The UN & Sourcing Matters team up to showcase leading voices from the food systems summit in the new series: ‘Laying Down Tracks’


In collaboration with the UN FOOD SYSTEMS SUMMIT, Sourcing Matters has launched the 2021 miniseries ‘Laying Down Tracks’ (LDTs).

Joined by the Summit’s five Action Track leaders as cohosts of episodes, host Aaron Niederhelman curates an 8-part series featuring conversations with influencers and champions who are set on making this once in a decade gathering have impact.


“Food is our most intimate connection to nature and our best chance to save a shrinking planet,” explains Sourcing Matters host Aaron Niederhelman.  It’s the food we eat that is the elixir to instigate conversations and evolve mindsets which can stave off existential threats.  It’s food and its production that acts as the primary course of action for improving the human condition and advancing climate action,”  Niederhelman continues.


To amplify an appreciation for the role of well sourced food in addressing hunger, malnutrition, social welfare and climate change – Sourcing Matters show is collaborating with the UN Food Systems Summit to capture leading voices defining solutions of change.

The goal of the miniseries is to crawl into the ears of more folks through diverse discussions about how we can all be part of this historical movement. LDTs Episodes take a deep dive into the Summit’s Action Tracks and frame these chats around real world experiences in rolling out the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to stimulate new perspectives.


We believe that engaging in fun, informal and informative conversations gives us all a better chance to get to know a bit more about the mettle of the people who are leading the fight for a more just and stable tomorrow. You see, In all corners the process of producing and sourcing food in a modern world has evolved with consequence on our health and that of the planet.  “Three times daily we can vote for the planet and each other in what we decide to eat,”   concludes Niederhelman.



“Laying Down Tracks”



EPISODE 1:  Food Access  ||  LISTEN NOW

co-host: Dr. Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director, GAIN (AT1 CHAIR)

guest: Maureen Muketha, founder of Tule Vyema in Kenya

guest: Youth activist: Sophie Healy-Thow from Ireland

RELEASE: 19 May, 2021


EPISODE 2:  Sustainable Consumption

co-host: Tristram Stuart – author and activist

guest: Lana Weidgenant, Real Food Systems – Deputy Director at Zero Hour International

guest: Webster Makombe – Law Student, Zimbabwe

RELEASE: 26 May, 2021


EPISODE 3:  Nature-Based Production / Blue Economy

co-host: Joao Campari – WWF (AT3 CHAIR)

guest:  Peter Thomson – UNSG’s Special Envoy for the Ocean

RELEASE: 2 June, 2021


EPISODE 4: Equitable Livelihood 

co-host: Jemimah Njuki, UN ‘Lever of Change’ for Gender lead (AT4 VICE-CHAIR)

guest: Dr Shakuntala Thilsted, Global Lead for Nutrition &  Public Health at Worldfish & 2021 Wood Food Prize Laureate

RELEASE: 8 June, 2021 (World Ocean Day)


EPISODE 5:  System Resilience 

co-hostProfessor Saleem Huq – International Institute for Environment and Development (AT5 CHAIR)

guestNate Mook – ED of World Central Kitchen


EPISODE 6:  Beacons of Hope – Food for all Corners of the Planet

Co-host: Ruth Richardson – The Global Alliance for the Future of Food

Guest: Helianti Hilman – Founder & CEO at Javara


EPISODE 7: The United Nations Food Trifecta

co-host: more soon…

guest: more soon…


EPISODE 8:  UN Special Envoys for Food & Climate 

co-host: Dr. Agnes Kalibata, UN Special Envoy for Food System Summit

guest:  more soon…


“I’m excited to share that Sourcing Matters is collaborating with The UN Food Systems Summit.  In effort to capture leading voices defining solutions of change, we’re launching the 8-part miniseries ‘laying down tracks’.  In the different episodes, the Summit’s Action Track leaders join me as cohosts; collectively we put together a series of interesting dialogues from informed guests about pressing issues.  Leading into the pre-Summit in Rome this July, and the “Nutrition for Growth” December ’21 Event in Tokyo – our chats should be helpful pre-reads for all types of engaged audiences interested in our Food, People and the Planet.”

