Cooking Up Something Good

farming_our_future_large-cropperdThe Farm to Chef Success workshop will be offered at the Farming Our Future conference Saturday, February 22, 2014. The Farm to Chef model is thriving, and diners love it. But for farmer and chef, it takes a lot of back-and-forth to build a productive relationship.

Panel members include Chef Hugh Horner, The Restaurant at Helsinki Hudson, Chef Serge Madikians, Serevan Restaurant, Proprietor Nancy Thomas, Mezze Bistro + Bar and Allium Bistro + Bar, Katie Bogdanffy – Third generation farmer and founder of Yellow Bell Farm and will be moderated by Ginsberg’s VP of Operations, John Brusie.

Discussion will include what chefs and owners want and what farmers can realistically provide. Along with how can chefs and farmers make partnerships work and does what chefs ask for dictate what farmers grow.

Conference co-chair Steve Hadcock of Cornell Cooperative Extension says “This is a workshop designed for farmers who want to sell to restaurants, chefs who want more local menu options, and restaurateurs who want to showcase local farm connections. And of course for foodies who want to know how it all happens.”

The third-annual Farming Our Future conference will bring together a diverse audience from the community, including established farmers, beginning farmers, interested non-farmers, suppliers, educators, community leaders, industry leaders, and students. The conference’s theme, succession, refers to farmers handing the reins to the next generation, or to the next farmers, and a special keynote speech will relate succession stories from the Hudson Valley and the Tri-State region. Besides the farm-to-chef offering, other workshops will cover succession planning, bee-keeping, farmer-training programs, and vital skills training for new farmers.

An 8am Legislators’ Roundtable will feature Congressman Chris Gibson and New York State Assemblymembers Didi Barrett and Peter Lopez, along with State Senators Kathleen Marchione and Terry Gipson, as well as several local officials, providing a unique opportunity for agriculture-related dialogue.

Ginsberg’s Foods is the conference Platinum Sponsor. Gold Sponsors include Berkshire Farm & Table, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Columbia-Greene Media, Farm Credit East, the Farm On! Foundation, and Valley Oil.

The conference will take place Saturday, February 22nd, from 9 am-4:00 pm at Taconic Hills Central School, located in Columbia County, just a short drive from the Capital Region, the Berkshires, western Connecticut, and the lower Hudson Valley. Morning refreshments, lunch, and snacks are provided with a $20 pre-registration fee. Registration is requested by 5pm on Thursday, February 20th, but is available through Friday February 21st. All are welcome, and the walk-in rate on the day of the event is $25.

Popcorn Has Been Changed

PopCornersIt looks like someone decided it was time to change the popcorn. That would be Popcorners. I just found them on the snack tray here at the MapShots Customer Conference.

Our Popcorners family proudly presents our wholesome, delicious new shape of popcorn to your family.

Here at Popcorners we have spent a great deal of time tasting, testing and perfecting what we genuinely believe will be a new generation of popcorn.

Now, take your time and enjoy all our classic and delicious flavors. We are going to be around to honorably carry on the traditional goodness of snacking on popcorn.

These are very good! I tried the caramel flavor and had to get a second package. There are lots of flavors and recipes. You can also purchase them online. These are also available at AMC Theaters as part of their smart snacks lineup. I will still eat “regular” plain old popcorn but will also look to enjoying these again.

USA Pears Sponsors Olymic Athlete Torin Koos

Koos_T_Skiier120x187Culinary experts often claim that “what grows together, goes together,” and Olympic cross-country skier Torin Koos proves that this adage rings true. Koos grew up in the heart of Pacific Northwest pear country, home to 84% of the U.S. fresh pear crop. Koos’s approach to healthy diet and fitness inspires all who want to live a healthier lifestyle. In support of that message, USA Pears has been an official sponsor of 33-year-old Koos for several years and is proud to continue its support as he competes in his fourth consecutive Winter Olympic Games in 2014.

