Tuesday, May 5, 2020

COVID Chronicles: How a Pandemic Draws Out Our Inner Agrarian

COVID Chronicles: How a Pandemic Draws Out Our Inner Agrarian

Monday, February 10, 2020

Lessons in Sustainability from the 2020 Rhode Island Food System Summit

Lessons in Sustainability from the 2020 Rhode Island Food System Summit


Each year, the University of Rhode Island hosts a Food System Summit to examine the effects of climate change on our food ecosystems. In attendance this year were JWU Providence Assistant Dean TJ Delle Donne '04, '07 MAT, Associate Professor Maureen Pothier (both College of Culinary Arts) and Associate Professor Doug Stuchel (College of Hospitality Management). With a new Bachelor of Science program in Sustainable Food Systems launching in the Fall, sustainability is a growing priority at JWU — and all 3 educators were eager to be part of the conversation.
Rhode Island’s small size can be an asset when it comes to scaling up successes, and a significant portion of the morning session was devoted to entrepreneurial approaches to combatting environmental change.
“There are many challenges to climate change’s impact on the ocean and shoreline.”
Navyn Salem, the CEO and founder of Rhode Island-based company Edesia, talked about her experiences working with humanitarian organizations around the world to treat and prevent malnutrition in developing countries worldwide. (She shared the astonishing statistic that 16 million children have acute malnutrition; 33 million have moderate acute malnutrition; and 149 million are chronically undernourished.) (Read about JWU alum Nico Derr’s internship-to-hire Edesia story.)
Diane Lynch, chair of the RI Food Policy Council, oversaw a panel discussion focusing on local responses from companies like Dave’s Marketplace, The Compost Plant, Newport Vineyards and Gotham Greens.
Afternoon breakout sessions looked at climate change’s potential impact on land- and water-based agriculture — and how to prepare for an uncertain future.
For Delle Donne, Pothier and Stuchel, bringing chefs, educators, fishermen, scientists and nonprofits together fosters dialogue and common goals alike.
“The Aquaculture & Sea-Based Production session that I attended was a discussion on small and large scale changes we can make to the food system in preparation for the future effects of climate change,” noted Pothier. “There are many challenges to climate change’s impact on the ocean and shoreline, such as the ever-changing effect on fish migration and ocean acidification. This is and will be causing some major disruption to the RI fish and shellfish industry.”
Scup was mentioned as a potential source of a new consumer product — but creating that new market is not without challenges. Scup (also known as porgy) is currently sold most commonly as a whole fish, which can be a barrier to the home cook. At the Summit, discussion focused on ways to process and distribute the fish, which is plentiful in Rhode Island waters. (Read more about JWU students’ efforts to help create a thriving market for scup.)
On the land-based agriculture side, Stuchel noted that Rhode Island “has the highest cost of farm land in the country.” Because of this, farmers often need multiple sources of income to stay afloat; one potential solution would be to allow them to use their land for solar energy. The Providence Campus has unveiled plans to offset electrical usage with 100% renewable energy from solar net metering and wind power generation.
JWU’s Providence Campus is looking to expand its composting efforts into residence halls and smaller food venues (the practice is currently limited to culinary labs); Pothier is excited to explore the possibilities. In particular, she notes, “the educational aspects of a partnership [with The Compost Plant] would be great for our students.” She and Assistant Deans Delle Donne and Stansfield are looking into a number of such potential partnerships and hope to weave their delivery into the Sustainable Food Systems bachelor’s degree as it develops.
Starting in Fall 2020 at JWU’s Providence, North Miami and Denver campuses, the Sustainable Food Systems B.S. will serve as a platform for future practitioners and policymakers to develop sustainable solutions.

Sustainable Food Systems (B.S.)



Competition, Celebrity Chefs, Networking: A New York City Adventure

 Competition, Celebrity Chefs, Networking: A New York City Adventure

Laura Wharton

Caroline Donahue ’20 is a senior in JWU’s Baking & Pastry Arts and Food Service Management program. She’s completed internships at two Florida Ritz-Carlton locations, Orlando and Amelia Island, and is a member of JWU’s Varsity women's crew team. After graduation, Donahue will begin her career at the Ritz-Carlton in Reynolds, Lake Oconee, Georgia, as part of the Marriott Voyage program, a global leadership development program. She recently attended the New York Produce Show and Conference and shares her experience below.

A trip to the Big Apple for the annual New York Produce Show and Conference, the second largest produce trade show in North America, was an exciting experience for six students. We had the opportunity to compete, network and assist celebrity chefs with their demonstrations.

The excursion was led by Associate Professor Doug Stuchel of the College of Hospitality Management (COHM). The JWU students who attended were Jessica Bohannon ’21, Ryan Farley ’22, Steven Ko ’20, Tiffany Lor ’20, Laura Wharton ’20 and myself. Students from Cornell, Virginia Tech and the Culinary Institute of Michigan (CIM) also attended.


