Farm Food Facts

Ep 18 Monica Amburn, Carla Wardin, Food Tech Innovations

March 20, 2019
Farm Food Facts
Ep 18 Monica Amburn, Carla Wardin, Food Tech Innovations
Chapters
Farm Food Facts
Ep 18 Monica Amburn, Carla Wardin, Food Tech Innovations
Mar 20, 2019
USFRA
Our Thought Leader is Monica Amburn, a registered dietitian/nutritionist with a passion for creative wellness education and communications.Food News Of The Week:•Pepsi Empowers Female Farmers with CARE Partnership•It’s not the Farmers who are “tossing” perfectly good Produce•New USDA Beef “Lifecycle Assessment” discovers Environmental Impacts are Lower than previously Perceived•It has been a critical year for CRISPR—but the technology’s Success Depends on Consumers•How decision-makers in Food Companies prioritize Food Tech InnovationsFarmer of the Week: Carla Wardin, Dairy Farmer
Show Notes Transcript

Our Thought Leader is Monica Amburn, a registered dietitian/nutritionist with a passion for creative wellness education and communications. 

Food News Of The Week: 
•Pepsi Empowers Female Farmers with CARE Partnership 
•It’s not the Farmers who are “tossing” perfectly good Produce 
•New USDA Beef “Lifecycle Assessment” discovers Environmental Impacts are Lower than previously Perceived 
•It has been a critical year for CRISPR—but the technology’s Success Depends on Consumers 
•How decision-makers in Food Companies prioritize Food Tech Innovations 

Farmer of the Week: Carla Wardin, Dairy Farmer

Phil Lempert:
0:01
Farm, Food, Facts: where every farmer, every acre and every voice matter. Welcome to the Farm, Food, Facts interactive podcast presented by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance for Wednesday, March 20th, 2019.:
Phil Lempert:
0:18
Don't get too excited, today is National Ravioli Day. Our thought leader is Monica Amburn, a registered dietician/nutritionist with a passion for creative wellness, education, and communications. Her experience in clinical nutrition, weight loss counseling, and as a corporate supermarket dietician has provided a unique perspective on the creation of effective nutrition marketing and communication strategies for retailers across the U.S. Monica is the Senior Director of Health and Wellness with Healthy Aisles, the leading provider of shelf-edge nutrition communication solutions to over 15,000 retail locations nationwide. Later on in the podcast, we will reach out to Carla Wardin, a dairy farmer, to take a look at the trends and innovations in dairy. Monica, welcome to Farm, Food, Facts.:
Monica Amburn:
1:06
Thanks for having me.:
Phil Lempert:
1:08
What are you seeing as the latest eating trends that farmers and ranchers need to understand that's going on at retail?:
Monica Amburn:
1:16
Well, there are a lot of different things happening at retail, as I'm sure many of you are aware of. But particularly when it comes nutrition, we are seeing a lot happening happening around sugar and protein. So, shoppers are really looking to cut back on sugar as much as possible and there is a lot of confusion as it relates t0 naturally occurring sugars in dairy products. But regardless, people want to see less of it. And then, there is a major trend towards more protein. How can I get more protein and how can I double the protein from my dairy consumption? I think those are really, really hot right now.:
Phil Lempert:
1:58
You bring up a really good point. It's a question that we get from consumers all the time, as well. They're so confused, that when they look at milk for example, that has naturally occurring sugars in it, that they think- their perception is that the dairy producers added sugar to the milk. How do we get past that? What do we need to do to educate consumers to understand that that's not the real thing?:
Monica Amburn:
2:27
I think it all comes down to just that education, but education in a fun way. And luckily, running along this trend as well is transparency. And I think this was part of that story, is saying, hey no, let's talk about these sugars. They're not man-made. We didn't sneak these in there. These are naturally occurring and here's a little fun little scientific fact as to why. I think people would be really interested to learn that, because that is not common knowledge unless you want happen to be a registered dietitian or you happen to work in the food industry. Those are really the only ways that you would know that.:
Phil Lempert:
3:04
What I'm hearing from you, and I would agree with this, is that consumers are more confused than ever before. How confused do you think they are and what should retailers be doing to aid in that information that you just talked about?:
Monica Amburn:
3:20
