About Food and Agribusiness Institute Event Series
Many of the events sponsored or cosponsored by the Food and Agribusiness Institute are part of one of these three themed event series:
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.
The Business of Speaker Series
The Business of Speaker Series is sponsored by the Food and Agribusiness Institute in the Leavey School of Business and features executives and entrepreneurs working within a particularly food industry or working with a particular food product. The lectures offer insight into the unique benefits and challenges for those working within the business of the featured industry.
The Follow Your Food Series
The Follow Your Food Series is jointly sponsored by the Food and Agribusiness Institute and SCU Dining Services by Bon Appétit. Faculty, staff, and students will enjoy a meal featuring a fresh, seasonal, and local food product while learning more about where that product is locally sourced, how much of it is consumed on campus, and more.
Food and Agribusiness Institute Past Events
On April 18th, 2012, FAI sponsored the screening of the documentary “Greenhorns”. This short film exposes the lifestyles of young farmers, full of passion and dedication to their work. Von Tscharner Fleming, being a young farmer himself, wanted to travel around the country to bring awareness of these young aspiring farmers. Out of this documentary came the term “the Greenhorns”, labeling a group of individuals who are working to obtain publicity, build an infrastructure, and gather resources that other young farmers can utilize.
One of the main issues highlighted in this film is that our American farmers are aging. When they retire, there is the opportunity for large-scale industrial agriculture to take over their land and livelihood. However, young farmers have the ability to deter this from occurring. By the Greenhorns creating a network, that deterrence only gets stronger.
After the screening concluded, FAI invited students to discuss the film with three young farmers in the local communities surrounding Santa Clara. The panel consisted of Kent Foreman, Manager of Pioneer Food Systems, Natalie Yoder, Manager of the Forge here at SCU, and Marsha Habib, Manager of Oya Organics. They each discussed the issues and hindrances encountered when managing small organic farms. They emphasized some of the main obstacles they face, such as forming a solid network of individuals around you, maintaining a stable market to supply to, and being able to compete against these long-established large-scale farms. However, regardless of the impediments, their passion to work and appreciation received from locals keeps their motivation and dedication unhindered.
Food for Thought: Little Packets of Hope
On May 21st, 2012, the Food and Agribusiness Institute welcomed Dr. Stephen Vosti, an Associate Adjunct Professor in the department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis. He has worked in various countries around the world and teaches a variety of courses at UC Davis. Dr. Vosti gave an inspiring presentation titled “Preventing Early Childhood Under-Nutrition in Africa”, on behalf of the iLiNS-SES Team.
The International Based Nutrient Supplements (iLiNS) Project is a research collaboration that has grown out of a shared commitment to prevent malnutrition. It consists of both public and private institutions who focus on both understanding the problems of malnutrition and creating solutions. Its goal is to evaluate the efficacy of less costly formulas, monitor the effects of providing LNS to pregnant and lactating women and infants, and explore the economic side of using LNS to prevent malnutrition in African countries. They currently work in Ghana, Malawi, and Burkina Faso.
Dr. Vosti spoke about the way his team operates. In these three countries, the iLiNS team is doing nutrition trials assessing the effects of LNS consumptions. The team is distributing “Little Packets of Hope” to specific selected children within these countries. These packets consist of ground up peanuts mixed in with every micronutrient a child aged six to eighteen months would need in order to develop a healthy life both physically and cognitively. The children who consume these packets are followed and studied in various ways including their height and physical characteristics along with cognitive development. The data collected from these children is then compared to children who did not receive the packets. Alongside these nutrition trials, there is socioeconomic work being done to assess the demand for these products and their cost-effectiveness.
Blossom Dinner 2012
On May 11th, 2012, nearly 100 Food and Agribusiness alumni, students, and staff gathered to celebrate and honor former FAI director and instructor, Dr. Jim Niles.
The program for the night included presentations by Paulina Perzalonso, Ariana Lujan, Emily Wakefield, and Alexis Babb, who were able to experience Nicaragua and Costa Rica on FAI’s annual immersion trip in June 2011 . The students selected for June 2012 immersion to Ghana, Sarra Hilali, Will Finn, Maxwell Walter, Tess Gordon, and Brenda Alba all spoke of their excitement for their upcoming trip. Student researchers Courtney Robinson and Emily Wakefield discussed the initial findings on the Cost of a Healthy Meal Project and MBA students Mahbod Parvar, Didier Tshimbalanga, Oby Diru, Avani Amin, and Suhas Mehta shared how they were preparing for the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association annual case study competition in Shanghi, China.
