Farm Food Facts

Katy Franklin, April Clayton, Avocado Science

June 25, 2019 Episode 30
Farm Food Facts
Katy Franklin, April Clayton, Avocado Science
Chapters
Farm Food Facts
Katy Franklin, April Clayton, Avocado Science
Jun 25, 2019 Episode 30
USFRA, Katy Franklin, April Clayton, Phil Lempert, ReFED
Show Notes Transcript

Our thought leader for this week's "Farm, Food, Facts" podcast is Katy Franklin, Research Manager at ReFED: Rethink Food Waste


The stories you need to know:
• With Apeel Sciences, could Avocados Last Longer?
• Many Retailers tend to struggle with Inventory Forecasting.

This week's farmer is April Clayton, Farmer Ambassador representing American Farm Bureau Federation





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, June 26 2019. I'm your host, Phil Lempert.
Phil Lempert:
0:20
On today's podcast, we talk with this week's farmer, April Clayton, farmer ambassador representing the American Farm Bureau Federation. But first, today's thought leader is Katy Franklin, Research Manager at ReFED: Rethink Food Waste. So Katy, thanks for joining us today on Farm, Food, Facts.
Katy Franklin:
0:39
Delighted to be here. Thanks, Phil.
Phil Lempert:
0:41
Share a bit about your background as it relates to food waste and sustainability and the intersection of both of those things.
Katy Franklin:
0:49
Sure. So, I started working in food waste about six years ago and since then I've had the opportunity to implement food waste solutions, really across the sector and across a whole variety of different intervention points ranging from consumer education to academic and market research, to boots on the ground at major events from food festivals to NASCAR races, as well as having the opportunity to forge some really incredible public-private partnerships like that of Further With Food, as well as a few others. And now in my role at ReFED, I have the ability to advance all of these aspects of food waste reduction through our systems level approach and our multi-stakeholder network. And I was initially drawn to food waste through an interesting combination of political science studies in school and experiences abroad in east Africa. And the more I learned about complex systems like our national and global food systems, and how critical they are to the health and progress of individuals and planet, I really saw a clear opportunity to create positive change by addressing the challenge that I truly believe can and will be solved in the coming decade.
Phil Lempert:
1:57
So I want to go back to one challenge, and you talked about a very wide breadth of experience, which is fabulous. And I'm so glad that this is your focus now. NASCAR. I've gotta think that the food waste - and correct me if I'm wrong here - but the food waste at NASCAR must be a huge amount. And how do you deal with whether it's the people at NASCAR or the consumers who are going to NASCAR, to tell them to stop wasting food? That had to be one of the biggest challenges, probably even more than you find in Africa.
Katy Franklin:
2:39
Indeed it was. And also, one of the most fund, I'll add that in there too. I had never been to a NASCAR race before that. So, NASCAR, as well as really any big events - think about the recent Superbowl, think about any major sporting event or concert - there's always an incredible amount of food that's being served both in luxury suite style setting does as well as in the general kiosks and other stations and places where you can get food at all those events. So, the work that I've done, we really took a tiered approach and focused on some of those luxury suites where we had an opportunity to work more directly with the chefs and with the service staff to identify opportunities to prevent, recover and recycle food waste. And so I'd say some of the really big wins there and the big opportunities specifically and some of those more luxury and buffet style service settings, there's so much high quality food to capture, in terms of the meat and the proteins and the vegetables and a lot of food that is really critical to be recovered and get back into the food recovery system to folks who need it. And so, it was any event like that, there's a huge amount of work that can be done working with those dedicated service staff, as well as through consumer education. I will admit that that consumer education piece, and having individuals separate their waste into composting and trash and recycling, it's probably one of the most challenging pieces just because you'll have so many recepticals at dozens of places across a facility. So, the consumer facing piece is certainly a bit more challenging to do than working directly with some of the catering services. But any event like that, it's been so inspiring to see everyone on staff get really, really excited and engaged in those activities. With NASCAR in particular, we got to the point where the staff had really taken ownership of it and were ordering me and my team around and saying, "We need a compost bin over here now" and "This one filled up, we need more bags." So, those have all been really fun.
Phil Lempert:
4:56
I want to build on what you said about consumers; how is ReFED actually influencing consumers through everything that you're doing? Aside from NASCAR, we got that example. What are you doing with the average consumer?
Katy Franklin:
5:09
Sure. So, ReFED does not work directly with consumers. Like some of the other organizations that we work with do, but we work with consumers through an influence mechanism, through our work with food businesses, investors, other NGOs, research policy communities by empowering them with data and tools needed to implement food waste solutions. And by working through some of those actors, we're able to more efficiently and effectively reach millions of consumer-facing organizations and consumers much more efficiently than we could ourselves, being a relatively small team. Just one example is by working with food businesses that have loyal consumer bases of 200 million+ Americans, we can really leverage their credibility, their brand power and their influence over their consumers to drive change. And so, there are some key ways that we're able to do that through designing food waste out of the system. Also, helping them to better communicate with their consumers on the opportunities with food waste and why they might be seeing something new in a store or at a food service location.
Phil Lempert:
6:25
