Episode 804 – America’s Heartland

Episode 804 – America’s Heartland

“America’s Heartland is made
possible by…” Farm Credit – financing
agriculture and rural America since 1916. Farm Credit is cooperatively
owned by America’s farmers and ranchers. Learn more at:
farmcredit.com   The United Soybean Board
whose “Common Ground” program creates
conversations to help consumers get the facts
about farming and food. There’s more at:
findourcommonground.com   The American Farm Bureau
Foundation for Agriculture. Dedicated to building
greater awareness and understanding of agriculture
through education and engagement. More information at:
agfoundation.org   The Fund for Agriculture
Education – A fund created by KVIE to support
America’s Heartland programming. Contributors include
the following:   Pests, parasites – disease! They all sound
gross to you and me. But for farmers
and ranchers they can be devastating to livestock. Coming up, I’ll take you to
Florida to find out what’s being done to protect
animal agriculture.   I’m Kristen Simoes. We’ll bring in the harvest
on a very special crop this time. We’ll take you to California
for some green and tasty asparagus. It’s popular produce that
demands some very special handling to get it
to your dinner table. I’m Rob Stewart in the
middle of the hot Arizona desert. A massive algae lab where
researchers say the work they’re doing here could one
day have a dramatic impact on the fuel that you use
and the food that you eat. Hi, I’m Sarah Gardner. For generations kids have
been told to eat their veggies, but we know that
often times peas and carrots get passed over
for sweets and treats. I’ll take you to Wisconsin
where an innovative program connects school kids to
local chefs and farms to encourage healthy eating.   It’s all coming up on
America’s Heartland.     ♪ You can see it in the eyes
  of every woman and man ♪   ♪ in America’s Heartland
  living close to the land. ♪   ♪ There’s a love
  for the country ♪   ♪ and a pride in the brand ♪   ♪ in America’s Heartland
  living close, ♪   ♪close to the land ♪ ♪   Imagine you’re a small business
owner and you’ve got hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of
dollars tied up in something that could be wiped out in the
blink of an eye, with little control over it. Well that’s what livestock
owners face across the United States and the
threat – is animal disease. ♪ Before it’s ever meat on
your dinner plate – that chicken, beef, turkey
or pork starts here. Across the heartland
there are farmers raising livestock from Maine to
California and everywhere in between. And just like us humans,
animals are susceptible to illness and disease. Most can be treated if
caught early enough by a veterinarian,
but not always and when that happens…   Animals end up at labs like
this one near Orlando, Florida. This is the Bronson Animal
Disease Diagnostic Lab. Today – the team is doing
a necropsy on a chicken to find out what killed it. One of the many things that
happen here, all with the goal of protecting animal
agriculture and ultimately our food supply. Agriculture has a 100
billion dollar impact on Florida each year. it’s the state’s second
largest economic driver after tourism. So, it’s a very big part of
our mission to make sure those animals
are disease free. They’re wholesome if they
go into the food chain. The horses are healthy. And there are certainly a
lot of things out there that attack livestock. From chickens, to
horses to pigs. Viruses, bacteria,
you name it. Oh, not to mention
parasites, like this one. This is a Parascaris worm. It goes after horses
and it is not good. Some of these diseases
could be devastating to the industry. So that’s one of our
missions in animal industry is to protect the producers
and Florida agriculture from these devastating
type diseases. So when a dead animal – big
or small – is brought to the lab the necropsy
is critical. So, determining the cause of
death can be very important to rule in and out whether
what the cause of death was. Was this
intentionally cause, was this an accidental
thing, feed contamination, or it is an infectious
disease that may need some concentrated
control efforts? The lab is just part of
the protection profile for Florida agriculture. You’ll find state field
inspectors and veterinarians on location at horse farms,
livestock markets and even tourist attractions. Can you imagine what a
animal disease outbreak would be like? It would be pretty scary? Depending on what that
outbreak is, yes. And it can be quite
expensive to the state. They’ve estimated that if
you had a 21 day lapse of time for a disease such as
foot and mouth that there could be up to 130
billion dollar impact. Our inspectors inspect
cattle at 10 cattle markets every week. They go to over 45 state
and county fairs annually. So we are constantly looking
for animal disease. Modern animal production
methods can mean higher risk of diseases quickly
impacting tens of thousands of animals on just one farm. Preventing disease from
taking hold is a key piece of the puzzle
when protecting animal agriculture. In Florida that means
