Click a show title or use the red Streampad player at the bottom of our frame to listen now.

Monday, July 28, 2014

07/28/14 - Supporting Small Local Farmers

In this age of huge monoculture farms, Genetically Modified Crops and other environmental hazards, causing havoc to our food systems and health, there are a rising breed of folk trying to bring us back to thinking small and local, feeding our communities and our land, and nurturing a real Slow Living Lifestyle.  We talk to a couple on this mission tonight, as well as to two organizations whose goal is to find funding for such courageous and caring individuals.

Peter Ruddock
Slow Money

Peter is Coordinator of the Slow Money - LION South Bay group. He is advocate for a more resilient food system and a strong local economy.


Slow Money provides a meaningful alternative to our current financial system that has run amok – trillions of dollars a day flowing through capital markets in securities that no one fully understands, contributing to systemic problems of our time.

What does Slow Money mean?

Investing in real places, in people and enterprises close to home. Investing patiently, over time, with a goal of building healthy enterprises, communities and ecosystems, not just extracting financial wealth. Measuring Return on Investment by the tangible world we create around us and the health of our soil, not just the profit we make.


Sarah Lopez
Fiesta Farm

Aurelio and Sarah Lopez began experimenting with pasture-raised chickens in 2009 after reading one of Joel Salatin’s books.  To begin with they lived in a barn above a single acre of rented land, moonlighting as chicken farmers while both working full-time day jobs.  Fast-forward a few years and 2013 finds Fiesta Farm raising chickens for both meat and eggs, as well as pigs, rabbits, and goats on almost 30 acres of mixed grass pasture and oak forest.   They are proud of our “triple bottom line” business which feeds hundreds of local families with nourishing, nutrient-dense foods while maintaining a balance between People, Profit, and Planet.

Sarah (Greene) Lopez grew up on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.  Her first part-time job was taking care of the birds and snakes behind the scenes at a pet store… which makes her parents wonder… Sarah studied natural resource management at the University of Michigan and then returned to the Chesapeake to earn a master’s degree in marine science.  Like many east coasties, she ventured west to California in search of gold, and found Aurelio.  A former vegetarian, Sarah became interested in raising her own meat, and stumbled upon the growing demand for local and humanely raised meat and dairy products, which led to the creation of the former Surfside Chickens (which became Fiesta Farm).  Sarah maintains an off-farm job monitoring water quality on behalf of the irrigated agriculture industry here on the Central Coast.  She also manages the Fiesta Farm sales, marketing, and “office.”

Aurelio Lopez was born and spent his early years in Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, Mexico.  A Mixteco indian, he speaks fluent Mixteco, Spanish, and English.  With 10 children in the family (Aurelio is the second youngest), Aurelio’s parents grow corn, beans, and coffee… Aurelio has been a farmer all his life!  More recently, Aurelio spent just over a decade working for an organic vegetable farm in Watsonville.  Though chickens and other livestock are new “crops” for him, Aurelio’s experience with organic farming and the type of production schedule needed to support CSA and farmer’s market sales are what makes Fiesta Farm “go.”  For example, whenever things get hard enough to make Sarah cry, Aurelio responds with a reassuring, “Like I always tell you, this is farming.”


Brett Melone
Loan Officer
California FarmLink

Brett Melone has served as Loan Officer at California FarmLink since July 2013. Prior to that time Brett was a member of the California Farmlink Board of Directors and Loan Committee. Brett has more than 15 years of experience supporting the business success of farmers and leading non profit organizations that serve farmers. He is an adjunct instructor of sustainable agriculture at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Brett has extensive non-profit management experience and served as Executive Director of Friends of MarViva Foundation and as the Executive Director of ALBA, Agriculture & Land-Based Training Association in Salinas, California. Brett has a BA in International Relations, Business and Spanish from the University of San Diego, and an MA in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies

The mission of California FarmLink is to link independent farmers and ranchers to the land and financing they need for a sustainable future.  Established in 1999, California FarmLink has developed a statewide program of economic development support for beginning, limited-resource, immigrant and other underserved farmers across the state. 





Tuesday, July 22, 2014

07/21/2014 - Wine and Coffee Roots : Aussies in Argentina and an American in Honduras

Slow Living brings you a taste of the world through the eyes of our two adventurous guests.  Australian winemaker, Blair Poynton, and his 2 friends search the world for a vineyard where they can produce wines of their dream.  The search takes them to Argentina where they now craft the stunning Jed Wines.

