Host Aaron Alejandro and Ray Urrutia discuss hunger and the need for innovative solutions.
The National FFA Organization works to strengthen science and agricultural educational opportunities for students across the country. The Texas FFA Association and Texas FFA Foundation are the largest state organizations in the country.
On this episode of the Growing Our Future Podcast, Aaron Alejandro introduces Ray Urrutia, Founder and CEO of Terra Firma Foods–a company that uses sophisticated technology to grow better food faster in controlled environments. Urrutia’s experience combining agriculture and technology has uniquely prepared him to contemplate the future of food in the United States and beyond.
Growing up on a farm gave Ray Urrutia the foundational skills he uses to lead Terra Firma Foods, a company he founded that combines state-of-the-art technology and high-quality soil to produce vegetables. Urrutia says the process of growing, harvesting, packing, and delivering to market was “already in his head”, but now he implements it on a larger scale.
Urrutia’s work is more critical than ever. In what Alejandro calls a “very hungry world”, 2 billion people are malnourished, according to Urrutia–and that number could jump to 10.5 billion over the next 25 years. Furthermore, Urrutia says, “Right now we import 60% of our organic food. We need to change that.”
The Future of Food
“I look to the next 100 years,” Urrutia says. “I may not be here, but the foundation will be.” Urrutia emphasizes that the solutions to the ongoing problem of hunger may change with time and innovation. “Young minds are the future”, he says–and if educators can stimulate those minds to think about undiscovered or untested possibilities, kids will have the power to shape the future.
“You’re providing another pathway to solving some of those food problems,” Alejandro says.
Alejandro and Urrutia agree that FFA does critical work to instill core values such as responsibility and critical thinking in students. “I get goosebumps thinking about the opportunities,” Urrutia says.
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Problems are Possibilities
Urrutia believes in seizing opportunity, even when it comes in the form of a very difficult problem. “If you see something, do something,” he says. “Don’t wait for someone else to get it done.”
Urrutia’s company commits to giving 10% of its product away, because he believes in our collective responsibility to help one another. “People deserve to eat good food,” he says, a notion that Alejandro connects to the idea of stewardship. Transparency and honesty are also tenets of Urrutia’s leadership philosophy. “Say what you mean and mean what you say,” he says.
Finally, Urrutia encourages young people considering a career in agriculture to think big. His goal? “I’d like to put food on Mars,” Urrutia says.
The Texas FFA Foundation’s purpose is to strengthen agricultural education and the Texas FFA program, so each student can develop their potential for personal growth, career success and leadership in a global marketplace..
Learn more about the Texas FFA Foundation at mytexassffa.org.
Learn more about Terra Firma Foods at: https://terrafirmafoods.world/