Archive | Podcasts

Episode 16: Blue Plate Special with Paul Willis of Niman Ranch

(photo Niman Ranch)

Blue Plate Special hosts Kurt and Christine Friese chat about the latest food news:
A menu of wheat & corn. That’s what we’ll get w/ honey bee collapse. An Indiana dairy farmer and his “balloon” problem.

Paul and Phyliss Willis talk to Kurt and Christine about pastured pork in Iowa and how they started the Niman Ranch animal welfare pork protocols.

Memorable quotes:
“Farming is the only business in the world where you buy at retail, sell at wholesale, and pay freight both ways.”

“People want to call us growers, but we’re farmers. We own the pigs and take care of them…they call it the chickenization of the pig business.”

Osso Buco Recipe:
4 pork shanks 1 1/2″ thick
2 tablespoons flour seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 cup butter (or olive oil)
1 yellow onion diced
1 carrot diced
1 stalk celery diced
1 cup dry white wine
1 quart chicken or veal stock

Gremolata (optional):
2 sprigs parsley
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cloves garlic
2 anchovies

Gremolata: chop all the ingredients together until fine.

Dredge the pork in seasoned flour. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and brown the pork well on both sides. Remove the pork and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until soft and lightly browned. Deglaze the pan with the wine, and reduce until “au sec” (nearly dry). Add the stock and return the pork to the pan. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 2 hours, stirring frequently, until the meat begins to come away from the bone. (Add a little water as needed, but remember that the liquid should be fairly thick.)
Remove the pork from the pan, strain the braising liquid and set aside.
Serve the pork over risotto Milanese moistened with a little of the strained braising liquid and garnished with the gremolata.

Risotto Milanese recipe:
8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
½ t. saffron
3 T. Olive oil
2 T. unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 ½ cups Arborio rice (or other short-grain Italian rice)
¾ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

In a medium sauce pan, bring 8 cups of vegetable or chicken broth – your own or a low-salt canned version to a simmer. In a small cup, use a few tablespoons of the broth to dissolve 1/2 t. of saffron. In a medium to large saucepan, melt 3 T. of olive oil and 2 T of unsalted butter (or all olive oil). Add the small, finely chopped onion and cook until golden. Add the arborio rice and stir to coat it with the onion mixture. Add a cup of the broth and stir constantly as the broth is absorbed. Continue to add the broth a cup at a time. It should bubble slightly but not so fast it evaporates before the rice can cook in the liquid. After about 10 minutes, add 3/4 c. dry white wine in place of the broth. Continue to stir and add broth a cup at a time until the rice is still a bit firm at the center. Stir in the dissolved saffron and 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese and serve at once.
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Episode 15: Gary Nabhan

Gary Paul Nabhan, PhD, is an ecologist, ethnobotanist, writer, food and farming advocate, rural lifeways folklorist, and conservationist whose work has long been rooted in the U.S./Mexico borderlands region. A first generation Lebanese-American, Nabhan was raised in Gary, Indiana. He served as Director of Science at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and co-founded Native Seeds/SEARCH, a nonprofit conservation organization that works to preserve indigenous southwestern agricultural plants as well as knowledge of their uses. Nabhan was the founding director of the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University. In 2008 he joined the University of Arizona faculty as a Research Social Scientist with the Southwest Center.

His work with RAFT (Renenwing America’s Food Traditions) and Slow Food is bringing local farmers, chefs, fishers, agricultural historians, ranchers, nurserymen and conservation activists together to exchange information, tell the stories of regional foods and producers. Through RAFT, these communities publish lists of traditional regional foods, telling readers where seeds, nursery stock, or seafood and livestock hatchlings can be purchased to aid in their recovery. The result is the growth of food-concerned communities that are reestablishing healthy local economies.

In this conversation with Gary, he tells us about the decline of apple varieties here in America.  RAFT has christened 2010 as the “Year of the Heirloom Apple” to engage food communities in the restoration of apple varieties and culinary traditions specific to their regions. A key component of RAFT’s apple initiative is release of “The Forgotten Fruits Manual & Manifesto – APPLES,” (download pdf) a brochure that builds upon the collective knowledge of more than a dozen of America’s most experienced heirloom apple experts.

More on the here > Year of the Heirloom Apple and here > The Heirloom Apple of Your Eye, Your Taste Palette and Your Place.

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Episode 14: Fred Kirschenmann

Fred Kirschenmann at the Edible Institute, Santa Fe, NM 2010
(photo David Vogel)

Fred Kirschenmann is a outspoken advocate for the sustainable agriculture movement. He is a distinguished fellow of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, is currently President of the Board of Directors for the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, and the president of Kirschenmann Family Farms, a 3,500-acre certified organic farm in Windsor, North Dakota.