And Micah Hammac, Minister of Culture from Ritual Roasters, goes back to the origins, traveling to Honduras to work on the farms with their growers, and learn the “essence” of the beans.  His goal is to preserve the terroir of their coffee and always keep true to the roots of their mission – to craft fine coffee using the best ingredients and care in every step.

About Blair Poynton

A winemaker from Margaret River, Western Australia, Blair has crafted wines also in Dry Creek Valleyand the Uco Valley in Argentina since 2005. Before getting into winemaking he managed a boutique wine merchant in Cambridge, England. In 2006 myself and two colleagues, Rob Bates Smith and Tom Egan, founded our own wine brand called Jed. The aim was to produce wines they liked drinking - wines made in the vineyard that were good with food, balanced with medium body. The search for fruit sources took the trio around the world and when they found the high altitude vineyards of Uco Valley, Argentina,  knew they had found something special.

Each year, Jed's winemaking team travel to the Uco Valley in Argentina to produce wines that express the unique characters of this acclaimed region.
Mendoza has an extraordinary 450 years of winemaking history, however, only in the last 10 years has the Uco Valley emerged as one of the world's most exciting wine producing regions.
Situated in the foothills of the Andes at 1200 meters above sea level, the pristine environment in the Uco Valley yields elegant wines with unrivaled purity.


About Argentina

Purity of light, clean air, high elevation and the back drop of the Andes set Argentine wine apart from every other wine producing nation.

At an average elevation of 900m Argentina is home to the highest vineyards in the world. Vines grown at high altitude enjoy unique and ideal growing conditions with considerable temperature variation between day and night. The warm days encourage the development of rich varietal flavours while the cool nights serve to preserve natural acidity, intensifying varietal aromas.

Grapes grown here also benefit from the longest ripening season of any wine region in the world. This means that the grapes can mature gradually which, for the winemaker is ideal, because a gradual ripening means smoother tannins and the development of more flavour compounds. No region in the world can match Mendoza when it comes to the quantity of these handy little compounds per grape.

Blair, left, with Rob Bates Smith and Tom Egan

The clean air and fresh snowmelt from the Andes Mountains in this pristine environment also explains the distinctive clarity and vibrancy of wines grown in Argentina. The dryness of the mountain air results in very low levels of vine disease which means less vineyard spraying, while low rainfall allows vintners to control vigour and stress in their vineyard through irrigation from the pure and plentiful Andes snowmelt.

While Mendoza is famous for producing the worlds’ finest Malbec, mid 19th century immigrants have also blessed Argentina with a wide range of other European red grape varieties. Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz/Syrah can all be found but others such as Bonarda, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Tannat are also showing huge promise internationally.

Modernisation of the wine industry in Argentina has allowed cooler regions like Patagonia and the Uco Valley to now produce with great success, aromatic white varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Pinot Gris. The long growing season and cold nights that benefit the Malbec grape so much, allow these white grapes to develop incredibly nuanced and delicate aromatic compounds while again retaining their natural acidities.


Micah Hammac
Minister of Culture at Ritual Coffee Roasters

About Ritual Coffee Roasters
 Ritual has been a pioneer in the delicious shift in coffee consciousness that is emerging in the USA, where it is seen as an art, an expression or terroir, and just a delicate as wine. Since opening their doors  on Valencia Street in 2005 and starting what some call a coffee revolution in San Francisco, their goal has been to craft the very best cup of coffee available anywhere.
About Micah Hammac
Micah Hammac weaves art into all areas of his life … whether it be working to craft the perfect cappuccino, sharing a song, sculpting clay, designing a business logo, or mapping out a garden. There is a common aesthetic thread that has been pulled through his life as he explores Coffee, Creativity and Community.  Sourcing from education in ceramics and graphic design at Graceland University, Permaculture Design Certification, and over 10 years in the coffee industry… Micah currently follows his curiosity as Minister of Culture and Barista at Ritual Coffee Roasters. Micah recently finished up his first self recorded album of original songs, and works creatively out of his home studio in Vallejo, CA under the name TreeBed Design.