Sure. I think shoppers are confused to the point of just being overwhelmed. There's so many different talking heads coming into play when it comes to food and nutrition and wellness that you can't get on social media without being bombarded with three or four different messages just as it relates to nutrition. Even if you're trying to avoid that information, it's there. So, this overwhelming sense of, "oh gosh, well what do I do with this?" I think people are turning to food tribes, and as a result, they're becoming very narrow minded in, "well I'm just going to cut out all sugar now," or "I'm gonna join the Paleo movement" or "I'm going to do Whole 30 now." They pick a tribe because it's so streamlined and the direction is clear and the messaging is clear. So, to that point, I think that if we can get down to simple, clear, direct messaging from our retailer's standpoint, from the farmer's standpoint, and also from folks like me, from registered dietitians, I think that we can help cut through the chatter and get the messaging to the people who need it the most.:
Phil Lempert:
4:35
And hopefully avoid them going from fad diet to fad diet, because that's not a good way to take care of your health either.:
Monica Amburn:
4:44
Absolutely.:
Phil Lempert:
4:46
What should farmers and ranchers know about consumer health and wellness needs? It goes beyond the communication. I hear loud and clear, you're saying, let's simplify the message. Let's get the science out there. Let's get the facts out there. But what else should people be thinking about as they plant their next crop or their next herd is coming up? What do you see in your crystal ball out there six months, a year from now?:
Monica Amburn:
5:13
I think for the shopper, it really needs to be, whatever the end product ends up being, it needs to be simple. It needs to be easy and it needs to be an inspirational product. Whether it's packaged fruit and vegetables that's pre-cut, pre-sliced, pre-washed, what have you. Or if it's a combination product of dairy along with fruits and vegetables, I think it just needs to have that inspirational quality to it. And I think that's where the story-telling behind the farmer and behind the brand can come into play, in a very succint way. Like, look, we're passionate about farming and here's why we do what we do. Here's why we created this product, and here's why we think it'll help you. I think it's those three points can be communicated to a shopper very quickly. You're going to have a shopper that's engaged, that's going to come back to you and your product line over and over again.:
Phil Lempert:
6:11
Monica, great insights as always. Thanks so much for joining us today.:
Monica Amburn:
6:14
Thank you Phil.:
Phil Lempert:
6:16
Now, onto the news.:
Phil Lempert:
6:22
Pepsi empowers female farmers with the CARE partnership. The PepsiCo Foundation has recently awarded an $18.2 million grant to the humanitarian organization CARE in an effort to oppose gender inequality in agriculture and alleviate world hunger. "The program is designed to provide 5 million female farmers worldwide with both additional resources and economic support as a means to help them increase their crop yields. It is part of a broader effort across PepsiCo to really find ways we can contribute to a more sustainable food system," said Aaron Thomas, Senior Director of the PepsiCo Foundation. The funding for the foundation will support CARE's She Feeds the World campaign, which has already reached 50 million female farmers. The grant will expand operations to six different countries, including Egypt, Guatemala, India, Nigeria, Peru and Uganda. What grocers need to know is on first glance, it might seem odd that a soda companies reaching out to help farmers, but remember that many of their products are ag-based and this continues in line with their billboard campaign of a few years ago that showcased potato farmers across the U.S. that were growing the potatoes for their Lays brands of chips. Kudos to companies like PepsiCo that honor and help our farmers.:
Phil Lempert:
7:50
Increased yields are good news. What can we do to avoid wasting food? It's not the farmers who are tossing perfectly good produce. In the U.S., we throw away around 63 million tons of food every year. However, Dr. Sarah Taber says that very little of that food is wasted at the farm level. The popular ugly produce movement claims to radically reduce food waste by buying misshapen produce that farms and food packers would otherwise throw away. But Taber says that the vast majority of food waste is generated at home and in consumer facing businesses. Reducing ugly produce isn't actually solving the biggest waste problem. It's just one of the few small slices of the food waste problem that are easily monetized by private entrepreneurs and, frankly, it makes great headlines while having little impact. If consumers truly want to reduce food waste, they can start by buying less,food and making sure that they use all of what they buy, rather than purchasing more food from an ugly produce startup. What grocers need to know is let's separate from reality from fad. And while the ugly produce movement began with good intentions, we cannot afford to use it as an excuse to stop doing more. Retailers need to educate shoppers and help them understand the value of all foods and to shop more efficiently. That's what would significantly reduce waste in our homes.:
