the rangelands of Africa, Savory has developed a model of food animal management that could very well be our savior against climate change, and global instability.

It’s the proper management of animals that will be an essential part of the solution to address biodiversity loss and reverse the rapid warming of the planet.  As author J. Schwartz writes in “Cows save the Planet”, the disruptive forces of ruminants are actually the “crucible” of change in using soil to rectify climate change. Conventional methodology and associated reductionist theories to the environment, and our health, fail to evaluate that we’re all part of much bigger system that relies on being a link of the living nutrient recycling program. As Allan continues to prove, there are unlikely heroes in solving the most pressing global problems.  We need a more holistic approach in shepherding regenerative natural resources and managing how we feed ourselves on a shrinking planet, and that begins and ends with how we use our resources.

A symbiotic relationship between all microbial living things has effectively resulted in a living sponge that surrounds the planet. Often referred to as the earth’s thin skin, this living soil is so more than that.  It’s in fact the entire digestive tract for any and all living matter that has existed over the last billion years since bacteria and fungi started playing nicely together.  A few hundred million years ago, those relationships began incorporating larger flora and fauna into the recipe, and through time a proper balance was struck amongst all shared ecosystems to cycle nutriment needed for every trophic level through the microbes teeming in soil.  Basically, our health and that of our environment is uniquely connected to this living soil.

Ecology has become supremely efficient in closing the energy loop.  What remains is only the regenerative living matter designed to recycle energy, and the dander called petroleum. The system that created and stored this energy in the first place is hungry to return itself back to an equilibrium.  As systems thinkers – that is just commonsense!  Although, the described conduit of remediation, large food animals, doesn’t seem that for many with a linear mindset.  In fact, food animals are now defined by conventional wisdom as a fundamental driver in climate change equal to human emissions?!  Well, we have a lot to learn from Allan. Whether it’s the detrimental results of confined management or net positive of holistic – it’s all management practice, and not the animals themselves.


How we got here:

Just in the past few centuries we’ve unknowingly begun to tweak the process again.  And, in the last 50 years – scale of this disruptive approach has begun catching-up with a stable environment and again changing a once thriving ecosystems for the worse. Today, as our growing footprint and modern agricultural practice has effectively lopped off a few key links in the chain throughout the world – the collective is proving incrementally detrimental to diversely connected biomes. Hard to believe that taking ruminants off pasture can disrupt our existence, but with the grand scale we’ve instituted change  in such a short time – the unintended consequences to systems that take millions of years to balance will prove immensely disruptive unless we begin appreciating how to define broader solutions and not remedy of symptoms. Through Allan Savory we’re learning that when properly managed –  the matter that constitutes the sponge of our soil can be reinstated back to an original purpose from which it evolved.  A system of unparalleled storage capacity which provides a fix to a water & carbon issue spiralling out of control.


It’s all about the Management:

It’s based on a concept called nutrient cycling – a process similar but much broader to what happens in our own bodies. In fact, the breakdown of materials by microbial life in soil is not that far removed from what happens in your gut. By removing the waste stream of grazing animals and the results of the actions of their predators (equally an essential part of the puzzle) from once thriving grasslands we’ve systematically changed the nutrient cycling programs of most of the world’s great grasslands.  From sub-saharan Africa, the Great Plains of North America, the Southwest of the US, many Northern parts of the Far east, and a good portion of Australia – we’ve disrupted the essential nutrient cycling and stopped the flow of recycled energy on a significant portion of ground cover around the world. Effectively, taking the animals who harvest, fertilize and aerate the soil has resulted in dormancy, compaction, loss of biodiversity on that land leading to a general lack of resilience especially when dealing with the impact of other natural elements like wind, storm, flood or drought.

 

The organic matter and bugs in healthy topsoil hold 10X the volume of water as conventionally treated agricultural lands, never-mind dormant desert soils lacking thriving biology needed to maintain living plants that were once so important in feeding the pastoral animals. Collectively, and not unrelated – they no longer exist together. Removing animals, and categorical poor agricultural tilling & irrigation practice result in lesser ecological vigor in the once living soils of the global grasslands.  This has resulted in epic topsoil runoff, loss of fresh water storage, excessive carbon release and a lack of sequestering capacity.  A grand scale squeezing of the once massive grasslands sponge creates further dystopian scenarios for any of those animals that remain disconnected as a broken links in the chain. Representing 60% of the earth’s land cover, what we’re realizing is that grasslands are set to change all of our in-connected existence – including that of a stable environment for us all – unless we begin to give them their due.  Furthermore, as slash and burn practices destroy much of the ecologically sensitive tropical forests and forest land, and more folks enter the fossil fuel burning lifestyle – we’re going to need a broader solution with fast acting results.  The exciting part of Allan’s plan is the remediation to an unbalanced system is pretty straight-forward, and the unintended consequence leads to a cleaning a food system and improved human and animal health.