testing on horses that get sold for racing. This is blood
samples from equine, from horses that are from
around the state of Florida sometimes from other states. These testings is for the
Equine Infections Anemia which is a
regulatory disease. How many horses around the
state are getting tested for this? Well as an example for
equine infections anemia, the program that we have in
Florida that’s been very successful, we used to have many
more positive horses. It is very very
rare to get one now. And when there is an
outbreak of a particularly infectious disease
in a poultry barn, dairy farm or anywhere
the livestock arena, this team must
spring into action. We have to have a rapid
response to contain and quarantine the disease. If we are not
able to do that, that disease will spread
rapidly in a matter of days. Could be in one county on
day one and a week later it could be in multiple states. A protection profile that
stretches from the field to the lab with a goal of
keeping our food supply safe. ♪ Whether it’s on your dinner
table or on your plant stand, it’s a good bet that
something in your house is grown or raised in Florida. Farmers and ranchers in the
Sunshine state supply not only beef, pork and lamb,
they also raise more than 250 different crops. And Florida is one of the
leading states in the nation for potted plants
and hanging baskets.   Welcome to the
Arizona desert. And would you believe that
we are surrounded by algae? This massive algae lab has
researchers saying they found work that will have
a huge impact on food and fuel. (Music) Don’t let the
laboratory tubes, liquids and colors fool you, what you’re looking at
is really a farm.   But, instead of growing
field crops like corn, soybeans or alfalfa, this
farm has fields of tanks bubbling with algae. People have been eating
algae for centuries, but very specific ones and
for very specific purposes, as a substitute
protein source. And then some cultures,
because they taste good. We just simply
haven’t explored it. We haven’t had to. We’ve always had something
else that was further along technologically and stuff,
so we haven’t had to look for what are some
other possibilities.   Unlike crops that require
sunlight, water and soil, these algae “bioreactors”
require only sunlight and water, making it possible
to place them in a typical growing locations like
the Arizona desert. ♪ This 80 thousand gallon
facility is on Arizona State University’s
Polytechnic Campus. Scientists here are
researching thousands of strains of algae in hopes of
creating new sources of food and fuel.   You can make just about
everything out of the algae that you can make from
all other crop plants.   From a standpoint
of feed stock, their productivity is so
much greater than other types of crop plants that
you can actually get more tonnage per acre than you
can from other crop plants.   So, where some
may see slime… …these scientists
see solutions. This is algae bio-mass. This is basically algae
cells that have been taken out of the water
that we grow them in. Okay. So we take the cells
out of the water. They have been
dried at this stage. And so that is the algo
bio-mass, or the feed stock, for all the other products
that we’re going to get from the algae. Okay, so this would be the
first stage of going to what? In this particular
case we have algae oil, or what we call Arizona
Crude because it’s been grown in Arizona. And this is basically crude
oil that’s been extracted from this bio-mass. And approximately forty
to fifty percent of this bio-mass that you see
here is oil or lipid. So what’s the
other percentage? What’s the rest? The rest, basically, is
protein and carbohydrate and minerals. And so, the protein
and carbohydrate, once you take the oil
out of that bio-mass, represents about forty to
fifty percent of what’s left over. And this can be used as an
animal feed, high protein, a carbohydrate,
it’s also food. It can also be fermented
to produce ethanol. Researchers say that one
positive in algae production is its rapid growth. In this section of the photo
bio-reactors it’s doubling at least once per day. Theoretically one could pull
half of the algae culture off every day and you’d have
just as much at the end of the day as what you started with. Eight point nine million and
twenty-three point eight. The challenge here is
not only in production, but in creating a process
that delivers food and/or fuel in a cost
effective manner. Keeping in mind, that the
algae represent a relatively new technology. While we know they produce
oil for a long time and maybe they were the source
of the original petroleum. It requires a whole set of
new technologies to take it to a scale from the
standpoint of competing with an industry that’s
a hundred years old. Still the team is optimistic. We’re making it more cost
efficient every step in the process every day. And while you’re waiting
for success in fuel production, you can always
enjoy algae in another form. I have some algae cookies. Cookies. (laughs)
Are you serious? Of course I’m serious. These are algae
cookies that were made… Just for you,
my wife made them. That’s like a butter cookie. Better than that.