Phil Lempert:
9:14
And here's another story regarding a food related misconception. New USDA beef life-cycle assessment discovers environmental impacts are lower than previously perceived. USDA and the beef industry are collaborating on a full life-cycle analysis of U.S. cattle production in order to help inform strategies for reducing its environmental footprint. The first part of the study found that the sector accounted for just 3.3% of all U.S. emissions. The second set of data, which is expected to be public within six months or so, will determine the environmental impact of the rest of the beef supply chain, such as processing, consumption and waste. The environmental impacts of beef cattle production and their effects on the overall sustainability of beef have made headlines, stoked much discussion on reducing beef consumption to save the planet, and become a national and international concern. U.S. beef, this study is the most detailed yet comprehensive study conducted to date to provide the baseline measures for the sustainability of U.S. beef. What grocers need to know is that the study found that the sector accounted for just 3.3% of all U.S. emissions, which is significantly lower than what's been previously perceived, and retailers should understand and explain to their shoppers the true environmental story on all foods.:
Phil Lempert:
10:42
And the public's perception and acceptance of this next topic will be a significant factor in it's prosperity. It's been a critical year for CRISPR, but the technology's success depends on consumers. CRISPR - or Clustered, Regularly Interspaced, Short Palindromic Repeats - is a set of repeating DNA segments found in bacteria. The bacteria hold a type of immune system that operates by recording copies of DNA segments from viruses when they first come into contact. Then, when those viruses come along other times, the bacterial segments essentially cut up the DNA segments of the virus, which then renders that particular virus ineffective. And this is what led researchers to a critical discovery, that those repeating spacers could be programmed to edit genetic material like increasing flavor, nutrients, color, or texture or any combination from just about any living thing, whether that human animal or vegetable. CRISPR is significantly cheaper and more readily available than some earlier forms of genetic engineering. And it's time to rethink the role of genetic engineering in the food system. What grocers need to know is that CRISPR is not GMO. It is not about yield, but rather speeding up the process of natural selection in a more affordable way. Look for this technology to become pervasive in our food supply and be able to finally achieve the reality of foods that can deliver "better for you" nutrition.:
Phil Lempert:
12:16
And for our final bit of news this week, let's hear a bit about how decision makers and food companies prioritize food tech innovations. Impact Vision sent their head of operations to several different food safety, quality, and innovation events, and she learned valuable context about food business priorities, their decision makers, and how startups can it see traction in the food tech industry. Her top three takeaways? One, safeguarding food safety remains the top priority. Number two, companies are looking to move process from reactive to proactive. And third, technology adoption remains a vastly untapped opportunity. Essentially, startups that are looking to grow by establishing partnerships with leading companies must recognize that many global brands hold a vision to adopt new technologies and understand that next billion dollar brands will be built on innovation. With this in mind, early stage companies have to be ready to bridge the gap between this vision of the future and the current state of play. What grocers need to know is that startups bring speed, while established players bring scale. Offering short development cycle and the ability to pivot fast will bring a unique advantage that will help emerging companies scale with big established players, and bring more varied and personalized offerings to the supermarket shelves.:
Phil Lempert:
13:45
Onto Carla Wardin, who left a career in marketing to start a dairy farm with her husband Chris. Today, they're raising three kids and 400 cows on their dairy farm in Michigan, and just love talking with people about modern farms and families. Carla is a member of the second class of Faces of Farming and Ranching of the USFRA. Carla, welcome to Farm, Food, Facts.:
Carla Wardin:
14:07
Thank you so much for having me.:
Phil Lempert:
14:09
So, what's the latest update on dairy farms?:
Carla Wardin:
14:12
