- 20120229 - Great Taste - Graham Meriwether, Jan Swinton, Nick Wallace, Molly Aronica

American Meat DVD coverGREAT TASTE's 60 minutes of delicious radio is action-packed this week.  In the first half-hour, Graham Meriwether, producer, cinematographer, and director of the documentary, American Meat, joins us in the studio along with Jan Swinton, Local Food Coordinator for Hometown Harvest of SE Iowa.  We'll discuss the positive changes in our animal husbandry system as seen through the farmer's depicted in the movie, and the evolving local landscape. 

Also, Nick Wallace of Wallace Farms, will join us by phone.  Nick and his family have been raising animals sustainably for decades.  Since 2004 he has run the operation, which includes working with other like-minded producers to supply organic meats through a "Farm Club" delivery system.

Nick Wallace/Wallace Farms

Molly AronicaThe Daily Meal's Molly Aronica joins us in the second part of the show.  This week on that site she posted 101 Best Restaurants in America for 2012.  We'll get an inside look on how that list was compiled, plus learn what it takes to put together a daily blog on "all things food & drink."

And, our resident chef, Liz Peralta, will join us.  I really don't know what plans she has for our "live" food segment this week.  She's keeping that information to herself.  I'm ok with that; she's the studio kitchen boss. [To continue, click on "Read more' below.]

Tune into the stream at www.kruufm.com, listen in locally at 100.1 FM, or drop by to share in the fun. If you miss the first go-around, the show repeats at 7 am on Friday, March 2.

Graham MeriwetherGraham Meriwther

Graham is a documentary journalist who serves as the director at Leave It Better. Leave It Better's goal is to tell the stories of those people who are actively working to heal our environment, improving communities today, for future generations. 

Jan SwintonJan Marie Swinton

Drake university Pi Alpha Alpha Luncheon keynote

Welcome to Spring!  The weather the past couple of days is what I love about Iowa.  It is  constantly changing. 

I’ve been thinking about seasons, lately.  It’s nice knowing that spring turns to summer and summer to fall and fall to winter... and that it all comes back around.  I find it comforting.  Watching the first burst of green on the trees in spring, and then raking them up in the fall... there’s a sense of continuity and strength in it all.  That repetition... like the motion that causes my grandbaby to fall asleep in his swing.  That knowing without doubt that there’s something bigger than you holding it all together. 

I’ve met many of you in my classes here the past couple of years.... we’ve talked and even worked together.  Many of you have heard about my exploits with my local food system.  I’m a farmer’s daughter from NW Iowa. 

The seasons determine the work of farm families, and my father was a typical farmer of his day.  We planted every kind of fruit tree and labored in orchards and gardens and bee hives all summer while the corn and soybeans matured in the fields.  We raised hogs and evergreen trees and apples to sell to neighbors.  Those years on the farm were the spring of my life. 

I was in high school in the 1970’s when the farm crisis hit and many of the neighbors were giving up on farming.  My father had 4 able-bodied children, and he had us out in the mud at this time of year planting things as he was buying up farmland from those who could not compete.  I spent many long nights in the hog house watching the pigs being born.  Checking and cleaning each one and warming them on their mother’s belly.  I yawned in school the next day, but I would not trade that night in the hog house where the action was for my brothers’ sleep.  That was the summer of my life. 

I was ready for college when it came along.  I rarely missed a class and though I was not interested in achieving a perfect grade point, I was adamant about learning.  I learned about industrial kitchens from the food service staff.  I learned about responsibility and getting organized the semesters that I took 20 credits and worked 2 jobs.  And like most college students, I learned about getting along with room mates and  co-workers.  What a colorful fall of life as I made the most of every day! 

I married and put him through 9 more years of medical education while accumulating 4 children.  That must have been winter, because we did huddle together a lot.  The neighbors in Lancaster, PA used to see me watching my 4 kids in the front yard and ask if they could bring their kids to my daycare.  3 of my 4 are adopted, and the oldest was not much bigger than the youngest.  (Sam is Korean, Aaron is black and Hannah is hispanic. Then there’s Nate: my blue-eyed blonde.) 

So the seasons repeat and each time I hope that I’m ready for the changes.  There have been seasons of drought and seasons of flood.  Some springs find me with abundant displays of blooming magnolia, tulips & daffodils and some have found me baling flood waters out of my basement.  In mid-winter you cannot know what is in store... for spring.

Summer can be unpredictable, too. My now ex-husband is a family physician.  We lived and worked in Africa: Sierra Leone (on the equator where the weather did not change much) and Zimbabwe (south of the equator where seasons are the opposite-- July was cold season, and Christmas was hot).  SL had an infant mortality rate of 40%.  There were problems with water quality and the delivery of under-fives vaccines and nearly half of the babies did not live to age 5.  I rode a motorcycle out to the villages in my area... crossing the rivers in a dugout canoe to deliver vaccines to children.  I helped write public health lessons and taught illiterate villagers how to dig latrines and boil contaminated water for their babies.  In Zimbabwe it was HIV/AIDS.  Half of the pregnant women who came to the hospital for their first pregnancy check were HIV positive.  There are a lot of grannies raising children in southern Africa.  They are the heros of that culture. 

In my life, there have been seasons of planting and seasons of growth and even seasons of harvest and rest.  Each of these has a place in my life.  Each flood helps me to see the rain in a different way.   Each sunset reminds me that it will rise, again. 

As I thought about the privilege that I have of speaking to all of you today, I can admit that I was a little intimidated.  You are the best and the brightest....

The lesson that I want to leave with you is NOT that seasons exist nor that they can send you reeling... because you all know that.  I realize that in the course of going back to school, I’ve learned something:  Resilience.  It was the story on the cover of Newsweek magazine when I was traveling, recently.  “Brain Resilience”  There has been all sorts of research going on with our military men and women.  There were psychologists and sociologists and decades of repeated studies of humans who exhibited resilience... and post traumatic stress disorder.  The debate about what caused some people to come back and others to give up.  Is it genetic?  Which therapies work?  Why? 

Resilience may be different for different people, but at it’s core, it is faith.  Faith that you can have an effect on your world, and faith that even when your spring is in full bloom, fall is just one season away. 

On the Drake Europe tour last month, I sat on a bench in a cathedral in Poland with Amy.  We had been to the Auschwitz death camps the day before.  She touched the kneeling bench and reminisced about who might have touched it before her and what their prayers might have been.  A group of us also went to the war memorial in St Petersburg, Russia where there are videos and photos of the siege of that city.  Millions died of starvation while others survived on 250 grams of bread a day while they ate sawdust.  In European history, there are many stories of resilience, tenacity, hope. 

The lesson that I hope you can take from me - from my heart- is that WHEN these seasons come with joy or sorrow... that you will allow them to have their affect on you.  That we as public administrators will be a people of resilience and of hope.  Not a people who have done something easy, but a people who have been through storms and know what to do when they hit.