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About the Event

The Food Dialogues®: North Carolina is reconnecting our state with the foods we eat and the farmers that feed us. This event provided two panel-based discussions to address questions related to what’s on our plates and how our food is raised and grown. Local radio personality Lynda Loveland led the discussion among our panel of experts including farmers, food scientists, health care professionals and leaders in the consumer food service industry. 

The Panels

PANEL 1: WHAT'S ON MY PLATE?

North Carolinians want to know more about the food on their plates. This panel discussed the importance of consumer choice in the marketplace including organic and conventionally grown foods, and the use of science and biotechnology in food production. Our expert panelists addressed health and safety concerns related to the foods we eat, how food supplies are shaped by consumer demand and how interested consumers can learn more.                                                                                                        

PANEL 2: WHO IS MY FARMER?

Agriculture and agribusiness represent the largest segment of our state's economy, but most of our population is generations removed from the family farm. Food Dialogues: North Carolina educated consumers about where their food comes from, and the people who produce it. This panel focused on farming in North Carolina, why many farms look and operate much differently than they did just 30 years ago, and the complexity of the food production process. Panelists also answered questions regarding modern animal care practices, and the balance between responsible, environmentally friendly farming and our farmer's efforts to feed your family and families around the world.

PANELISTS: WHAT'S ON MY PLATE?

  • Alex Hitt, Peregrine Farms, Organic Farmer View Full Bio

    Alex and his wife Betsy have 26 acres that they farm.  They grow organic vegetables, blueberries, and cut flowers.  They also raise turkeys for the holiday season.  The farm is perched on the hills above the Haw River, in the Eli Whitney community of Alamance County, North Carolina.  They have been a member of the Carrboro Farmers Market since 1986 where much of their produce and flowers are sold.  They circulate an e-newsletter and maintain a blog on their web site.

  • Bo Stone, P & S Farms, USFRA Faces of Farming winner and 2012 Conservation Farm of the Year View Full Bio

    P & S Farms is owned jointly by Bo, his wife Missy, and his parents. They grow 2,300 acres of row crops (corn, wheat and soybeans) in Robeson County, NC. They also have six swine finishing floors on contract (approximately 10,000 hogs annually) and have 60 brood cows. They also grow 2.5 acres of strawberries and 4 acres of sweet corn that are sold at their own roadside market. Bo represents the sixth generation to farm some of their land.

  • Lynda Loveland, Co-host of MIX 101.5’s MIX Morning Show and contributing blogger for WRAL-TV’s Go Ask Mom View Full Bio

    Lynda Loveland is the co-host of MIX 101.5 WRAL-FM’s MIX Morning Show, airing weekdays from 6AM – 10AM. She is also a contributing blogger for WRAL-TV’s Go Ask Mom.   Lynda joined MIX 101.5 in February 2009 after working as a morning news anchor on WRAL-TV.

    Lynda graduated from the University of North Texas and is the recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award.

    Born and raised in Missouri, Lynda moved to North Carolina in 1998 and has been loving it ever since.  She and her husband, Randall have three children; Campbell, Caiden and Carys.

  • Vicky Allen, Co-Owner and Founder, Carolina Grown View Full Bio

    Carolina Grown delivers North Carolina produced foods through a home delivery system in the Triangle, Fayetteville, Greensboro, and Charlotte metro and surrounding areas.  The company is owned and operated by two families, and strives to embody their customer's and producer's values of healthy living through healthy choices.  They go to great lengths to choose diverse, high-quality producers with the freshest selections. They tour, taste and get to know their farmers personally to ensure that the Carolina Grown producers meet the highest standards for humane treatment, cleanliness and safety.  While they are not owned by their members in the traditional sense of a co-op, or by their farmers like a CSA, their members "own" Carolina Grown by giving feedback; contributing news, ideas, and recipes; and by supporting local efforts.  They help their local community via food drives, donations, in-kind programs and food bank deliveries.

  • Richard McKellogg, Director of Produce Merchandizing, Lowes Foods
  • Dr. Tom Irons, Associate Vice Chancellor for Regional Health Services, and Professor of Pediatrics – Brody School of Medicine, Eastern Carolina University View Full Bio

    Dr. Irons founded HealthAssist, a health improvement and health care program for low-income and uninsured residents of Eastern North Carolina. He serves as medical director of the James D. Bernstein Community Health Center, which provides comprehensive medical, dental, and behavioral health services, pharmacy, and a broad range of educational programs for community members and health professionals.  Having received numerous honors and awards from the medical community, Dr. Irons serves on a number of state and national boards and presents frequently throughout the country and abroad on the subjects of leadership, institutional service commitment, service-learning, community health, and a wide variety of topics related to child and adolescent health.