Food waste is a huge driver of climate change. There's no question about that. But a lot of people say it's also one of the most solvable environmental challenges. How do we balance those two things? Give me some clarity on that.
Katy Franklin:
6:39
Sure. I think of those two points that you just said there together, I actually think it's incredible opportunity. So food waste contributes to climate change throughout the entire life cycle of a food product, from the moment land is converted for agricultural purpose up to the point where it's on our plate and then when it's disposed of. And at the global scale, 8% of greenhouse gases are due to food waste. And that's pretty significant. When you think about something like passenger vehicles being just above that. And so, people may be familiar with a relatively recent book called Project Drawdown, which was the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming, and reducing food waste is the third most effective solution out of the top 100. That doesn't even include additional solutions related to food waste, such as composting and anaerobic digestion; that's specifically reducing and preventing food waste. If we'd reduce food waste by just 20% here in the U.S., we would eliminate 18 million tons of greenhouse gases annually. And one of the key drivers of food waste contribution to climate change is because when food - because it's organic material - it produces methane, and this is a short lived climate pollutant. So it's not in the atmosphere as long as some other greenhouse gases like CO2, but it's up to 27 times as carbon dioxide. So, it's the really critical pollutant for us to be reducing and mitigating out of the climate. And then, when we get into that solvable piece; because we already know so many of the solutions to reduce food waste, and because we've seen incredible commitments and action by really everyone - industry, policy makers, entrepreneurs, investors, academics - we think this is relatively easy to accomplish as compared to some of the other opportunities to address climate change. So, for instance, we don't need incredible technological advancements like we might need in the renewable energy sector
Phil Lempert:
8:52
Or with automobiles, or getting everybody to have electric cars, or any of those challenges, right?
Katy Franklin:
8:58
And while food is a very emotional and critical piece of our culture, some of the actions that we can take to address food waste are relatively easy, again, compared to something like buying an electric vehicle. And it's a solution that everyone can get behind it. It is a bipartisan issue, but beyond that, and I am hard pressed to tell you, I've never found a person who said, "you know what, I like food waste. We're gonna keep wasting it." So, it really is a win-win-win from that financial, economic, social and environmental perspective.
Phil Lempert:
9:35
And I also think, that ReFED has the wind to your back. Because again, we've heard constantly, we keep on hearing it more and more, about the percentage that 40 to 50% of food that is being wasted. And you're right, it is emotional issue and people get it and I've never heard anybody say, "oh, I want to go out there and I want to waste food" either. So. So Katy, thanks so much for joining us today on Farm, Food, Facts. Keep up the great work and keep us informed on everything that you're doing.
Katy Franklin:
10:09
Thanks so much Phil. I really appreciate it and have a great day.
Phil Lempert:
10:16
And now for the stories you need to know. With Apeel Sciences, could avocados lasts longer? Apeel Sciences was started back in 2012, with the intention of helping to reduce the $2.6 trillion worth of food that gets wasted every year, often from spoilage. This California-based company has developed an edible substance that, when applied to harvested fruits and vegetables, creates an imperceptible peel that has the ability to double the lifespan of the produce without refrigeration. This could significantly reduce food waste and could also help preserve natural resources. The company's produce is now available in stores. Apeel-treated avocados have been introduced in Costco and Harps Grocery stores across the U.S. And last September, the company partnered with Kroger to sell it's longer lasting avocados. Apeel stated that it was the most logical choice to start with avocados, as they ripen so quickly. And next up: lemons, limes and asparagus. So, how does this technology work? Well, essentially, plant materials that are left behind on farms like leaves and peels are blended and the lipid molecules are extracted. Then, the resulting powder is turned into a liquid which is sprayed on produce. Fruits and vegetables may also be dipped in the solution. The company's current customers are farmers, growers and retailers. So far, Apeel has raised $110 million in funding, and the company also recently added our friend Walter Robb, Co-Founder and former Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, to its Board. What grocers need to know is that farmers and folks like Apeel are working very diligently to cut food waste.
Phil Lempert:
11:59
And in other supermarket related news, many retailers tend to struggle with inventory forecasting. A recent survey of corporate retail professionals found that 73% of respondents consider inaccurate forecasting to be a constant issue for their store. Another 66% said the same goes for price and accuracy and 65% said they struggle with the ability to track inventory through their supply chain. This survey also found that 87% of respondents consider inaccurate inventory to be a larger factor in revenue loss than theft is. However, what companies should do about this was not apparent from the survey results. It appears that while 67% of retailers agreed that analyzing inventory is not an effective use of employee time, 70% also agree that automating the monitoring of on-shelf conditions is not worth the investment. However, the survey did report that 74% of retailers think that robots, if utilized in stores, would increase inventory accuracy. Essentially, what these numbers are telling us is that retail struggle with inventory and they think that automation can help, but they also think it's too expensive. Right now, shelf-scanning robots could provide insight into what products are on the shelf, which provides insight into what is selling, and this is all the info that retailers can share with their suppliers. What grocers need to know is that if retailers want to improve their inventory forecasting, then more and better data will likely play a vital role in making that happen. Whether the data will be collected by an aisle-roaming robot? That will be up to each individual retailer. But there's no question that something must be done.
