Activist Groups Promote Fear on Consumer Food Choices

Activists Driving Consumers to Organic Food Only—Beyond Consumer Affordability

By Safe Fruits and Veggies

Despite recent and repeated calls by scientists and nutritionists to increase efforts to improve consumption, activist groups have created and promoted new webpages and infographics designed to raise fears among consumers about the safety of the more affordable and accessible fruits and vegetables.

These groups continue to ignore peer-reviewed research, which has shown these tactics don’t just negatively impact consumers’ purchasing decisions regarding conventionally grown produce—consumers’ reluctance also includes purchasing of organic produce as well. In other words, the work of these activists isn’t meeting their goal of driving consumers toward organics and maybe driving them away from produce altogether. How crazy is this?

Let’s review just some of the study findings, which have been released during the time these groups chose to create and promote new fear-based content:

“Prescriptions” for healthy foods could save more than $100 billion in healthcare costs. The healthy foods included fruits and veggies plus seafood, whole grains, and plant oils. The study concluded: “These new findings support the concept of ‘Food is Medicine.’”

Eating and drinking better, including increasing consumption of fruits and veggies, could prevent one in five deaths around the world. The study concluded: “Our findings show that suboptimal diet is responsible for more deaths than any other risks globally, including tobacco smoking, highlighting the urgent need for improving human diet across nations.”

Low fruit and veggie consumption resulted in an estimated three million deaths from heart disease or stroke. “Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world.” Click here to continue reading and to “like” and share this blog post.

Pesticide Air Monitoring Shows Low Numbers

2018 Air Monitoring Shows Most Pesticides Below Health Screening Levels

News Release

 The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released air monitoring results indicating that most of the pesticides monitored in the DPR air monitoring network in 2018 were found below levels that indicate a health concern.

However, data from a separate two-year study of the pesticide 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D), a known carcinogen, shows air concentrations in Parlier (Fresno County) will require further action.  1,3-D is used to fight pests that attack a wide range of crops, including almonds, grapes, strawberries, and sweet potatoes.

“Air quality is fundamental for all Californians, and the latest data from DPR’ s air monitoring network shows levels of agricultural pesticides in most communities that are well within our public health standards,” said Val Dolcini, DPR acting director. “In many cases, the amount of pesticide in the air was negligible, but our scientists will continue to use this data to help DPR develop plans to reduce the presence of 1,3-D in the future.”

In 2018, DPR, with assistance from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, monitored air concentrations of 31 pesticides and 5 pesticide breakdown products in eight agricultural communities. The monitoring stations are in Shafter (Kern County), Santa Maria, Cuyama (Santa Barbara County), Watsonville (Santa Cruz County) and Chualar (Monterey County), Lindsay (Tulare County), Oxnard (Ventura County) and San Joaquin (Fresno County).

The air-monitoring network, which began in 2011, was established to help expand DPR’s knowledge of the potential long-term exposure and health risks from pesticides in the air. California is the only state that monitors air as part of its continuous evaluation of pesticides to ensure the protection of workers, public health, and the environment.

The 2018 air monitoring report shows that of the 36 pesticides and breakdown products measured at the monitoring sites, most did not exceed screening levels or regulatory targets.

Other highlights include:
  • 8 pesticides were not detected at all and
  • 17 pesticides were only detected at trace level.

In January 2018, however, the air monitoring results showed that the pesticide 1, 3-D had a 13-week average concentration in Shafter of 5.6 parts per billion (ppb), which is significantly above the short-term (13-week) screening level of 3.0 ppb. A screening level is a level set by DPR to determine if a more detailed evaluation is warranted to assess a potential health risk.

DPR, along with the Kern County ag commissioner, investigated this detection and determined that it largely arose from a single application of 1,3-D made during this 13-week period. While this reading was not high enough to indicate an immediate health threat, DPR is consulting with other state agencies on next steps to reduce the exposures to 1,3-dichloropropene.

 

List of communities in the Air Monitoring Network

communities in air monitoring 2018 table.JPG

 

In addition to the 2018 annual air monitoring results mentioned above, DPR conducted a two-year air monitoring study of 1,3-D in Parlier (Fresno County) and Delhi (Merced County) from 2016 to 2018. The measured air concentrations in Parlier also exceed DPR’s screening levels and indicate that more mitigation is needed to reduce the exposures of this pesticide.

 These findings will be discussed at the next Pesticide Registration and Evaluation Committee (PREC) on July 19. The meeting will be live webcast.

Read the full 2018 air monitoring report here 

Food Safety Inspections Coming

Operations with More than $500,000 Are First

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Shelly Phillips is with the CDFA’s Produce Safety Program and supervises four inspectors with the eventual hiring of six more. She spoke about what to expect during a food safety inspection of farm operations at the recent Safe Food Alliance Conference in Monterey.

