FIRST PUBLISHED March 2021 Edible Communities, Edible Indy

Defining Local: what it is, and what it isn’t

Consumers are willing to pay more for locally produced foods. I mean, why wouldn’t they? When you buy local, you’re supporting your neighbors, promoting your community’s economy and protecting the environment by jumping on the sustainability bandwagon of the smaller ecological footprint of locally grown food. But what if the products you buy that are labeled local really aren’t local at all?

And for that matter, what exactly is local food? What does the word local mean to consumers, to producers, to those doing the labeling?

To explore this, we did a little face-to-face research and asked people what criteria they think make a product worthy of being labeled local. The answers varied, especially when the true origin of a product was in question.

For example: Take a guy making wooden chairs in his garage with wood and nails purchased from Home Depot. Some people would consider those chairs local, as they are locally made by a local resident, whereas others might take it a step further and want the wood to also be from within the state.

Similarly, a woman making salsa in her kitchen using tomatoes she grew in her garden but chilies imported from Mexico. Some would be OK with her product being labeled as local, while others would not.

Ask a group of people if the term local should be defined with geographical boundaries, and most everyone agrees that yes, to be considered a local product it needs to come from within a 100-mile radius and be bound by state borders. But, as it turns out, there is no one definition for what constitutes a local product, at least not from a legal standpoint. There are, however, some broad standards when it comes to distance.

In May 2010 the U.S. Department of Agriculture acknowledged the definition of locally and regionally produced food as referenced under the 2008 Farm Bill to mean: food raised, produced, aggregated, stored, processed and distributed in the locality or region where the final product is marketed to consumers, so that the total distance that the product travels between the farm or ranch where the product originates and the point of sale to the end consumer is at most 400 miles, or both the final market and the origin of the product are within the same state, territory or tribal land. But, adds the USDA spokesperson I talked with, “Local or regional food may mean very different things to different stakeholders, depending on a variety of factors, including where one is located or the time of year (based on growing capacity and seasonality) or what their needs or goals are for prioritizing local and regional food sourcing or marketing.”

Similarly, a spokesperson for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed that the term local is not defined on the federal level and “can be used by companies as long as it is used in a truthful and not misleading way.” As for what happens when a purveyor labels his product local when it isn’t, the FDA can “view on a case-by-case basis the context of the entire label,” but finding the time and resources to do so is challenging.

Trusting (or not) the labels on the food you buy

Fortunately, here in Central Indiana there are some organizations and individuals who are deeply invested in bringing truly local products to local consumers.

“Loose guidelines muddy the waters of what is local and what’s not,” says Mel McMahon Stone, co-owner along with her husband, Lance, of Indiana Originals, a private membership organization for locally owned businesses.

“Our goal is to help people discover and support local faster and easier and that means more than just shopping. We engage restaurants, farmers, artists, banks, accountants, crafters, manufacturers, nonprofits and more. When you see us promoting an Indianamade product, we’ve certified that it is created and/or assembled here.” As for how they make sure the products carrying the Indiana Originals logo are truly Indiana originals, Stone says all of their members are vetted and required to go through a certification process.

“All our members [businesses] are headquartered in Indiana, locally owned and operated, and not part of an out-of-state chain. We are very protective of our brand and we do not extend membership to entities that do not currently originate in Indiana,” she says. “When we have a specific Indiana-made campaign, we look for products created and manufactured here in Indiana—not just sold here. We take into consideration what our members can produce in our state and understand that some pieces of the product may have to come from or be packaged elsewhere.”

“Local or regional food may mean very different things to different stakeholders, depending on a variety of factors, including where one is located or the time of year.”

How “local” are your local farmers markets?

In order to sell anything at the Carmel Farmers Market, vendors sign a 16-page contract stipulating their products are made, raised or produced in the state of Indiana. The market board does make case-by-case exceptions, says President Ron Carter, for a few products that cannot be grown or produced in Indiana—like coffee, which in order to be sold at the CFM must be roasted and ground in state.

In an effort to ensure vendors adhere to the strict guidelines, the contract also requires they agree to allow the Vendor Relations Committee visit their operation to validate the vendor’s claims: Those who grow plants and/or animals must show they have the required land and facilities needed to produce the amount of product they claim to produce; and for those who bring prepared foods to the market, their kitchen must be certified for commercial use, as the CFM does not allow the sale of home-based preparations. Additionally, to help assure consumers that the goods they purchase are truly local, the CFM enlists a 50/50 rule.

“Vendors,” Carter says, “must produce at least 50 percent of everything they sell.” They can, he said, supplement their offerings with other products but only if purchased directly from another grower or maker within the state of Indiana.

“We expect our vendors to be with us every week of the season, however,” explains Carter. “Some vendors might grow crops with a short growing season, requiring them to supplement what they sell with product from another grower.” Additionally, CFM vendors may not purchase any type or amount of product from an auction, a commission house, a retail establishment (unless that product is incorporated into an end product made by the vendor) or from a middleman of any kind.

But even with all these policies in place, occasionally bad apples slip in. One time, recalls Carter, they caught a vendor selling apples with UPC stickers on them. Needless to say, he was asked to leave immediately. In another case, an established vendor had stopped growing their own product and was, instead, purchasing it from an Amish auction and reselling at the market. That vendor was terminated.

How state agriculture departments are helping (and how they’re not)

Throughout the Midwest, and the U.S. at large, state agriculture departments are doing what they can to monitor how products are represented to consumers. But, the programs designed to regulate what gets the official “locally made” stamp differ—and no, not all states require a product to be 100 percent “locally made” to qualify for their program.

In Ohio, for instance, the Ohio Proud program promotes food and agricultural products that are at least 50 percent raised, grown or processed within state lines. But while it may only have a 50 percent requirement, the state is completely transparent with their program and the criteria are plainly stated on the website,

“We are very upfront with promoting that percentage to consumers,” says Ashley McDonald, Ohio Proud program manager and SCBG (Specialty Crop Block Grant) coordinator. Vendors, she says, sign a licensing agreement with the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) stating their product’s percentage and attesting that their product(s) are state or federally inspected.

“Once an application is submitted, we do some online research about the company, in addition to reaching out to our food safety divisions to make sure that, if they are operating in Ohio, they’re in good standing with Ohio’s regulatory requirements,” she added. And if they discover someone has falsified information, they are quick to act.

“Should a complaint or conflicting information come to us about a company, we do respond. For example: Last year, ODA’s Division of Food Safety notified us that an Ohio Proud partner had moved their processing facility out of state. We took that information and contacted the company. Our office was able to verify that while the company had moved its processing facility, it was still getting 80 percent of its ingredients from farms in Ohio. Additionally, our Division of Meat Inspection regularly checks with us when they do label verification to make sure that if a meat processor is using the Ohio Proud logo, that they are licensed to do so. Consumers can and should feel good about buying a product with the Ohio Proud label.”

Like Ohio, the State of Kentucky also runs a pretty tight ship when it comes to its Kentucky Proud program. “The program,” says Sean Southard, public affairs director for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, “is for restaurants, caterers, schools and other food service participants that source and support local farms.” Offered by the State’s agriculture department, Southard says it rewards participants for enhancing their menus with locally sourced Kentucky Proud farm ingredients. There are three categories: Those qualifying for the gold label are 100 percent grown, raised and produced in Kentucky and are the only products that can be promoted with the Buy Local program; those in the silver category are farmed in Kentucky but blended with out-of-state ingredients; and bronze products are not sourced from within the state, but may be manufactured or processed within state lines.

“This program,” Southard says, “incentivizes participants to enhance their menus with locally sourced Kentucky Proud farm ingredients. We work to attempt the highest degree of accurate product origin in participant reimbursement submissions through multiple checks such as careful staff review at registration, a requirement of annual product updates, distributor input, and product vetting.” In addition to those guidelines the Kentucky Proud staff maintains communications with growers and producers to ensure accuracy of products reported as well as gather input from other partnering programs such as Food Connection, Bluegrass Farm to Table program, Community Farm Alliance and other Value Chain coordinators.

And, says Southard, though it is a rare occurrence, if they discover a product is flagrantly misrepresented, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture will either have a discussion with the party or its legal team will issue a cease and desist letter.

Indiana born, bred, grown and raised

As for the Hoosier State, Indiana Grown, an arm of the Indiana State Agriculture Department, works in ways similar to its neighboring states’ programs as it strives to promote local products to consumers. According to its website, a statewide branding initiative aims to not only form a clearer designation of which products truly come from Indiana, but to also help Hoosier consumers easily identify and buy these products. But, according to Indiana Grown Program Director Heather Tallman, they use a “big tent” approach when it comes to membership.

“We market and promote all forms of agriculture in the state of Indiana that is packaged, processed, raised and grown within the confines of the state.” And adds Tallman, “Indiana Grown has no regulatory authority and we certify nothing. The only thing we do regulate is the use of our logo, our terms of service and the use of the words ‘Indiana Grown’ on products and in marketing materials.”

Like the Kentucky Proud program, Indiana Grown has different categories for labeling and marketing purposes, ranging from (1) 100 percent Indiana grown and/or all ingredients come from Indiana; to (2) ingredients can be sourced elsewhere but production is done in Indiana; to (3) Indiana Grown partner; to the final category (4), which applies to all other Indiana Grown members.

Indiana Grown has just over 1,700 members listed on its website. These range from small farms, mom-and-pop baking operations and small brick-and-mortar shops to large distilleries and national mega-stores. At last check, Walmart in Benton County, for instance, is member number 1,639. Perhaps this is what Tallman, who was not available for further comments, means by a “big tent” approach?

Regardless, it definitely goes to echo what Indiana Originals owner McMahon Stone had to say: “Loose guidelines muddy the waters of what is local and what’s not.”

Since there is still no widely recognized definition of the word local, either on the federal or state level; what gets labeled as local food can and does vary significantly from state to state. Perhaps with the new administration and the looming 2023 Farm Bill, Congress will address this issue and maybe, just maybe, we’ll all come to a conclusion that makes for clearer water, at least where the guidelines for what constitutes local, and what doesn’t, are concerned. 

# # #

Rancho La Puerta: An enchanting retreat where people rejuvenate, refresh and renew

FIRST PUBLISHED Spring 2019 North Carolina Living Magazine

Located across the U.S.-Mexico border in Tecate, Baja California, Mexico, Rancho La Puerta is a magical place where people escape from the mundane to revive their souls and gain a fresh outlook on life. Year after year, the Ranch is voted a top spa destination by both Condé Nast Traveler and Travel and Leisure magazines. As for what sets the Ranch apart from other spas and resorts, it’s difficult to narrow down just one thing … as it is, according to one guest, “something that must be experienced to be explained.” 

“We provide the true luxury of time and space,” says founder Deborah Szekely, “that which is most lacking in today’s life. Space to breathe freely, to relax and enjoy what will be ‘the longer-living, younger life.’” This unique element at the Ranch, along with its unparalleled staff, vast amenities and healing environment, is what keeps the Ranch’s guests coming back. 

Often touted as the original “fitness resort” and spa, the fitness program is truly unmatched. Presided over by a staff of more than 20 full-time instructors in-residence, the daily offerings include everything from pilates, cardio-cycling, volleyball, weight training and most of the expected fitness classes as well as guided hikes, Feldenkrais, Qi Gong, NIA (Neuromuscular Integrative Action), meditation, and many more. Additionally, the Ranch offers world-renown cuisine prepared from organic gardens, sublime spa treatments, and plenty of opportunities to recharge your mind and spirit.

The Philosophy

Family-owned and operated, the Ranch has provided guest with unparalleled luxury amidst a natural, environmentally-sound setting for nearly 80 years. Founders Edmond and Deborah Szekely started the ranch as a sort of “health camp” where people paid $17.50 to pitch a tent and bathe in the year-round near-perfect climate while learning to live a more holistic life—all without any electricity or running water. And nowadays, as it was from opening day in June, 1940, guest comfort is the staff’s first priority and they continue to strive to ensure that while taking care of individual needs, it’s done so in a safe, eco-friendly manner that reduces the spa’s environmental impact.

But the approach to sustainability at the Ranch goes further than the basics like simply using refillable water bottles or chemical-free cleaners as they’ve incorporated technology and installed composting toilets among other things.

The Ranch’s motto, siempre mejor means “always better,” and Deborah Szekely believes it also means “always changing;” a philosophy the Ranch reflects from the ground up. 

