Gardener and award-winning agricultural writer William Rubel has been announced as a keynote speaker at the first annual Farm to Table International Symposium (F2Ti), which will take place August 2-4, 2013, at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. F2Ti, produced in partnership with the SoFAB Institute, will feature the brightest thought leaders and leading practitioners in the burgeoning farm-to-table movement and will explore the cultivation, distribution and consumption of food and drink sourced locally to globally.
Rubel is the author of "The Magic of Fire: Hearth Cooking: One Hundred Recipes for Fireplace and Campfire" and "Bread: A Global History." He is now writing a history of bread for University of California Press. Rubel writes on small-scale agriculture and traditional foodways for Mother Earth News.
Rubel grows his own vegetables and maintains a long-standing interest in the history of kitchen gardens and the raised-bed gardening system. He is founder and co-editor of Stone Soup, the magazine by children. He is a recipient of a World Gourmand award and a James Beard Foundation award nomination. His work has been recognized by the government of France, which named him a Chevalier Ordre National du Mérite Agricole.
A longtime mushroom collector, Rubel's article in Economic Botany on the historic uses of Amanita muscaria
--the iconic red mushroom with white dots so favored by children's book illustrators--as a mushroom for the dinner table has inspired a reappraisal of that mushroom's edibility.
Rubel's F2Ti address will provide historical context to the 21st-century farm-to-table movement. He will discuss the British and French kitchen gardens attached to the big country houses of the 1600s and 1700s, which were the gardens in which the raised-bed gardening system was perfected. These gardens, which could be many acres in size, employed the latest in agricultural practices. They provided an almost unimaginable variety of vegetables and fruits through a 12-month growing season to satisfy the demands of the finest tables in Europe.
These gardens or, in our terms, small farms, offer inspiration on many levels for us today as we attempt to redevelop the type of agricultural skills that enabled those farmers to provide quality produce to a discerning clientele across the entirety of a year--spring, summer, autumn and winter-despite growing in a northern European climate. Salad all year, strawberries in January, asparagus in November--this is what the owner of a large British country house circa 1700 expected from the kitchen garden. Now, in too many places, we have replaced agricultural skill with cheap transportation. The history of kitchen gardens offers ideas that we can use today to revitalize our agricultural practices.
Another featured speaker at F2Ti will be former Texas agriculture commissioner and longtime champion of the farm-to-table movement, Jim Hightower. A popular public speaker who is fiery and funny, Hightower's immense experience in both agriculture and politics makes his presence at F2Ti truly invaluable. Hightower's expertise will complement his fellow F2Ti keynote speakers from varying industries.
F2Ti is designed to facilitate education and collaboration among chefs, mixologists and culinary professionals; restaurateurs; researchers, academics and policymakers; legal and financial professionals; farmers and other agricultural professionals; food and drink writers, publishers and media; slow food advocates and beverage enthusiasts; brewers, distillers, vintners, and distributors; farmers' markets and urban farms; nutritionists and other health professionals; and anyone with an interest in the farm-to-table movement. To register, or for more information about the first annual Farm to Table International Symposium, please visit f2t-int.com
. For more information about William Rubel, visit www.williamrubel.com