“These will not be surprise inspections. We will be calling and letting growers know that we want to inspect the operation and scheduling an appointment,” Phillips said.

From that point, an inspector will be following up with the farmer with logistic questions such as: “What are you growing?”, “When are you harvesting?”, and “What is the best time in terms of coming out to the operation?”

The goal is to have the inspection be collaborative between the farmer and inspector. It needs to be done during harvesting and handling conditions.

If an operation is unwilling or unresponsive, there could be an unannounced inspection.

“If we have called a grower three or four times and there are no return calls, and we have tried to reschedule multiple times, we may do an unannounced inspection because there might be a reason for the push back,” Phillips explained.

Also, if there are uncorrected produce safety issues, there could be an unannounced follow-up inspection.

“This will happen if we have been out to a farm under an announced inspection and there have been corrective actions that need to be observed, and there needs to be a follow-up; then there could be an unannounced inspection,” Phillips said. “We can also come out in response to a complaint or a foodborne outbreak investigation.”

Arriving On The Farm

“Let’s say the inspector arrives on a Tuesday … his or her identification will be shown, as well as a notice of inspection,” Phillips said. “They will want to speak to someone who is directly in charge. That person will be a farm manager or food safety manager, instead of someone not responsible for anything on a day-to-day basis.”

The inspector will explain the scope of the inspection based on what the grower is doing on the operation.

“If the grower is harvesting or packing, then we will be looking at that. We also want to see the grower training, [and] health and hygiene records.”

There is no set time length for the inspections, as it will depend on the size of the farming operation, as well as what the farm has prepared ahead of time for the inspector. Being prepared means having all food safety records available, and knowing where all water sources are. Also, if there are many observations that need to be corrected, then that could extend the inspection time.

UC Davis Offering Beginner Beekeeping Classes

Do You Want to Become a Beekeeper or Learn More About Beekeeping?

News Release

The California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is hosting two short beekeeping classes in early August: one on “Planning Ahead for Your First Hives” and the other, “Working Your Colonies.”

Each will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. The deadline to register is Thursday, Aug. 1.

“These courses are foundational to beekeeping husband excellence,” said Wendy Mather, program manager. “They are great for folks who are thinking about getting bees next season, as well as those who currently have bees and want to ensure they’re doing whatever they can to ensure the success of their hives.”

The classes are not required to become a California Master Beekeeper, but are highly recommended, as “they will help folks prepare to become a science-based beekeeping ambassador,” Mather said. Instructors are Elina Niño and CAMPB educational supervisor Bernardo Niño, a staff research assistant in the Niño lab.

Planning Ahead for Your First Hives
“Planning Ahead for Your First Hives” will take place Saturday, Aug. 3, and will include both lectures and hands-on activities. Participants will learn what’s necessary to get the colony started and keep it healthy and thriving. They will learn about bee biology, beekeeping equipment, how to install honey bee packages, how to monitor their colonies (that includes inspecting and monitoring for varroa mites) and other challenges with maintaining a healthy colony.

The course is limited to 25 participants. The $105 registration fee covers the cost of course materials (including a hive tool), lunch, and refreshments. Participants can bring their bee suit or veil if they have one, or protective gear can be provided. For more information or to register, see https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/572.

 Working Your Colonies
“Working Your Colonies” will take place Sunday, Aug. 4, and will include both lectures and hands-on activities. Participants will learn what is necessary to maintain a healthy colony. Lectures will cover advanced honey bee biology, honey bee integrated pest management, and products of the hive. Participants also will learn about queen wrangling, honey extraction, splitting/combined colonies, and monitoring for varroa mites.

The course is limited to 25 participants per session. The $175 registration fee covers the cost of course materials, lunch, and refreshments. For more information or to register, see https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/559.

Participants can bring their bee suit or veil if they have one, or protective gear can be provided. All participants are to wear closed-toed and closed-heel shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.

The California Master Beekeeping Program uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping. For more information, contact Mather at wmather@ucdavis.edu.

Four Students Selected to Represent Real California Milk in Asia, Mexico

Student Ambassadors Share California Dairy Message with International Audiences 

News Release

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) has selected four students to serve as interns in the second year of the international dairy leadership program. Jessica Brown, Stefani Christieson, KayCee Hartwig-Dittman and Makayla Toste will serve as dairy representatives, working with marketing teams representing CMAB during the summer in Mexico, South Korea and Taiwan.

The interns, selected from students enrolled in agriculture-related programs at colleges and universities throughout the state, were chosen based on academic achievement, connection to the dairy industry, and a willingness to travel abroad and learn more about international dairy sales and marketing as well as a plan to work in the California dairy industry in the future.dairy cattle

Over the six-week period, each intern will spend time with in-country CMAB marketing organizations—Brown in Taiwan, Christieson and Hartwig-Dittman in South Korea and Toste in Mexico—to gain a better understanding of these markets, consumer buying habits, and promotional efforts on behalf of California’s dairy industry.

