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Farm to Table International Symposium 2014

Pamela Lanier (left) and Undersecretary USDA Avalos (right)
Pamela Lanier (left) and Undersecretary USDA Avalos (right)
Pamela Lanier

Farm to Table International Symposium 2014

by Pamela Lanier

The Farm to Table International Symposium (F2Ti) which has just concluded in New Orleans Louisiana is an annual event featuring the brightest thought leaders and leading practitioners in the burgeoning farm-to-table movement. F2Ti explores the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of food and drink sourced locally. Topics include the best practices for urban farming, bringing products to market, sourcing locally, and the latest with the imposing Food Safety Modernization Act. The conference concluded with an address by USDA undersecretary Edward Avalos discussing the importance of world tourism and the impact of the 2014 Farm Bill and how it will impact small farmers, local and regional food systems and organic agriculture.

This year’s theme, “The Process,” examined the agricultural-culinary cycle at all levels and featured its own organic fertility research project. Topics included the best practices for:
• urban farming,
• bringing products to market,
• sourcing locally, and presentations on:
o Preventing Food Waste from Field to Fork
o Food and Cultural Identity
o Crop to Cup
o Starting a Farm-to-Glass Distillery
o Get the Lead Out: Heavy Metals and Urban Farming

For the first time this years symposium included a panel on Agritourism and Experiential F2T: Bringing Farmers, Chefs & Guests Together. Gabriele Marewski, the founder of Paradise Farms Organic discussed the dining series where Miami Florida's best chefs produce "Dinners in Paradise" allowing diners to sample micro greens and tropical fruits while providing substantial income for the farm.

Poppy Tooker famed New Orleans author focused on the fascinating evolution of the Gulf States' agritourism now featuring a "Hot Tamale Trail" and "Shrimp and Petroleum Festival".

Pamela Lanier convened the session and discussed new opportunities developed in Europe for agritourism tours such as the Coloratour.com, Rural Dubrovnik and Peljesac Peninsula seafood gathering and organic winery tour. Australian Italian guide Hugh Rowe has developed single and multi day tours delving into the centuries old agriculture and colonial traditions of Rome's romantic nearby Castelli Romani region in conjunction with www.inItalytours.com.

The closing key note by the Honorable Edward Avalos himself farm-raised in the Mesilla Valley New Mexico enthusiastically discussed provisions in the Farm Act specifically geared to promote environmentally positive agriculture and get more young people - both hereditary farmers and new entrants - into a positive market position. Programs such as Farmers Market promotion, Specialty Crops grants, and the Organic Cost Share program illustrate that the United States USDA is "all in" in supporting local and new agricultural and ranch producers.

The symposium, produced in partnership with the SoFAB Institute and the LSU AgCenter, brings together the leading practitioners in the growing farm-to-table movement to explore the cultivation, distribution, and consumption of food and drink sourced locally while presenting the opportunity to connect consumers and chefs and producers. Chef Michel Nischan, CEO, Wholesome Wave, was this year’s Chairman of the symposium which took place at the New Orleans Earnest N. Morial Convention Center.