To keep his fans and fellow pear aficionados updated on the latest from Sochi, Koos will be posting regular photo updates from USA Pears’ Instagram account. The popular smart phone application is available for Windows, iPhone, and Android and allows users to share photos and video with followers. As he’s preparing for the games and settling into Sochi, Koos has given USA Pears fans a glimpse from his journey via Instagram, recently reassuring followers that there are plenty of sweet and juicy USA Pears in the Olympic Village dining hall. The 2014 Winter Olympic Games are being held February 7-23 in Sochi, Russia.

As a professional athlete, Koos says that sound nutrition is integral to his success and pears are a key part of his diet. Having been raised among the orchards in Leavenworth, Washington, he holds a special affinity for pears, which inspires his important pre-race meal, “a tall glass of orange juice and a big bowl of oatmeal, topped with slices of Green Anjou pears three hours before race time. Works like a charm.”

GMO Coalition for Safe Food Formed

A diverse group of industry and non-governmental organizations today announced the formation of a new coalition dedicated to the advancement of a federal solution on the labeling of food products derived from genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).

cfsafThe goal of the “Coalition for Safe Affordable Food” is to urge Congress to seek a federal solution that would establish standards for the safety and labeling of food and beverage products made with GMOs.

Representatives of some of the participating groups announced the coalition during a media conference call today – including Grocery Manufacturers Association, National Council of Farm Cooperatives, National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), American Soybean Association and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

“American families deserve safe, abundant and affordable food,” said NCGA President and Illinois farmer Martin Barbre. “And America’s farmers rely on this proven technology to protect crops from insects, weeds and drought, enabling us to deliver on that promise and to do so through sustainable means. A federal solution on GMO labeling will bolster consumer confidence in the safety of American food by reaffirming the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) role as the nation’s foremost authority on the use and labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients.”

Listen to the conference call here: GMO Coalition Announcement

Deer Farmers Pleased with Farm Bill

North American Deer Farmers AssociationThanks to the Farm Bill I just learned about the North American Deer Farmers Association. Farm Bill? Yep. They sent me a release about their take on the legislation which I’m posting below. I’m thinking of joining. I may not actually farm deer but work a property lease where we harvest them!

“We’re very pleased to have a final, comprehensive Farm Bill,” says NADeFA Executive Director Shawn Schafer. “This bill is a significant step forward for the deer industry and includes several provisions specific to the deer industry, not the least of which are disease research for deer, elk and other cervidae; country-of-origin labeling for venison; and much needed disease indemnity for individual farmers.”

The 2014 Farm Bill includes several key victories for NADeFA and the national cervid farming industry, such as:

• Deer in USDA’s Research Initiatives: The USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiatives (AFRI) program has been amended to include emphasis on disease (EHD, CWD), mapping the genome, pest/parasite, diagnostics and vaccination research for deer, elk and other cervidae.
Continue reading

The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen

There is a cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s kitchen this morning as his dad makes his world famous french toast. Why? Because Patrick thinks his food comes from the grocery story until the cow, a menagerie of chickens and a few maple trees appear causing him to The Cow in Patrick oShanahans kitchenrethink where his food comes from. In this new children’s book, “The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen,” authored by Diana Pritchard, children can begin to learn more about the animals that provide their food and the farm to fork concept.

Prichard, who lives in a rural farming community and is raising children of her own, says she is frustrated about the voices who are telling the story of American farmers. “Watching people who have little or no practical knowledge of agriculture dominate our national discourse on food and faring is extremely frustrating,” explained Prichard. “I wanted to contribute a positive and informed message for parents and kids.”

And that she did. The illustrations are quirky and fun and the ideas of where food comes from are easy to understand and presented in an engaging way. With all the concern about where our food comes from, this book is a great way to introduce children to the concept of how food is produced.

Truthful Food-Chain Communications

ZimmCast 425How about a little Truth in Food? Wouldn’t that be nice. Kevin Murphy, Food-Chain Communications, is trying to make it so.