Brown is currently enrolled at Fresno State, majoring in agriculture business. She was raised on her family’s vineyard in Tracy and has always had a passion for agriculture. Her desire to learn about agriculture outside of the U.S. has provided her with opportunities to study abroad, most recently in Spain. Because of her love of travel and learning about other cultures, Jessica is focusing on international marketing at college, with plans to work in this field of study upon graduation in 2020. Brown is a member of the agriculture marketing team at Fresno State and will be working with Steven Chu and Associates in Taipei, Taiwan.

Christieson is a recent graduate of the UC Davis, where she received her B.S. in Political Science and minors in economics and French. She will be attending graduate school in the fall at Sciences Po in Paris, France, for a year and then will complete the program at Fudan University in Shanghai, China in year two. Christieson plans to complete her master’s degree in international economic policy and pursue a career as agriculture economic policy advisor for an agriculture export market organization to help California farmers continue to expand into emerging and established markets overseas. Christieson will be working with Sohn’s Market Makers, Ltd. in S. Korea.

Hartwig-Dittman is currently enrolled at Fresno State, where she is majoring in dairy science and is employed at the dairy unit on campus. She has a culinary arts degree from Diablo Valley Community College and has experience working in the restaurant industry in California. Her love of travel and food has allowed her to travel outside of the U.S., where she has learned to use dairy products in new and creative ways with hopes to find innovative ways to introduce dairy to consumers around the world. Hartwig-Dittman will also be working with Sohn’s Market Makers, Ltd. in South Korea.

 Toste, a second-generation dairy farmer from Newman, received her B.S. degree in Animal Science with an emphasis in dairy science. During her last year at Fresno State, Toste served as the assistant herdsman for the Fresno State dairy unit, where she was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the dairy and an officer for the Fresno State Dairy Club. After the internship, she plans to work in the California dairy industry in promotion and marketing to help keep the industry viable for the next generation of farmers. Toste will serve as an intern with the team at Imalinx in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

“California accounts for more than 33 percent of all U.S. dairy exports so international trade is essential for our continued growth. Over the last decade, the CMAB has worked closely with partners in Asia and Mexico to develop markets for California dairy products. This program is focused on providing insight into international dairy marketing for future leaders like Jessica, Stefani, KayCee, and Makayla, who will work in the dairy business and one day serve on dairy industry boards and lead industry groups,” said Glenn Millar, Director of International Business Development for the CMAB.

The goal of the CMAB International Internship program is to provide agriculture/dairy college students an opportunity to learn about dairy foods and marketing in the international marketplace. The program looks to develop leaders who will serve on dairy industry boards and work in dairy foods production, processing, or sales/marketing.

Preparing for SGMA — The Time is Now

It’s Time to Manage Your Water Assets

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

It’s time for growers to start preparing for the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, otherwise known as SGMA, and groundwater consultant Chris Johnson is here to help.

Johnson, owner of Aegis Groundwater Consulting based out of Fresno, stressed the significance of farmers instrumenting their wells.

“It’s good for them to be able to manage them as assets, and then the data is important to defend themselves if they find they are being lumped in through SGMA and not being effectively represented,” he said.

Being misrepresented under SGMA can be a result of an “index well” data measurement. Index wells are a method of measuring water table levels in the area. However, their location might differ from where a farmer’s well is—meaning the data may not be indicative of the water the farmer is actually using.

Some growers might be concerned that metering their well may put them at risk of exceeding a pre-established limit, but according to Johnson, the meters provide enough data to prevent this from happening.

“The flow rate from the well not only tells you how it is behaving, but it also gives you another number to evaluate what the distribution and application systems are doing, so it’s a check that is available for them as well,” he said.

Even Organic Production of Strawberries Not Sustainable

Data Shows Even Organic Production Uses Resources

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Is growing strawberries organically sustainable? That’s something that Surendra Dara is trying to find out. Dara is a UC Cooperative Extension Advisor in Entomology and Biologicals. He is based in San Luis Obispo County as well as Santa Barbara County. Dara met with California Ag Today recently and let us in on his research and some of his findings.

“I have not come across a mainstream grower that has told me that organic is sustainable,” Dara said.

After pulling in data and understanding the inputs, Dara is asking if there is anybody out there that has a different opinion.

“When we are talking about sustainability, we are looking only in terms of non-chemical being the sustainable, ecological practice,” he said.

There are such things as organic pesticides that harm natural enemies.

“Some of the organic ones can be as bad as some of the chemicals,” Dara said.