Phil Lempert:
13:55
And now let's head down to the farm, specifically Red Apple Orchards in Orondo, Washington, and meet April Clayton, who along with her husband, Mike, grows all organic, six varieties of apples and five varieties of cherries. April, welcome to Farm, Food, Facts.
April Clayton:
14:10
Thanks Phil. And thank you for having me.
Phil Lempert:
14:12
Let's talk about organics. Obviously that's what you grow. I think that most consumers really don't understand what growing organic actually means. Would you agree with that or not?
April Clayton:
14:22
I would agree a hundred percent. Organic is just a different style of farming, not using herbicides. But it's still just as great and just as healthy as conventional food.
Phil Lempert:
14:34
So, what should we be doing to really educate consumers to understand what growing organic actually means and doesn't mean?
April Clayton:
14:43
Growing organic is simply just a style of farming. It's about using chemicals that are less concentrated, so they're a bit softer, so there's not as much residue. Also no herbicides, like I said before. In organics, we do have pesticides that we can use. We also have controls for mildew and other molds and fungus and things like that. What I really love about growing organic, especially here in Washington state, is that we have four tree seasons and during the summer we have really low humidity. So, that really cuts back on our need for spraying for pests and molds and things like that.
Phil Lempert:
15:20
There also seems to be a lot of confusion over the use of manure on both conventional and organic farms. Are there set standards, and what effect does manure actually have on soil health?
April Clayton:
15:32
Yes, thank you. That is a great question. First of all, agriculture standards vary from country to ,and even state to state. Here in Washington state, we have to have certified organic manure. What that means is that the manure comes from the farm and it's certified organic - so, the farm has been run organically. And also we have to have a list of all the nutrients that are in it. So, manure comes to us already tested for quality. Now, here in the United States, all of the manure is tested for quantity. Certain states have different regulations as to whether the manure needs to be organic or not. And certainly, what I'd like people to understand too is that organic varies from country to country. Not all countries require that you cook down your manure first. So, it's not really the most healthy fertilizer. Here in the United States we have some great strong regulations, and the better than the manure, the better it's going to help your crop grow, and the better your crop grows, the more carbon dioxide it's going to remove from the atmosphere. Farmers have been sequestering and removing carbon dioxide through good old-fashioned photosynthesis for centuries. And we do that because we use great quality water and great manure.
Phil Lempert:
16:50
And the effect on soil health, besides just crops?
April Clayton:
16:55
Of course, the better the soil health is, the more carbon it's going to be able to sequester from the environment. Also, as far as water quality here in the United States, irrigation districts there fore us to check their water quality every year. And then on the farm, we test our water quality every year as well. So, before that water ever makes it to the ground, it's already been tested twice to see for its purity. So, of course the better the water quality, too, the more plants are going to be able to soak up that hydration and grow and remove more carbon dioxide and pump out more oxygen.
Phil Lempert:
17:32
Now, I know you're the president of the Chilean Douglas County Farm Bureau. What do you hear from other farmers about a term that I know is important to farmers, "thriving and not just surviving."
April Clayton:
17:49
Yes. Farms need to thrive, not just survive. If farmers are forced to rub two nickels together to make the farm profitable, there's no way they're going to be able to spend that extra dollar to implement the latest technologies to make sure our farms are sustainable as possible. There's nothing wrong with a farm being economically sustainable. If we're economically sustainable, we can do more to maintain the health, not just of our farm, but on our outlying areas. Take my farm, for example. We border a range land that is not farm land, but we like to make sure that we are also maintaining that area outside our farms too. Not just to prevent fires, but also to help the biodiversity around us so that, if the area around us thrives, we're going to be able to thrive as well.
Phil Lempert:
18:44
So last question, national security has always been closely related to food security. Food security is directly related to soil health and quality for good harvests. What would you like as a farmer? What would you like consumers, retailers and even the press to know about food security?
April Clayton:
19:03
I would like them to know that food security equals national security. It is so important that we celebrate U.S. farmers and all that we do. We have a bunch of regulations put on this, but we don't mind. We want to be transparent. We understand that you're eating what we grow on the farms. We want you to know what we do. So therefore, we should really be celebrating what we do do, how we're growing more sustainably every year, more so than we have in the past. And I think that there's not enough recognition of all that farmers are doing. I think that farming is the key to sustainability, whether you're talking about national sustainability, environmental sustainability, or just sustainability of the human population. We need food, we need good quality food, and we need to make sure our plant life is as healthy as it can be to sequester and remove as much carbon dioxide as it can
Phil Lempert:
19:57
April, thanks for all your hard work and thanks for joining us today on Farm, Food, Facts.
April Clayton:
20:02
Phil, thank you so much for having me.
Phil Lempert:
20:04
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 time.
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