An algae cookie. From an algae expert. ♪ Alge is used in more than food. The single cell plants are
important for some types of medications. There are more than twenty
thousand varieties of algae around the world. And you’ll like this: In
some parts of the Indian Ocean, one type of tiny sea
algae can make the surface of the water
“glow” at night.   I’m Kristen Simoes. Still ahead: We’ll take you
to California where one farm is racing the clock and
the weather to bring in their crops of asparagus.   (music)   Hi I’m Paul Robins and
here’s something you may not have known about
agriculture. Early explorers to the
Americas are generally credited with expanding the
food repertoire of Europe in the 15th century. Corn, tomatoes, and
avocados were all native to this side of the Atlantic
along with another vegetable that you probably enjoy
every Thanksgiving. Sweet potatoes have been
cultivated in South America for thousands of years,
but even before the Spanish explorers arrived in
the late 1400’s, sweet potatoes were
already on the move. Historians say that sweet
potatoes were being cultivated in Peru
as early as 750 B.C. And it’s thought that early
Polynesians or ancient South Americans… spread the crop to islands
in the South Pacific and then on to Asia. Since sweet potatoes
grow well in a warm, moist climate, they quickly
became an important food staple. Because Europe generally has
a colder climate profile, the plants were not as
popular there although it’s said that Louis the 15th
enjoyed sweet potatoes so much that they became a food
fad in France in the late 1700’s. In the U.S., George
Washington raised sweet potatoes at Mt. Vernon and scientist George
Washington Carver developed more than a hundred products… all made from sweet potatoes. By the way, a word
about the name. Early tribes called
them batatas, which became patata in
Spanish and potato in English. And while you and I might
enjoy our sweet potatoes around Thanksgiving, some folks
really enjoy them. In the South
Pacific people on average will consume more than
forty pounds a year. ♪ Whether you like it
with hollandaise sauce, butter lemon or maybe
just plain asparagus is a favorite with consumers. But, before it gets to your
table you can count on a lot of hands on harvesting ♪ It’s demanding.
We gotta be here every day. We gotta cut it.
We gotta pack it. There’s not a day off. For the employees at
Victoria Island Farms, a seven-thousand acre island
tucked into the Delta waterways of California’s
Central Valley March through May is asparagus
harvest season. Since the window for
gathering up the tall green shoots is so short, every
day is a work day. It doesn’t say “OK you
guys can have Sunday off.” No, it’s growing. And when it’s growing
fast we’re really, sometimes we’re really
chasing it and it gets pretty exciting around here. Now most of us never think
of vegetables – growing or otherwise as “exciting”. But given the conditions
found here – a mild climate and very specific soil
qualities the Victoria Island folks can
see their asparagus almost “shooting” out
of the ground. The night temperatures
and day temperatures are warm, These spears here will all
be harvested tomorrow. When the temperature is
ideal these smaller spears, we’re looking for nine
inches of green asparagus these will make
it by tomorrow. By tomorrow morning we’d be
harvesting something like that. So that could grow
up to nine inches? Correct. In one day? Yep. That’s amazing. Harvest time is hard work. Harvesters walk
the fields row by row measuring each
stalk for nine inches of green – the perfect
size for harvesting. ♪ Workers bundle the asparagus
and place it in bins. Once filled, the bins go
straight to a packing shed, where they begin the speedy
journey from field to your dinner table. The asparagus we’re
cutting this morning, hitting our shed right now . we’ll be grading, sorting,
packing that asparagus, hydrocooling it, getting
in our cold box and today, probably will be heading out
in trucks to chain stores across the country
and locally. Northern California.
