Based in Toronto and New York City

, Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sustainable agriculture, food, sake, arts and culture.

Talking Soil, Biodiversity and Deliciousness with Chef Dan Barber and The Nature Conservancy's Michael Doane

Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy

Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy

From our lively and fascinating panel discussion at Manhattan's Core Club, Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill At Stone Barns and Blue Hill, and Michael Doane, Managing Director, Agriculture and Food Systems for The Nature Conservancy.

It's appropriate that a giant photo of a handful of soil appears in the background. Roughly forty percent of the earth's land is worked by farmers and ranchers, much of it severely degraded by the overuse of pesticides and other amendments and in need of replenishment.

As a cook, Barber started by demanding deliciousness from his farmers, then learned that without healthy soil and a healthy farm ecosystem a discussion about taste could not even begin. He's learned that chefs, diners and home cooks wield a good amount of power in the agricultural discussion: by demanding better tasting farm-raised food, he believes, we can change the culture of how its grown.

Doane shows large-scale farmers how to grow food in more sustainable ways that rebuild soil health, and works to secure sources of water, protect forests and increase our planet's biodiversity.

Photo courtesy of The Nature Conservancy.

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