– explains Sourcing Matters host Aaron Niederhelman



twitter: @Food Systems

series hashtag: #LayingDownTracks

photo credit:


Ep. 100: Janis Searles Jones – CEO, Ocean Conservancy ||

Ocean Conservancy educates and empowers citizens to take action on behalf of the ocean. From the Arctic -to- the Gulf of Mexico -to- the halls of Congress, Ocean Conservancy brings people together to find solutions for our blue planet.  Driving forward progress built on science, policy, advocacy, and citizen engagement, for 48 years, Ocean Conservancy has fought relentlessly to protect the ocean and its wildlife we rely upon.


Thanks to these efforts tangible progress has been made on a range of issues including ocean plastic pollution, smart ocean planning, sustainable fisheries, ocean acidification and sea turtle protection. The ocean is the great global commons and the Ocean Conservancy keeps that sentiment front and center for key policymakers in the U.S. and abroad.  This approach allows us, mankind, to become better shepherds of the bounty of the sea and preserve the sanctity of our oceans for generations to come.


In our 50 minute discussion we learn about the lineage and focus of the Ocean Conservancy.  I ask Janis Searles Jones, CEO of the Ocean Conservancy, about the organization’s strategic priorities and how they have evolved since she has taken the leadership role in 2017.  We learn about their diverse ocean health efforts, and about what has successfully percolated to the domain of public knowledge.  We hear what’s really working and how certain pathways to broader awareness – initiatives focused on the likes of plastic straws & sea turtles – are serving as an impetus to drive real change by empowering end users, consumers and voters.  We discuss the state of biodiversity in our oceans and the capacities for the seas to continue to keep buffering the excess amounts of heat and carbon we’re spewing into the atmosphere.  We learn what Ocean Conservancy is doing to instigate climate action in projects ranging from local clean-up initiatives, all the way up to global policy making in multi stakeholder relationships like the Paris Accord.


We discuss seafood and the state of our global fisheries.  In our chat we learn how we may or may not be able to continue to feed over 3 billion global citizens reliant on seafood as their main caloric intake – on oceans threatened to be exhausted within a decade.  I ask about Searles Jones’ interest and enthusiasm for Regenerative Ocean Farming.  How this smart and pragmatic management practice of generative natural resources can spawn a sea change in our relationship and management of the oceans.


BIO: Janis Searles Jones champions the work of the Ocean Conservancy’s fight against the growing threats of oil and gas development, increased maritime shipping, overfishing, contamination and climate change.  As CEO of Ocean Conservancy, Searles Jones helms the efforts of this leading conservation organization’s strategic direction to preserve the health of our oceans  – bringing her passion, logic and commitment to their work throughout global waters.  Searles Jones is a respected expert in the marine conservation field – authoring numerous pieces on the sustainable use and proper management of ocean resources. Janis was a 2017 Pew Marine Fellow, and prior to taking the leadership role at the Ocean Conservancy – she was senior regional counsel and policy advisor for Oceana, and the staff attorney for the Alaska office of Earthjustice.


We must stop exhausting the health of oceans in our mining of biodiversity and exploitation in using them as our dumping grounds.  Representing 70% of the face of the panet, oceans constitute our best opportunity to balance a planet under threat by enveloping the ideas of systems thinking which will save our own asses through investing in the well being or others. It’s an opportunity to coexist with life on the planet by stepping-up and acting as a steward of the seas.


Janis Searles Jones book recommendations:


photo credit: Ocean Conservancy & Jasmine Ive 


Ep. 92: Bill Taylor – President & CEO of the Atlantic Salmon Federation ||

We welcome Bill Taylor – President & CEO of the world renowned conservation organization – Atlantic Salmon Federation.  
Est. in 1948 – the Federation is dedicated to the conservation, protection and restoration of wild Atlantic salmon and the ecosystems on which their well being and survival depend.
In 2011, the Atlantic Salmon Federation (ASF) commissioned a report to calculate the economic impact for Atlantic Salmon in eastern Canada.  The results presented $255 million annually – and supported 4000 jobs. Relating to the success of project one article explained “in our political climate, money talks, and government tends to invest in industries that provide economic benefits and jobs to communities.”

Just last year Bill and his international team brokered a very important deal to preserve the sanctity of salmon in the wild. A landmark, 12-year agreement with Greenland Fisherman to suspend the commercial harvest of Salmon, and limit the quota to 20 ton subsistence quota.  This deal saves thousands of virile adult salmon every year.
In our 45 minute discussion we cover many areas of interest for fishermen, eaters and environmentalists.   You’ll hear how ASF is a world-leading science and advocacy organization that has long-since been dedicated to conserving and restoring wild Atlantic salmon. You’ll learn how the ASF seeks to expand upon current programs, and explore improving farming practices of salmon to benefit diverse stakeholders

– including open run fish.