resolution: Engaging global grasslands to save ourselves, and feed a shrinking planet:

All of that considered – the hypothesis of returning the highest trophic levels back to the ecosystem under proper guidance and practice in effort to jumpstart co-evolution and best recalibrate the system to once again thrive as it did before our meddling seems one of the most pragmatic plans we’ve got as it comes in tow with economic drivers correlated to evolving consumer demand for better quality foods.  Simply, focused first on the single largest segment of food – animals – cleaning our food production models through pastoring hoofed ruminants and free-range fowl on grasslands and silvopasture (combined effort of forestry & grazing) we make significant strides in controlling our destiny through focus on Onehealth of animal, human, land & environment.  Allan and his teams around the world are set on changing many misnomers by introducing large scale herds of animals, wild and food alike, back into systems where the collaboration will benefit the wellness of all living matter through a progressive plan of adaptive nutrient cycling from Land to Market – through a focus on OneHealth.

 

The supply chain disruption of plant ready nutrients is driving many of the grasslands around the world to a point of desertification.  Allan, and now many others including myself, believe that integrating animals back into the equation begins a systemic evolution back – reinvigorating the nutrient cycling programs that will again give the living soil the ability to sequester the excessive amounts of carbon we’ve dumped into the environment over the past 100 years.  This is more than just common sense, there’s a great deal of evidence supporting Allan’s immersive Holistic Management biomimicry plan that uses systems-based resource management focused on raising and rearing healthy animals back into natural environments as the crux of change. With thirty years under their belt, and tooled with analysis and empirical evidence from thousands of years of agricultural practice used prior to modern CAFOs (concentrated animal feedlot operations), the Holistic Management Institute, and since 2009 the Savory Institute with its expanding global hubs, have been working diligently to change producer awareness to the broad reaching value of a regenerative agricultural approach.


solution: You & me, and how we decide to feed

Today, as we the consumer have begun asking more questions relating to that of food’s value – more folks have begun speaking with their dollars.  This increasingly makes us more savvy and concerned with compromises incurred with conventional production vs. that of circular agriculture’s focus on an integrated outcome of Onehealth to all living things in the food chain (including us) and the environment we share.  To this, as more awareness and education come to bear – it seems prime opportunity for additional free-market influential companies (strategics) to jump on board in servicing growing consumer sentiment driving food as a pillar of human and planetary healthcare.  


 

www.Savory.global

Allan Savory TEDtalk: How to fight Desertification and reverse Climate Change



 

Ep. 9 Farzan Yaqoob: Politician of a Global Village, and WEF Young Economic Leader ||

Former Minister of Social Welfare & Women’s Development in Kashmir, Farzana Yaqoob joins us for episode 9 of Sourcing Matters. An expert in international conflict resolution, Farzana has spent most of her lifetime fighting for stability in tumultuous environments.  Connecting social, economic and political stability to the Staples of Life – we learn how supremely populated regions with complex backgrounds are dealing with the realities of a shared planet and increased stresses on current systems already overwhelmed in sourcing enough water and food to just sustain.

Farzana levers her recent appointment as a World Economic Forum “Young Global Leader” to discover and disseminate solutions to some of these most pressing problems set to plague an increasingly shrinking planet. From addressing the impending realities of climate refugees expected to top tens of millions within a decade, to providing eduction and water access to women & children in the developing world, to spreading the good word of “commonalities” throughout the global village – this Eisenhower Fellow is an agent of change committed to creating a world more peaceful, prosperous and just.  Follow Farzana:  @farzanaY1947



co-host:

 John Della Volpe

  • Founder at SocialSphere
  • Eisenhower Fellow
  • Director of Polling at Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics  

@DellaVolpe

Full bio: John Della Volpe is the Director of Polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, where he has led the institute’s polling initiatives on understanding American youth since 2000.  The Washington Post referred to John as one of the world’s leading authorities on global sentiment, opinion and influence especially among Millennials and in the age of digital and social media.  In 2008, he received an Eisenhower Fellowship for which he traveled extensively throughout China, Hong Kong, and Korea (including a supervised day in North Korea) studying Millennials; in 2011, he was appointed to the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission on Media.  John is also founder of SocialSphere, a Cambridge based public opinion and analytics company.  He serves on the Board of Trustees of iCatholic Media, the Ad Club of Boston and is a member of the Global Alumni Council for Eisenhower Fellowships.  John appears regularly on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and his insights on the Millennial generation are found in national media outlets in the U.S. and abroad, including the Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Ana Sortun: James Beard winning Masterchef ||