Data is showing that growing strawberries organically has not been sustainable economically. In terms of the carbon footprint and the bigger picture, “even organic production is not sustainable with the resources because certainly some resources are being used up,” Dara said.

California Grape Growers Award Scholarships

Table Grape Growers Help Children of Field Workers

News Release

California’s table grape growers recently awarded scholarships to seven students in grape growing regions of the state. All recipients will be attending California universities or vocational schools.

Four field worker scholarships were awarded: one $3,500, two-year award for study at a vocational school and three $20,000, four-year awards for study at a California university. Three $20,000, four-year agricultural scholarships for study at a California university were also awarded.

 2019 scholarship recipients: $20,000 Four-year Field Worker Scholarships

Mr. Alex Aguilar is a graduate of Shafter High School. He graduated with a 4.3-grade point average and was the associated student body president as well as the all-state, small-school football player of the year. Alex plans to attend San Diego State University, where he will major in mechanical engineering with the goal of becoming an engineer.

Alex Aguilar

Ms. Julissa Elizondo is a graduate of Cesar E. Chavez High School in Delano, where she graduated with a grade point average of over 4.0. Julissa was a member of the superintendent’s honor roll and held an associated student body executive position. She plans to attend UC Davis to major in cell biology with the career goal of becoming an OB/GYN.

Julissa Ruby Elizondo

Mr. Diego Garcia is a graduate of Harmony Magnet Academy High School in Strathmore. He is a California Scholastic Federation member as well as an adult literacy volunteer. Diego graduated with a 4.17 grade point average, and his SAT score placed him in the 89th percentile nationally. He plans to attend UC Davis, where he will major in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior with the goal of becoming a surgeon.

Diego Garcia
$3,500 Two-year Field Worker Scholarship

Ms. Stephanie Torres is a graduate of Porterville High School. Stephanie plans to attend the Clovis Culinary Arts Academy and will pursue a career as a pastry chef. Stephanie graduated with a 3.3-grade point average.

Stephanie Alejandra Ramos Torres
$20,000 Four-year Agricultural Scholarships

Mr. Juan Espinoza is a graduate of Shafter High School, where he held a 4.3-grade point average. He is a four-year member of FFA, a member of the football team and the soccer team’s defensive player of the year. Juan plans to attend CSU Bakersfield, where he will major in agricultural engineering with a goal of mechanizing the table grape harvest.

Juan Nieto Espinoza

Mr. Nicholas Patton is a graduate of Golden West High School in Visalia, where he maintained a 4.0 grade point average. Nicholas was actively involved in FFA and the MVP of the varsity water polo team. He plans to attend UC Davis to major in biotechnology, followed by the pursuit of a master’s degree in biological engineering at Cornell University. Nicholas’ final goal is to develop new food technologies.

Nicholas Patton

Mr. Zachary Wilson is a graduate of Kingsburg High School with a 3.95 grade point average. He was a four-year honor roll student and associated student body vice president, as well as a member of Future Farmers of America (FFA), where he won numerous awards. Zachary plans to attend Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, to major in both agricultural sciences and agricultural business with the career goal of owning an agricultural business.

Zachary Wilson

Since 1985, the California Table Grape Commission (commission) has awarded scholarships to children of table grape field workers.

More than 130 students have received scholarships to attend vocational schools, community colleges, and California universities. In 2012, the commission created a new scholarship program, one designed to encourage those who want to study and work in the agriculture industry with an emphasis in the table grape industry.

To date, the program has helped 27 students attend four-year California universities.

2019 Strawberry Harvest is Brisk

Labor Tight, But Incentive Programs Keep Berries Harvested

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The 2019 strawberry harvest is going strong, and field employees are busy picking at the height the ripeness. Carolyn O’Donnell, a communication director for the California Strawberry Commission based in Watsonville, said lots of hands are harvesting the berries.

Carolyn O'Donnell
Carolyn O’Donnell, communications director, California Strawberry Commission

“We need to harvest the berries when ready,” O’Donnell said. “We can’t leave the ripe berries on the plant a few extra days, and we can’t harvest them early and then ripen them in some other modified atmosphere. They have to be picked when they’re ready to go. So, timing is part of it, as well as just having an adequate supply.”

O’Donnell explained how growers are handling the tight labor supply.

“It’s been a challenge. The growers have been doing all kinds of different incentive programs. Definitely, wages have been raised, different benefits have been offered, but we do find that growers are still struggling to keep up with their harvest,” O’Donnell said.

And when those harvesters out there picking the strawberries, they want to make the money, and they are in fact running back and forth with their trays to refill them.

“We are definitely in a busy harvest season right now. And so with a quick harvest comes incentive pay. And harvest workers will be hustling a little bit more. There are lots of berries to pick. There is money to be made,” O’Donnell said.