Food-Chain CommunicationsI visited with Kevin by phone today to learn more about his business. Kevin is passionate about the need for education of the public who ultimately consume products that pass through what we call the food chain. Many might know Kevin from his time with Vance Publishing. He started his own company with a vision “to form a marketing organization that understands the complex chain of food production and delivery from beginning to end.” We also talked about why he created Truth in Food and what he thinks of the agribusiness industry attempts to reach out to the consuming public today. I think you’ll find it very interesting.

You can listen to this week’s program here. Food-Chain Communications

Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsor, GROWMARK, locally owned, globally strong, for their support.

Austin Eats Food Tour

Freedman'sThis is is an example of having a little meat with your meat for supper. This particularly delicious brisket, ribs and sausage is courtesy of Freedmen’s in Austin, TX. So why am I bringing it to your attention? Because these things are important.

Austin Eats Food ToursAfter the NAMA Executive Committee completed its quarterly meeting work this week we did supper as a food tour conducted by Austin Eats Food Tours. Our guide drove us around to four stops. These were South Congress Cafe (calimari, crab cakes); Mettle (fried chicken, burgers); Rio’s Brazilian Cafe (traditional Brazilian chicken stroganoff) and Freedmen’s (brisket, sausage, ribs, smoked banana pudding & more). Wow! I’m still full. They were all good but I give Freedmen’s my top choice. The smoked banana pudding was excellent but I could also have just eaten another slice of brisket for dessert too!

If you’re ever in Austin give Austin Eats a try or look around for a company like them in whatever city you have to visit. This was an awesome foodie adventure.

Meat Me in @LANTA Chili Winner

IPPE Chili ContestBecause food matters and especially chili on these chilly winter days we bring you the winner of the Meat Me in @ATLANTA Chili competition. He’s Jeff Clark, Ruth’s Chris, who was named Best Overall Chili Winner. The event was held at the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

The event was sponsored by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, the American Meat Institute, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau and Georgia World Congress Center. Second place went to Anna Firmani of Hard Rock Cafe, and third place went to Dave Myree of PittyPat’s Porch. The awards were presented by Miss Georgia, Carly Mathis.

Twelve of Atlanta’s top professional chefs competed for the honor of being named Best Overall Chili winner. Each chef submitted their best chili, using beef, bison, boar, turkey, pork or chicken. The chili was voted on by the attendees of IPPE.

The award was presented by Carly Mathis, Miss Georgia.

Sponsored by Novus International Inc

Feeding Your Traditions

Smoked HamAlthough I’ll bet many of you, like Cindy and myself, were not on your computers much in the last few days, you were probably checking social media on your phones or tablets. Maybe even your “new” gadget! If so, then you know how much of a role food has played in the online conversation.

Our latest ZimmPoll asks the question, “What is your traditional Christmas dinner?” It’s looking like Ham is in the lead. It is what was on our table. I smoked a fresh ham that was cut in half. It yielded enough for several meals with lots of family and there are leftovers in the freezer for a future meal. The bones will be used in my New Years hopping john.

This week will still see light posting on AgWired as so many are still taking time away from work and it’s just a slow ag news time. But we’ll be more active and look forward to an awesome start to 2014.

A Holiday Food Safety Twitter Party

Twitter PartyIf you use good common sense when handling and preparing food you probably won’t have any problems. But if you’re concerned that you don’t know what the right procedures are then you might want to join in this chat on Twitter.

Make Sure to Join Us This Wednesday!

Chefs and home cooks bring their best goodies to the table during the holidays. But no one wants a bout of food poisoning or too many Santa cookies to dampen their holiday spirit.

Food safety experts from CDC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Registered Dietitians from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, along with guest culinary enthusiasts, will host a Twitter chat for consumers with easy-to-remember tips for a safe and healthful holiday season.