Southern California. Inside the processing plant,
another team of workers takes over. They will sample, grade and
examine the quality of each spear heading for
the consumer market.   From there, the asparagus
spears move onto conveyor belts and
sorting lines. They’ll be separated by
size, length and diameter. A bit of detail on farming
asparagus: smaller spears indicate a younger root. Asparagus is a perennial
plant with roots that build and grow each year, so
the larger spears may have been reproducing from the
same growing cluster for as many as a dozen years. Now any tips for consumers
when they’re picking out asparagus in the
grocery store? Yeah, you’re looking,
if it’s an all green product it shouldn’t have any
white on it. Very little white on it. And you always
look at the tip, the butts of the asparagus,
the cut of the asparagus to see if it’s not dried out. If it’s fresh. Looks fresh cut
on the bottom. The butts are
not dried over. They look nice. Well packed and preserved,
asparagus can stay fresh in your refrigerator
for more than a week. And here at the plant, each
asparagus gets a fresh cut before it’s sorted,
graded and packed. One final and important step
in keeping the asparagus fresher longer is a device
called the hydrocooler.   In the hydrocooler the
asparagus will move through a chilled water, raining chilled
water on the asparagus cool the asparagus down to
34 degrees pulp temperature, and then as it exits that
it’s taken all the field heat out of the asparagus. Once it’s palatized and
put in to our cold box. Why is that so important? Preserves the freshness. It just came from the field. We’re taking whatever
heat out of it, and we’re getting it into
that cold environment. So, it really
preserves freshness, quality and it
preserves shelf life. So that the consumer has
a really great excellent quality spear of asparagus
when they buy it at the store. Quality, for any
farmer is critical in a crop. And with consumers placing
greater emphasis on food safety, the farm must also
meet governmental standards in getting the asparagus
from farm to table.   Jim Jerkovich says everyone:
from field hands to packers, plays a role in making
the farm successful. And there’s little downtime. Once the asparagus
harvest wraps up, field and packing operations
will transition to blueberries in
June and July. Since their start in 1987,
Victoria Island Farms has grown into one of the
largest producers of asparagus in California –
with those tall green spears showing up on dinner
tables in the U.S. and overseas. How does that feel to know
that your product that you’re working so hard on
could end up in Japan? It’s everybody here, everybody
that worked so hard to produce such a quality product it really makes us proud
that we know that everything we’re doing every
day is getting to people are getting to
enjoy it not only this county,
but all over the world.   Asparagus is a popular
vegetable grown all around the world. And we’ve been dining on
asparagus for a long time. Early Egyptian paintings
depict asparagus as far back as 3000 B.C. And asparagus makes the
recipe list in one of the oldest recorded cookbooks
dating back to 300 AD.   If you’ve ever visited a
school cafeteria at lunch time you know that healthy
choices are not always the first items that land on the
kids plate. Well here in Wisconsin, area
schools are getting a little extra help from local chefs and
fresh ingredients from the farm. ♪ “Hi everybody, I’m
Chef Liz with REAP. Elizabeth Chapa is giving
these Wisconsin seventh graders a class in
the art of cooking. “Here’s the spinach. And all I want you to do is
kind of rough chop it”.   Most of the foods in her
recipes are farm fresh vegetables grown within a
hundred miles of the school. We live in an age of a lot
of single parent households. And it’s rush-rush-rush
go-go-go. And I think that what we
bring to the kids is an opportunity to slow it down,
make a meal with local, healthy ingredients, and
show that it can be easy. “And when you finish, you
don’t always have to use all of the dressing, you
know what I mean? Put a little bit,
toss it all together, see if it needs more…” This class, in Madison,
Wisconsin is part of a national “Farm to School”
Program, organized and administered here by
Wisconsin’s R-E-A-P or REAP Food Group,
which stands for Research, Education, Action,