  • Dr. Greg Copenhaver, UNC Director of Graduate Studies, Biology Department View Full Bio

    Dr. Copenhaver serves as Director of Graduate Studies in the Biology Department at UNC Chapel Hill.  He is also an Associate Professor in Molecular Genetics.  His lab research has focused on genetic engineering, meoitic recombination and centromere biology.  He serves as editor-in-chief at PLoS Genetics - an open access scientific journal that publishes human studies, as well as research on model organisms—from mice and flies, to plants and bacteria.

PANELISTS: “Who is my Farmer?”

  • Tommy Porter, Livestock and Poultry Producer, 2006 Sunbelt Expo Farmer of the Year for NC View Full Bio

    Tommy and his wife Vicky operate a 900 acre farm near Mt. Pleasant NC in Cabarrus County.  They raise cattle, hogs, and chickens and have won numerous environmental and conservation awards for their farm practices.  Over many years in operation, they have been recognized as the Conservation Farm Family of the Year, the National Environmental Stewardship Award for Poultry on two occasions, the NC Outstanding Pork Producer, and the Sunbelt Expo Farmer of the Year.  They also showcase their farm through agri-tourism by hosting weddings, farm tours, and other special events.

  • Casey McKissick, Program Director for NC Choices, CEFS and operates Foothills Pasture Raised Meats View Full Bio

    Foothills Pasture-Raised Meats are produced by the McKissick family in Old Fort, NC. Foothills serves retail and wholesale customers throughout Western North Carolina.  All of their animals are raised on pasture. Casey is also the Program Director for the NC Choices program, supported through the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.  The program promotes the advancement of local, niche and pasture-based meat supply chains.  NC Choices provides information, technical assistance, educational programming and networking opportunities for farmers, extension agents, meat processors, buyers, distributors and consumers.

  • Dr. Sid Thakur, Associate Professor, Population Health and Pathobiology, NC State College of Veterinary Medicine View Full Bio

    Dr. Siddhartha Thakur is an Associate Professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at NC State University.  Dr. Thakur`s research at NC State focuses on the molecular epidemiology of multi-drug resistant bacterial Salmonella and Campylobacter in the realms of pre-harvest food safety.  His recent research focus has been studying the transmission of foodborne pathogens from food animals to fresh produce farms.  Dr. Thakur is the core leader for the Emerging Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases at the Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research. He is the chair of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) Pre Harvest Food Safety professional development group (PDG), and serves on the Journal of Food Protection management committee.

  • Robin Smith, Attorney at Law and former Assistant Secretary, Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources View Full Bio

    Robin W. Smith is an environmental attorney who left state government on December 31, 2012 after serving as Assistant Secretary for Environment at the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) for twelve years. In that position, Ms. Smith had responsibility for regulatory programs dealing with water quality, air quality, water supply, coastal development, mining, oil and gas production, and hazardous waste.  Before going to NCDENR in 1999, Ms. Smith served as a special deputy attorney general in the Environmental Division of the N.C. Attorney General’s Office where she provided legal representation for state environmental programs. Ms. Smith has a B.A. from Duke University and a law degree from the UNC School of Law.

  • Dr. Blake Brown, Hugh C. Kiger Professor and Extension Economist, NC State University/NC Research Campus View Full Bio

    Blake Brown is the Hugh C. Kiger Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University.  Since 1991 Dr. Brown has been a professor and extension economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.  He has spent much of his career as a policy analyst working on farm policy, particularly tobacco policy.  A major focus was working with policy makers on the $9.6 billion tobacco buyout.  After the tobacco buyout Dr. Brown spearheaded efforts to focus additional resources within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences on value-added and alternative agriculture.  He still focuses much of his effort on tobacco economics and also has responsibility for peanut economics. 

  • Vivian Howard, Chef, The Chef & The Farmer; Star of PBS TV Series A Chef's Life View Full Bio

    Born in Deep Run, NC, to tobacco and hog farming parents, Vivian Howard learned early on to appreciate the ebb and flow of eating with the seasons. Still, it took 23 years and a start in the advertising business to convince her a career in food was feasible. Following a brief stint as the City’s worst dog walker, Vivian began her restaurant career as a server in the Greenwich Village restaurant, Voyage and went on to train under industry icons Wylie Dusfresne and Jean George Vongerichten.

    In 2006, Vivian and her husband, Ben Knight moved back to Vivian’s home town to open a restaurant unlike any in the area. The couple wanted to help reinvent agriculture in their region offering an outlet for small farmers and artisans to sell their goods. Six years later, Chef & the Farmer is known statewide for Vivian’s quirky Southern fare, comfortable, colorful service and its dedication to local agriculture.

    In 2012 and 2013 Vivian was named a semi-finalist by the James Beard Foundation for Best Chef Southeast.