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...

Thursday, January 11, 2018

JWU Heads to the NY Produce Show- by Madeline Balassie, on 1/11/18 10:18 AM

 The JWU Providence team at the NY Produce Show

Each year, College of Hospitality Management Associate Professor Douglas Stuchel takes his students to the annual NY Produce Show. This year, 4 Food Service Management students — Daniel Cartagena, Janghoon Ji, Yinyan Shao and Madeline Balassie — attended the show, which is an annual trade convention celebrating fresh produce, and also took part in the team challenge. Madeline wrote about her amazing experience at the show:
The NYC Produce Show is a time for producers, sellers, buyers, and educators to get together and share their goods and knowledge with each other. Attendees sample different products from the 600+ exhibitors. They give out raw goods and also cook various dishes to show the public how they can use the different products.
The number one goal of the trade show is to network. Sharing knowledge and culture are the top priorities of the trade show. In addition to that, buyers are always looking to start contracts for their restaurants, retail spaces, or wholesale distribution companies, and this is a great place for them to do that.
Walking through the show, we could not believe how lucky we were to be surrounded by such bright, colorful produce. Everyone was excited to share what they had to offer, and all companies had something different to bring to the table.
We learned a lot as a team, both during the challenge + in talking with the different produce companies.”
Most years, there is a student competition to craft produce-centric dishes along a particular theme. The theme of this year’s trade show was ethnically-inspired cuisine, so each course was to emulate that in a different way. Since there were only two schools participating (JWU and the 4-person Culinary Institute of Michigan team), the Produce Show judges deemed this a “challenge.” In that way, it fostered conversations between our two schools, as we had time to taste each other’s dishes and discuss our respective inspirations for what we made.
As a team, we were told beforehand that we would have to prepare 3 dishes for the culinary challenge: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast had to be Italian-inspired, lunch Asian-inspired, and dinner Indian-inspired. Although we were able to brainstorm different ideas prior to our arrival on site, we knew that we couldn’t plan ahead 100%, because we weren’t sure what would be available. Also, the dishes were recommended to be vegetarian or vegan, as there most likely would not be meat available — the focus was on produce, obviously!
Our original idea for breakfast was to do a frittata, as we expected to have eggs available to us. However, when we arrived, there was no dairy. So, we decided to make an Italian-inspired breakfast hash, featuring mini potatoes from Tasteful Selections. We served it over a celery root salad. We added a sun-dried tomato paste with garlic and olive oil, and served the dish inside a gorgeous purple radicchio leaf.
Lunch went more as planned. For our Asian-inspired dish, we made a Korean tofu cabbage wrap with a quick kimchi, Brussels sprouts, and a Thai chile hot sauce. We had a great discovery for a garnish: macho cilantro. The purveyor described it to us as “cilantro on steroids.” He couldn’t have described its intense flavor more accurately — in hindsight, we should have used it more in our dish. It was a beautiful ingredient that we were lucky to try.
For our Indian dinner, we made coconut milk curried vegetables, served with a mint-cucumber yogurt sauce and mango chutney — a very colorful dish.
The judges had extremely helpful feedback. They helped us zero in on the flavors we should focus on the most, and how we could make each dish more cohesive (rather than having separate components). These were all great pieces of advice, and we left the produce show with a clearer picture on how to put a produce-centered dish together. We learned how to make vegetables the stars of the dish, rather than protein. We learned a lot as a team, both during the challenge and in talking with all of the different produce companies.
The day after the trade show, we sat in on many different presentations and discussions concerning increasing produce consumption for children, innovation with produce, and how to ensure profitability while purchasing and serving the highest-quality produce. We were inspired by all of the Produce Show representatives, and learned a lot about new ingredients and different ways to use them. This was truly a unique experience that the 4 of us felt very lucky to take part in.
Dishes by the JWU team

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Doug's Duck's- Duck Cam- Winter/Spring 2017

Doug's Ducks- The Duckling Cam Winter/Spring 2017.

Duckling & Duck Eggs Available for Purchase- For more information doug'

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Raising Ducks- An Overview


After much deliberation I have decide to raise ducks instead of chickens.

If you can't decide on which to raise, perhaps the following will help.