Co-hosting the episode is Aaron’s father, Byron Niederhelman. With an undergrad in biology, and a Masters from Northeastern University – Byron taught Biology and Earth Science for 19 years. For 13 year more he was the Principal of ConVal High School in Peterborough, NH.  Byron is an avid sportsman who for the past 25 years has been a busy traveler in search of the world’s best fishing spots.

  1. Are salmon truly the canary-in-the-coalmine?
  2. Is their demise an accurate reflection of the health of our waterways and marine environments?
  3. If we want to preserve the natural migratory paths of animals – why not start with this iconic keystone species?
  4. Could cleaning up farming practices of salmon establish cash-flow to invest back into the natural environment for their natural cousins?


We answer these questions and more – on episode 92 of Sourcing Matters.






Byron Niederhelman

  • Background in Biology
  • Former Educator & Principal
  • Avid Traveler & Fisherman

Full bio: 

With an undergrad in Biology, a Masters from Northeastern University, Byron Niederhelman taught Biology and Earth Science for 19 years, and was for 13 years the Principal of the ConVal High School in Peterborough, NH. Byron is an avid sportsman who for the last 25 yrs. has been a busy traveler in search of the world’s best fishing spots.

Ep. 76: Luke Holden, CEO & Founder of Luke’s Lobster ||


On episode 76 of Sourcing Matters we welcome CEO & founder of Luke’s Lobster – Luke Holden.  Luke’s Lobster first opened its doors in the East Village of New York City in 2009. The company brings traceable, sustainable seafood to guests across the country.  They work directly with fishermen to hand pick the best seafood, and serve that straight from the source, prepared pure and simple, without the filler. They’ve systematically chosen partners who uphold our commitment to sourcing superior, sustainable ingredients and strive to support other small businesses, many of which are based in Maine or local to the cities where they maintain their Lobsters shacks.
BIO: Luke Holden grew up in Cape Elizabeth, Maine – a third-generation lobsterman who started learning the trade at age 13. After attending Georgetown University and beginning an investment banking career on Wall Street, Luke was remiss to find that every lobster roll available in New York was overpriced, drowning in mayo, and diluted with celery. He craved a real Maine-style roll and simply couldn’t find one.
In the 10 years since launching, Holden and his partners have worked to vertically integrate the business to insure the highest quality products with guaranteed integrity and provenance. Growing up in the industry has afforded Holden a high level of clout with with the lobsterman, harvesters and fishermen in Tenants Harbor Maine who source his product.  We learn that the experience and support that Luke’s father offered from running Maine’s largest lobster processing facility gave their team at Luke’s Lobsters the insight and knowhow to launch a processing facility in Saco.  This infrastructure  has since expedited growth to now service 30 domestic, and 11 international Shacks,  as well as their wholesale account Whole Foods.
In our 40 minute discussion we learn more about what this thought-leader is doing to protect his fishery in the warming waters of the Gulf of Maine.  We chat about full carcass utilization of the lobster, and about the economic viability of the fishery and its future crop. We discuss product differentiation, and diversifying the offerings of both their producers/ harvesters, and of his growing $30mm business.


TuneIn to hear about the future of the iconic Maine lobster.







Ep. 75: Teresa Ish, Program Officer of the Environment @ The Walton Family Foundation ||


On Sourcing Matters episode 75 we welcome Teresa Ish – Oceans Initiative Program Officer at The Walton Family Foundation.  Ish manages grants in the Environment Program that leverage the power of the supply chain to advocate for more sustainable fisheries.

Weeks prior to recording I had the opportunity to meet with Ish at the Seafood Expo North America (SENA) in Boston.  Teresa provided a walking tour of the SENA floor – introducing us to three change agents in the future of fisheries:

  1. Casey Marion – the Director of Sustainability Initiatives for Quality Management for Florida based Sea Best.  Casey shared with us some of the systems they’ve introduced to better understand sophisticated supply chains in global fisheries.
  2. Mauricio Orellana – a leader in the Octopus fishery on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.  We learn first hand about this unique example of a future responsible fishery built to service its community of fisherman through first appreciating its resources.   – We also learn a bit more about the soul of an Octopus.
  3. Our final stop was in my native New England waters.  We learn from Richard Stavis – of the iconic brand, Stavis SeafoodLuke Holden – founder of Luke’s LobsterDick Jones of Ocean Outcomes, and Sean Murphy of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership. This gathering was focused on trends in fisheries and seafood sourcing – on advancements which are better meshing with modern consumer interests.
Our 40 minute discussion follows this walking tour of SENA.  We discuss each stop along the way, as well as the Walton Family Foundation’s 2020 Environment Strategic Plan.  We chat about education, and the potential of integrating outreach, education and investment into stable ecosystems – which begins & ends with healthy oceans.