“Rancho La Puerta … seeks to guide those who are interested in a sane, well-balanced program of living. It emphasizes that health is the consequence of living in harmony with all the forces of nature, according to the laws of nature.” ~ From an early Rancho La Puerta brochure, c. 1945

The Program

Typically, guests come to the Ranch for a Saturday to Saturday stay, but shorter stays are available. Throughout the year, there are specialty-themed weeks like family week, chamber music week, detox and cleansing week, yoga week and more including educational workshops and executive wellness programs. During the week, there can be up to five different classes at one hour, so there’s truly something for everyone, all day long, and many are sequential in developing a student’s expertise, assuring guests become stronger and more skilled in several disciplines by the end of the week. A typical day, although to be completely honest, there is no such thing as a typical day as everyone’s experience is unique … but a few of the options are:

6 a.m. Meet in the main lounge for one of many hikes which can range from two to seven miles then head to the dining hall for breakfast. 

9 a.m. to noon, take a class or two or three: pilates, tennis, H2O, yarn painting, volleyball, sound healing, postural therapy, TRX, or something else before stopping for lunch. 

1 p.m. to 5 p.m. take a few more classes—perhaps one on cooking, meditation, drumming or join a scheduled discussion on mastering your metabolism, brush up on your Spanish skills, or maybe lay by the pool and nap.

5:30 p.m. Enjoy dinner and conversations with fellow Ranchers, then, if you’re not too tired, watch a movie, learn the art of self-hypnotic techniques or relax in one of the many lounges with a book. TIP: It’s OK to take a day off or a partial day off from activities to enjoy the comforts of your casita, the spa, or the beautiful scenery. And be flexible and open to new experiences, there’s so much to explore here that you’re sure to learn something new so long as you stay receptive.

In addition to the daily, optional hiking program, on average guests walk 3-5 miles a day

The Grounds

Nestled under the watchful eye of Mt. Kuchumma, Rancho La Puerta offers 4,000 acres of peaceful tranquility including hiking trails, an organic farm, 32 acres of gardens, several pools, an exquisite spa and state-of-the-art fitness facilities, a salon, dining hall, an intimate library and more. Throughout the Ranch you’ll find colorful Mexican folk art along with sculptures, paintings and outdoor areas designed for rest and personal reflection. NOT TO MISS: Take at least one of the morning hikes as the sunrise is unlike anything you have ever seen. Some are more advanced than others, but the Ranch has guides for those who want to fly up the mountainside as well as for those who want to take a more laid back, leisurely stroll. TIP: Be sure to pack some warmer clothes you can layer as mornings can prove chilly. 

The Food

Meal times at the ranch are community centered and designed to bring people together. Breakfast and lunch are buffet style and offered during a generous window of time so you can come and go as you please. A sit-down dinner is served at a set time each night and guests are encouraged to meet new people by joining different tables. The cuisine is semi-vegetarian, featuring an abundance of organic fruits and vegetables. Additionally, the freshest-of-the-fresh seafood from the port of Ensenada, Baja California, is brought in daily, allowing Ranch chefs to prepare spectacular seafood dishes five times week. Many recipe ingredients come fresh-picked, only-hours-old from Tres Estrellas organic garden, a six-acre working farm located north of the main Ranch area. NOT TO MISS: The lunchtime salsa bar and fresh tuna. Note, the Ranch is dedicated to making sure each guest’s dietary needs are met. If you have a request, just ask. They are more than happy to accomodate. TIP: Bring at least one nice outfit as the last night, many guests will dress for dinner.

The Casitas

Accommodations at the Ranch vary in size, style and price but no matter what you choose, you’ll find yourself immersed in pure luxury as each one of the 86 casitas are equally as gorgeous. Rancho solos and studios, designed for a single traveler, are set in clusters so although you may be traveling alone, you can be as close or as far away from others as you want to be. If you’re traveling with a close friend or relative, you’ll want to book either a Ranchera or Hacienda; both are roomy studios with two beds, the Haciendas being a bit larger with a sitting area and fireplace. The Ranch also offers spacious Junior Villas with separate bedrooms; and Villa Studios that can accommodate up to three guests. Prices run $3,800 to $6,800 USD per person and include food, use of facilities, and most all activities. There are additional prices for spa treatments and some special excursions/classes. Visit for more information.

Plan on a digital detox while staying at the Ranch as WiFi is only accessible in a few select areas

From Bean to Bar: A specialty class on one of Mexico’s famed ingredients

Though most classes and group activities are included in your stay, the Ranch does offer some specialty classes at an additional cost. New this year, the Ranch is debuting its chocolate class titled, “Bean to Bar.” Taking place across the street from the Ranch at Tecate’s very own chocolate factory, Kajkab—Mayan for ‘bitter juice’—the delicious experience teaches guests the process for turning a cacao bean into great chocolate. Learn about the health benefits of cacao, enjoy a handcrafted chocolate tasting and take home delicious cocoa tea from Kajkab’s “Maestro Chocolatero,” Diego Ceballos. Cost: $69 USD plus tax

# # #

FIRST PUBLISHED March 2019 Edible Communities, Edible Indy

How the agbioscience industry is helping feed an imperfect world

“The agriculture industry is being revolutionized by our leading Hoosier entrepreneurs, institutions of higher learning and companies …” —Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb

Food. We all need it. And there’s more than enough, in fact, to go around. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, in 2010 (the most recent year for which data is available) the U.S. food supply provided 4,000 calories per person per day, yet the average American consumed far less at just 2,476 calories per day. Still, even with the excess production, which is estimated to be even greater today, more than 40 million Americans face hunger. So while some Americans are eating more and wasting more, in other words, many barely have enough to eat.

But all is not lost, thanks in part to individuals, educators, politicians, researchers, agbioscience companies and many others who are diligently working to transform our current food system. Right here in the Hoosier State, Agri- Novus Indiana—a statewide initiative working to promote and accelerate the growth of the agbioscience industry— is pushing the envelope to foster a world where innovation and research come together with globally traded companies, family-owned businesses and entrepreneurs alike to create solutions and, hopefully, foster a healthier, more sustainable future for all of us.

But first… before we can feed the hungry… before we can make sure that the food we produce makes it to our plates and not a landfill… we have to take a long look in the mirror and recondition our minds to what constitutes edible food, and what doesn’t. We have to rethink the spots on our apples.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and AgriNovus Indiana President and CEO Beth Bechdol at the 2018 National FFA Blue Room presented by AgriNovus Indiana and powered by Microsoft.Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and AgriNovus Indiana President and CEO Beth Bechdol at the 2018 National FFA Blue Room presented by AgriNovus Indiana and powered by Microsoft. Photograph courtesy of AgriNovus.


Yes, yes. We’ve all done it—used a filter to make our food photos closer to what we perceive as perfect: our salmon the perfect shade of red; our egg yolks the perfect hue of yellow; our greens, as green as they can be without making it obvious that we used a filter. Did she? Or didn’t she? But, I mean, why not? If magazines can airbrush humans, why can’t foodies do the same for their Instagram feeds?

But the demand for blemish-free produce goes well beyond our social media requisites. Consumers rummage for that perfect piece of fruit before they’ll place it in their carts, grocers sort and discard before stacking it on their shelves, distributors do the same before packing it in their delivery trucks as do farmers before bringing it to market.

Why? Because here in America we’re programmed to not only want the best, but also to expect it and that mindset has led to an unprecedented level of food waste. This is where the innovators and industry leaders working in the agbiosciences don their superhero capes and swoop in to help us rethink the entire concept of perfect produce.


“Agbiosciences is the sector where food, agriculture, science and technology all converge,” says Beth Bechdol, president and CEO of AgriNovus. “Think about it as a simple addition equation: ag plus bio plus science,” she says of the term. The work being done within the industry, she explains, essentially merges modern, innovative agriculture—or what most people think of as farming or production agriculture—with biology (aka the life sciences, human health and nutrition) and other sciences including tech, engineering, coding and so much more.

And here in Indiana, the sub-sectors of innovation with the greatest strength and potential opportunity are plant sciences, animal health and nutrition, human food and nutrition and high-tech agriculture.

According to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation—a partnership governed by a board of directors focused on growing and retaining businesses in Indiana as well as attracting new business to the state—in 2014, the agbioscience sector contributed roughly $16 billion to Indiana’s gross domestic product (GDP). As a whole, agriculture contributes roughly $31.2 billion to the Hoosier GDP annually, and the agbioscience sector accounts for nearly half of that. A 2016 study on Indiana’s agbioscience workforce conducted by TEConomy Partners, LLC, shows the agbioscience industry is a significant economic driver of Indiana’s economy, employing just over 75,000 individuals, not including primary production workers (farming). Furthermore, the industry has seen robust growth over the past decade. From 2003 to 2014, Indiana experienced a 22% increase in agbioscience employment compared with a 3% growth rate for Indiana’s total private sector.

“There’s a wide variety of career and job opportunities from coding, to marketing, to engineering, to agronomy, to food science,” says Bechdol. “The sector is bursting with cutting-edge technology, science and research—from genomics and biologics to artificial intelligence, robotics, sensors and digital imagery. The industry is ever-changing and at an even accelerated pace because of technology advancements and the numerous connection points to other industries.”

But while the agbiosciences have seen a huge increase in job growth and experts agree the future looks bright, it’s not without its challenges.

“There’s a misperception that the food and agriculture sector lacks the innovation, ingenuity, creativity and technology that define other industries today,” says Bechdol. To that end, she says AgriNovus is working to correct misperceptions, accelerate early-stage companies and entrepreneurs and bring future talent into the agbioscience sector by partnering with colleges and universities, incubators, co-working spaces, start-up companies and entrepreneurial organizations—both locally and globally.

And Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb agrees.

“We’ve had the opportunity to proudly tell Indiana’s agbioscience story in a big way this year,” Governor Holcomb says.

“We’ve formed new local and global relationships, held major conferences and welcomed new business investment to our state. The agriculture industry is being revolutionized by our leading Hoosier entrepreneurs, institutions of higher learning and companies who are meeting the modern needs of the world with their exports, services and products. The agbioscience ecosystem is only going to keep growing, and Indiana’s own AgriNovus has been right in the center of it all.” And adds Bechdol, it’s advances in the agbiosciences that will serve to ensure we find solutions to some of society’s biggest challenges; one of those being food waste. What if we could eliminate hunger and nutrition issues and at the same time reduce food waste?


Most everyone—regardless of the era in which you grew up or where on the political spectrum you reside—can agree: Food waste is a problem. Not only here in the U.S., but globally as well. And the problem is much broader than simply tossing the crust from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into the trash, or scraping the pickles and onions off a fast-food burger. Because when we throw away edible food in our homes, when grocery stores toss perfectly good-to-consume “ugly” produce, and when farmers let crops go unharvested (for whatever reason), we are not only wasting food, but we are wasting the valuable resources it took to grow it:

  • 18% of U.S. cropland grows food that’s eventually wasted
  • 19% of all fertilizer is used on food that’s wasted
  • 21% of our freshwater supply is used to hydrate food that will be wasted

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly one-third of the world’s food supply never makes it to human consumption. Here in the U.S., the percentage is even higher and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans discard so much food that it has become the biggest single component in landfills and incinerators. And the EPA, among other agencies, believes that reducing food waste is one of the top ways to reverse global warming.

Yet there’s some good news. The people working in agbiosciences are discovering ways to use fewer resources while producing better crop yields and in turn, reduce food waste and protect our planet—case in point, brown spots on apples.

Here in the U.S., apples are one of 10 approved GMO crops. The technology behind the innovations specifically used for apples help farmers produce fruit with less browning. And less browning means fewer apples are being thrown away because, well, because they’re no longer part of the “ugly” produce club. And its advancements in the agbiosciences that have helped produce more aesthetically appealing apples—among other items—not only to the consumer, but to grocers and producers as well.

“Agbioscience innovation will allow us to feed the world, protect the planet and improve lives,” says Bechdol.

# # #

Part two in a multi-year series on conquering food deserts and how we’re changing the food system here in America

FIRST PUBLISHED March 2020 Edible Communities, Edible Indy

In our Spring 2017 issue we reported on the state of America’s “food culture”—how farming is (and was) changing throughout the country, and what was being done—or not—to address some of the more urgent concerns. Among those were the ever-aging American farmer and the need for more millennials to get involved; conquering food deserts by getting more local, fresh food into urban areas; and the rise of the organic farmer and compelling people to buy local goods.

