Converting Food Waste Into Energy

Food Power per Hour

Food Waste Now Generating Power in Many US Cities


Considering that 795 million people around the world go hungry on any given day, it is shocking that many of us throw away food on a daily basis. In fact, one-third of all food produced globally goes to waste each year, amounting to 1.3 billion tons of wasted food with a value exceeding $1 trillion. According to a recently published report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), global hunger could be alleviated if just 25 percent of the food wasted each year was saved instead.


While food loss along the production line is a large contributor to waste in developing countries, in developed countries, food wastage tends to occur after it reaches the supermarket. This wastage is driven by affluent consumers who stock up their refrigerators with far more food than they can possibly eat before the recommended “best-by” dates. As a result, a large portion of uneaten food is discarded and simply replaced with even more food (which may later go uneaten).

The amount of food wasted varies from city to city, and with only nine of the top 25 most populated cities mandating food waste legislation, there is a lot of room for improvement. The good news: We do have cities leading the effort to reduce food waste across the country.

California has recently introduced a Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling law that requires all businesses to recycle their organic waste. CalRecycle has online resources that help consumers manage food waste, and it has been conducting workshops in support of a newly proposed Food Waste Prevention Grant Program.

As part of its Zero Waste Initiative, the City of Austin, Texas, recently voted unanimously for a city ordinance that requires all large restaurants (over 5,000 square feet) to separate compostable waste from other waste material.The Home Composting Rebate Program offers consumers a $75 rebate on a home composting system after attending a free composting class.

Businesses in New York City have also heeded the call of a Zero Waste Challenge. Restaurants composted organic waste, trained chefs to improve meal planning, reduced the amount of food produced after peak periods, and donated surplus food to an NGO that provides meals to the city’s homeless shelters. The 31 businesses that participated in the challenge collectively diverted 37,000 tons of waste by increasing recycling efforts, composting over 24,500 tons of organic material, and donating 322 tons of food. Additionally, in July 2016 the city mandated Business Organic Waste program, where qualified business are required to separate their organic waste for composting.

Every year the average person in North America may waste around 231 pounds of food, which if converted to energy, could power a 100 watt light bulb for two weeks. If you extrapolate that for the entire U.S. population, it represents a lot of energy that could be saved right there.

A country with a population of 319 million could waste as much as 74 billion pounds of food a year, which if saved could result in tremendous energy savings that could be put to much better use. But to reduce food waste, these savings need to be implemented from the bottom up rather than the top down, starting in individual homes and businesses in towns, cities, and states across the country. If each and every household and business made a concerted effort to reduce food waste, the collective savings regarding energy would be huge.


For more information visit




2021-07-20T11:00:30-07:00July 15th, 2021|

Chef Finalists Announced for CADairy2Go!

Real California Milk Foodservice Announces Chef Finalist For CADairy2Go

Finalists compete for over $22,000 in prizes for innovative use of California dairy

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) today announced chef finalists in the inaugural CADairy2Go foodservice competition – a spotlight on “to-go” meal innovation. The competition, which will award prize money totaling $22,500 for creative use of California cheese and dairy in off premise dishes, will culminate with a live cook off event July 28th at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, Calif.

Inspired by chefs and foodservice operators who made quick, creative pivots to adjust menus for the takeout and delivery model during the pandemic, the Real California Milk Foodservice Team invited 12 culinary professionals to compete in the CADairy2Go preliminary round. This list was winnowed to six finalist chefs and their creations to compete in a live cook-off event July 28th at the Culinary Institute of America’s Copia location in Napa, Calif.

During the live event, emceed by “Check, Please! Bay Area” host, Leslie Sbrocco, dishes will be evaluated by a panel of three leading culinary professionals: Barbara Alexander, Certified Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Educator from the American Culinary Association; Neil Doherty, Corporate Executive Chef – Sr. Director of Culinary Development at Sysco; and Duskie Estes, Culinary Personality, Chef and Co-owner of Black Pig Meat Co. and MacBryde Farm.