Honduras coffee plantation
Nelson Ramirez—nicknamed "Chely" after his mother—which located in the mountains above Honduras’ Lake Yojoa. These Catuai variety coffees grow at around 1550 meters, under heavy fog coming up from the lake. The cooler temperatures, as well as other conditions unique to this mircro-climate, contribute to slow the maturation process of the coffee, yielding a flavor that is unique in its complexity. These coffees are milled at the farm and then dried on raised screens both at the farm and down the mountain at Beneficio San Vicente.

Since taking over the farm in 2010, Nelson has poured his efforts into expanding and improving the processing. An agronomist by profession, he's tried to tackle several issues that have come up, specifically around drying. We talked at length toward the end of last harvest, and out of that consultation, Nelson took the initiative to built several new solar drying tables. These should be more than enough to handle his harvest for the coming year, and probably enough to support his efforts to expand the farm into new sections, planted mostly with Pacas.


Sorting beans

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

07/14 - Biodynamically Bonterra

About Bonterra Vineyards

The leading organically farmed wine brand and a green pioneer since 1993, Bonterra offers pure, flavorful wines that are perfectly in tune with nature. Bonterra wines are a celebration of nature’s farm-fresh flavors, coaxed from the earth by integrated, organic farming practices and meticulous winemaking. 

The Early Days
Bonterra's Groundkeepers

Long before organic produce filled the shelves of neighborhood groceries, the dedicated team at Bonterra was committed to Biodynamic® and organic farming because they passionately believed that organic grapes make the best wines. Starting back in 1987, they began to work organically with their vineyards to understand the soil, the vines, the insects and wildlife in order to create integrated farms that thrive with biodiversity. By 1993, the first 100% organically farmed Bonterra wines were gracing tables across America and enchanting wine drinkers with their fresh appeal. 

From the beginning, Winemaker Robert Blue and his team firmly—and rightly—believed that meticulously farmed organic grapes should not face what he calls "clunky" winemaking. “I wanted to make wines that make you think of fresh fruit from the farm stands,” he says, “and the ‘organic’ wines of the day weren’t doing that.”  Robert preserves the organically farmed qualities of this extraordinary fruit by applying both his traditional winemaking expertise and organic best practices.  The result? Wines that express delicious purity and harmony.

A Unique Mendocino Home

In the stunning natural paradise of Mendocino, California, Bonterra enjoys access to an array of perfectly situated sites unlike any other in the world. It’s hard to believe, but the open, mountainous region of Mendocino is the size of Connecticut, but home to only 90,000 people and some 96% of the land is wild and undeveloped. It takes about 3.5 hours to traverse the entire county by car, and in that time you'll experience a diverse, rich landscape of mountaintops, meadows, temperate rainforests, crystal clear streams and blustery beaches.

Bonterra’s vineyards—most notably the three Demeter-certified Biodynamic® vineyards, The McNab,  The Butler and The Blue Heron—thrive in a geographic “cradle” bordered by an unusual combination of mountain, rainforest and marine influences.  “This valley is Mendocino’s ‘sweet spot’,” explains Vineyard Director David Koball.  “We have enough moisture to allow for insects and flowers, but having no summer rain makes it easier to be organic; we stay dry when it counts.”

Bonterra's McNabb Ranch Vineyards
from the UK Telegraph

Bonterra’s emphasis on organic and Biodynamic® farming has resulted in a closed, integrated system that relies only on what is currently available at the site. This means that keeping the vines healthy requires constant assessments of the soil, the location, surrounding plants and a host of other important factors. This attentive farming method requires patience— there are no quick fixes or overnight answers —but the Bonterra team embraces a long-term vision.

Fouding Winemaker. Robert Blue
How Robert Blue Keeps it Green

Winemaker Robert Blue has been at the helm of Bonterra for over 20 years, applying his expertise to every step of the winemaking process. Blue’s belief that Bonterra wines shouldn’t “follow the fashion” has resulted in a lineup of farm-fresh white wines and classically balanced reds that are expressive and vibrant, and that showcase the intensity of each variety’s unique character.

Bonterra's commitment to organic processes is evident in its beautifully integrated farms, and the process continues when the fruit arrives at the winery.  He compares his process to organic bread making. The grains are grown organically, and when the raw materials reach the processing stage, bakers are required to manage the flow in order to prevent any inputs of non-organic ingredients. He applies the same thinking in the winery, only using organic-approved yeasts, cultured bacteria and acids, and ensuring that his wines don't come in contact with anything that could be considered non-organic.