Photo by Nadi Lindsay on

Three years later, there has been progress in some of those areas. For instance, while better access to local food in highly populated areas remains a big concern, the issue has evolved from simply improving access to improving our ability to farm within urban confines. In other words, while the logistics of bringing fresh food into these areas is still a big concern, the practice of urban agriculture is being explored and city dwellers are learning to actually grow and harvest fresh produce with smaller spaces (than those living in rural areas).

Then and now, we spoke with Jim Riddle, former chair of the USDA’s Organic Standards Board and one of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service’s 2019 Organic Farmers of the Year; with Nate and Liz Brownlee, owners of Nightfall Farm and co-founders of the Hoosier Young Farmer Coalition; and with Emily Toner, urban agriculture educator with Purdue Extension Marion County. For this follow-up article we spoke again with Riddle and the Brownlees, and with Toner’s successor at Purdue Extension, Tamara Benjamin. Read on to learn what’s on their minds, and the minds of just about anyone working to improve America’s food system.

“Consumers don’t yet understand the full environmental benefits that come from real organic production systems.” —Jim Riddle

Edible Indy: How has organic farming vs. traditional farming evolved over the past few years?

Jim Riddle: The demand for organic products just keeps growing. Organic farmers seem to be getting more respect in the larger agricultural community. Organic has become a viable production and marketing option, not just a niche market. With climate change and extreme weather events, there is growing emphasis on carbon sequestration (removing climate-warming carbon from the air and neutralizing it in the soil); cover crops; nutrient cycling; biodiversity enhancement, including pollinators; and water quality protection. These have always been fundamental tenets of organic production systems, and we now see widespread recognition of the benefits, even if we still haven’t seen sufficient broad-scale adoption of the practices in traditional farming.

Liz Brownlee: Organic agriculture is the only part of the ag sector that’s growing. Local food isn’t all organic, but the two show similar trends.

Tamara Benjamin: I know that there are trends with Millennials and Gen-Z to source from local farms more and more. There is also a lot of emphasis being placed on eating healthy and some of that ends up with people going to [local] farmers markets and purchasing more fruits and vegetables.

EI: Thoughts on consumer awareness … have you noticed any shift in people’s understanding of what “organic” really means?

JR: The word “organic” shows up everywhere these days, even in television infomercials. People want “clean” food, free of genetic engineering and pesticide residues.

GMOs are prohibited in organic farming. Residue tests consistently show that organic products have much lower levels, if any, of pesticide residues, compared to nonorganic products. But consumers don’t yet understand the full environmental benefits that come from real organic production systems. They primarily think about how the products impact their own health, which is understandable.

Under the current administration, we have seen a cheapening or watering down of the meaning of “organic.” Specifically, there is abundant evidence that cargo shiploads of conventional grains are being imported from Russia, Ukraine and Turkey and sold as “organic” in the U.S. The USDA has been slow to take enforcement action. These fraudulent grains are largely being fed to confined cattle and poultry, with the meat and eggs being sold as “organic,” even though the animals do not have meaningful access to the outdoors or pasture. Once again, the USDA has failed to crack down on these “organic” concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) where both live and dead animals, along with their feed, manure and urine, exist within a small land area and where feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures, fields or on rangeland.

Finally, the USDA has allowed products from soilless hydroponic operations to be sold as “organic,” even though the plants are not rooted in soil. They receive all of their nutrients from proprietary nutrient solutions. Such products include lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, cherry tomatoes and blueberries.

EI: What about any new issues that have cropped up recently or have moved to the forefront of the discussion?

JR: “Regenerative” agriculture has become the new buzzword. People need to keep in mind that pesticides such as glyphosate (Roundup), which kill soil organisms, have no place in a regenerative system. Real organic production builds soil health, protects water quality and quantity, captures carbon, recycles nutrients, and enhances biological diversity, which are the fundamental principles of regenerative systems. The more that organic is associated with regeneration, the better.

TB: Urban agriculture is probably the biggest movement. As we now have more than 80% of our population in the U.S. living in urban areas, this type of farming will become more and more important. But there are unique challenges with farming in an urban area. There are city ordinances, site assessments of contaminated soils and more.

LB: It’s clear that land access is a major hurdle for beginning farmers. In the past, new generations of farmers came from farming families, and so they could inherit or purchase land from family. Today, many beginning farmers are first-generation farmers. Also, access to capital, and camaraderie, is an issue for any new business.

Of all farmers in the U.S. … 25% are first-generation farmers, 27% have less than 10 years’ experience

JR: Additionally, unpredictable, severe weather events are becoming more common, and are negatively impacting farmers. Hopefully, policymakers will catch on in time to invest in real organic and other regenerative systems to help reverse climate change, before it’s too late.

EI: So with regard to how our future is shaping up, how do we feed our massively populated nation (and planet) without the use of genetically engineered crops and without CAFOs? How do we keep our food safe when the production of it has become so industrialized?

JR: Research shows that GMOs and CAFOs have not increased the amount of food being produced. In fact, most GMO crops are being used to produce fuel and fiber, not food. GMOs and CAFOs have, however, led to massive increases in the amounts of pesticides and antibiotics used in agriculture, resulting in polluted food and water, and a massive increase in antibiotic-resistant pathogens. These food-safety risks and their impacts on human health are not being addressed. To feed the world, start by feeding yourself, your family and your neighbors. Plant a garden, keep some chickens, join a community garden and support your local organic farmers. It’s fun, it’s healthy and it makes a difference! 

Editor’s Note: During the development of this story, we reached out multiple times for comment from U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (RIN), a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Sen. Braun did not respond.

# # #

Part one in a multi-year long series on what’s being done to tackle food deserts and an ever growing population that still doesn’t have enough to eat

FIRST PUBLISHED March 2017 Edible Communities, Edible Indy

Farming isn’t what it used to be. Of course, not many things are—especially when you compare today’s America to that of Colonial days. Technology and a surging population have changed the way we live; commerce, across all sectors—agriculture included—has flourished and changed in unpredictable ways. But how can something so basic as the food we eat change?

A 1986 report by the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress addressed our ever-changing food system, suggesting the number of farms in America was destined to decline by almost half in less than two decades: With 2.2 million farms in 1982, the OTA predicted that by 2000 there would likely be only 1.2 million. The prediction did not include an overall decrease in actual food production, but that who would be producing our food, and how, would change.

The report went on to address the consolidation and industrialization of farming along with a decline in midsized farms and agricultural exports as part of the reason and pointed to the need for more sustainable agriculture. But what the report didn’t address was the declining number of farmers willing and able to farm.

The aging American farmer

In the early 1800s, the newly independent United States relied heavily on agriculture with over 80 percent of the population directly involved in farming. By midcentury, however, the farming sector fell drastically behind other emerging industries—manufacturing, transportation, services—to roughly 50 percent. Today, a mere two percent of the U.S. population is comprised of farm and ranch families.

“My family’s been in the farming business since the 1600s,” says Todd Jameson of Balanced Harvest Farm, an organic-style Certified Naturally Grown family-operated vegetable and herb garden southeast of Indianapolis.

“I’m 57 years old, and my farm will die with me,” he said. “No one will carry on the tradition.”

Jameson isn’t alone. The U.S. Department of Labor puts the average age of farmers and ranchers at 58 with nearly one third of principal farm operators aged 65 or older. In fact, over the course of the last three decades, the average age of U.S. farmers has increased by close to eight years, from 50.5 to 58.3—not simply because they’re getting older, but because fewer among younger generations are choosing farming as their lifelong occupation.

“An urban-scale operation doesn’t generate enough revenue to sustain a lifestyle,” said Jameson, adding there’s a crucial need for more programs designed to train people to farm the small to midsize operations.

“Small-scale diversified farmers are growing dozens of crops simultaneously,” said Emily Toner, the urban agriculture educator with Purdue Extension Marion County.

“They are incredibly productive, both in terms of crop output and economic output, but most of them are figuring out how to do it through trial and error. More research and support for this type of production is needed.”

But here in Indiana, interest in small-scale and organic farming is skyrocketing.

“New farmers markets and chef-driven farm-to-table restaurants are popping up all over the place and they are all looking for quality, locally grown food,” says Genesis McKiernan-Allen of Full Hand Farm in Noblesville and co-leader of the Hoosier Young Farmer Coalition.

“Consumer education about the dangers and risks of synthetic pesticides and the overuse of antibiotics is growing and people are looking for healthier, cleaner alternatives in their food choices,” he said. “Small-scale organic farmers in our state are poised to meet those demands, there just aren’t quite enough of us to fully meet the demand.”

What is a small-sized farm or a small-scale operation? The answer, as it turns out, depends on a number of factors including what’s being produced: what kind of crop or livestock; what’s needed for proper production of the product; and varying market values. The USDA identifies farms not by size but by sales class and homogenous groups such as family farms, or farms organized as proprietorships, partnerships and family corporations that are not operated by a hired manager, as well as non-family farms. In layman’s terms, farms are classified by economic viability and land size: operations grossing $350,000 or less are typically considered small as are those with less than 961 acres.

Here in Indiana, the average farm is 245 acres. Across the U.S., the average farm is 441 acres and 88 percent of all farms are considered small, but it’s the other 12 percent that make up roughly 80 percent of all agriculture sales—sales that are down everywhere in the U.S. except here in the Heartland, and the neighboring Mississippi Portal and Prairie Gateway regions.

Millennials and the next generation of farmers

Though it’s true that the average American farmer is older than in the past, the good news is those operating certified organic farms are younger and the Millennial generation is poised to get their hands dirty.

“Most of the young farmers I know want real, tangible work where results are palpable,” says Nate Brownlee, co-leader of the Hoosier Young Farmer Coalition and owner, along with wife, Liz, of Nightfall Farm in Crothersville.

“We want to get our hands dirty, grow food and feed our community,” he said. “A lot of young farmers have had a taste of good food, and we want to be involved in growing and raising our food.”

“Our generation,” Liz said, “is very tuned in to the fact that we have to take better care of our communities and our planet. Many Millennials vote with their forks, and choose to buy food directly from farmers and eat at restaurants that serve genuinely local food. Millennials are also a large part of the growing back-to-the-land movement. Those that grew up in urban areas are working to try and begin farming their own food and food for markets and wholesale.”

But although the drive and apparent call-to-action exists in the younger generation, farming isn’t easy and the lifestyle isn’t always the most attractive.

“Farming is capital intensive and risky, and there are fewer state and federal resources available to organic growers than conventional,” said McKiernan-Allen.

“Getting started farming, or even transitioning to organic, is a long, hard process, but one that many people want to undertake. The Hoosier Young Farmer Coalition was started in recognition of the myriad of challenges facing farmers, especially young and beginning farmers. We hope to capitalize on the growing demand for good food in our state by organizing and supporting growers in their first years of production, helping to ensure their success,” he said.

Likewise, Jim Riddle—chairman of Minnesota’s Organic Standards Board and former chairman of the USDA National Organic Standards Board—believes getting younger generations interested in farming critical to American’s agriculture future.

“Farms are dying,” he said. “They can’t keep up with the labor … there’s risk and it takes a lot of dedication and hard work … there’re few vacations and finding capital to be able to farm is increasingly difficult.” But, he said, the organic movement is carrying a positive message and it gives him hope to see young people getting involved.

“I’ve been to organic conferences throughout the country where child care is provided and organizers seem to be on track with helping young farmers succeed. There’s enthusiasm and optimism.”

Conquering the food desert

Another issue is the growing number of food deserts across the country. In the U.S., more than 23 million people, of which close to half are low-income, live in areas significantly lacking fresh produce and other healthy options. And since a diet void of healthy foods can lead to diabetes, heart disease and obesity, many experts agree that a key component to a healthier America lies in conquering the food deserts.

Walk Score, a private company publishing a public access walkability index to any address in the U.S., Canada or Australia, looked at cities with a population over 500,000 and scored them based on how many people could walk to a grocery store within five minutes. In New York City, 72 percent of residents can travel to some kind of grocery store in five minutes or less. In Indianapolis, only five percent of residents have the ability to do so, making the city one of the largest food deserts in the country.

