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KSCO Live Show: 831-479-1080 KSCO Office: 831-475-1080

Important! For Dead Doctors Don't Lie Use: 888-379-2552

Saturday Food Chain

Every Saturday morning, from 9 to 10 a.m, join KSCO's Michael Olson for a discussion on local farm and agriculture issues.





Michael Olson produced, wrote and/or photographed feature-length news for a variety of media, including the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner newspapers, Skiing and Small Space Gardening magazines,NBC, ABC, Australian Broadcast Commission, and KQED Public Television networks. His production and photography helped win a National Emmy nomination for NBC Magazine with David Brinkley. Olson is the author of MetroFarm, the Ben Franklin Book of the Year Finalist and Executive Producer and Host of the syndicated Saturday Food Chain radiotalk show, which received the Ag/News Show of the Year Award from the California Legislature. He recently authored Tales from a Tin Can, which is the oral-history of a World War II US Navy destroyer that earned a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly.

Business Person

Olson designed, blended and packaged a fertilizer for container-grown house and garden plants; certified and registered the product as a “specialty fertilizer” with the State of California; and sold the product to the national lawn and garden market. Olson has over two decades of broadcast media management and, as General Manager of newstalk radio stations KSCO & KOMY in Santa Cruz, California, has helped hundreds of locally-owned businesses compete against national chains. Olson is currently a partner in the MO MultiMedia Group of Santa Cruz, California.

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Should any food be labeled “Natural”?

Guest:  Stephen Gardner, Director of Litigation Center for Science in the Public Interest

It is a food selling $40 billion a year, but there is really nothing to it but a suggestion that really doesn’t mean anything.

Many of the foods once labeled “Natural,” like Goldfish crackers, Naked juice, and Silk soy drink, are now shedding the label to become, well, whatever is next!

Consider, for example, Silk, a milk-like drink made from soy.  Silk was introduced as an “organic” food in 1996 by the White Wave Company at the Natural Foods Expo in Anaheim.   In 2002, White Wave was purchased by Dean Foods, and by 2005 the organic drink was generating sales in of $350 million a year.  In 2009, Dean switched from organic soybeans to conventional beans, and Organic Silk became Natural Silk.  Today, Silk is just Silk. 

One of the reasons food and drink companies, like Dean, PepsiCo, and Campbell Soup are shedding the natural label is to avoid an avalanche of lawsuits alleging false advertising.  According to a recent post in the Wall Street Journal, at least 100 lawsuits have been filed in the past two years “challenging the natural claims of Unilever PLC’s Ben & Jerry’s, Kellog Co.’s Kashi, Beam Inc.’s Skinnygirl alcohol drinks and dozens of other brands.

These lawsuits lead us to ask…

Why do consumers spend $40 billion a year on the suggestion of natural? 

Why are some trying to litigate foods labeled natural off the shelf?

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Food Chain Radio News
            Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
            Urban Farming Agriculturalist

Can we learn to cook, eat and live with abandon?
Guest:  Karen Karbo, Author Julia Child’s Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life

At six foot three inches, she was taller than most men, not particularly pretty, and had a voice like a cartoon character.

Some say she was a Che Guevera armed with a pound of butter and a sauce pan.  Maybe so, but she was not born the revolutionary of cooking, eating, and living.

In fact, she was born into a straight-laced family, a formica kitchen, tv dinners, and oh yes, golf at the country club.  Then war came and everything changed for Julia.  She found herself working intelligence in Asia, where she met a man named Paul Childs.  After the war, she became Julia Childs, and the Childs ran off to Paris, where Paul took her to dine at a favorite restaurant. That meal marked the birth of Julia Childs, revolutionary.

Julia Childs’ kitchen revolution leads us to ask…

Can we, too, learn how to cook, eat, and live with abandon?

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Food Chain Radio News
            Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
            Urban Farming Agriculturalist

Why did Stalin’s government starve millions to death?
Guest:  Professor Walter Zaryckyj Center for U.S. – Ukrainian Relations

In 1932 and 1933, approximately seven million Ukranians and Cossacks were starved to death in the breadbasket of the Soviet Union by the central government of Joseph Stalin.

Some scholars suggest the Holodomor (“extermination by hunger”) was caused by bad weather and poor planning – an accident of policy­.  It was, after all, the time in which Stalin’s central government was going about the countryside eliminating private property.  The resulting economic chaos, the argument goes, was enough to cause the killings.

Other scholars suggest the Holodomor was an act of willful intent. This argument points to the recalcitrance of the Ukranian people toward Stalin’s central government.  The Holodomor, their argument goes, was a deliberate act of genocide.

Stalin’s starving to death of tens of millions of Ukrainians and Cossacks leads us to ask…

How did Stalin’s government take control of the Ukraine’s food?

How did that government manage to withhold the food from the people who grew the food?

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Food Chain Radio News
            Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
                 Urban Farming Agriculturalist

Can junk food be re-engineered to health food?

Guest:  David H. Freedman – Author “How Junk Food Can End Obesity,”   Tune into the Food Chain Radio Show Live on November 10, 2013 Saturday 9AM Pacific

Like Time Magazine’s “God is Dead” cover back in the sixties, The Atlantic’s “Michael Pollan Has No Clothes” did indeed succeed in capturing my attention.