Director Dr. Greg Baker welcomed guests while Assistant Director Erika French-Arnold gave a brief overview of the events, field trips, and activities of the past year.
The evening concluded with the presentation of a plaque honoring Dr. Niles by Dean Drew Starbird, followed by reflections from alumni. Lee Nordlund and Randy Duranceau gave a humorous accolade to Dr. Niles while other alumni described how much they learned and the influence he had on their lives and future careers. Many fond memories were shared and Dr. Niles was appropriately honored for his work with the Food and Agribusiness Institute.
Career Talk: Steve Smith
Executive Vice President of Wells Fargo Bank, Steve Smith, joined the Food and Agribusiness Institute for the first Career Talk on February 27th. This series is designed to help students learn about a variety of careers from Santa Clara University alumni. Steve Smith graduated with an MBA in Agribusiness in 1988 and worked for four years with Security Pacific Bank before accepting a position with Wells Fargo Bank. He is now an Executive Vice President in the Technology and Venture Banking Group.
Steve began his talk with an illustration of US Debt to GDP ratio from usdebtclock.org and statistics about the number of people in the workforce as compared to the number of retirees to demonstrate the importance of obtaining a good job. He followed this recommendation with a review of Wells Fargo Bank, the commercial banking and venture businesses and his group, the Technology and Venture Banking Group.
Steve had originally planned to join his family's farming business after completing his MBA but decided instead to embark on a career in banking because he anticipated more opportunities long term in banking. He described many different aspects of Wells Fargo that have made them a great company to work for and explained the focuses of his Technology and Venture Banking Group. Steve highlighted his Linked In profile and strongly recommended that students utilize Linked In for future job searches and networking.
Steve finished the talk by giving participants the contact information for Wells Fargo recruiters and made three people very happy with second row Sharks tickets, courtesy of Wells Fargo.
Business of Chocolate: Dandelion Chocolate
On February 16, Todd Masonis and Cameron Ring, founders of bean to bar chocolate company Dandelion Chocolate, visited Santa Clara University for a presentation about the process of starting a company from the ground up.
Students, faculty, alumni, and members of the Santa Clara community gathered in the Forbes Conference Room to learn about the highlights and struggles of becoming an entrepreneur in the chocolate industry. Dandelion Chocolate is a very good example of a company started purely for the love of chocolate that has flourished and found its place in the Bay Area artisan chocolate market.
Currently based in their small San Francisco chocolate factory, Masonis and Ring elaborated on the process from start to finish of how they “roast, crack, sort, winnow, grind, conch, and temper small batches of beans and then mold and package each bar by hand1” . All ingredients are carefully chosen from different regions of the world such as Colombia, Madagascar, Venezuela, and Costa Rica with sustainability and proper business ethic being top concerns. “By sourcing high quality beans and carefully crafting tiny batches, they try to bring out the individual flavors and nuances of each bean1” . The entrepreneurs brought examples of cacao pods, roasted cacao beans and showed videos and photos of their travels to visit their cacao producers to demonstrate the process of turning beans into bars.
Also included in the discussion was a more detailed description of Dandelion Chocolate’s business model and practices. They explained how being a small company has allowed for a tight-knit relationship among employees, maximizing productivity due to great communication and natural understanding of roles and responsibilities. The company has had so much success that it sometimes cannot keep up with the demand, which is not a terrible problem to have. Originally based out of a small garage in Palo Alto, the company relocated to its current factory in the Mission and is planning on expanding even further into its own café/store. This move has taken lots of time and preparation, but they are confident that the results have been beneficial and allowed for exponential growth in production and sales.
To finish the presentation off, the audience enjoyed samples of three delicious chocolates the company has to offer. All their chocolate is made solely with cocoa beans and sugar, no milk, vanilla, or artificial flavors are added. The rich, pure flavors were a hit and the event concluded on a successful note.
For more information about Dandelion Chocolate, visit their website.
To view a video of the entire presentation, click here.