But, in partnership with the USDA, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, recently found that proximity to healthier eating choices and the ready supply of fresh foods does not impact food-consumption patterns as much as the lack of education and poverty level that coexist within food deserts.

“We need education and support on a community level to change people and neighborhoods,” says Chef Craig Baker Owner of The Local, Bent Rail and formerly Plow and Anchor, eateries located in Indianapolis. “The American diet needs to develop a palate heavier in vegetables and less dependent on cheap, subsidized meat.”

One way to encourage Americans to eat healthier foods, suggests Baker, is to promote and therefore purchase products from farms that raise their animals in a humane and organic way. And though it’s true, he says, that farmers can’t raise as many animals and the final product costs more, in the end it’s healthier, more environmentally friendly and tastes better.

Riddle, the former chairman of the National Organic Standards Board, agrees. “We need to transform the way we eat,” he said, and he thinks training children to eat better plays a big role. Fast food, he said, comes with toys; it’s marketed to kids, but it’s the adult that buys the meal.

“We need to concentrate on improving our health … wake up … remember I am what I ate, I am what I eat.” Most importantly, he advises everyone plant a garden.

“Get in touch with the earth,” he said. “Develop a gentle relationship with the earth and know where your food comes from. Know what’s in it and how it was grown … go for a walk … get outside … put the device down and reconnect.”

The rise of the organic farmer

A longtime supporter of Hoosier agriculture, the Indiana State Fair dubbed 2015 the “Year of the Farmer.” Duly appropriate as over 80 percent of Indiana land comprises farms and forests, but what about the organic farmer? Could his and her year be coming soon?

Throughout the U.S., the number of certified organic farms increased by 12 percent from 2014 to 2015. Here in Indiana, with the addition of 81 certified organic operations during that time, we saw an even higher increase of 17 percent.

“The average age of the organic farmer is 53,” said Riddle—which isn’t a drastic difference from the non-organic farmer’s average age of 58, but it’s something. But unfortunately, said Riddle, here in the U.S. we don’t have any real strategy to help conventional farmers convert to organic. Riddle suggests looking to the European market, where organic farming is not only the wave of the future, but that of the present: Denmark is committed to becoming 100 percent organic by the year 2020; in Italy, school lunches must be 100 percent organic by law; in Switzerland 13 percent of all farmland is certified organic; in Croatia certified organic farmland increased by over 375 percent from 2010 to 2015; and in Germany, the demand for organic produce is so high farmers are having a tough time keeping up.

Over all, agriculture land designated “organic” in Europe is nearing seven percent; here in the States, we haven’t even hit one percent yet. But we are headed in the right direction.

“Industry studies show there’s a huge demand for non-GMO products,” Riddle said, “but there’s more to it than that.” Consumers, he said, need to understand the labeling system.

 “Certified organic products are non-GMO and the word “natural” on its own doesn’t mean the same thing.”

 In fact, laws regulating the use of the word “natural” when it comes to food labeling are lenient, at best. And although under the USDA’s definition, foods labeled as natural cannot contain artificial ingredients, they can contain growth hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals.

It’s important to note, however, that Certified Naturally Grown is different. CNG is a grassroots alternative to the USDA’s National Certified Organic program in which farmers essentially inspect one another’s practices. CNG has less paperwork and typically costs less than NCO, making it an attractive alternative for small-scale farms that produce by organic standards but can’t necessarily afford to keep up with the certification process.

As for the future of agriculture in America and the future of our farmers, organic or traditional, there are still too many unknowns to make any kind of accurate prediction as to how our food culture will evolve over the next year, let alone the next decade or century. But, for the farmers’ sake, and for our own, let’s hope America continues to move in the direction that supports local and regional farm sales within our communities and, in doing so, encourages sustainable farming. And who knows, maybe in 2018, when the Farmers’ Almanac celebrates its 200th edition by recognizing America’s outstanding farmers and ranchers, maybe, just maybe, one of the honorees will be the guy—or the gal—who lives down the street.

Why buy local?

An important, if not critical, component to a healthier, more sustainable agriculture system, lies in educating consumers to buy locally sourced food. But first, people need to understand what the word “local” really means and why there’s so much hype associated with the word.

In a nutshell, local and regional foods are those located within a well-defined area and having all of the activities related to producing, processing, distributing and marketing also contained within the specified region. But geography is only part of the equation. Locally based food systems take it a step further than simply feeding us; they also provide much-needed information to the consumer about the foods they’re choosing to buy, where it comes from and who produced it. In theory, this knowledge helps people steer their purchases to directly benefit the local economy.

“Ultimately,” said Todd Jameson of Balanced Harvest Farm, “the consumer holds the key. Every time they spend a $1 on food, they’re either voting for an industrialized food system where there’s always more available, or their voting for the local guys.” And, he says, farmers are well known for reinvesting their dollars within their communities.

Throughout the country, though diverse in many ways, the common desire to see our communities prosper is everywhere and it’s becoming clear the money we spend on food is increasingly becoming an influential tool for local investment. In response to this growing demand for local and regional foods, in 2009 the USDA launched its Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative. The program provides grants, loans and other resources designed to help farmers and ranchers and food businesses find new opportunities within the expanding local and regional food sector.

As for the hype surrounding the buy local message, it’s really pretty basic: Buying locally produced goods, be it food or otherwise, is a win-win both for the consumer and the merchant. And that’s something we can all strive to do a little bit better.

# # #

Iron Chef Mario Rizzotti gives his tips for choosing and tasting olive oils

FIRST PUBLISHED March 2017 Edible Communities, Edible Indy

Picking out an olive oil can be an overwhelming experience. The number of oil-containing bottles and tins gracing a grocery store’s shelves is almost as impressive as the cardboard boxes lining the cereal aisle. Of course like breakfast cereals, not all olive oils are created the same. So how do you choose? Maybe you look at price. Maybe you just go for the same one you’ve always bought. Maybe you just pick one with a pretty picture on the label. Or, maybe, you choose one based on what you think you know and like about olive oil. Bottomline, no matter what you eventually decide on—be it extra virgin, virgin, refined, pure … one that hail’s from Greece, from Italy, from Croatia, from the U.S. … one that’s organic … one that’s lite … or one that’s flavor-infused be forewarned, there’s far more to choosing an olive oil than simply glancing at the label. 

Photo by Pixabay on

Don’t judge an olive oil by its cover

In 2010 the University of California at Davis Olive Center and the Australian Oils Research Laboratory in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, published a report on the quality of olive oils readily available in America’s grocery stores. And of the 19 brands tested, “69 percent of imported olive oil samples and 10 percent of California olive oil samples labeled as extra virgin failed to meet the IOC/USDA standards for extra virgin olive oil.” The study, partially funded by California olive oil producers, received its fair share of criticism but nonetheless, proved what many expert olive oil tasters had been saying for years—not all EVOO labeled as so, is indeed EVOO. 

“If you’re using olive oil for the health benefits,” says Chicago-based culinary expert and Iron Chef America judge-in-rotation Mario Rizzotti, “but it’s not really olive oil, then you’re not getting the health benefits.” And in a country plagued by cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and obesity problems, it’s vital to do as much as possible to improve our overall health—which is why Rizzotti is on a mission to help Americans choose products, and foods, that will put everyone on the road to better health—one EVOO spoonful at a time.

Drizzle, don’t dip

“What we’re trying to accomplish is to promote the healthy benefits of authentic Italian food and authentic Italian ingredients,” Rizzotti says. “There are so many things out there that people consider Italian that in Italy, we don’t even have.” 

And one of those things, says Rizzotti, is the presentation of bread baskets with accompanying bowls of olive oil before the meal.

“That’s not Italian,” he said. 

“Really?” I asked. I mean you can’t barely go to an Italian restaurant here in the U.S. without a substantial serving of bread hitting your table long before your meal arrives. And so, admittedly, I was skeptical. How can that be? It’s a staple practice in most stateside Italian restaurants but here was a genuine Italian chef telling me the practice was anything but authentic Italian. So I Googled it, and as it turns out, Google agreed with the Italian. 

“I use olive oil for cooking,” explained Rizzotti, “but really good olive oil, should be used for finishing dishes and drizzled on food once its prepared.” He uses Terre Rosse DOP Umbria Kosher Organic EVOO, which he has shipped directly to him from Italy’s Umbria region, just north of Rome, bordering Tuscany. Interested in trying the oil Rizzotti dubs liquid gold? You can purchase Terre Rosse on his website,, $22 for 250ml. 

Curious about other olive oils? Or maybe you have a favorite and want to see how it stacks up to world-renowned oils. Check out for the most recent list of The World’s Best Olive Oils. The list represents compiled results from the New York International Olive Oil Competition, the world’s largest most comprehensive olive oil quality contest. Or better yet, plan to attend the 2019 event, May 10 in NYC and be one of the first to experience award-winning olive oils paired with regional specialties from around the world by the International Culinary Center team and NYIOOC Resident Chef Perola Polillo. Tickets go on sale Feb. 15. More information visit

How to choose an olive oil

When purchasing EVOO, there’s plenty to consider and individual palates have different opinions as to what tastes good and what doesn’t. Therefore, the best advice is twofold—first, educate yourself on the different varietals, and second, don’t be afraid to experiment with new oils. 

“There’s lots of good olive oils,” said Rizzotti, and lots of opinions, he added. But whether you choose an oil from his homeland of Italy, or one from anywhere in the globe, he wants you to know these two things: 

One, “cold pressed” doesn’t really mean cold: It only means the olives cannot be pressed in an environment with a temperature exceeding 80.6 F. In other words, it’s marketing lingo consumers have come to associate with quality but in all actuality, doesn’t directly correlate. 

And two, just like the “Product of Italy” quote on the back of his cooking jacket, if you want an Italian olive oil, the label, in accordance with Italian law, must say either Product of Italy or 100% Italian. Neither Made from Italian Olives, Packaged in Italy or Made in Italy assures an authentic product.

Industry expert Curtis Cord on what a good EVOO should taste like

Curtis Cord, executive director of the olive oil program at the International Culinary Center, founder of the NYIOOC and publisher of, wants consumers to know that there are big differences among the olive oils stocked on store shelves and suggests everyone learn how good, extra virgin olive oil should taste.

“It should taste fresh and bitter, like fresh olives,” he says. “Pepperiness or a sting on the throat is a good sign—an indication of the antioxidants in EVOO that help keep us healthy.”

And says Cord, people should use EVOO to cook with and to finish dishes not only because it tastes good, but because of the health benefits too. Just be sure to use fresh, unspoiled oil.

“EVOO is a fruit juice,” he says so naturally, It tastes better and has more health benefits when it is fresh. 

“Look for a harvest date, or ‘best before’ date, and use it within a year. But once the bottle is opened, it’s best to consume it within a month or two.”

Visit, for more extensive information on olive oil and for the latest industry news.

5 steps to properly tasting olive oil

  1. Pour about a tablespoon of oil into a glass—preferably one designated for tasting olive oil like the blue Olé Olive glasses seen here; also the official tasting glass of the International Olive Oil Council.
  2. Cup the glass in your hands to warm the oil then cover it with one hand and swirl.
  3. Smell the oil. What do you notice? Grass is a fairly common scent but, similar to tasting wine, the more keen consumer will note a plethora of sensations.
  4. Taste. Take in a very small amount by slurping through your teeth and pushing it through your palate, again, as you would when tasting wine. Hold the oil. Do you like the taste?
  5. Swallow and note the slight burning sensation as it slides down your throat. The peppery burn is a good thing typically signaling a high-quality product.

Why the blue glass?

Dark-colored glass prevents the taster from noticing the color of the oil therefore, any preconceived notions or prejudices about what color a good oil should be is eliminated from the taster’s assessment of the product. Thinking about hosting your own olive oil tasting party? Order glasses from the Spanish company Olé Olive—the cobalt-colored glass is strikingly beautiful and their glasses are certified official tasting glasses according to the standards set forth by the International Olive Council. Set of 10 for 48.50€ or approximately $51 USD plus shipping.

# # #

The Mondavi family continues to make superior, elegant wines under their Continuum label

FIRST PUBLISHED March 2017 Edible Communities, Edible Indy

It’s not every day you get a chance to sip wine with a member of one of the country’s—let alone the world’s—most renowned wine-making families. But later this week, Dante Mondavi, grandson of legendary winemaker Robert Mondavi, will be in town to help promote the estate’s tenth release, the Continuum Sage Mountain Bordeaux-style red (sometimes called a proprietary red in the U.S.). Last week, I was fortunate enough to catch up with Dante for a few questions about the wine, the estate and the Mondavi name.