A great resource on ducks is: Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks 

The following are some excerpts for the book

  • Ducks are very adaptable and less prone to disease than chickens and other poultry
  • Ducks are very cold, wet and heat resistant
  • Ducks are very easy to raise
  • Ducks grow very fast- much faster than chickens
  • Many breeds of ducks outperform in regards to egg production
  • Efficiency life of duck hens 2-3 years as compared to a chicken 1-2 years
  • Ducks make a highly effective pest patrol in the garden
  • All domesticated ducks in North America are decedents of either a Mallard or Muscovie

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Pros and Cons of Raising Free Range Pasture Raised Ducks


The Pros & Cons of Raising Free Range Pasture Raised Ducks

Two years ago I moved from a suburban are of  Rhode Island to a much more rural setting. I intended to raise a few free ranged pasture raised chickens for eggs, tick control and entertainment.  Growing up in Western Pennsylvania I raised around a dozen chickens and pair of Pekin ducks so I knew the basic ins and outs of raising poultry, although they were limited to the chicken/duck run during the day and the barn at night.

But once I got settled into my new home I decided that I would raise ducks due to the fact that a little over an acre of my land is wetlands with a small natural spring winding its way through the area.  I decided on Welsh Harlequin Ducks and I decided to purchase them from Metzer Farms.  




After a successful first year of raising the ducks came the brutal winter of 2014/2015 both the ducks and I looked forward to springtime and getting 13 more ducklings to add to the flock.  The happy hobby changed quickly as  I started loosing ducks to the neighborhood dogs and a random predator or two. At first it was a drake who never came home, although not happy about the situation I knew going into this small farm project that a few ducks would be lost due to  predators.  I also knew that any ducks lost to predators would almost solely be lost while they were out free ranging and enjoying the land, because I built a very secure duck house. Then I lost a duck and a drake within a few days because of the neighbors dog. The first time the duck went on to the neighbors property and the second time the dog came onto mine.  Then a few days later once again another duck didn't come home.  

I don't raise my ducks as pets and I don't have a strong attachment to them, but I can't help but to be saddened and disheartened when within a few months I loose two drakes and three ducks.  So do I stop letting them out of the duck house during the day and keep them in their pen?  I don't find this a possible long-term answer.  So do I just accept a certain inherent loss percentage every year  to predators?  At the moment I don't know what the solution will be.

Other than loosing ducks to predators I have enjoyed the first year of raising ducks, selling their eggs and the possibility of selling fertilized eggs, ducklings and processed birds going forward.  I do this as a hobby, because I find enjoyment of raising animals in harmony with nature relaxing and sustainable. Plus raising duck (and chickens for that matter) is entertaining and fun.


Fun Hobby                                                                     Start-Up Cost-Cost to Maintain 
Entertainment                                                                 Predatory Threats
Selling Eggs, Meat and  Duckling                                 Constant Vigilance (Dog, Hawks, Coyotes)
Raising from Ducklings, Hatching                                365 Day Job, Vacations = Finding Someone to                                                                                               .......................................................................................Watch the Farm

These have been my trials and tribulations of one year of raising ducks. 

I look forward to feedback from others currently raising free range, pasture raised ducks and/or chickens and helping others decide if raising ducks is for them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day- Where Did We Go Wrong?

According to  Earth Day -- April 22 -- marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

I equate Earth Day to a terminal cancer patient who decides the best way to beat cancer is to only treat it one day out of the entire year.   Every other day of the year they ignore the fact that their body is slowly dying due to radical changes going on within their body.

To celebrate one day a year where we organize groups to clean parks, plant trees just doesn't make environmental sense.  The fact is that most of these same Earth Day "do gooders" are also the ones who spray their weeds with RoundUP and destroy the soil the weed was anchored to.  According to This article in The New York Times  explains the negative effects glyphosate has on soil, effects that include compaction and resultant runoff, the killing of beneficial microbes and bacteria, and the exhaustion of necessary minerals and other nutrients that plants require.
Additionally we are just now re-discovering that some of the weeks we are trying to kill not only benefit the ecosystem where they grow, but some of them are edible and benefit out bodies eco system as well.

In a 2006 Bloomberg article entitled  The Perfect Lawn: How Obsession Fueled a $40 Billion Industry we Americans are obsessed with our lawns, the shade of green they are and trying to have the best lawn on the block.  We do this not only by dumping environmentally harmful chemicals on our lawns but we waste more and more water to green our lawns even when we are in a near drought.

Earth Day 2015 has the slogan It's Our Turn To Lead   So Please LEAD everyday we only have one planet, just like a cancer patient only has one body.

And if all else fails follow this farmers motto:

Don't fail to treat the earth like you would treat your body, with respect, with intelligence, with patience, proactivity, love and care