Santa Clara University

Food & Agribusiness Institute

Food & Agribusiness Institute

Food & Agribusiness Blog for news, events, announcements, and more.

  •  Food for Thought Speaker Series: Pesticide Poisoning Among Farmworkers

    Wednesday, February 16
    12-1:30 p.m.
    Forbes Family Conference Center
    Lucas Hall Room 126

    Lunch will be provided; RSVP required

    Featuring Michael Marsh, Directing Attorney of the Salinas Migrant office of California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA)

    Popular discourse debates the benefits of organic versus conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.  But little attention is given to farmworkers who live and work on the front lines in the “war”—as conventional growers see it—against agricultural pests.  As agriculture has boomed, so has pesticide use.  In Monterey County, for instance, approximately 8 million pounds of pesticides are applied each year and approximately 1,000 individual pesticide applications are made each day.  Farmworkers and their families are frequently sickened by pesticides—workers are sprayed in the field or work on plants covered in pesticide residue, school buses have been doused in “over spray”, and entire communities have been contaminated by pesticide drift.  Unfortunately, not enough is being done to protect farmworkers from pesticide poisoning.  While California pesticide regulating agencies claim to provide the highest level of protection in the country, the reality is far different.  Many regulations are ineffective, and many enforcement agencies are underfunded or have a conflict of interest in their dual purpose to both promote conventional agriculture and protect workers from pesticides.  As long as the organic/conventional debate remains mired in the suburban question of what belongs in our refrigerators, farmworkers and their families will continue to be ignored and sickened by pesticides.

    Michael Marsh is Directing Attorney of the Salinas Migrant office of California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA), an organization with twenty-two offices statewide dedicated to improving the lives of farmworkers and their families.  Michael formerly directed CRLA’s Agricultural Worker Health Program.  Michael provides legal assistance and representation to farmworkers in a variety of employment matters, including unpaid wages, occupational health and safety, heat illness prevention, meal and rest periods, and sexual harassment.  Michael represents farmworkers who have been poisoned and/or exposed to pesticides, and argues that one of the principal reasons to eat organic fruits and vegetables is to protect the farmworkers who provide us with the food we eat.  Michael joined California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) as an Equal Justice Works Attorney Fellow in 2004 after graduating from UCLA School of Law.

    For more information about CRLA, visit and

    Co-sponsored by the Environmental Studies Institute, the Office of Sustainability, the Bronco Urban Gardens Program, The Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center, the Center for Social Justice and Public Service, and the Office for Multicultural Learning. Part of the Legacies Series.

    To RSVP click here:

  •  Food for Thought Speaker Series: Joel Salatin

    Wednesday, January 19th
    7 p.m.
    Recital Hall

    General tickets are $10 and can be purchased online: 

    Tickets with SCU ID are $3 and can only be purchased on campus at the Benson Center Info Desk using your Access card.  You must save your receipt.  Your receipt is NOT your ticket.  Exchange your receipt for a ticket to the event during the following days and times:

    January 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14
    11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m. at the event table in Benson
    2-5 p.m. at the Food and Agribusiness Institute office in Lucas Hall 111


    Joel Salatin is a third generation farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.  Joel and his family’s farm, Polyface Farms, are featured prominently in Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma and in the documentary films, Food, Inc. and Fresh.

    Joel holds a BA degree in English and has published six books, including Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War stories from the local food front, Family Friendly Farming: A Multi-Generational Home-Based Business Testament, and You Can Farm: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start and Succeed in a Farming Business. 

    The mission at Polyface Farms is to develop emotionally, economically, environmentally enhancing agricultural enterprises and facilitate their duplication throughout the world.  Joel and his family fulfill that mission through their dedication to alternative, environmentally-friendly farming techniques.  The cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs, and rabbits at Polyface Farms are raised on a rotational grazing system inspired by nature that allows the land to heal, creating harmony between the environment and the animals.

    Joel Salatin’s speaking and writing reflect dirt-under-the-fingernails experience punctuated with mischievous humor. He passionately defends small farms, local food systems, and the right to opt out of the conventional food paradigm.

    Sponsored by the Food and Agribusiness Institute.

    Cosponsored by the Environmental Studies Institute, the Office of Sustainability, the Bronco Urban Gardens Program, and the B-LEGIT.

  •  Food for Thought Speaker Series: Film Screening Fresh

    Join us for a screening of Fresh, a documentary that celebrates the farmers, thinkers, and business leaders across America who are re-inventing our food system. Discussion will follow the film.

    Thursday, January 13th
    Williman Room
    6 p.m.

    Refreshments will be provided. Feel free to bring dinner.

    Sponsored by the Food and Agribusiness Institute. Cosponsored by the Environmental Studies Institute, the Office of Sustainability, and the Bronco Urban Gardens Program.

  •  Food for Thought: Benefits of Buying Local

    On November 17 at 6 p.m., join us for The Benefits of Buying Local, part of the Food For Thought Speaker Series, in the California Mission Room.

    This event will feature Ariane Michas from Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) discussing CAFF's Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign.

    Small plate tasting featured farms:
    Happy Boy Farms, Freedom
    Faurot Ranch, Watsonville
    Riverdog Farms, Guinda
    Frog Hollow, Brentwood
    Diestal Ranch, Sonoma
    County Line Harvest, Petaluma

    This is a FREE event, but does require pre-registration. There are only 40 seats available for this holiday edition of the year-long Follow Your Food event series.

    RSVP with the Food and Agribusiness Institute (554-4086) or University Dining Services (551-1830). You can also email your RSVP to or visit the event page at:

    Sponsored jointly by the Food and Agribusiness Institute and SCU's Dining Services by Bon Appétit.  Cosponsored by the Environmental Studies Institute, the Office of Sustainability, and the Bronco Urban Gardens Program

    The Food for Thought Speaker Series
    The Food for Thought Speaker Series is sponsored by the Food and Agribusiness Institute in the Leavey School of Business and features lectures focused on topics related to food, agribusiness, and social and environmental responsibility. The Food for Thought Speaker Series is part of the enrichment opportunities offered to undergraduate students interested in the Food, Hunger, Poverty, Environment Pathway and graduate MBA students interested in the Food and Agribusiness concentration.

Food & Agribusiness Institute
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