SN: How’d you come up with the name Continuum?

DM: Continuum as a name comes from the Latin, ’to change gradually in character or in very subtle stages without any clear dividing point.’ It implies our ongoing role in wine, from one generation to the next, without end.

SN: Continuum wines are single-estate, correct, meaning they are grown, bottled and produced in their entirety within the confines of the Continuum Estate.

DM: Correct.

SN: Tell me about the wine?

DM: It’s our tenth release and that’s exciting. We’re getting high accolades and the wine’s being recognized all over the place.

SN: And it’s a Bordeaux-style red.

DM: Yes, it’s a blend with 65 percent cabernet sauvignon, 15 percent cabernet franc, 15 percent petit verdot and 5 percent merlot.

SN: You have four siblings (Carissa, Chiara, Carlo, Dominic) and all five of you are involved in Continuum along with your father, Tim and aunt Marcia. Are any of your cousins involved as well?

DM: Marcia’s son Brian is now part of our sales team, based at the estate on Pritchard Hill.

SN: Pritchard Hill, on the east side of Napa, where the Continuum Estate is located … is that family land from Robert’s days or something your family acquired?

DM: The Continuum Estate on Pritchard Hill was purchased by Tim and Marcia in 2008. There was no previous family wine or involvement before then.

SN: I’ve read that some people think Pritchard Hill could become an appellation in the future. Why is that? What makes Pritchard Hill so great for winemaking?

DM: It’s in Napa with 1300ft elevation. The soil and climate and farming capabilities on the property are ideal to make amazing wines. Good wine starts in the vineyard with the soil. We’ve really elevated our game (with the Pritchard Hill site) and have created a dynamic vintage. 

SN: It’s only been in recent years that I realized the Mondavi label was no longer part of the Mondavi family. Nonetheless, the family is making amazing wines … how’d it all begin?

DM: My great grandfather, Cesare Mondavi, came to the U.S. in 1906. An Italian immigrant … he settled in Minnesota, worked in the iron mines … in 1919, during Prohibition, he started having grapes from California shipped to Minnesota to make wine. There was a loophole in the law (the Volstead Act) allowing the head of household to have 200 gallons of wine each year. Later he moved to California where my grandfather (Robert) went to Stanford on a scholarship to play rugby and study enology.

SN: And then what?

DM: My grandfather visited the great regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy in the early 60s. Realizing how similar the climate and soil was (in California), he had the idea to start making wine here (in CA).

SN: That’s a pretty amazing endeavor let alone accomplishment.

DM: It’s really a true American success story. Cesare was an immigrant. He encouraged his son … my grandfather was a great visionary.

Nowadays, Dante is following not only in the footsteps of his great grandfather and grandfather, but also in those of his own father, Tim, as the Mondavi family continues to make superior, elegant wines under their Continuum label. 

# # #

Efforts to clean up a major water source are only the beginning steps in this massive problem

FIRST PUBLISHED May 2019 Edible Communities, Edible Indy

We take a lot of things for granted. From the air we breathe to the water we drink to the earth beneath our feet, most of us operate under the assumption that these life necessities will always be here, nearly free for use and always clean. Yet that simply isn’t the case—especially when it comes to our drinking water.

The majority of Central Indiana residents get their water from the White River. And though we’d like to think it’s pristine, in reality it’s not. It is, however, much cleaner now than it once was. In 2011, close to 80 percent of the Upper White River Watershed was tainted with E. coli (fecal contamination) and a 2012 analysis by Environment America—a nonprofit federation of state-based environmental advocacy organizations— found that Indiana dumped more pollutants into its waterways than any other state. Add to that nearly a century of industrial waste from oil refineries, canneries, meatpacking plants and other factories and it’s no wonder the river has a reputation for being dirty and unhealthy for human recreation. Thankfully, these harmful practices are no longer acceptable and Hoosiers have made great strides to clean up the river running through our backyards.

Yet there are still challenges. As the White River moves along, eventually dumping into the Wabash River, it carries with it some undesirable souvenirs. According to Mike Dunn, director of Indiana Freshwater Conservation Programs, the White River is the leading contributor of nitrogen to the Wabash within Indiana, which is the second highest contributor of nitrogen to the entire Mississippi Basin.


At just over 500 miles long, the Wabash River is Indiana’s largest watershed and longest river with multiple tributaries including the White River, Tippecanoe River and others. Compared to the country’s two longest rivers—the 2,341-mile-long Missouri and the 2,320-mile-long Mississippi—the Wabash might not seem significant, but it provides drinking water to 72 percent of Indiana’s counties, making it a vital water source for the large majority of Hoosiers.

If you follow the Wabash from its source all the way to the ocean, you cover around 1,200 miles of waterway as it flows into the Ohio River, then the Mississippi, eventually dumping into the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way you encounter some of the same things that Paul Dresser wrote about in his 19th century hit song, “Along the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away.” You see his “waves of cornfields” and “distant woodlands” and plenty of farmland too, but what you won’t see are the quantities of nutrients in the water— nutrients found in fertilizers spread on farmlands that rainfall eventually washes off, into the river.

While these nutrients—nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium among others—might be beneficial for some crops, they’re not good for water. In fact, they don’t provide any kind of nourishment to the plants and animals in or around a body of water.

They do feed one of the world’s largest dead zones—an oxygen-free area the size of Connecticut. Located at the mouth of the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, nothing can grow or live in the oxygen-deprived area, causing a nearly $1 billion economic disruption to the Gulf’s fishing industry, let alone the environmental impact.

And the biggest contributor to the growth of the Gulf’s dead zone is toxins from agricultural runoff, of which 11 percent comes directly from the Wabash River.


The Wabash river accounts for a mere one percent of the water flowing into the Mississippi River, but a 2014 study conducted by the University of Notre Dame found that 11 percent of the nutrients dumped into the Gulf come directly from the Wabash. The study, underwritten by The Nature Conservancy and funded by the Walton Family Foundation, is one of many ways the Conservancy is bringing awareness to the ongoing issue of agricultural runoff. The organization also works directly with landowners, agribusiness, policy makers and others to improve water quality along the Wabash River.

One of the strategies now being implemented is the removal of marginal farmlands from production—those lying in floodplains—and restoring the land to natural habitats. And many farmers, says The Nature Conservancy’s Matt Smith, are on board because the government pays them to do so as part of its Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program. The program, funded by the Conservancy and the USDA, promotes the conversion of these farmlands back to wetlands, thus significantly reducing the amount of nutrients entering the river. Their goal: a 20 percent reduction of nutrients entering the Mississippi basin by 2025.

The agriculture sector, including CAFOs, is the leading contributor of pollutants to lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. —The National Association of Local Boards of Health


But there are other contributors to the pollution in our rivers. Nutrients are an issue, but so are the toxins created by massive quantities of decomposing animal manure found on large-scale farms.

“Animal manure contains parasites that are toxic to humans,” says Dr. Indra Frank, environmental health policy director for the Hoosier Environmental Council. And as large quantities of waste, like those found on concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), begin to decompose, they release air emissions, many of which are extremely dangerous to humans. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, states with high concentrations of CAFOs experience on average 20 to 30 serious water quality problems per year as a result of manure management problems (see sidebar).

Earlier this year, Frank testified before the Indiana General Assembly stating that CAFOs affect our overall health by spreading (through both air and water) disease-causing bacteria such as listeria, salmonella and E. coli, all found on many livestock farms. She was one of many who testified in support of Indiana House Bill 1328. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Representative Sue Errington (D-Muncie), and Representative Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville), calls for action to, among other things, “safeguard our lakes, rivers and streams by requiring CAFOs to adhere to waste management plans and by prohibiting new construction or expansion of CAFOs in floodplains, karst terrain, and other sensitive areas.” The bill failed, but Representative Errington says she hopes to reintroduce similar legislation next session.


In the meantime, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture is diligently working to promote voluntary conservation through various initiatives like Clean Water Indiana (CWI). Similar to the federal government’s Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program, the CWI provides financial assistance to landowners and conservation groups alike. Administered by the Division of Soil Conservation under the direction of the State Soil Conservation Board, the CWI awards grants for locally driven programs, both rural and urban, that focus on education, invasive species, livestock, row crops and urban or small-plot conservation. To date, 14 projects have been funded across 25 districts, totaling $896,945.

Another group making waves nationally that started here in Indiana is Clear Choices Clean Water. The campaign is supported by sponsorships from a variety of individuals, businesses, government agencies and civic groups, all working together to educate individuals to make better choices when it comes to water use. Landscaping with native plants, using less fertilizer, managing yard and pet wastes, maintaining septic systems, fostering soil health and using less water all help to preserve and protect our water sources. Clear Choices Clean Water encourages people to take personal action to do the little things that combine to make a big difference in the health of our streams, lakes and rivers. Visit and take the pledge to start, or continue, good behaviors that make a difference for water quality and for water conservation.

As defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) has more than 1,000 animal units (1,000 pounds live weight=one unit) and equates to 1,000 head of beef cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2,500 swine weighing more than 55 pounds, 125 thousand broiler chickens or 82 thousand laying hens or pullets, confined onsite for more than 45 days during the year. Additionally, any sized animal feeding operation that discharges manure or wastewater into a natural or man-made ditch, stream or other waterway is defined as a CAFO, regardless of size.

watershed graphic

What is a watershed? A watershed is an area of land that drains all the streams and rainfall to a common outlet such as the outflow of a reservoir, mouth of a bay or any point along a stream channel. SOURCE: U.S. Geological Survey’s Water Science School.

  • 72% of Indiana’s 92 counties get their water supply from the Wabash watershed and its tributaries.
  • 1% of the water flowing into the Mississippi comes from the Wabash watershed.
  • 11% of the polluting nutrients that make it to the Gulf come directly from the Wabash.
  • 1 of 3 Americans gets their drinking water from rivers. SOURCE: The Nature Conservancy, The Indiana Department of Environmental Management and

# # #

How can we manage our trash in a way that’s good for the environment?

FIRST PUBLISHED November 2019 Edible Communities, Edible Indy

Sustainability. It’s one of the most talked about topics across all industries and a hot-button issue for politicians, educators, environmentalists and just about any and everyone with a pulse. But, what is sustainable? As it turns out, the definition varies from group to group, and when it comes to agriculture, what’s considered a sustainable practice for one commodity—say soybean or corn production—can be vastly different than it is on a dairy farm or cattle ranch.

According to and the Beef Checkoff program [part of the 1985 Farm Bill], the beef industry defines sustainability as “meeting growing global demand for beef by balancing environmental responsibility, economic opportunity and social diligence throughout the supply chain.”

And here in Indiana, on a 125-acre farm about 90 minutes northwest of Indianapolis, Bio Town Ag is doing just that.


Bio Town Ag, a livestock farm in Reynolds, runs off an operating model that they say is both environmentally sound and financially stable. A typical multigenerational Midwest farm on paper, they’ve been in business since 1980 and for nearly three decades have dedicated themselves to implementing the kinds of technological advances that they claim enhance the sustainability of their livestock operations, while also working to eliminate environmental impacts of past agricultural production processes.

But just how does that work? Bio Town Ag President Brian Furrer explains how they’re working to turn animal waste into energy and why sustainable farming is so important for our future.

Edible Indy: Was there a pivotal point when you started thinking it’s time to be (more) aware of the environment and what sustainable farming really means?

Brian Furrer: There was a point early in the farm’s life when we recognized certain products were being underutilized. Essentially, a lot of really great feed material was being sent to a landfill. Unfortunately, this waste or byproduct [such as distiller’s grain; the part of the kernel of corn left after ethanol is produced from corn and husklage; the shucks from seed corn plants when corn is harvested for seed] can have negative connotations when, in reality, its nutrients are great for cattle.

EI: Is it fair to say your goal is to have a zerofootprint operation?

BF: Our goal as a farm is to continually lower our footprint. We still have to purchase the byproducts, but we have become extremely intentional on what we are bringing on the farm and how we are feeding our animals. It’s our objective to pull as many organic products away from a landfill and recycle them into beneficial products.

EI: What differentiates you from others?

