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Speaker offers 10 tips for healthy foods

By JANE PRIMERANO
AFP Correspondent

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Between the farmer and the consumer is often a major corporation.
The farm-to-fork movement is trying to keep the end user closer to the field and one of the people on the cutting edge of the movement is Melanie Cheng of OmOrganics in San Francisco.
Cheng admitted she had a few rough spots when she first started a farm distribution business, but she now helps farmers with financial services and technical assistance.
At a presentation at the Sustainability Summit at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Cheng said she initially looked at problems like inventory management but now “I need to think more holistically,” she said.
She offered 10 tips for healthy food, people and the earth to a packed house at the Summit:
• “Take care of and listen to yourself. Check in on what you are spending your time on. Make sure you are acting on your passion,” Cheng said. Both farmers and end users of their product need to take time to reflect on what they are doing, she noted;
• While it’s natural to want to address the symptoms of a problem, Cheng advises searching for a solution to the entire problem;
• Take a multi-pronged approach. Cheng advises collaboration between farmers and their customers when a problem calls for it;
• Cheng also advises farmers to know their value and the value of their crops and make sure they are financially sustainable;
• She urges farmers to find specialists when they need expert advice and to not always turn to the same people. Sometimes people in a completely different business can come up with a winning idea;
• To add to that, Cheng urges collaboration with others in the same business as long as everyone still has autonomy to get everything that is needed completed;
• Don’t duplicate another farmer’s effort, she cautioned;
• Learn to use new media for sales;
• Be open to feedback from others and direct and honest when providing feedback; and
• Practice balance. Happy and balanced people make the best decisions.