Fred’s resume doesn’t read like your average farmer: he served a five-year term on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards Board, and has chaired the administrative council for the USDA’s North Central Region’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. He recently completed work for the North Dakota Commission on the Future of Agriculture, and was a charter member of the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society in 1979. He has been a member of the board of directors for the Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture since 1994, and was president in 1997.

Edible Radio’s Kate Manchester talks with Fred about his role at the Leopold Center, and how farms are no longer defined by size, either by acres or gross sales, these are the new “sustainable farms in the middle.”


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Episode 13: Matthew Frank

Kate Manchester talks to Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Barolo  (University of Nebraska Press, Spring 2010). An intimate travelogue and a memoir of a culinary education, Frank’s book details the adventures of a not-so-innocent abroad in Barolo, a region known for its food and wine (also called Barolo). Upon arrival, Frank began picking wine grapes for famed vintner Luciano Sandrone. He tells how, between lessons in the art of the grape harvest, he discovered, explored, and savored the gustatory riches of Piemontese Italy. Along the way we meet the region’s families and the many eccentric vintners, butchers, bakers, and restaurateurs who call Barolo home.

Click here for more information on Barolo.

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Episode 12: Gordon Edgar

Edible Radio’s Kate Manchester talks to Gordon Edgar, the cheesemonger at San Francisco’s Rainbow Grocery Cooperative whose first book has just been published.

Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge, is the story of Edgar, a former volunteer at Epicenter Zone, the not-for-profit punk community center in the Mission district, who lucks his way into the cheese buyer position at Rainbow Grocery. Taking over a cheese counter full of industrial jacks, cheddars and bries, he slowly transforms a once-pedestrian assortment into a world-class fromagerie.

Under the premise that punk rock made him a cheesemonger, the book is a lively inside look at the world of not-so-honest cheese pushers and sales reps, including the time he throws a pretentious New York cheese importer out of Rainbow Grocery with a Cali-inspired “Dude, shut up and get the !@#$ out of our store.”

More travelog than cheese review, he travels to regional dairies for an intimate look at the artisan cheese movement. At one farm he’s excited to see cows eating their way through spring grasses, and bemoans the fact that seasonal cheeses are a dying breed, a victim of large-scale production and international free trade.

But back at the store, more customers are demanding to know where animals “grazed” before making a selection (thanks to books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma), and Edgar strives to feature dairy farmers who can supply real numbers (forage vs. feedlot) when they use the terms pasture-based or grass-fed.

Unfortunately the USDA has no standardized definition of foraging and he predicts that the term will ultimately be meaningless, citing the cynical dairy in-joke regarding access to pasture: “Yeah, they walk ’em through the field on the way to the slaughterhouse.” Or as Alice Beetz, program specialist from the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, says: “Think of milk as a means of marketing the forage.”

In later chapters, Edgar dips into “The Milk of Human Neurosis” and sharpens his activist edge with a look a “Punk Subculture and Reagan Cheese.” In “Terroir, Trucking, and Knowing Your Place,” he ponders the American Cheese Society’s use of the term terroir, slyly noting that the United States has no real land-based tradition, especially considering that our biggest contribution to the world of dairy is American Cheese.

Each chapter of Life on the Wedge ends with a couple of cheese profiles, which are more like in-depth bios than serious tasting notes, but the real attraction to this book is that Edgar takes no prisoners in his search for the truth in cheese and we all eat better for it.

Check out Gordon’s blog, and his book is published by Chelsea Green.

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Episode 11: Joel Salatin

Photo: Participant Media/Food, Inc.

Joel Salatin, 53, is a fulltime third generation alternative farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. His farm services more than 3,000 families, 10 retail outlets, and 50 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs with salad bar beef, pastured poultry, eggmobile eggs, pigaerator pork, forage-based rabbits, pastured turkey and forestry products using relationship marketing.

In addition to open pasture, Polyface has 450 woodland acres, that Salatin refers to as a “forest farm.” Besides selling firewood and lumber, the farm’s pigs are finished on acorns for a month before slaughter, which saves money on grains and feed. Salatin claims that running pigs in the woods (George Washington did so with his own swine herds), and being able to manage and control this technique, will eventually make confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) obsolete.

Salatin also talks about the farm crisis: demographically, the average farmer is approximately 60 years old, and in the next 15 years 50% of America’s farmland will change hands. Unfortunately most of this land will be passed onto children who don’t want to farm the land. But the good news is that a generation of young farmers (who don’t come from a farming background or family) are slowly becoming the new rock stars of the food world, and there is going to be land available for them everywhere.