Join us for a lively and informative question and answer on how to be food-smart and food-safe over the holidays. We will be answering all questions on how to prepare healthful options for holiday meals, how to safely prepare it, and how to make smart and healthful choices when eating out! Follow @FoodInsight on Twitter and use the hashtag #CDChat to participate in the chat.

What: Twitter Chat on food safety & nutrition
When: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 from 3-4 pm EST
Where: Follow @FoodInsight or the #CDCchat hashtag
Who Should Participate: Consumers, health professionals, industry members, and others!

Vicki’s Wicked Potions

ZimmCast 420I recently mentioned a wonderful bloody mary mix that paired well with Organic Ocean Vodka. It’s called Bloody Brew by Vicki’s Wicked Potions in Pensacola, FL. It is good stuff. Good enough that I went back to Palafox Market on Saturday to pick up a case!

Randy & Vicki ComptonVicki’s Wicked Potions is owned and brewed by Randy & Vicki Compton, seen here in their booth with another customer making a large purchase. I spent a while getting to know them and thought you might enjoy our conversation to learn about how they got into this enterprise and especially what’s in Bloody Brew.

Randy says that he and Vicki have invested a lot of money in the consumption of bloody marys over the years and they thought it was time for bloody marys to pay them back. Besides Bloody Brew they specialize in creole spiced pickled vegetables. Randy says, “We’re known to bring a tear to your eye.” One of the pickled vegetable options includes garnishes for bloody marys! If you want to learn more and perhaps figure out how to get a supply of your own just send Randy an email.

Listen to this week’s program to learn more: Vicki's
Wicked Potions

Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsor, GROWMARK, locally owned, globally strong, for their support.

What’s Hot in 2014 Culinary Forecast

What's Hot Top FiveThis forecast of What’s Hot in 2014 looks way too healthy to me. Or maybe I should say it just looks kind of difficult to believe that when you hanker for some BBQ you’re really going to be worrying about where the meat came from. I don’t know. How about you?

Each year the National Restaurant Association (NRA) prepares its What’s Hot culinary forecast of menu trends for the coming year. They surveyed nearly 1,300 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – to find which food and beverage items will be hot trends on restaurant menus in 2014. You can see the full report here.

Top 10 food trends for 2014:

  • Locally sourced meats and seafood
  • Locally grown produce
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Healthful kids’ meals
  • Gluten-free cuisine
  • Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)
  • Children’s nutrition
  • Non-wheat noodles/pasta (e.g. quinoa, rice, buckwheat)
  • Sustainable seafood
  • Farm/estate branded items

The What’s Hot in 2014 survey also found that the top five alcohol and cocktail trends will be micro-distilled/artisan spirits, locally produced beer/wine/spirits, onsite barrel-aged drinks, culinary cocktails (e.g. savory, fresh ingredients), and regional signature cocktails.

When asked which current food trend will be the hottest menu trends 10 years from now, environmental sustainability topped the list, followed by local sourcing, health-nutrition, children’s nutrition and gluten-free cuisine.

An Evilicious Organic Ocean Vodka Cheers

Ocean Breeze VodkaCheers from the Crystal Pig Hunt Club. I got to spend another couple days on a great piece of Georgia property that replaces the fantastic 20 year run we had in Pilot Grove, MO.

The cheers comes from Organic Ocean Vodka. This Hawaiian product is made from organic sugar cane in Maui. It came to my attention via email and I was lucky enough to score a sample to take with me to hunting camp. At the same time I came across some locally made bloody mary mix at a downtown Pensacola outdoor market – Vicki’s Wicked Potions “Bloody Brew” which is called “evilicious” and made with creole spices. So I took a break from cleaning the buck I got on Saturday morning and we mixed up a batch. Wow. Mmm good. Here’s where you can find Ocean Vodka near you. Now let’s learn more about Ocean Vodka, made by Hawaii Sea Spirits, LLC.