BF: Besides the vitamins and minerals that we give our cattle, everything we do is unique. Every day our cattle get the prescribed amount of substances and the rest of their intake is our very own byproduct mixture. We don’t grow anything for our cattle to eat, but actually find the products that other companies want to throw away and make better use of it. In our ecosystem, we bring in the byproduct, feed the byproduct to the cattle, take the cattle’s waste and extract energy from the waste that is used in our generators for energy.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency refers to municipal solid waste (MSW) as “various items consumers throw away after they are used,” such as “bottles and corrugated boxes, food, grass clippings, sofas, computers, tires and appliances,” but does not include “construction and demolition debris, municipal wastewater sludge, and other non-hazardous industrial wastes.” 

EI: What are some of the biggest ways that define what you’re doing as sustainable?

BF: Bio Town Ag is the largest on-farm producer of electricity from waste in the world. We have methane digesters on site that take our cattle’s waste and create energy—something that no other farm is doing. Our farm puts twice as much energy on Northern Indiana Public Service Company power lines as Reynolds consumes. On the front and back end of what we do, we are feeding our cattle and taking waste processing to a whole new level.

EI: Is sustainability the key to the future of farming?

BF: When I was 10 years old, I started my first job on a farm cleaning pigs for 10 cents. Having been involved in agriculture for my entire life, I see plenty of opportunity. The problem with opportunities is that they come with a lot of hard work. When I walk through the grocery store, everything is so different than how agriculture was 40 years ago. We now have so many unique products including items that are categorized as organic and GMO, something that wasn’t necessarily prevalent back then. If you want to be a large-scale farmer, I can see individuals having a lot of trouble. But, if you want to be unique with what you’re investing your time in, I believe that you will find plenty of opportunity.

EI: How difficult is it to be a sustainable farming operation?

BF: Creating a sustainable farm can be difficult, but everything you do boils down to energy and commitment. As we look into the future of farming, I believe that being unsustainable will not be an option.

EI: Why aren’t more farms taking this approach?

BF: There are a lot of farms trying to take a sustainable approach, but everything takes time. For five years, I was constantly researching and studying every angle of sustainability before I broke ground on our initiatives. We’ve had people from all over the world visit our farm and while we are not perfect, I always know we’re doing something right when others want to imitate us.

Interested in visiting the farm? Find out how at, and learn more about this innovative Indiana farming operation. To help support the farm, keep a lookout for Bio Town Ag products, sold under the Legacy Maker brand, at Moody’s Butcher Shop and Market District.


Worldwide, waste is a problem. But it’s not news. At least not here in the U.S. Nearly 30 years ago, January 23, 1980, in his State of the Union Address, President Carter urged Americans to take heed: “As individuals and as families, few of us can produce energy by ourselves,” he said. “But all of us can conserve energy—every one of us, every day of our lives. Tonight I call on you—in fact, all the people of America—to help our nation. Conserve energy. Eliminate waste.”

So we’ve known. Some might even say we were warned and failed to act—failed to heed the call to waste less and conserve more. But, while it’s true that we’ve been slow to take action, the good news is recycling is at an all-time high. The bad news, so is trash production.

  • With exception of recession years, municipal solid waste (MSW) rose from 88.1 million tons in 1960 to 262.4 million tons in 2015—increasing from 2.68 pounds per person per day to 4.48. [YIKES!!]
  • Each year, consumers throw away 16 billion diapers, 1.6 billion pens, 2 billion razor blades, 220 million car tires and enough aluminum to rebuild the U.S. commercial air fleet four times over.
  • The highest amount of MSW generation, 25.9%, is from paper and paperboard products—but it’s on a decline: in 2005 we threw away 84.8 million tons; in 2015, 68.1 million tons … which is great …
  • But, conversely, MSW plastics generation grew from 8.2% in 1990 to 13.1% in 2015. In 1960, roughly 6% of MSW was recycled; in 1980, 16%; in 2000, 29%; in 2015, over 34%.
  • Similarly, in 1960 no MSW was combusted for energy production; in 2015, nearly 13% was. In 1960, 94% of MSW went to landfills; by 2015 it was less than 53%.
  • Today, nationwide, 35% of MSW is recycled, 13% combusted for energy production—an all-time high in the U.S.

Per capita, the Hoosier State produces the sixth-highest amount of landfill waste.

Of the total, 16.7% is from plastics, the highest level in the country. Clearly, these numbers are shocking, but MSW only accounts for a small percentage of total waste. According to the World Bank’s “What a Waste” global database (2018), in developed countries nearly one third of generated waste is attributed to the building sector, with the construction industry being the “largest culprit, generating more than 90% of the total waste produced in a country.” Even so, you, we, us … as an individual, you can help.

What can you do …

  • Invest in products that last longer and repair before you discard.
  • Make a meal plan and shop for what you need, not what you don’t.
  • Don’t buy single-use plastics.
  • Cut back on junk mail subscriptions.
  • When possible, buy in bulk and be cautious of excess packaging.
  • Don’t use paper plates.
  • Donate what can be reused or repurposed.
  • Take your own reusable bags to the grocery.
  • Learn how to compost.
  • Recycle. Recycle. Recycle.

And don’t be afraid to call out your neighbor or friend who doesn’t recycle … it starts with you!


Recycling animal waste to make methane gas and using it to power three generators that produce 4.5 million watts of electricity per hour [enough power to run 45,000 light bulbs], isn’t easy. Nor is finding ways to repurpose byproduct into useful materials. But, at Bio Town Ag, they’ve narrowed down a process that does both those things and more.

Here’s how they make animal waste into good:

  • Commodity beef and pork products yield food and fiber as they produce manure for the digester.
  • In the digester, manure and other organic byproducts from industrial companies are “cooked” to produce methane gas and solid materials.
  • The generators use the methane gas to produce electricity that goes on the grid.
  • Liquid organic fertilizer from the digester gets applied to farm fields, replenishing the micronutrients that are not available in commercial NPK fertilizer.
  • Water from the digester can provide irrigation for plants.
  • Some of the solids from the digester become bedding for cattle.
  • Other solids from the digester become potting soil for retail gardening outlets

# # #

Indiana-bred Black Angus is served at some of the country’s best steakhouses.

FIRST PUBLISHED May 2019 Edible Communities, Edible Indy

Raising what some consider the best beef in the world isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a well-thought-out process that, like other great ventures, takes time, patience and dedication.

“It all starts from the beginning,” says Fred Linz, of Linz Heritage Angus, about raising superior beef. First, he says, you start with the best beef cattle in the world. Then you use genetics and proper breeding techniques to continually produce an exceptional product. Family-owned and -operated since 1963, the Linz family has been farming Angus cattle for more than 55 years.

“We breed Black Angus cattle with the finest genetics in the world,” Linz says, adding that it’s their mission to continue doing so in a manner that produces some of the most consistently marbled Angus available. And it’s their dedication to superior quality that’s helped place their product in some of the nation’s top steakhouses.

“Black Angus is the premium breed for steakhouse-quality beef,” says Chris Clifford, vice president of business development and purchasing for Huse Culinary—the group that owns St. Elmo, Harry & Izzy’s, Burger Study and the soon-to-open HC Tavern and Kitchen.

“We were looking to partner with a meat supplier that could provide us with 100 percent genetically verified Black Angus,” says Clifford of the group’s decision to partner with Linz Heritage Angus. Additionally, the group wanted their beef sourced from one processing facility in the Midwest, and Linz met those needs. Originally operating out of Calumet City, Illinois, Linz still has a presence there but now also runs two Indiana cattle farms—in Crown Point and Cedar Lake.

“We look to source the best,” says Craig Huse, co-owner of Huse Culinary. “If the best or equivalent is local, then we establish that local relationship.”

Along with Linz, the group works with many locally based organizations including Viking Farms, Hubbard & Cravens, Smoking Goose, Caprini Farms and Fischer Farms. And it’s these relationships that help St. Elmo Steak House create the dishes that keep patrons coming back, year after year.


St. Elmo is the longest-standing steakhouse in Indianapolis, serving out of its original location since 1902. And though it’s known for serving a wicked-hot shrimp cocktail and unmatched, professional service, it’s the steak that locals and out-of-town guest rave about. “We serve everything from a 60-day-dry-aged USDA prime tomahawk ribeye, to a 30-day-wet-aged USDA prime NY strip, to a properly trimmed, 30-day-aged center-cut USDA choice filet, to a grass-fed flat-iron steak,” says Huse of their menu selections, adding that ultimately it’s their guests’ preferences for flavor, tenderness, feed style and even price that drives their menus.

“It’s our responsibility,” says Huse, “to identify our patrons’ priorities then exceed their expectations.” And it’s this responsibility and commitment to serving excellent steak that Clifford says brought the Huse group to buy an Angus bull and work directly with Linz to develop a genetic program for raising cattle that provides an unprecedented quality of beef to their guests.


Angus is a particular breed of beef cattle, while prime, choice and select are the three most commonly seen of the USDA’s eight beef grades. Though there are other criteria, the main determinant for grading beef is the amount of marbling, prime having the highest levels. Only 2 percent of all beef in the U.S. is labeled prime, with around 45 percent graded choice and 21 percent, select. Typically, Angus has a higher concentration of intramuscular fat, making a USDA prime-grade Angus steak one of the most flavorful cuts of beef in the world—and when it’s dryaged, the flavor becomes even more intense.

Different than wet-aging, which means meat has been allowed to age inside a vacuum-sealed container, dry-aged beef is hung in a temperature-controlled room regulated for airflow and humidity levels. Wet-aging beef takes less time and costs the manufacturer less to produce, typically resulting in a lower market price than dry-aged beef. But the real difference is in the taste and texture, which many steak enthusiasts agree is tender, rich and buttery with a slight earthy flavor.

“Dry-aging beef removes a significant amount of moisture from it,” says Michael Christensen, Huse Culinary director of culinary. This “concentrates and enhances the flavors.”

The distinct flavor profile of a Linz Heritage Angus dry-aged steak has an almost woodsy aroma that reminds Linz of mushroom picking with his grandfather—and it’s this unique characteristic that’s earned it a place at the table in many high-end steakhouses in the U.S. including St. Elmo, the famed Manny’s Steakhouse in Minneapolis, Ditka’s and others.

As for the process of dry-aging beef, interestingly enough, one of Clifford’s favorite wines is made in a similar fashion.

“I have been a big fan of the Italian wine Amarone della Valpolicella for almost 30 years,” says Clifford of this rich, dry red—his all-time favorite wine to have with steak. Amarone is made from grapes partially dried in a controlled environment, similar to the way beef is dry-aged.

Once harvested, the ripe grapes are placed on mats where they dry and shrivel for upwards of 120 days, which concentrates and intensifies flavor. There are, Clifford says, many parallels in the dry-ageing of grapes and beef. Everything from the growing and nurturing, to the varietal choice or breed choice … ultimately, all affecting the final product—be it a wine or a steak. Linz agrees.

“Grapes,” he says, “grown in different regions have different flavor profiles, and cattle is no different.” Want to learn more about the process of raising Angus beef with the finest genetics in the world? Be sure to watch for our Fall issue, where we’ll dive deeper into the methods used to raise 100 percent black-hide Angus.


Here are five tips from Michael Christensen of Huse Culinary to help you:

  • Cook dry-aged cuts to no more than medium-rare to keep them from becoming too dry.
  • Don’t over-season as sodium pulls remaining moisture out.
  • If you season, do so lightly and do it right before cooking.
  • Let beef come to room temperature before cooking.
  • Sear on a “rocket-hot” broiler to help seal in remaining moisture, then reduce heat to finish.

To be classified as Angus, by law the beef must come from cattle that has Angus influence and is at least 51 percent black—Linz Heritage. Angus, served at St. Elmo and a few other upscale steakhouses, is 100 percent blackhide, Angus beef.


A lot of firsts happened in the 1870s. The decade opened with John D. Rockefeller founding one of the world’s first multinational companies, Standard Oil Company, and soon after, the state of Mississippi elected the first African American to congress. Two years later, President Ulysses S. Grant declared Yellowstone the first National Park, and by the end of 1875, the first zoo on American soil would open in Philadelphia. And during this time, in the small British settlement of Victoria, Kansas, Scottish-born George Grant was procuring greatness with the development of what many consider the best beef in the world—American-born and -bred Black Angus.