TuneIn to hear what a leading foundation

is doing to protect our seas; our future!

– – –
BIO: Before joining the foundation, Teresa Ish was the seafood project manager for the Corporate Partnerships Program at Environmental Defense Fund, where she worked with leading seafood buyers to develop and implement sustainable seafood purchasing policies. During her tenure at EDF, she played an instrumental role in merging the organization’s seafood buyer work and its extensive experience in the fishery policy arena. Prior to joining EDF, she co- founded FishWise and served as its director of science.

Ep. 69:  Larry Feinberg – CEO & co-founder of KnipBio  ||


On episode 69 of Sourcing Matters we welcome  Larry Feinberg – CEO & Co-founder of KnipBio.   A Boston-Based technology company pioneering advanced nutritional solutions for animal feeds since 2013, KnipBio offers a range of single cell protein products that come from non-food feedstocks.  It’s their mission to secure the quality and safety of food globally, in a sustainable, cost-effective way.  KnipBio has just recently eared a GRAS Green Light from FDA for Novel Aquafeed Protein.  The sky is now the limit for these social innovators set on using financial return to do more good.
Accounting for over 50% of total seafood sourced, aquaculture has developed some scale issues..  It’s not as simple as saying that we’ll continue to move in the direction of farming more fish. It’s not just about the higher trophic level fish we consume.  The issue is that much of the aquaculture infrastructure is reliant on pulling from the smaller fish in the sea – to feed the larger fish we consume.   The alternative feedstuff for our aquaculture fish can also often soy, or other crops grown on land using input-based conventional practice leading to an unsustainable perpetual cycle of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Prior to launching this revolutionary company, Larry Feinberg, PhD. completed his doctoral studies at the University of Massachusetts where he focused on biogeochemistry, physiology and genetics of hyperthermophilic microbes. He has deep expertise in early-stage technology ventures and bio-product discovery.  At Mascoma Corporation, he led the Organism Discovery group and New Business Opportunities team.
Tune to hear more about the state of the oceans, our fisheries and the future of aquaculture.  In our 40 minute conversation we learn about how Larry and his team at KnipBio are set on developing a more sustainable model for producing enough seafood to feed half the world by looking at from a microscopic POV.




Ep. 64: Thor Sigfusson – Founder and Chairman of the Iceland Ocean Cluster ||


On episode 64 of Sourcing Matters we welcome Icelandic entrepreneur, author and speaker Thor Sigfusson to the show.  Thor is the founder & chairman of Iceland Ocean Cluster.   It’s the mission of the Iceland Ocean Cluster (IOC) to create value in the seafood industry and for the planet by connecting together entrepreneurs, businesses and knowledge for future marine industries.  To serve this mission, Thor and his team have established a new type of working forum that will incubate and propagate new ideas for our future fisheries.


Beginning with the Ocean Cluster House in Reykjavik harbor – The Iceland Ocean Cluster is now pooling together satellite locations in coastal cities of the US, and eventually the World – in effort to work in unison in tackling many of the biggest problems facing our shrinking planet.  Each cluster site will be filled with like minded entrepreneurs and a business ecosystem to support and invest in a replicable model for a modern marine innovation economy.  During our 40 minute conversation we learn that fishing communities around the globe have many similar fish-to-fry.  We learn that there are fundamental problems with an antiquated seafood industry, and in dealing with our warming Oceans which need new perspective – now!


Previous to spawning the IOC, Sigfusson co-founded Codland.  He’s also launched a few food halls in Iceland, and he’s responsible for the creation of the Ocean House.  Additionally, he’s written five books on topics of international business, knowledge networks and salmon.  Schooled in the US, and most recently spending a good amount of time in New England and the Northwest – we ask Thor for his perspective on the current state of affairs of US fisheries.    TuneIn to hear his surprising response.


The need for action on these big problems we face together is real and it’s immediate.  Sigfusson has been busy curating a fresh crop of smart and passionate folks set on doing well by doing great good through defining solutions of change.  It’s Sigfusson’s goal to leverage his overworked coffee machine and the engaging interactions that it’s brewed to steer a new blue food economy for the betterment of Iceland; for the betterment of the world.