On our dairy farm, it's always an exciting year. We are starting our 12th year of dairy farming here, and we took over the farm from my parents and I'm actually the sixth-generation on my farm to go to college, graduated from college, worked in the corporate world and then come back and farm. It's what we'd like to do in my family apparently.:
Phil Lempert:
14:37
So, what lessons did you take from the corporate world and bring back to the dairy farm, if any?:
Carla Wardin:
14:47
Definitely a lot of it. And this started out early being on the farm; it's about communication, because I love talking about farming and I love talking with people who don't know about farming, and I like giving tours on our farm, and I write a blog, Truth or Dairy, about farming because part of the communication part of it is people want to know about it. They want to know about their food, they're interested in food. And since there are only so many of us that are growing food anymore, people like hearing about it and they want to hear more about it from the people who are doing it.:
Phil Lempert:
15:19
So, what's the strangest or most unusual question that you've ever had from a consumer as you're talking to them about the dairy farm?:
Carla Wardin:
15:28
When we were first coming back, one of my coworkers said, so what's Chris's other job going to be? And that really made me laugh because he thought that maybe we were going to have one or two cows and just do it as a side job. And I had to explain, no, this is our job. We have a lot of cows and we have a lot of crops. And he was totally floored by the idea that we would do something like that. He didn't know I was from a farm originally, and he didn't know that my husband was from a farm. So, it was really surprising to him.:
Phil Lempert:
16:01
That's funny. So, tell me about the milk pail trophy.:
Carla Wardin:
16:05
Ha, my sister made it out of a block of wood and the milk pail that my dad used to bring home from the barn with milk in it for us to drink. And we decided one year to have a bunch of family games while everyone was home. And now we have a trophy for it. It's called the Anderson Olympics, which is my maiden name. And every year we get together with my entire extended family and have an Olympics where - out of games, like some year we have themes and one year was farming, and you had to hit a nail in with a hammer one time, or you had to lasso a saw horse. We play all these ridiculously fun games to decide who gets to win the Anderson Olympics milk pail trophy.:
Phil Lempert:
16:51
And are you the winner this past year?:
Carla Wardin:
16:55
Not this last year, but I have won, and it was one of the best days of my life.:
Phil Lempert:
16:59
I'm also very jealous. I know you're a member of Team Chocolate Milk. How do I get to be a member?:
Carla Wardin:
17:06
You just have to love chocolate milk and participate in races. It is a really great program we have here nationally. But here in Michigan, dairy farmers and people who are involved in agriculture and promoting healthy eating are members of Team Chocolate Milk. And we were all our gear to races and people yell the nicest things while I'm running. "I love you, chocolate milk" and "I wish I had one right now" and "where are you getting some of that," and it makes every race even more fun.:
Phil Lempert:
17:36
Sure, sure. That's great. Now, your background is writing and communication, which clearly makes you a perfect spokesperson for farming. What do you want grocery retailers to know and understand about today's farmers and ranchers?:
Carla Wardin:
17:50
What I really want people to know is that all food that they're buying in a store is nutritious and safe. And as you know, marketing is a lot about eye-catching words and labels. And as a marketing person, I can't fault anyone for trying to set themselves apart. But the bottom line is that the farmers producing it are all doing the same thing. They're taking care of their land, their animals, the environment. Because it's where we live and it's where we're raising our kids. And like I said, we've been here for six generations on this same land, in the same house, in the same field. And we love it. And the same goes for our animals. The more comfortable and healthy our cows are, the better quality and quantity of their milk. And it's a relationship that benefits both of us. So, I just want everyone out there who is buying from the store to feel confident that the people who are producing their food, love what they're doing and are trying to do the best job possible.:
Phil Lempert:
18:41
Great Information. Thanks so much for joining us today. For more, check out Carla's blog at truthordairy.blogspot.com, and thank you for joining us on Farm, Food, Facts. For more information on all things food and agriculture, and to listen to our archives, please visit fooddialogues.com under the Programs and Media tab and visit us on Facebook at U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance or on Twitter at USFRA. Until next week.:
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