It's traditional European winemaking with an added dose of modern technology and organic best practices. Blue doesn't hesitate to use the latest in filtering and fining innovations to ensure the wines are clear and clean, but he picks and chooses very judiciously to ensure that each wine could exist naturally without manipulation.

Natural yeasts kick off the fermentation for all of the wines, and then the team adds approved yeasts in order to continue the process. Robert insists on restraint here, refusing to impact the wines in any way that couldn't be considered natural.

Blending also plays a significant role in the winery. The team uses locations, regions and varietals much as an artist uses a palette of colors to create vibrant, sophisticated wines with balanced appeal.

David Koball, Vineyard Director

David Koball prepares to fill a cow horn with
cow dung.  Photo from

When you walk the vineyards with David Koball, you’ll see firsthand how intuitive farming results in healthy, flourishing vineyards. Since 1995, he has been growing winegrapes in Mendocino County, all in certified Organic and Demeter-Certified Biodynamic® vineyards, making him one of the industry leaders in organic vineyard farming. Growing up, he worked with his family farming olives, prunes, and walnuts, which inspired his ongoing desire to understand the natural life cycle of plants, the interplay of environmental and human factors in farming and how to best work with nature, rather than against it, to achieve optimal results. At Bonterra since 2001, David currently oversees production on 915 acres of certified organic land in Mendocino County, 284 acres of which is also certified Biodynamic.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

06/23/2014 - A World of Wine, with Old Bridge Cellars

Gavin Speight of Old Bridge Cellars is fresh from a trip to Burgundy to check on their Pinot Noir project,Maison L'Envoye. He brings us a taste of Burgundy and their Pinot Noir portfolio, as well as a tour "regionale" of Australia, where the majority of their wines hail from.

Gavin Speight
Wine and Marketing Director
In this age of ‘big company’ buyouts, increasing consolidation and mass production, Old Bridge Cellars brings to you a group of fiercely independent winemakers who retain their belief in artisan winemaking. Coming to know their land through the generations before them, they have an intuitive understanding, quiet confidence and desire to produce only the best they can from each vintage. In standing resolute behind their own style, they’ve established themselves as regional pioneers, benchmarks and leaders alike, universally acclaimed by wine critics across the globe.

Representing these highly sought after, compelling wines since 1990, Old Bridge Cellars has become the US importer of choice for iconic Australian wines. Their allegiance to fine wine and regional expression has been recognized in such publications as The Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine& Spirits, International Wine Cellar and Wine Enthusiast. Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate has gone so far as to say, “thanks in large part to the work of such talented importers as Old Bridge Cellars et all, American consumers have never had such an enormous selection of Australia’s finest as well as rarest wines.

Brokenwood's "Graveyard" vineyard in the Hunter Valley

Australian wineries include Leeuwin Estate from West Australia's Margaret River, John Duvall from South Australia's Barossa Valley, Brokenwood from New South Wales' Hunter Valley, and Innocent Bystander from Victoria's Yarra Valley.
With a portfolio is anchored in Australia, Old Bridge also reaches internationally through long standing relationships with vintners in many of the world’s most applauded winemaking regions. Their partners necessarily share a deep commitment to good land stewardship, preserving their independence, and respecting their regional heritage, all the while embracing the international wine world as their quality yardstick.


Gavin with some of their International Pinot Noirs

Partnering with Evening Land founder Mark Tarlov, Old Bridge Cellars have launched Maison L'Envoye, a joint venture with a focus on Pinot Noir from Burgundy and Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Maison L'Envoye, 'House of the Messenger', seeks to explore the finest sites dedicated to the cultivation of Pinot Noir. With winemaking footprints in both Burgundy and the Willamette Valley, the project champions many unsung growers who have worked their vineyards over multiple decades and generations. Bringing together a colorful cast, including Burgundy's legendary American adoptee Becky Wasserman and Mark Tarlov, the range includes a Bourgogne Blanc, Bourgogne Rouge, Morgon Cote du Py and Savigny-les-Beaune 'Les Marconnets' 1'er Cr.

Beyond Maison L'Envoye's spiritual home of Burgundy, the search for Pinot regions expressing unique terroir also led to Oregon's Willamette Valley. Here, winemaking consultant Louis-Michel Liger-Belair of Vosne-Romanee is united with local winemaking talent Mike Etzel Jr., son of Beaux- Freres founder Mike Etzel. Utilizing a selection of both volcanic and sedimentary influenced vineyards, the team have crafted a pure and unequivocal Willamette Pinot Noir identity with the Two Messengers and The Attache Pinot Noirs.

