Santa Clara University

Food & Agribusiness Institute

Food & Agribusiness Institute

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

  •  Environmental Law Society Symposium 2015

    Mark your calendars!

    Thursday, April 2nd at 5:30pm in the Williman Room.

    Register here. 

  •  The Business of Wine

    On a dark and stormy February evening, students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered to discuss and appreciate the California wine industry. Fortunately, the wet weather did not dampen the mood in the beautiful DeSassiet museum.

    The evening began with a panel discussion, led by wine expert and National Vice President of Sales for Michel-Schlumberger Winery, Jerry Craven. The panelists, Rob Jensen '86 of Testarossa Winery, Eric Mercier of Premier Wine Cask Inc., Celia Welch of Corra Wines, Paul Pieretti of Constellation Brands, Lee Nordlund of Punch Vineyards and Kim Kulchycki of Cline Cellars offered their extensive knowledge of the wine industry. Their discussion touched on many wine industry themes such as water, green production methods, marketing, and career opportunities.

    Following the panel, guests enjoyed a buffet dinner from local favorite Mio Vicino. Local wineries Corra, J. Lohr, Testarossa, Punch, Guglielmo,  and Robert Mondavi poured and continued the viticultural conversation.

    The FAI was thrilled by the strong attendance and interest in The Business of Wine. To those of you that were unable to make this event, we hope to see you at future gatherings in our "Business of" series!

  •  The 7th Annual Hunger Action Summit: Food as Medicine

    Food as Medicine: The Intersection of Hunger and Health” was the focus of the seventh annual Hunger Action Summit at Santa Clara University on January 30, 2015. Experts from across the country came together to present current food and health propositions to a crowd of over 200 guests. Focusing on the theme, "food as medicine" brought fervent interest from the crowd.

    For the first time in history, the current generation is no longer expected to outlive their parents generation, as more and more Americans are suffering from diet-related diseases. Our population has presented the country with a paradox of having enough calories to completely satiate our population, but individuals are still suffering from malnutrition. In order to address this paradox, the "food as medicine" concept was born.

    In order to address the concept, the summit was arranged to present the problems society is currently facing, what is currently being done to address these problems, and what future possibilities are in the works. Dr. Drew Starbird, Dean of Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business, spoke first and addressed the current need for food within Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. "The Hunger Index improved slightly in both counties, reflecting improved economic conditions and increased support from food-assistance providers like Second Harvest," said Starbird.

    CEO of SHFB, Kathy Jackson, offered approaches to minimizing hunger and reducing the stress on food distribution organizations such as SHFB. Jackson believes a possible solution may be dual enrollment in MediCal and CalFresh programs, as those who are chronically ill are often found at food pantries, and those who are chronically hungry are commonly found at hospitals. As Jackson mentions, "poverty, hunger, and diet-fueled health disparities are all tied together."

    The link between health and hunger was further validated by Dr. Hilary Seligman, associate professor of Medicine, Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Seligman's talk focused on the link between diabetes and food insecurity, as being food insecure increases the chances of acquiring diabetes.

    Lastly, Robert Greenwald, J.D., Director of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, spoke on his most recent research titled, Food as Medicine: The Case for Insurance Coverage for Medically-Tailored Food Under the Affordable Care Act. According to Greenwald's presentation, "food is an effective component of ameliorative health care for the acute and chronically ill, considering it is both cost effective and improves overall patient health status."

    The 2015 Hunger Action Summit proved to be a culmination of all the bright ideas, future propositions and current factors working towards solving hunger and diet-related health issues. The day’s presentations challenged the audience to think with a different perspective, step outside their comfort zone, and look into options they may have never thought feasible.

    To view the program and watch a video of the event, click here.

  •  FAI Preparing for Upcoming Cuba Immersion, Planning for Nepal in 2016

    The Food and Agribusiness Institute (FAI) is finalizing preparations for its upcoming immersion program in September. For twelve students and three FAI faculty members, the trip will be a geographic and cultural voyage through Western Cuba, exposing Cuban agriculture, history, politics, economics and environment in the wake of the recent groundbreaking negotiations made by Washington and Havana.

    This Immersion marks the second consecutive year FAI is going to Cuba. Erika French-Arnold, FAI's Assistant Director and coordinator of Immersions, ensures that novelty and exciting uncertainties await the new group of students. "Returning to Cuba gives us an opportunity to make improvements. The list of changes include visits to industrial farming sights, and spending nights in Pinar Del Rio and Trinidad."

    The trip offers a unique perspective on agriculture and economic practices in the developing world, and allows the students to experience daily life with the native people in an up close and personal way. "My trip to Cuba really allowed me to examine a different political and cultural environment. I am proud to come back to Santa Clara, not only to share my experience but also to challenge some of the misconceptions people have about the country," said Phil Mirenda '16 who made his first journey out of the country with FAI last year.  Along with visiting organic farms and local markets, the students will also visit local medical clinics and hike through a biosphere in one of the most untouched countries in the world.

    Immersion experiences, like those offered by FAI, are truly unique to an academic environment; and with previous trips to Nicaragua, Ghana, and Burma being such a success, it is inspiring to see so many Santa Clara undergraduates take an interest.  The Food and Agribusiness Institute places a high priority on allowing students an authentic experience that sparks conversation and innovation, both on the trip and on campus.  The connection to the university allows for a variety of opportunities that would not be available to other groups, especially in a country like Cuba, with many restrictions and regulations.

    After returning from Cuba, Ms. French-Arnold will immediately shift her attention to Nepal, the destination of FAI's 2016 Immersion. "Dr. Baker [the Director of FAI] and I will go there in October to explore and select two or three regions we want to take our students. We are looking forward to this trip for many reasons, especially because we will be accompanied by Joanne in 2016."

    Joanne Hale, an Adjunct Faculty Member at FAI who instructs the course "Feeding the World, formerly the Director of USAID in Nepal.

    The Immersion to Nepal will be a first for Santa Clara; no other institute on campus offering immersions has ever journeyed through the mountainous country.

    Nepal should have plenty to offer for an FAI immersion. According to the World Bank, almost 90% of Nepal's people depend on agriculture for livelihood, but only 20% of the land is cultivable. By adding to the mix Nepal's proximity to the Himalayas, and its religious and and economic framework, Nepal reflects the transformative setting of FAI immersions.

Food & Agribusiness Institute
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