One of the first things we did was visit the Javits Convention Center to meet with six representatives from CIM. Then we got to work setting up our station for the Culinary Innovation Challenge with a mix of kitchen equipment. We spent the afternoon sightseeing and enjoying lunch at Jose Andres' Mercado Little Spain, a Spanish food concept with kiosks and restaurants.

That evening, we attended a formal dining event, the Celebrating Fresh networking reception, where we met vendors, distributors and hospitality students from other universities. I talked to several of the vendors about why they come to the show. A representative from Village Farms, headquartered in Canada and Florida, said the company “grows produce in Texas, Canada and Mexico, but [they] come to the New York Produce Show every year because it gives distributors a chance to connect with buyers.”

A Dayka & Hackett representative said they attend “because they’re locals, supporting locals who like to come [to the conference] to connect with customers in a different setting.” Dayka & Hackett is a farming, shipping and sales organization based in California. It was interesting to meet and talk with these professionals about their perspectives on the world of produce.

The next day we got to put our culinary skills to work while cooking for the Culinary Innovation Challenge with CIM students and assisting celebrity chefs with their demonstrations. At the start of the “friendly” challenge (with no winners or losers), we were given bags for foraging the tradeshow for ingredients to use to create unique “veggie-centric” foods.


The Ideation Fresh Foodservice Forum on our last day featured a panel of industry leaders, including
  • Will Horowitz, owner and executive chef, Ducks Eatery
  • Tim Beerup, Midwest retail manager, National Mango Board
  • Ian Ramirez, director of culinary innovation and operations, Creative Dining Services
  • Dan Coudreaut, founder, Coudreaut and Associates
  • Christopher Gaulke, food & beverage management professor, Cornell University

The panelists were asked questions about topics affecting the produce industry.

Q. Where does your inspiration for innovation come from?
Will: “By looking into the past, into nature and by using all scraps.”
Tim: “Global influences are a big inspiration because they are exotic foods with authenticity.”

Q. How do growers contribute to inspiration?
Ian: “By hyper-focusing on one ingredient through immersion, and working with commodity boards [boards that address an agricultural commodity].”

Q. How do you narrow the field of making a product?
Dan: “Through discovery, development and deployment.”
Christopher: “See if customers want the product, then see if customers want the product from you.”


Another highlight of the conference was honing our skills while assisting celebrity chefs Ian Ramirez, Will Horowitz, Mark Arnao of the St. Regis New York, and Jehangir Mehta of Graffiti Earth. Gaining expertise under their guidance was an exciting experience.

“I left New York with fresh knowledge about produce and food trends, and with a stack of business cards from all of the connections I made.”

The conference ended with the Ideation Breakout luncheon that included a presentation by students and industry leaders about their ideas for creating products that meet specific consumer demographics. Some examples were a granola bar for a small-town elementary school and a soup menu for an elderly home.
Looking back on the trip, the New York Produce Show and Conference was an unforgettable adventure with opportunities to learn, create and network. I went to New York feeling eager, and bringing only a tasting menu I created before the event. I left New York with fresh knowledge about produce and food trends, and with a stack of business cards from all of the connections I made.
I look forward to seeing how the event evolves in the future and intend to continue going even after graduating from JWU.


Monday, February 3, 2020

3 Food Trend Predictions for 2020

3 Food Trend Predictions for 2020

Friday, November 1, 2019

#FacultyFriday JWU Providence Professor Douglas Stuchel

https://www.facebook.com/JWUPVDHosp/@JWUPVDHOSP #JWUPVDHOSP @JWU #JWU
Our #FacultyFriday this week is Douglas Stuchel

"When I decided to hang up my chef jacket and rejoin the JWU family working in Experiential Education and Career Services, I found myself missing the hands-on connection to the food industry that I had enjoyed for the last twenty-something years. After taking some time to self-reflect on what I wanted to do in this new part of my life, I came up with two goals that I wanted to accomplish.

My first goal was to go back to school and get my master’s degree and eventually teach at JWU and the second was to find a way to continue working in the food industry, but in a role other than being a chef. I decided to get involved in food policy, and after a bit of research, I chose to raise Welsh Harlequin ducks - a lightweight breed of duck that lays an average of 250-300 eggs a year. 

I purchased my first three dozen ducklings from a farm in California and three days after hatching they arrived at my local post office. After a year of trial and error Doug’s Ducks LLC was hatched, with the mission of being environmentally responsible and working with the ecosystem to raise ducks that are ethically and humanely treated in order to deliver a responsible and quality product to the local food system. At any given time, there are anywhere from 20 -60 ducks and ducklings free-ranging my property during the day, and when the sun starts to set they return home to the safety and comfort of the duck house. For the first two years the slightly larger and richer duck eggs were only available to those who wanted to purchase them by stopping by my house. However, Doug’s Ducks recently joined the WhatsGood mobile application to offer delivery of Doug’s Ducks eggs and a variety of summer vegetables to consumers at their homes.