With a dream to build an English ranching colony, Grant had four Aberdeen Angus cattle imported from his homeland. Sadly, the settlement would be devastated by drought, prairie fires and grasshoppers and many settlers, unequipped for the harsh environment, perished. Impervious to what some saw as failure, Grant stayed on and with help from others who shared his dream eventually was able to breed the hardy, Scottish-born bulls with native longhorns—producing extraordinarily black, hornless calves. The crossbreed thrived and though initially thought of as freaks, because they had no horns, they proved better able to survive winters, on average weighing 150 pounds more come spring. Thus, the demand for this type of cattle grew and between 1878 and 1883, roughly 1,200 cattle were imported, most of them to the Midwest. Nowadays, there are registered Angus ranches in all 50 states, and right here in Indiana the Linz family is raising the purest Angus of them all—Angus that’s served in some of the country’s best steakhouses.

# # #

How the Sandy Hook tragedy prompted suburban moms to purchase and begin to carry guns.

FIRST PUBLISHED September 2015 Indianapolis Monthly Magazine

She didn’t grow up with guns and didn’t want them in her home—then Sandy Hook happened, and everything changed. And she’s not alone. In June 2014, the number of Hoosier women with active gun permits rose 47.5 percent over the previous year.

As someone who didn’t grow up around guns, and now a parent myself with young children, I used to think guns had no place in our home. Plus, we live in Westfield, where crime isn’t really anything we worry too much about. My husband and I debated the topic more than once. Ultimately, he applied for his carry-and-conceal license, bought a handgun, and showed me how to work the safe where it’s kept. Only once—when someone who’d purchased furniture from me via Craigslist was coming to pay for it while my husband was traveling—did I ever hide the gun nearby.

Then December 14, 2012, happened. The shootings at Sandy Hook shook me to my core. I work with small children, and I began imagining similar horrible situations. I knew, even unarmed, I would protect my students, and it started to make sense that I learn how to protect my home and family within my Second Amendment right.

My first visit to a shooting range was scary, nerve-wracking, and downright nauseating. I didn’t enjoy it but also knew it didn’t do any good to own a gun if I didn’t know how to use it. So I attended a ladies-only gun-safety class. The instructor was fantastic. He built up our confidence the entire day, and I transitioned from timid and scared to excited and confident. I intend to continue my training to make our home safe, though I have yet to purchase my own gun. My husband bought a gun for himself, and I was handed down his original one—a pistol.

I don’t tell many people we own guns, which is why I don’t want to be identified here. I’m not sure how that would go over with other moms. I don’t want them to be afraid to let their children be at my house because we have guns—guns, I might add, that are always locked up in our safe. I don’t carry it with me, either; until recently, it was a felony to have a gun on school property, where I work. Now you can have one, but you have to leave it locked in your car, and, well, it’s not going to do me any good locked in my car.

# # #

The American school lunch tray and what’s being done to improve its taste and nutrition.

FIRST PUBLISHED September 2017 Edible Communities, Edible Indy

2018 Eddy Award Finalist for Best Social Issue Story

The American school lunch … it’s been riddled with stigma since inception. Does anyone else remember the chili on Monday that became the hot dog topping on Tuesday and then the nacho condiment on Wednesday? How about the mixed vegetables that were clearly mechanically forged into perfect squares, the slimy canned pears that came in two halves or the pizza crust that was reminiscent of cardboard with cheese that seemed to melt in one sheet? Chances are, if you went to school in the U.S., you remember, like I do, those less-than-palatable lunches. And now, not only do many school lunches taste and look bad, most of it isn’t good for you, either.

So what’s a country to do? Nutrition standards for school meals are set by the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program (NSLP). Established by the USDA, and signed into effect by President Truman, the program went through a major facelift, including many substantive changes, in 2012. The essence of the changes came down to this (the rule is almost 80 pages and received almost 65,000 public comments before it was published so I’ve cut to the chase):

This rule requires most schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free and low-fat fluid milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat in meals; and meet the nutrition needs of school children within their calorie requirements. These improvements to the school meal programs, largely based on recommendations made by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, are expected to enhance the diet and health of school children, and help mitigate the childhood obesity trend.

The changes were motivated by programs like First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign and the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), both in 2010, which were established to promote good eating habits early in life and to fight our nation’s childhood obesity problem—according to the American Heart Association, between 1971 and 2011 childhood obesity prevalence tripled. But while we all appreciate the need for change, change never comes easy.

Under the rules, states maintain control about what specific foods to serve, so they can create their own menus and can determine, for the most part, how to serve those items … as long as they follow rule requirements. There are resources available to schools on how to meet these requirements via webinars and conferences and info at, but the ubiquitous struggle to deliver it all within cost parameters while still meeting nutritious requirements is tough.

What’s in a menu

Meals have to be exciting, but they also have to taste good while adhering NSLP standards, including daily and weekly minimum requirements for fruits, vegetables, grains, meat or meat alternate and milk, as well as weekly minimum requirements for dark green veggies, red-orange veggies, legumes and starches. Additionally, there are calorie, fat and sodium limits. (Mind you, some of the requirements will take time to come into effect—like sodium reduction, which has a timeframe extending all the way out until 2023 before the needed reductions are fully made.)

“You are what you eat.” – Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Like most federal programs, if you want federal dollars you need to follow requirements. And schools in the Hoosier State—like the other 49 states—want and need those dollars. The Indiana Department of Education’s Division of School and Community Nutrition Programs is in charge of following the NSLP. But helping schools around the state follow the requirements, and schools actually being able to do so, isn’t easy.

“It is an incredible challenge to come up with healthy food items that meet my standard as a registered dietitian, meet the requirements the government has set and gets the kids’ approval,” says Elizabeth Edwards, school nutrition director for a consortium of five pre-K through eighth-grade schools in Indianapolis. But, admits Edwards, her standards are different than many others working in her same role for neighboring districts.

“I know several other RDs (registered dietitians) working as directors who do not have the desire to change and or see the need for change or reform to the school food programs.” Edwards points to the amount of sugar kids are served in a typical school breakfast and says she can’t comprehend how any RD can be OK with it. “A grain-based sugar-added entrée, side of fruit or raisins, an OJ and chocolate milk is a despicable amount of sugar,” she said, adding that it’s not her intent to blast other RDs directly or indirectly, but rather to set a high standard herself and lead by example. Of course finding healthier alternatives kids will eat isn’t an easy task.

“It’s probably no surprise,” she says, “that fresh, raw vegetables are a tough sell, but so are most dishes that aren’t a hot dog, pizza or nachos. I’ve had many recipes I thought would be a hit that ended up being flops.” Along with the issue of taste, Edwards and her fellow RDs face massive budgetary restraints.

“Many new recipes fail when I cost them out,” she says. “We have very limited funding. Last school year, for each student qualifying for free meals, we received $3.22 in reimbursement per lunch, $2.04 per breakfast and $0.86 per snack.” And those amounts, she says, are all the maximum reimbursement allowed. “This reimbursement is the only income we receive—school nutrition programs are almost always separate from the school [budget] and operate on their own.”

To make it even tougher, some schools aren’t even getting the funds they deserve. In October 2015, the School Nutrition Association in conjunction with the School Superintendents Association penned a letter to Congress stating “school districts do not receive the full reimbursement from the USDA for the increased costs associated with the new meal standards.” (The requirements added $0.10 to the cost of lunch and $0.27 cents to breakfast, but schools reported only receiving $0.06 per lunch and nothing for breakfast.)

And the challenges for states and schools isn’t the only issue—what about the students?

Life after new rules

The website asked American students to upload their lunch photo, name it and answer a survey about what they thought of the meal quality. They could vote on their lunch with “eat it” or “toss it,” and they could also vote on others’ submitted lunch photos in the same way. Out of this useful social experiment—these are the people who actually eat school lunches, after all—a report was compiled. You can, and you should, go to the website and read it, but the most important facts are these: 70 percent of all school meals were determined to be “trashworthy by users” and 57 percent of what students considered nutritious meals were voted as “eat it.” And to be fair, rule changes were still being rolled out as the 576,846 votes were being cast, and not everything students had to say was bad. There was someone who called their lunch “the heaven bowl,” but in the end it’s hard to see past the posts or indiscernible eats with titles like “road kill patty” and “pork slop.” (What about the “pizza puck”? … that’s what one of my friends called it in high school.)

Another obvious problem facing states and schools, including menu planners like Edwards, isn’t just the cost of school lunches, it’s food waste. Under the new rules, the goal is to offer kids more nutritious foods, not just serve them. Schools call it “Offer versus Serve (OVS),” with the idea of keeping waste down. Yes, the school lunches provided today are healthier than the ones provided 10 years ago, but just because they’re healthier doesn’t mean they’re being eaten. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health estimates since the induction of the HHFKA, roughly 56 percent more food is being thrown away. And some blame the new requirements for creating what they call unpalatable lunches (remember that pork slop?).

In April of this year, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a proclamation to do away with the “healthy federal school lunch standards set in place by the Obama administration.”

“This announcement,” said Perdue, “is the result of years of feedback from students, schools and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals … if kids aren’t eating it then it’s defeating the purpose.” In a follow up, the Agriculture Department released a statement declaring its desire to restore local control of guidelines on whole grain, sodium and milk.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the school lunch

While school lunches still don’t meet the nutritional standards nearly most of us wish they would, there are organizations that care and are doing their part to improve the school lunch scene as well as the food mindset of children. I’ve written about the Patachou Foundation, which focuses on feeding food insecure children wholesome meals and creating healthy habits. And in this issue you’ll read about Earthonauts, a program dedicated to teaching at-risk youth the importance of good food. And we’ve included an entire section on food grants available to schools. Also, there are many school gardens throughout the state, which you may be lucky enough to see on your drive to work or at your child’s school, and The Indiana and National Farm to School Networks are there to help with toolkits about local food sourcing in schools, which can be found on their websites. The School Nutrition Association, a nonprofit dedicated to “advancing the quality of school meal programs through education and advocacy,” is also trying to do its part. These are just a few organizations that want kids to eat good food. 

If I could sit down with Harry Truman right now, I wonder what he would say about where the school lunch program has been and where it’s going. Some questions that come to mind: Should the federal government define school lunches? Should schools take more responsibility in teaching our youth how to eat properly? Should school meals adhere to strict nutritional guidelines? And what are those guidelines? The questions are endless, but bottom line, while well-meaning parents, educators, nutritionists and even politicians can and do fall on both sides of the school lunch debate, we all need to come together and ultimately decide what’s best for our children is good, healthy food, and somehow, someway we need to make sure they’re getting it.

# # #

How improved fitness levels and better nutrition have changed the way the game is played.

FIRST PUBLISHED Winter 2020 North Carolina Living Magazine

If there’s one sport that hasn’t changed much over the years, it’s golf. Yes, yes, there were multiple rule changes implemented this last year and technology has turned the weekend golfer’s drive from so-so to impressive. But, from the outside looking in, other than the fact that very few still don knickers or a tam o’ shanter, golf looks pretty much the same as it did when the Old Course started welcoming guests many centuries ago.

The participants, however, well, that’s another story. 

Gone are the days of beer bellies and out of shape (at least for the most part) golfers. Nowadays players at all levels be it  junior, high school, college, pro, let alone recreational golfers … they’re all considerably fitter than in years past. An interesting trend considering the fact that at least here in America, the number of obese people has nearly doubled in the past forty years.

Case in point: Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka. Not only are they on top of their game (literally and figuratively) but they’re in pretty darn good shape too. Like jaw-dropping, muscle-popping, kind of good shape. Oh, I know … they’re young. What’s the big deal? The big deal, as it turns out, is that it’s not just the young guys who are seriously hitting the gym and pounding the pavement. It’s the (sorry Greg), but it’s the “old” guys too. Have you seen ESPN’s June 2018 “Body Issue?” Arguably, the now 64 year old Greg Norman’s spread is beyond impressive and he’s just one of the quote-unquote old guys showing the world what a steady fitness routine and good nutrition can do for your body, and for the game of golf. 

The Tiger Effect

“Golf certainly has changed a bunch through the years and nutrition and physical fitness has been a large part of the change,” says University of Oregon men’s head golf coach, Casey Martin. And he ought to know. Not only did he lead his team to an NCAA win (2016) but he was a member of Stanford’s 1994 NCAA championship team, and briefly, a teammate of Tiger Woods.