and Policy. And it’s not a demo. It’s really the kids being
able to get in there and chop the vegetables and cook
and then share a meal with their friends and
the guest chef. And celebrate food and learn
some new skills and usually try some new things. More than a hundred students
are involved in the cooking class, which allows the
youngsters to prepare and then enjoy their
culinary creations. My mom like cooks with
me, and I love cooking. So, I’m glad we made this. So the different types of
vegetables and fruits that they’re not familiar with,
that really gives them an insight to realize that
there are a lot different types of vegetables and fruits
out there instead of just
carrots or just corn or just strawberries. ♪ Joey Dunscombe is the
executive chef of the   Weary Traveler
restaurant in Madison. He’s also another
contributor to the Chef-in-the-classroom
program. He says it’s been a
rewarding experience. Teaching the kids now,
they’re just going to grow into that. Hopefully my kids
will be in that group, that group of kids that says
“no” even at 16 “I’m going to go to the farmer’s
market.” Dunscombe is also active in
another REAP program – their “Buy-Fresh
Buy-Local” project. “It’s something I can find
sporadically locally. I’ve got one guy
that picks it. Working with a
REAP coordinator; he plans his menus around
meat and produce he can obtain from local farms. It’s a full circle
type of thing. You know, we keep the
money in the neighborhood, or at least in
the community. With our current estimated
numbers we’re over three million dollars’ worth of
local food being purchased from the farmers themselves. So, it’s pretty awesome. And in the program
we have huge support. We have 37 different
restaurants currently. We have two grocery stores,
one being the neighbor of the  Willy Street
co-op right to the  Weary . And then we also have two
health care providers.   And there’s another aspect
to the REAP program, culinary training for adults.   Some of these folks are
members of Ameri-Corps preparing fresh snacks
for Madison’s elementary school pupils. I really like the concept of
trying to get healthy local food into the schools and
working with students who didn’t necessarily have a
background in growing food or gardening or farming, and
kind of helping bring that understanding of where our
food comes from to them. REAP’s Chef and Snack
programs serve thousands of students in the Madison
schools each week and provide a valuable market
for fruits and vegetables from more than a
dozen regional farms. And our local farmers
are really excited. It’s always fun to approach
a farmer and explain what we are doing and talk to them. And they’re always so
excited that they’re produce is going to feed
kids in the schools.   That’s going to do for
this addition of America’s Heartland. Thanks you for traveling the
country with us we’re always pleased to introduce you to
such interesting people and places. And remember that you can
stay in touch with us 24/7. We make it easy for you. You’ll find us on your
favorite sites and you can always access stories and
videos from any of our shows on our website:
americasheartland.org We’ll see you next time,
right here on America’s Heartland.   You can purchase a DVD
or Blu Ray copy of this program. Here’s the cost:   To order, just visit us
online or call 888-814-3923.     ♪ You can see it in the eyes
  of every woman and man ♪   ♪ in America’s Heartland
  living close to the land. ♪   ♪ There’s a love
  for the country ♪   ♪ and a pride in the brand ♪   ♪ in America’s Heartland
  living close, ♪   ♪close to the land ♪ ♪   “America’s Heartland is made
possible by…” Farm Credit – financing
agriculture and rural America since 1916. Farm Credit is cooperatively
owned by America’s farmers and ranchers. Learn more at:
farmcredit.com The United Soybean Board
whose “Common Ground” program creates
conversations to help consumers get the facts
about farming and food. There’s more at:
findourcommonground.com The American Farm Bureau
Foundation for Agriculture. Dedicated to building
greater awareness and understanding of agriculture
through education and engagement. More information at:
agfoundation.org The Fund for Agriculture
Education – A fund created by KVIE to support America’s
Heartland programming. Contributors include
the following:  

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