Salatin holds a BA degree in English and writes regularly for Stockman Grassfarmer, Acres USA, and American Agriculturist. The Salatin family farm, Polyface Inc. (“The Farm of Many Faces”) has been featured in Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, Gourmet. Profiled on the Lives of the 21st Century series with Peter Jennings on ABC World News, his after-broadcast chat room fielded more hits than any other segment to date. It achieved iconic status as the grass farm featured in the New York Times bestseller Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.… Read the rest

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Episode 10: Aran Goyaoga

Photo: Karen Mordechai Photography

Aran Goyoaga shows us that all food blogs are not created equal. A Basque ex-pat living in the US since 1998, Aran is the real sweet behind the blog Cannelle Et Vanille, which she says are the smells and tastes of her childhood. Aran grew up in a house full of bakers and pastry chefs, and it’s clearly in her blood. 

She is a mother, a freelance food writer, stylist and photographer. Her blog is a journal of her recipes, travels and life stories, full of gorgeous photos and wonderful recipes.

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Episode 9: Elissa Altman

Elissa Altman is an award-winning columnist, humorist, and commentator on all things culinary. Once described as the illegitimate love child of David Sedaris and M.F.K. Fisher, Altman has contributed to Saveur Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Beard House Magazine, the New York Times, and blogs regularly for the Huffington Post.  Formerly a restaurant critic for The Hartford Courant, Ms. Altman has also worked in New York City as a personal chef and caterer, attended the Institute for Culinary Education, and was a longtime senior editor at both HarperCollins and Clarkson Potter. 

She is the founder of the very funny and delicous blog,, and you can follow her on Twitter  @PoorMansFeast.

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Episode 8: Lisa Hamilton & Will Harris

Lisa Hamilton photo by Madeleine Tilin

Editors note: We’re excited to announce that Will Harris is speaking at Edible Institute 2012! For more information and to purchase tickets click here: Edible Institute 2012.

Will Harris is a fifth generation cattler rancher and the owner of White Oak Pastures, the largest certified organic farm in Georgia. In 1995 Will decided to change his family’s traditional practices of raising corn fed cattle and transitioned to grass fed beef. Will is the subject of a recent documentary by the Southern Foodways Alliance, “CUD.” You can view the film online here:

White Oak Pastures website.

Lisa Hamilton is a journalist, photographer, and the author of two books: “Deeply Rooted: Unconventional Farmers in the Age of Agribusiness” and “Farming to Create Heaven on Earth.” Her work has also been published in The Nation, Harpers, National Geographic Traveler, Orion, and Gastronomica. You can read more about Lisa on her website:



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Episode 7: Tom Philpott

Photo: Bart Nagel

Show notes: Tom Philpott, food editor at is among the brightest stars and is a prolific and informed voice of the contemporary food revolution taking root in this country today.  A speaker and honored guest at the first annual Edible Institute in Santa Fe, NM, Tom was gracious enough to sit down and have a conversation with us.

When he isn’t obsessing about food and agriculture and hunting and pecking at his laptop’s keyboard, you might find him in the kitchen or in the field at home at Maverick Farms in Valle Crucis, N.C. Before becoming a full time farmer, he held a day job as a finance writer and editor in New York City, and generally split his off time between his community-garden plot in Brooklyn and his apartment kitchen. In past lives, he has worked as a grill cook in an old-school Texas steakhouse, a finance reporter in Mexico City, and a community-college instructor/restaurant critic in Austin, Texas. Follow Tom’s posts at , and on Facebook, or Twitter.

Bio: Tom Philpott is food editor at, where he writes on the politics and ecology of food. He’s also a co-founder and core-group member at Maverick Farms, a center for sustainable-food education in Valle Crucis, North Carolina.
Before moving to the farm in 2004, Philpott worked as a financial journalist in Mexico City and New York City, most recently holding the title of equity research editor for Reuters, where he wrote daily dispatches on the stock market. His work on food politics has appeared in Newsweek, The Guardian, Seed, Gastronomica,  Mother Earth News, New Farm, and Sojourners. Maverick Farms has been featured in Gourmet and The NewYork Times Magazine, and in Sept. 2008, Food & Wine named Philpott one of “ten innovators” who will “continue to shape the culinary consciousness of our country for the next 30 years.” Philpott serves of the board of directors of the Boston-based Chef’s Collaborative, a nationwide group that seeks to push the restaurant business in more sustainable directions; and on the board of advisers at the Ausin, Texas-based Sustainable Food Center.… Read the rest
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