Ep. 60: John Bullard – Former Regional Administrator, Great Atlantic Regions NOAA Fisheries & past Mayor of New Bedford, MA  ||


As Regional Administrator of the Greater Atlantic Region for NOAA fisheries – John Bullard helped manage 44 fish stocks, including scallop and lobster, which – according to NOAA are worth $500 million each.  During his tenure, Bullard oversaw efforts to reduce entanglements for marine life in the Atlantic Ocean and helped develop strategies to repopulate rivers in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts. In 2016, John approved the Mid-Atlantic Council’s deep-sea coral amendment, which protected 15 deep-sea canyons totaling 24 million acres.  Additionally, and probably what many of our listeners will be familiar with is your work investigating notorious fisheries mob-boss Carlos Rafael.

In episode 60 of Sourcing Matters John Bullard also shares some interesting stories about his roles prior to the Greater Atlantic Region at NOAA Fisheries. John Bullard (1) was past mayor of New Bedford, (2) he had a lead role at NOAA Sustainability within the Clinton administration, (3) he was past president of Sea Education Association, and as younger man he received a BA From Harvard and Masters in Architecture from MIT.  An engaging dude with some interesting stories to tell.


I hope our listening audience that are out on the water everyday listen to this conversation with John.  You’ll be especially interested to hear his POV, and to learn whose corner he’s truly in.   Tune-In


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.




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



Ep. 25: Congressman Seth Moulton – Massachusetts Sixth District ||

On episode 25 we welcome Congressman Seth Moulton of Massachusetts 6th District.  Since taking office in 2015, Rep. Moulton has been introducing innovative policy and ideas to benefit those he represents, and the region he’s from.  Probably best known on a national level for his voice of resource in addressing gun violence and just ownership laws, to many of his constituents North of Boston – he’s well known as a jobs creator and champion of a modern fishery.


I first connected with Moulton’s team a few years back when they hosted Monica Jain and the Fish2.0 Northeast Hub near their offices in Salem, MA. Since then, Seth Moulton has taken his commitment to responsible fisheries and regenerative ocean farming back to DC with the introduction of the 2017 “The Young Fisherman’s Development Act”.  This bi-partisan bill co-authored with Republican Don Young of Alaska looks to empower those working on waterfronts and oceans of tomorrow. You see, too often folks look at US fisheries, especially in the Northeast, as an oppressed and declining industry.  Congressman Moulton and his team have a different perspective. One that views a modern responsible fishery and the entire seafood industry as an innovation economy with potential for persistent jobs creation for the region he represents.  Moulton seeks to find common-ground (water)  amongst necessary regulation/quota restriction, and an industry with linage older than our independence.  On a shrinking planet with increasingly depleted and contaminated Oceans the approach we’ve instituted in the Northeast United States, one now being bolstered by representative Moulton, has unique potential to cast a long shadow as intellectual property which can be scaled to teach more of 3 billion reliant of sea protein how to properly manage the bounty of the sea for generations to come.


In our 30 minute conversation we evaluate the capacity of including fisherman and ocean farmers in future US Farm bills.  For clarity, 80% of the resources of the proposed 2018 Farm bill will be allocated to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) aka. food stamps. This national program of a 1/2 of trillion dollars which arises every five years is in fact our shared domestic food plan, and it drastically under represents our population densities in coastal cities. The inclusion of fisheries & seafood not only adds a voice to the food plan for our largest populations, and guarantees more high-quality food for more in need of SNAP, but it gives our fisherman the same war chest to deal with impending environmental change as we currently employ with many terrestrial food producers. Effectively,  we discuss how this pragmatic approach to introduce multiple returns to diverse stakeholders seems realistic under new and future leadership.


The Clean Cold Waters of the protected North Atlantic provides some of the best and healthiest food in the world. Our well regarded fisherman and ocean farmers who manage these waters deserve to be celebrated for their craft and unique stewardship of these natural resources. With these natural gifts bestowed upon us, and our approach in managing our Marine Ecosystem over the last 50 years – we provide diverse offerings, and the knowledge of how to interject an innovation economy into a longstanding but stagnant industry to meet a changing environmental and consumer landscape.

If you’d like to know who’s on deck for leading us in 2024, or maybe even as early as 2020 – have a listen to what this highly decorated champion of the Northeast has to offer.





photo source: Politico (header)