“The best competitive golfers are in the gym a lot and lifting a lot of weights. It used to be that you did some cardio and a lot of stretching, but now it’s evolved into a legit lifting-type sport. You still need to be flexible,” he says, “but players are finding a good balance.”

And the shift, Martin believes──as do a number of others──can largely be attributed to something known as The Tiger Effect. 

“He was really the first elite player to lift weights like they do in other sports,” says Martin. “His power and physical dominance led other players to do the same,” and consequently the game, he says, has shifted to a more powerful style. 

PGA Tour player Ben Crane agrees.

“Tiger was one of the first to introduce big lifting, but fitness has continued to grow (in importance) over the years,” says Crane, “and now there’s more and more guys staying in great shape.”

“Just look at Greg Norman and Gary Player … when I first came on tour there were probably two trainers in treatment trailers and now there’s 15 or 20, maybe even 30.” Of course fitness helps get you in shape to consistently strike a 6-iron more than 200 yards, but good nutrition is what fuels the game.

“Golf is so competitive now that every player and team are looking for ways to get an edge,” says Martin. And proper nutrition, he adds, is one of the ways to gain a slight competitive advantage.  

“Nutrition is especially important when you consider the length of our season. To be fresh at the end of the year your body needs to be a fine tuned machine. Fueling it with the proper nutrition is vital to be at your best,” he says.

And for Crane, eating right is one of the key components that’s helped give him an edge when it comes to competing for hours upon hours.

“There’s been massive changes in the food available,” says Crane on what the PGA’s had ready for tour players over the years.

“It used to be cold cuts and now its fresh produce, smoothies and juice stations. We asked for better food choices and the Tour’s been great at providing it for us,” he says, which, considering the strength and endurance required to be a professional golfer it’s about time … and it’s about time that golfers get recognized and treated like the athletes they are.

But Are Golfers Athletes?

In 2004 set out to discover what the most demanding sports are based on the following 10 criteria: endurance, strength, power, speed, agility, flexibility, nerve, durability, hand-eye coordination and analytic aptitude. The survey polled a group of experts including U.S. Olympic Committee scientists, sports journalists, academicians who study the science of muscles and movement, and former professional baseball and football player Brian Jordan. Of the 60 sports considered, boxing came in first, with hockey, football and basketball following close behind. Last, was fishing. As for golf … it came in behind table tennis and canoeing at 51st. Of course that was 15 years ago and the Tiger Effect was merely beginning to take shape. 

And take shape, it has.

Even the Old Course has tightened its belt a bit. Just look at the 17th fairway … only years ago it was right around 130 yards from the green, but now it’s a short 22 paces from one side to the next making an already incredibly difficult hole, even more so. And no, the Royal and Ancient didn’t make the adjustment(s) as a way to “get in shape” but rather as a way to combat the increasing drive distances seen across the game. Drive distances that can, at least somewhat, be attributed to the rising athleticism of today’s golfer. As for how the “skinnier” fairway will affect players when the 150th Open Championship plays there in 2021, it will undoubtedly pose an even greater challenge than before, even for the fittest of players. As for who will come out on top, it’s hard to say. But one thing’s for certain, it will be someone who hits ‘em well below par on the course, and puts his fitness and nutrition needs well above.

Tips for Fueling Up Before you Play

What to eat before a morning round 

Casey Martin: Some eggs and maybe oatmeal. Probably some breakfast meats or other protein as well. We try and stay away from too much sugar in the morning such as pancakes and syrup. Drink water and pay attention to hydration.

Ben Crane: I like to eat low-sugar oats with almond milk and some sort of healthy protein. When I’m on tour I like to have pasture-raised eggs, and Ezekiel bread with a little coconut oil.

What to eat before or after an evening round

CM: Carbs and protein──pasta, chicken. And hydrate.

BC: I try to have an early dinner with lots of veggies and wild-fish or grass-fed meat of some sort. Eating early is so important because rest is so important. And you rest better when your stomach isn’t busy digesting food. 

Go to snack during play

CM: Depends on the position of the round. Early in the round we try to eat slow-burning things like nuts or some protein or good carbs. Later in the round it’s okay to have quicker carbs such as a bar or dried fruit or an energy drink although we try not to have too many energy drinks early in the round because of the sugar content. There seem to be some better, lower sugar energy drinks that are okay, but basically we want to steer clear of too much sugar. Hydration is mainly water until later in the round when needing a quick boost of Gatorade is okay.   

BC: I don’t like to be hungry so I eat every hour. During play it’s an almond butter, honey and banana sandwich on Ezekiel bread. I drink clean water and coconut water to replenish electrolytes.

“The best things you can eat or drink are one, two or maybe three words … Apple. That’s a good thing. Broccoli. That’s a good thing. Water. Coconut water … those are all good ones. Stay away from ingredients you can’t pronounce and anything that has lots of ingredients, that’s probably not good for you.” ~ PGA Tour Player Ben Crane’s advice for young people on nutrition

# # #

Hidden Hawaii: How to visit paradise like no one else

FIRST PUBLISHED Fall 2019 North Carolina Living Magazine

When people visit the Hawaiian Islands, typically, they do it like most everyone else and they visit one of two islands: O’ahu, Maui or maybe even both.

O’ahu, known also as The Gathering Place, is home to more than 80 percent of Hawaii’s population and annually, more than half of the well-over five million people who visit the islands go to O’ahu. And for good reason, with more than 125 beaches and unparalleled sites like Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach, Honolulu and the Polynesian Cultural Center, O’ahu is truly a gathering place for many. 

But, there’s so much more to the islands, and so many off-the-beaten-path places to go, why not consider planning your visit to paradise unlike most. Be it a return trip or your first time, if you’re planning a Hawaiian vacation, consider visiting and maybe even staying at one of the other islands. Here’s a quick overview on a few places that hidden Hawaii has to offer on those not-so-touristy islands. 

Hawai’i aka The Big Island

By far the largest of the islands, there’s plenty of typical touristy things to do and most are well worth dodging crowds that may, or may not show up, but there’s also plenty of off-the-beaten-path places worth visiting. An absolute must when visiting the island of Hawai’i, is a day spent exploring Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, the park offers visitors a chance to spy flowing lava amongst one of the most geologically amazing places on the planet. If you’re a true volcano-buff, head over to the Kaʻū Desert and hike through dried lava remnants, sand and volcanic ash. 

Just as most people never get to see an active volcano, most never get to walk on a black-sand beach. Punalu’u is just off HWY 11 and though the swimming can be rough, it’s an Instagram-worthy spot for photos. And while your photos from Punalu’u will be fabulous, nothing can compare to those taken at sunset from the Mauna Kea Observatory. To get there, you’ll drive from sea level to 14,000 feet in about two hours so do know that though the views are spectacular, it’s not for the young, weak of heart, or anyone prone to altitude sickness.

Now, if you really want to see hidden Hawai’i and have the cash to do so, best bet is to do so by air with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. They can take you to places so remote you’ll think you’ve landed in an episode of Lost. Who knew one island could be so diverse to have everything from snowy mountain tops to active volcanos to waterfalls and so much, much more. 

Kaua’i aka The Garden Isle

Lush rainforests and vast mountain ranges encompass more than 95 percent of this island and the summit of Mount Wai‘ale‘ale is one of the wettest spots on earth. But it’s the rainfall that keeps the island so green hence earning its nickname, “The Garden Isle.” For the nature enthusiast, visiting Waimea Canyon State Park, a 14-mile long canyon perfect for a day’s worth of hiking, is a must do. Here, you’ll encounter everything from waterfalls, to crags to gorges and buttes. Also worth exploring is the 10-mile long Koloa Heritage Trail where you’ll find a number of interesting points—one of the most impressive, Spouting Horn Park, is an ocean blowhole said to have once been home to a giant lizard named Kaikapu. Other stops along the trail include the ancient Hawaiian temple, Kihahouna Heiau; Keoneloa Bay, a one-time fishing camp with partially intact alters where locals prayed to their fishing god, Kanaaukai; and the cultural site, Kaneiolouma, an ancient village dating back to the 1400s.

Moloka’i aka The Friendly Isle

Home to the highest sea cliffs in the world, this island used to be known for its large beef cattle farm, the Moloka’i Ranch. Long since closed, the ranch comprised nearly one third of the island for farming and even had luxurious accommodations and a golf course. Nowadays, tourists won’t find any operational golf course, or large-scale hotel—at one time there was even a Sheraton complete with spectacular views, spa and golf—but Moloka’i Shores Condominiums are a best bet for lodging and the grounds are vast allowing plenty of space for long walks. If you hike directly over the north side of the grounds, you’ll land on Papohaku Beach. Also called Three Mile Beach, it’s one of the islands’ longest white-sand beaches and it’s virtually unpopulated, but be forewarned—there’s a sharp drop off and no protective reef so swimming isn’t advised. Another few miles (you’ll want to drive for this one) up the road is Kapukahehu beach. A great place to swim and spend the day, chances are you’ll be greeted by a monk seal (or two)—note, locals fish here a lot so watch for set nets. 

Two other places to visit on the island are in the town of Kaunakakai. Imamura’s carries an impressive amount of gorgeous, traditional Hawaiian fabrics and while some claim there’s still cans of SPAM on the grocery shelves left over from WWII, there is some seriously good, fresh eats here. And one of the best is the James Beard nominated Kanemitsu Bakery. Open since 1935, it’s a hotspot for delicious treats. Lastly, if you do one thing, do this: plan a day to tour Kalaupapa National Historic Park. In the 1860s, King Kamehameha V banished those suffering from leprosy to this remote area on the north shore of Moloka’i. Accessible only by boat, plane or on the back of a donkey via a steep, hillside trail, it remains a fairly primitive homage to those who lived and died there of what’s now called Hansen’s disease.

Lana’i aka The Pineapple Island

This no-stoplight, two-hotel (yes one does happen to be a Four Seasons) island is tranquil, low key and chalk full of places to explore. At one time, most of the island was a pineapple plantation—James Dole, yes, that Dole, used to own the island—but now tourism spearheads the economy. Most of the island is underdeveloped and many roads are unpaved making it the perfect place to go off-roading. Best bet it to look into renting a vehicle from Lana’i Cheap Jeeps then make plans to drive the seven miles north of Lanai City to Keahiakawelo. Also known as the garden of the Gods, some believe the rocks found there fell from the the gods’ gardens while others say they contain the souls of ancient Polynesian warriors; scientists, however, claim the rocks were formed thousands of years ago by natural erosion. Either way, it’s a fun adventure with breathtaking views of the Pacific. And, while you have that vehicle, take another a short drive to Kaiolohi’a or Shipwreck Beach. Directly offshore lies the wreck of a WWII tanker and nearby there are plenty of open trails for exploring—take Keomuku road and you’ll spy a number of petroglyphs among the strewn boulders. TIp, be sure to have a full tank of gas if you plan to explore for a long time as gas stations are scarce.

Ni’ihau aka The Forbidden Island

Named the Forbidden Island because this privately-owned island closed its borders to outsiders during a polio epidemic in the early ‘50s, and consequently kept it polio-free, has (according to the 2010 census) 170 native Hawaiian residents. The number is thought to be an estimate though as demographics aren’t traditionally kept. Purchased in 1864 for $10,000 from King Kamehameha V by Scottish born Elizabeth-Sinclair Robinson, visiting used to be impossible unless you were personally invited by the owners. But, in the ‘80s, the Robinson family started offering limited tours via their companies, Ni’ihau Helicopters and Ni’ihau Safaris. Although, if you want a glimpse at this unspoiled paradise, it will cost you. Half-day helicopter tours are $440 per person and a safari starts just under $2,000 per person.

Kaho’olawe aka The Target Isle

At only 45 square miles—for comparisons sake, Durham county is 298 sq. mi.—this uninhabited island is the smallest of the eight most-known islands and like Ni’ihau, visiting is pretty much next to impossible. Prior to 1990, this small landmass was used by the U.S. military for target practice and some believe there are still unexploded artillery shells. Nowadays, access to the land and surrounding waters is prohibited by law, but if you’re willing to do some volunteer work, you may just get a chance to visit. For a $200 fee, you can sign up to join the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission for one of the twice-monthly restoration trips. There is, however, a wait list and spots are hard to come by. Note, this type of volunteerism isn’t for the weak of heart. If conditions don’t allow for a beach landing, you may be required to swim from the vessel to land.

# # #