‘What,’ I wondered, ‘could this piece of foodie sacrilege have up its sleeve?’

Reading along the “How Junk Food Can End Obesity” article by David H. Freedman, I then came upon an assertion made by the journal Obesity that Americans living today can expect to collectively lose one billion years of life to obesity.

Freedman’s piece suggests the movement to a diet consisting of fresh, whole foods, as epitomized by the work of Michael Pollan, was rather missing the target with respect to addressing the obesity epidemic, and that we would be well advised to turn our attention away from the Whole Foods Market to “junk” food, which is also called “fast” food, and even “industrial” food.

Junk foods, Freedman asserts, are where we are getting too many calories, too quickly, and where we can really do something about losing one billion years to obesity.  And so we ask…

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Food Chain Radio News
Urban Farming Agriculture
    Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
   #942•  November 2, 2013  •  Sat 9AM Pacific

                   Guests: Jo Ann Baumgartner, Wild Farm Alliance

                    Sarah Hackney, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

                  Ken Kimes, New Natives Farm

What kind of farm will be allowed by government food safety rules?
For whom will government rule make food safe?

 Consumers  *   Industrial Farmers  *   Local Farmers

Responding to a number of industrial food contaminations, Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010.  This Act granted absolute dominion over the nation’s food to the U.S. Government’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

There are five areas of food safety enhancements being planned by the FDA:

(1)  Prevention controls to hold those up and down the food chain responsible for implementing “safe and effective” measures to prevent contaminations.

(2)  Inspection and compliance controls to watch over the food chain.

(3)  Import controls to force food importers to certify compliance with food safety guidelines.

(4)  Response controls to give FDA the abilitly to recall any food it deems unsafe for any reason.

(5)  Enhanced Partnership controls to better allow government agencies to coordinate food safety efforts.

These government food safety rules, which are now up for comment, lead us to ask…

Why was a former Monsanto Corporation executive selected to rule over food safety?

How will his new rule attempt to make food safe?

What kind of farm will be allowed to grow government-safe food?

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Food Chain Radio News
Urban Farming Agriculture
         Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
              #941•  October 26, 2013  •  Sat 9AM Pacific

                  Guest: Joar Opheim, Nordic Naturals Company

What is essential about Omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to health.  These fats cannot be manufactured by our body; they must be obtained through the foods we eat.

Throughout time, we obtained essential fatty acids from the meats we ate, because the animals from which we obtained the meat ate greens rich in Omega-3s.  When we confined those animals in feedlots, and fed them  grain, instead of greens, the essential Omega-3 fatty acids went missing from their meat, and from our diet.  As these fats are essential, we must find them someplace else, or suffer the consequences.

Like many ardent gymnasts, Joar Opheim often suffered from the aches and pains of sprained muscles.  Unlike many others, however, Joar lived next to the frigid waters of the North Sea and so had easy access to a means for treating aches and pains– Omega-3 rich fish oils.

As an MBA student at Santa Clara University, Opheim saw opportunity in Omega-3 deficient industrial foods, and so built a healthy business in California from the fish he caught in the North Sea.   This Omega 3 entrepreneur leads us to ask…

What is essential to me about Omega 3?

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Food Chain Radio News
 Urban Farming Agriculture
     Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
      #940•  October 19, 2013  •  Sat 9AM Pacific

Guest: Thomas Wittman, Gophers Limited


We build our farms, gardens, and homes to suit our needs, then they sneak in and steal everything they can.  And there are millions, and billions, and maybe even trillions of them!

There are the deer that jump the fence and eat the roses; gophers that tunnel in and eat the roots out from under the new peach tree; raccoons that march their entire family through the dog door to wreak havoc in the kitchen; rats that move in and foul up the place with fleas and fecal matter; skunks that waddle through as if not to be denied; and perhaps the most pernicious pest of all, people who think all property is their property.

If we do not control pests, pests will control us. What can we do to gain control.

One control strategy is to poison the pests.  The friendly farm and garden supply store down the way will, most likely, stock enough poison to wipe out several million pests, give or take.  However, we have come to recognize a significant downside to this strategy:  Poisons are indiscriminate.  When we poison mosquitos, we also poison pelicans.

Another strategy is to outwit the pests.  As Sun Tsu said, in The Art of War, “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”  And so we go in search of ways to control  pests by asking:  Which pests pester us most?  What are the seasons of my pests?  And…

How can we control pests?

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Food Chain Radio News
Urban Farming Agriculture
        Food Chain Radio Host Michael Olson
     #939•  October 12, 2013  •  Sat 9AM Pacific

                         Guests:  Various Participants of the Eat Local First Festival
“Charity begins at home” is an expression found, in one form or another, by people of all beliefs throughout recorded history.

The expression asserts, in the simplest of terms, that we should care of ourselves, our families, and our communities, first.  By first taking care of ourselves, we can develop the strength and resources to reach outside of ourselves to help others.

The United States did develop itself first, and then proceeded to help others in the developing world to the extent that, today, many neglected American communities resemble the poorer communities of the developing world.  And, in spite of the millions, and billions, and trillions being poured into these domestic communities by the U.S. government, they just keep getting poorer.

Who will resurrect these communities, if not the community members themselves?  What better way to begin the resurrection than by “thinking local, first?”  With this thought in mind we pause to ask…
Why eat local, first?

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