"We've been eyeing Burgundy for some time, and to now be there as a producer is a very exciting chapter for OBC," said Rob Buono, President, Old Bridge Cellars. "Ultimately, the brand fits in seamlessly with our portfolio; we pride ourselves on representing compelling wines from revered wine regions across the globe."


Thursday, July 3, 2014

06/30/2014 - A Frenchman and an Austrian Bring a Healthy Change to America

Slow Living Radio celebrates the success of 2 gentlemen who are working to bring healthy change to America. The Frenchman, Chef Alain Braux, works to educate people on healthy eating, Paleo style, and fighting the GMO battle.  The Austrian, Valentin Humer and his wife, Nanette, work in a more practical way, creating Grapeseed Oil and Flour, both with marvelous health benefits.

Alain Braux
Peoples Pharmacy in Austin, TX
 Votre SantéTo Your Health

Chef Alain Braux is an award-winning chef (two gold and three silver medals) and award-winning food and health author. Chef Braux has worked in the food industry for more than 40 years. He is a Certified Executive Pastry Chef with the American Culinary Federation and a Certified Master Baker with the Retail Bakers of America. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition and is also a Macrobiotic Counselor.

Chef Braux currently lives in Austin, Texas, where he is the executive chef and nutrition therapist at Peoples Pharmacy in Austin, TX, as well as running his health food consulting private practice at A Votre SantéTo Your Health.

Chef Braux started his training in France at Confiserie Pâtisserie Auer in Nice, France. He then decided to improve his skills at some of the highest-rated hotels, restaurants and pastry shops of Europe. He refined his trade at Grand Hôtel du Cap d’Antibes near Cannes, France; the Moulin de Mougins inMougins, France; the famous Lenôtre in Paris, France, and Pâtisserie Wittamer in Brussels, Belgium.

While in Paris, he was offered his first U.S. job at Dumas Pastry Shop in New York, New York. He then held the Executive Pastry Chef position in various companies such as Délices la Côte Basque in New York, New York; Lenôtre Paris Inc. in Houston, Texas; The French Hearth Bakery and Café in Sarasota, Florida, and Texas French Bread in Austin, Texas.

In 1988, Chef Braux opened his own business, Amandine French Bakery and Café, in Austin, Texas. Amandine Bakery was written about in numerous publications including the New York Times, Texas Monthly, the Austin American Statesman andthe Austin Chronicle, and won a few “Best of Austin” awards over its 10-year lifetime. Please check Google to see copies of these articles.

After closing Amandine, Chef Braux found a new home at the Barr Mansion for his elegant cakes and fine pastries. Chef Braux then became the Pastry and Baking instructor for the Culinary Academy of Austin. Currently, Chef Braux is the Executive Chef and Nutrition Therapist at People’s Pharmacy in Austin, Texas.

Nanette and Valentin Humer
Food and Vine Inc.
Salute Santé! Grapeseed Oil

Trained in his home country of Austria, European chef and hotelier Valentin Humer is the force behind Food & Vine Inc and the American grapeseed oil industry.

For the past 15 years, Humer and his wife, Nanette, have championed grapeseed oil, a versatile and ecologically sound product that is made from the seeds of grapes after wine is pressed. A healthy alternative to vegetable oils, grapeseed oil is high in antioxidants, low in saturated fat and has been known to improve cholesterol. In 2008, Humer earned Green certification for Food & Vine Inc. from Green America. As a by-product of the wine industry, there is no need for hybrid or genetically engineered crops, nor does it require new farmland, crops or water to produce grapeseed oil.
The Humer’s vision has come to fruition as they continue to forge an industry for the healthy, unique product. In addition to producing the highest quality natural grapeseed oil, Food & Vine, Inc. has created five award-winning flavored oils, each of which is infused with all-natural, fresh herbs and spices: Basil, Lemon, Chili, Rosemary and Roasted Garlic. The company has also launched single varietal oils and a new gluten free flour made from the crushed seeds.
To hear more interviews with Valentin Humer, click here..

And for a full story on the company click here.
And an interesting research article on Grapeseed Flour!  Click here.