Organic Ocean VodkaFor more than seven years, the Smith Family has worked diligently to bring their special Ocean Vodka from the Island of Maui to the far reaches of the world. The opening of a new craft distillery for public tours and tastings on their 80-acre organic farm is a dream come true for the family’s mission: to create a superior, organic, value-added agricultural product from Hawaii that supports the local economy, competes globally on quality, operates with environmental responsibility and raises awareness for oceanic conservation. Continue reading

Giving Thanks for Affordable Food

turkeyWhen we sit down this week to tables heaping with delicious food, we should all take a moment to reflect upon how blessed we are to live in a land of abundant and affordable food.

We have seen stories this year about food costs being higher, often blaming last year’s drought and ethanol production, but in fact our Thanksgiving meal this year is cheaper than it was last year, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 28th annual price survey.

Adding up the classic items on the Thanksgiving Day dinner table, AFBF found the average cost of this year’s feast for 10 is $49.04 – 44 cents less than a year ago. That means the average American’s feast of turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and beverages of coffee and milk costs less than a popcorn at the movie theater these days!

“The cost of this year’s meal, at less than $5 per serving, remains an excellent value for consumers,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. “America’s farm and ranch families are honored to produce the food from our nation’s land for family Thanksgiving celebrations.”

On Thanksgiving and every day of the year, let’s remember to celebrate, enjoy and be grateful for the abundance of our great nation! #FoodThanks!

Surviving an Undercover Video

The Center For Food IntegrityWe live in a world of anarchists/activists and they’ll stop at nothing to create mayhem. Farmers are not exempt. These wackos are really nothing more than criminals but unfortunately their shenanigans can have devastating impacts on a business. The Center for Food Integrity is conducting a webinar to present ideas for how to deal with the situation from some recent research they conducted. Register here.

The recent flurry of undercover videos is a painful reminder of just how damaging these graphic images can be to a company, a brand and an industry. There is no substitute for reliable animal well-being programs, but an effective response to an undercover video can be the difference between staying in business and seeing a lifetime of work destroyed. Recent research by The Center for Food Integrity explored consumer reaction to “good actor and bad actor” responses to on-farm undercover video. The results could not be more clear. In this webinar we will share the research results, our strategic insight and a step by step plan for not just surviving, but restoring public trust after an undercover video. Please join us.

How to Survive an Undercover Video

Date: Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CST

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements

PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Mac®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer

Mobile attendees
Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

USFRA Update on Farmland Movie

nafb13-usfra-lunzConsumers want to see a face of where their food comes from and that is one thing the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) has tried to provide. USFRA was on-hand during NAFB’s Trade Talk and Cindy spoke with them about their desire to continually start the conversations about food and farming across the country.

Lisa Lunz, USFRA Board Member, has been involved with all aspects of the organization’s endeavors. She is a corn and soybean producer from Northeast Nebraska. Her involvement on the Nebraska Soybean board is what lead her to USFRA. In the short time USFRA has been in existence, Lisa is truly proud of the dialogue they have been able to start and the wide-spread conversations people are having about the food they eat and produce. She describes USFRA as a movement not an organization, because change doesn’t happen over night. The success of the Food Dialogues is a testament to the need for these conversations to take place globally.

“We need to acknowledge consumers questions, answer those questions and give them an opportunity to understand what we do.”

The latest USFRA outreach activity was the release of trailer and website for the new film Farmland. The documentary is a work in progress. Director James Moll, has interviewed, conducted research and is now almost ready to announce the families featured in the film. This winter the film will be finalized and sent to film festivals. The coveted national debut will come in March 2014. The film is supported by USFRA, but not a USFRA production.

“Part of the reason why we thought this project was so important was because there are a lot of documentaries out there about a lot of different subjects, but there is not one about the next generation of farming. I think they have found a great director, that is a great listener and wanted to learn more too. As he went out and interviewed these famers and ranchers he has had an opportunity to learn also. He is an award winning director and so it has given us a great opportunity to create something that hopefully we can use as an educational tool and something that will spark conversations about food.”