Can a new American Cuisine link our diversity with better sourcing? James Beard award winning MasterChef known for vertical integration from farm-to-fork Ana Sortun joins me on episode 8 of Sourcing Matters to discuss. Influenced by good quality food from a young age, Sortun doesn’t compromise her sourcing values. Integrating production from their family owned farm run by husband Chris Kurth into her 3 restaurants (Oleana, Sofra, Sarma), via their CSA, and onto the menus of some of the top brass in New England – their unique supply chain elevates expectations for transparency & traceability to the extreme.

Now, working with Dan Barber on his new company Row 7 Seeds to push the envelope in cultivating varietals that embrace diversity, flavor and sustenance of natural order over that of supreme control, Ana continues to use her pioneering position in cuisine and sourcing to advance our food system.  An author, teacher, and a nourisher – Ana’s passion to bolster natural flavors prominent in crops produced with elevated standards has cast her as a rock star fighting for our relationship with food, and for an inclusive future American Cuisine where sourcing matters first.

Follow Ana:

instagram:  Sortunchef

www.OleanaRestaurant.com

www.SienaFarms.com

www.SofraBakery.com

www.SarmaRestaurant.com

 



 

Chris Sherman: Island Creek Oysters President ||

On episode 7 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Chris Sherman, President of Island Creek Oysters (ICO) , and 2018 Eisenhower Fellow.  For the past 25 years Island Creek Oysters has been building a brand now known for global excellence.  Focused on promoting the many values of shellfish to humans, the Oceans and the planet – Chris and his team at ICO continue to push the envelop in regenerative farming of the sea. Through the vertical integration of their thriving Oyster farms, a successful distribution company and world-renowned retail outlets – these “New American Farmers” have developed a sustainable model of sustenance and jobs for their community in Massachusetts, and the North Atlantic.  Levering these ocean smarts to do greater good, Chris also curates the Island Creek Oyster Foundation, a non-profit which has codified a replicable model of aquaculture for the developing world.


Building off their many successes in advancing ocean farming, Chris was recently awarded an opportunity to do more. Later this year Sherman is headed to Spain and Columbia as part of an Eisenhower Fellowship program focused on evolving the process of stitching biomimetic farming of fish & shellfish into responsible fisheries throughout coastal communities on a shrinking planet.

Listen to what this change-agent has to say…

www.IslandCreekOysters.com
The ICO Foundation



co-host:

 John Della Volpe

  • Founder at SocialSphere
  • Eisenhower Fellow
  • Director of Polling at Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics  

@DellaVolpe

Full bio: John Della Volpe is the Director of Polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, where he has led the institute’s polling initiatives on understanding American youth since 2000.  The Washington Post referred to John as one of the world’s leading authorities on global sentiment, opinion and influence especially among Millennials and in the age of digital and social media.  In 2008, he received an Eisenhower Fellowship for which he traveled extensively throughout China, Hong Kong, and Korea (including a supervised day in North Korea) studying Millennials; in 2011, he was appointed to the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission on Media.  John is also founder of SocialSphere, a Cambridge based public opinion and analytics company.  He serves on the Board of Trustees of iCatholic Media, the Ad Club of Boston and is a member of the Global Alumni Council for Eisenhower Fellowships.  John appears regularly on MSNBC’s Morning Joe and his insights on the Millennial generation are found in national media outlets in the U.S. and abroad, including the Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Dr. David Nabarro: World Health Organization ||

Dr. David Nabarro has spent 40 years progressing public, human and planetary health through diverse and far reaching initiatives.  Along with leading efforts to mitigate such epidemics as malaria, bird flu, ebola and cholera throughout the world, in his 20 years at WHO Dr. Nabarro has concentrated much of his powers on global food system reform.  Scaling programs for nutrient security in the developing world and responsible production in the advanced, Dr. Nabarro most recently helped lead the launch and implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now impacting 1.5 billion around the globe.

Briana Warner: CEO of Ocean Approved seagreens – Saco, ME ||

As the Director of Economic Development for the renowned Island Institute in Maine, Bri Warner works to advance responsible fisheries that are becoming increasingly more dedicated to a future of aquaculture and diverse seagreen production. Levering an extensive background with the US Department of State, and most recently a successful entrepreneur who founded and sold a mission-driven sweet & savory pie company in Portland, Maine – Warner has a track record of making great things happen where ever she goes..