Food for Thought: The Politics of Hunger
On January 18th, 2012 the Food & Agribusiness Institute welcomed United States Department of Agriculture Regional Director Dennis Stewart to discuss the relationship between politics and hunger in the United States. Stewart stated the main impediments faced when trying to enroll eligible participants in federal food support programs, and what can be done to address these issues. The primary programs he discussed include SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), WIC (Women, Infant, and Children), NSLP (National School Lunch Program), and CACFP (Child and Adult Care Food Program).
Low-income families are losing nearly $150/month if they are not enrolled in SNAP. Losing $150/month is a huge financial burden on any low-income family, and could contribute greatly to their economic instability. Promoting eligible individuals to enroll in food assistance benefits holds great economic incentives for many low-income families and promotes success of our overall economy; as Stewart emphasized, "For every $1 food assistance gain, the economy is boosted by $1.84".
The challenges the USDA faces in promoting the enrollment of eligible individuals into these food assistance programs seem to be outnumbering the benefits, considering only 53% of California's eligible individuals are actually enrolled in a food assistance programs. Stewart notes some of the main reasons: 1. Embarrassment of needing food assistance, 2. Immigration issues and 3. Difficulty maintaining all required information for enrollment. With these obstacles in mind, the USDA has revised the enrollment process hoping to encourage more individuals to sign up. These actions include removing the fingerprinting process, changing the form requirements to semi-annual instead of quarterly, and working with the food distribution banks to increase awareness of the food assistance opportunities and the process of registration. The CalFresh (SNAP) Program of California is working hard to encourage more eligible individuals to register for food assistance programs, and they are continuing to revise the enrollment procedure to insure greater access for those in need.
Business of Beer: Gordon Biersch
On November 9, local San Jose brewer Dan Gordon of Gordon Biersch visited Santa Clara University for a very special presentation about the ins and outs of starting a brewery and how he evolved his company into a successful nation-wide restaurant chain and brand. The presentation was followed by a beer tasting sponsored by Dan Gordon himself.
Students, faculty, alums, and members of the Santa Clara community all gathered in the de Saisset Museum Auditorium to learn about common business practice in the beer brewing industry. Dan Gordon is an example of an entrepreneur that followed his raw passion for beer and started his own brewery from the ground up. As he described the process of schooling, apprenticeship, and finally partnering up with Dean Biersch to create their first restaurant, his number one piece of advice for anyone interested in the industry is to put your time in and go through the formal process. His 5 year brewing engineering program at the prestigious Technical University of Munich in Weihenstephan, West Germany along with internships at Spaten Brewery and Anheuser Busch gave him a solid foundation and deep understanding of the process of creating truly high-quality beers. He firmly believes in strictly following the German Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) and uses only the highest-quality ingredients, making his brews not only tasty but very technically sound as well.
While the presentation was very informative, Gordon’s fun, light-hearted persona carried the crowd nicely into the tasting portion of the event. Five different varieties were featured- Marzen, Czech Style Pilsner, Hefeweizen, Blode Bock, and the seasonal WinterBock. Attendees had a great time mingling, speaking with Gordon, taking pictures, and of course, tasting the beers.
Overall, the event was extremely successful in revealing the business of beer, Dan Gordon being a successful example of a brewery that started from the ground up and found national as well as international recognition. For pictures from the event, visit our flickr.
Food for Thought: Building a Sustainable Food System
On October 26, the Food & Agribusiness Institute, in conjunction with California Certified Organic Farmers, sponsored a panel of seasoned Organics advocates about “Building a Sustainable Food System” in America. The panel consisted of Bob Scrowcroft, Founder of the Organic Farming Research Organization, Monica Moore, Co-Founder of the Pesticide Action Network, and Tina Costentino, an MBA Food & Agribusiness concentration student. The discussion focused on the history and establishment of the organic food industry in society to date.
Bob Scrowcroft touched on the history of the organic movement, which included hardships experienced while trying to become a politically important issue and how media coverage has shaped society’s views on the issue over the years. Bob stressed that the organic industry is not “just a fad”, it has been present in our society for decades and will continue to be influential and relevant in the future.