Listen to Cindy’s complete interview with Lisa here: Interview with Lisa Lunz, USFRA Board Member

2013 NAFB Convention Photo Album

Let’s Give #FoodThanks this Thanksgiving

FoodThanksThis Thanksgiving let’s all give a little thanks for the food we have to eat. When it comes to food what are you thankful for? Let everyone know via your social media channels using the hashtag – #FoodThanks. I’ll start with this platter of surf and turf from my grill last weekend. Grilled T-bones, asparagus and Gulf Amberjack foil wrapped with green chiles, tomato, mushrooms, garlic, red onions, olive oil and my own selection of special slices. It was all good and all good for you. And every bit of it was available because of hard working farmers and fishermen. Thank you!

The AgChat Foundation just started its fourth annual FoodThanks campaign which features “Give a Bag. Get a Bag.” to encourage participants to help their local food bank.

“The campaign aims to bring together everyone in the food system, no matter who you are, how you fit into in, or your favorite social media channel,” says Jeff VanderWerff, a Michigan farmer and president of the AgChat Foundation. “It’s about forgetting the food fights and taking time to share thanks for safe, abundant food.”

Use Instagram or Vine to show a meal that’s special to you and explain why. Share a recipe and tag someone you’re enjoying it with.

Join the #foodthanks Twitter chat and Google Hangout – Thursday, Nov. 21 at 8/7 CST.

“In addition to saying #foodthanks online, the AgChat Foundation is encouraging participants to give #foodthanks offline this year,” adds VanderWerff. “Consider giving your time—whether 10 minutes or an hour—to make a meal for a neighbor or to volunteer at the food bank or homeless shelter.”

FoodThanksStarting Nov. 18, participants can pledge to donate a bag of food to a local food pantry via an online form at Those who take the pledge will receive a special edition #foodthanks tote. Quantities are limited.

“It’s a simple pledge, followed by a lasting reminder to be thankful every time we visit the grocery store—even when the holiday season is over,” VanderWerff says.

Borlaug Award Nominations Now Open

A_World_Supported_3F35257001FD1You can now place your nominations for the 2014 Borlaug CAST Communication Award. The award is organized by the Council for Agricultural Science & Technology, sponsored by DuPont and carries on the legacy of Dr. Norman Borlaug.

The honor recognizes professionals working in the agricultural, environmental or food sectors who are promoting ag science in the public policy arena. This award serves as a way to showcase efforts made to keep agricultural issues and programs in the public eye.

Jeff Simmons, President of Elanco and 2013 prize winner joins a list of notable recent winners Dr. Carl Winter of the University of California-Davis, Professor Catherine Bertini, former head of the World Food Program, and Dr. Akin Adesina, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for Nigeria.

CAST welcomes nominations for those who effectively communicate Dr. Borlaug’s call to feed the world through words, deeds and programs to help farmers and consumers worldwide. The award winner receives a bronze sculpture, an honorarium and the opportunity to give a presentation at a CAST award ceremony during the 2014 World Food Prize Symposium.

Nomination forms can be found here.

Pork Checkoff Launches Free Electronic Cookbook

pork checkoff logo_151An electronic cookbook, titled Cooking for Comfort, has just made it’s debut from the Pork Checkoff. This free e-book features favorites and new twists on classic recipes from James Beard, Award-winning Chef Michelle Bernstein, barbecue expert and author Ray Lampe, along with food bloggers from across the U.S.

“Pork plays a part in many of our favorite comfort food dishes – they are nutritious, soothing, savory and delicious,” said Karen Richter, National Pork Board president and a producer from Minnesota. “This e-cookbook is the perfect way to celebrate pork and engage our consumers this holiday season.”

The quick and easy guide to pork recipes highlights great ways to warm up this winter and serves as an inspiration for us all in the kitchen.

The first 15,000 people to download Cooking For Comfort in November will receive a $1 coupon for fresh pork, with another 10,000 coupons available starting December 1. To download visit and don’t forget it’s free.