So, who eats duck eggs? Some of my customers eat duck eggs because they are allergic to chicken eggs, but are able to eat duck eggs. Others enjoy the richer and creamier flavor of the duck eggs and some customers, as well as myself, find duck eggs to be far superior to chicken eggs!"

Doug’s Ducks website: https://dougsducks.wixsite.com/dougsducks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DougsDucks/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dougsducks/
WhatsGood: https://app.sourcewhatsgood.com/download


Friday, November 2, 2018

Exploring Sustainability: An Interview with JWU Professor Douglas Stuchel and owner of f Doug's Ducks

Exploring Sustainability: An Interview with Douglas Stuchel

It can be a complex topic, for sure. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, sustainability means “to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.” One of the ways you can maintain sustainability is by eating local.
Raised in a rural farming community outside of Pittsburgh, Stuchel was as close to his food source as you can get. “I grew up with that sense of, you eat what you grow, you eat what is local,” he says.
He became interested in the environmental aspect of sustainability when he was a JWU student and studied abroad in Costa Rica. “That opened up my eyes,” he says. “When the country underwent rapid development and deforestation, it started losing tourism dollars. They immediately saw that this was their lifeblood, so they jumped on the sustainability bandwagon. Costa Rica is now ranked as one of the most sustainable countries in the world.”
Connecting Students to Sustainability
To introduce his hospitality students to the concept of sustainability, on their first day of class he talks about how he is raising Welsh Harlequin ducks on his property in rural West Greenwich. It allows him to start a discussion about global food issues, he says.

“Some students are fascinated at the fact that I’m raising an animal because they’ve never had that connection growing up. I can see that when I talk to them about the real cost of food.”
The true cost of food involves not only how the food is transported and the effect on the environment, but how that food is produced, he says. “When I tell students I sell duck eggs for seven dollars a dozen, they say, ‘I can buy chicken eggs at Walmart for $1.55.’ Well, you have to think of how the chicken is treated. They are in crates and even when it’s labeled cage-free eggs, that doesn’t mean they’re not all confined in a small little space. They’re just not in a cage.”
And if you’re voting for a sustainable world with your food dollar, you need to consider where your food is coming from. When you shop at the supermarket or Walmart, you probably don’t know that many products are imported from China, he says. “Because of labeling laws, you can take a product from China ship it to South America and then to the U.S. and the label could legally say it’s a product of the United States, even though it originally came from China.”
That’s why the restaurant industry is seeing more people choosing to eat less meat."
Stuchel has served two terms on the Rhode Island Food Policy Council, where he worked on the New England 50 by 60 plan, which is an agreement where the New England states will try to produce 50 percent of all the food to support the region by the year 2060. “It’s very lofty goal in New England when you only have a short growing season. But the way we can achieve that is by using the ocean more, taking advantage of not only the fish but of the seaweed and kelp.” Rhode Island only produces one percent of its food right now, importing 99 percent from other states and beyond, so reaching that goal will be challenging.
“Everything is a balance. It seems that we’ve tilted the pendulum to one end and we’re trying to go back to the other end,” says Stuchel. “When I tell students in class that the farm to table movement is not sustainable in the restaurant industry because in a region like New England you can’t get everything you need locally, we talk about the whole concept of local. Does it mean within 50 miles? 100 miles? There’s no definition and it’s kind of a good thing because if we said local meant 100 miles, if you live in Wyoming, you might not have anything for 20-30 miles.”
Stuchel sees a disparity right now between the affluent and not-so-affluent. “If you have the disposable income, you can afford to buy what you consider more ethical and healthier for you. But the average American right now has trouble affording that price, especially if you have kids,” he says. “That’s why the restaurant industry is seeing more people choosing to eat less meat, and why people are serving more meatless meals at home.”
If you really want to buy local, you need to shop more often, he says. “We waste so much because we buy bulk. Both parents have to work and we’re so busy with the kids, it’s easier for families to just shop once a week. But no one has any idea of what’s in the refrigerator and what’s going bad or what’s about to go bad, so it’s a dilemma. I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”

Friday, April 20, 2018

Raising Pilgrim Geese- ReBlog of Pretending to Farm One inner city couple's experiences of moving to the country and trying our hand at farming, homesteading and self sufficiency

Occasionally, I find myself reading a great blog that fits right into my sustainable beliefs and changing our food system to more local, less big ag, pesticides etc.

Today I stumbled across Pretending to Farm - One inner city couple's experiences of moving to the country and trying our hand at farming, homesteading and self sufficiency 

While trying to look up some information about others raising Pilgrim Geese I found there blog and thought it was a great blog to re-blog..  Hope you enjoy their blog as well...