On a different note, Monica Moore’s career has focused more on pesticide use, and abuse, in agriculture. She insisted that the Pesticide Action Network is not an anti-pesticide organization, but rather a “pro-health, pro-fairness, pro-sustainable agriculture movement”. Her career has been dedicated to the notion that pesticides are used for a necessary job, but the way in which some are used are irresponsible and dangerous and must be addressed.
Tina Costentino discussed where the organic movement stands now as well as what it may hold in the near future. She states that CCOF is one of the most recognized and trusted seals within the organic industry and will continue to grow as the organic movement gains popularity in years to come.
Napa Valley Wine Tour
On October 15, FAI hosted a unique field trip to California’s most prestigious wine-making region, Napa Valley. A bus full of wine and business enthusiasts, including some of our very own FAI MBA concentration students, enjoyed a day of tours, good company, and of course, very good wine.
The tour started off at Portocork America, Inc. where President of the company Dustin Mowe gave a history of the cork industry in the U.S and European markets. He also spoke about the cork-making process, from the cork farm in Portugal to wine bottles all around the world. Mowe gave insight into how to measure the quality of a cork, how higher or lower qualities affect the wine is seals, and why he considers natural cork the best sealing option compared to synthetic cork and screw-on bottle tops. A walking tour explored the plant, demonstrating how the corks are cut, prepared, and even labeled. This was a very special experience because Portocork America is considered “the premier supplier of natural cork closures to the North American wine industry.”
Around lunch time, the group headed over to Robert Mondovi Winery where FAI Assistant Director, Erika French-Arnold’s parents, who have 70 cumulative years of experience at the winery, were waiting to host a very special lunch and wine tasting. Erika’s father, Richard Arnold, the Associate Winemaker in charge of Chardonnay and Fume Blanc, has been a winemaker since 1974 and has had an extensive hand in the research behind the winery’s techniques and flavors. Susan Arnold, a current wine educator, has been affiliated with Mondavi in several forms since 1978. Executive Chef Suzanne Harrison prepared fresh gourmet sandwiches, salads, and dessert, paired with the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, and the 2010 Moscato d’Oro.
Following lunch, the tour began in the demonstration vineyard where the history of Mondavi Winery was discussed, along with some of the business practices that helped boost the winery’s high-quality reputation. Richard and Susan also gave an overview of the agricultural techniques and hardships of running a winery.
A wine tour wouldn’t be complete without some tasting. The tour made its way through the ToKalon Cellar, where the reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is fermented and the group got to witness grapes being carefully hand sorted and destemmed while hearing more detail about the science of wine. In the chai, or first-year barrel room, the Fume Blanc Reserve and Chardonnay Reserve were sampled. These wines are aged for approximately 22 months in pure oak chateau barrels where the flavors of the grapes marry with the oak to increase complexity and flavor.
Overall it was a great tour focusing on business and agricultural insight into the wine industry. The tasting was a pleasure as well. To view pictures visit our Flickr.
4th Annual Hunger Issues Forum
On Friday, September 9th, the Food and Agribusiness Institute sponsored and hosted the 4th Annual Hunger Issues Forum in collaboration with Second Harvest Food Bank.
This free event featured speakers including: Ambassador Tony P. Hall, Executive Director, Alliance to End Hunger; Dr. Drew Starbird, Dean, Leavey School of Business; Dennis Stewart, Regional Director of US Department of Agriculture; Kathy Jackson, Chief Executive Officer, Second Harvest Food Bank, Marjorie Freedman, PhD., Professor, Food Social Justice: Most Holy Trinity; Mary Cummins, Senior Nutrition Program Manager, Santa Clara County Social Services; Danielle Campos, Senior Vice President and National Philanthropy Program Manager Bank of America Charitable Foundation; Mike Harwood, Professor, Food and Agribusiness Institute, Santa Clara University; Cindy McCown, Second Harvest Food Bank.
In addition to the presentations, there was a display of select images from the Faces of Hunger photojournalism project. Faces of Hunger was a collaboration between the Food and Agribusiness Institute of Santa Clara University and Second Harvest Food Bank. Through the portraits and stories collected at 15 of the more than 830 distribution sites, the project provides a glimpse of the complex and multi-faceted food environment in which the clients, volunteers, and staff navigate; over 1700 photographs were taken during the summer of 2010. The purpose of the project is to highlight Second Harvest's impact on the individuals served and the overall impact on our communities.