The 2021 CADairy2Go finalists are:

In the “Cheese+Mac” category, Carrie Baird of Rose’s Classic Americana in Boulder, Colo., preparing Skipjack & Cheesy Mac, a dish inspired by what she cooks for herself with a variety of tastes and textures including four California cheeses, skipjack tuna, charred broccoli, peas and corn along with togarashi, sriracha and furikake seasoning. She will compete against Alex Sadowsky of Twin Peaks in Dallas, Texas, who will showcase California Cacio e Pepe Cheese and Mac, a twist on the classic “cheese and pepper” dish using triple cream California brie and a California manchego.

Under “Cal-Mex”, Gina Galvan of Mood for Food Consulting in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. brings inspiration from family travels to Ensenada to her Surf & Turf Torta entry made with California panela cheese and lobster grilled in adobo butter, skirt steak, chorizo and California cotija cheese fries. Her competitor, Mary Grace Viado of Village Tavern in Birmingham, Ala., will showcase Mexi-Cali Shrimp Scampi, featuring cubes of blackened California panela and served with homemade arepas.

In the “Innovate to Go” category, Marti Lieberman of Mac Mart in Philadelphia, Pa. will be presenting her Rangoon-inspired entry, Mac’n Snax, which brings portability to her five-cheese, ranch mac and cheese made ready for easy snacking or entertaining. She will face off against Brian Mullins of Ms. Cheezious® in Miami, Fla. who marries grilled cheese with fresh California mozzarella, cheesy pesto and a California Dry Jack cheese frico coating in his Frico Pesto Melt, a partnership of cheesy, gooey and crunchy.

The cook off, hosted July 28th at the CIA’s Copia facility in Napa, will be streamed on Facebook live at 10:30 a.m. PT (Cheese+Mac), 12:30 p.m. PT (Cal-Mex), and 2:30 p.m. PT (Innovate To-Go) at Additional details on the competition and the chef competitors is available at CADairy2Go.

“We were inspired by the creations of the CADairy2Go chefs who really pushed themselves to create recipes that not only spotlight the best of California dairy but also hold up to the rigors of takeout and delivery to ensure a positive consumer experience,” said Nancy Campbell, Business Development consultant for CMAB Foodservice. “This is where dairy shines, bringing flavor and functionality to foodservice operators in an affordable package.”

As the nation’s largest dairy state, California boasts a long list of cheesemakers and dairy processors that are further driving to-go dining innovation. California leads the nation in milk production and is responsible for producing more butter, ice cream and nonfat dry milk than any other state. The state is the second-largest producer of cheese and yogurt. California milk and dairy foods can be identified by the Real California Milk seal, which certifies they are made exclusively with sustainably sourced milk from the state’s dairy farm families.

California is a reliable, consistent source of sustainable dairy products used by chefs throughout the world. Check out the CMAB’s REAL Makers chefs who rely on California dairy for their dishes.

2021-07-15T10:18:19-07:00July 15th, 2021|

Westlands: New Drought Affect Life in SJV

Five Things to Know About the Drought


From Westlands Water District


Every person who lives or works in Westlands Water District’s service area knows that California is facing yet another year of drought. We not only read and hear about it in the news, but we see it every single day in the fallowed fields around us. We feel it when we walk through the communities, like Mendota, Huron and Avenal. Drought conditions are affecting life in a very tangible way, especially here in the San Joaquin Valley.


There’s no doubt that the lack of water is having a negative impact on families and communities across the region. Westlands is working hard to collaborate with local, state, and federal partners to reduce the negative impacts of the drought. Here are five things – among many others – Westlands is doing to try to improve the short-term water supplies and advance long-term water reliability policies:


  1. Easing water purchases and transfers

Current drought conditions mean there just isn’t enough water to meet every demand. Not only have all south-of-Delta agricultural repayment and water service contractors had their Central Valley Project allocation reduced to 0 percent, but even municipal and industrial water users have been reduced to 25 percent of historic use. Water levels at lakes and reservoirs around the state are at historic lows.


At times like these, water purchases and transfers are critically important to support the communities and farms in the San Joaquin Valley. During drought, its essential to ensure that farmers receive sufficient water to meet their essential activities in order to sustain the community and the food people need. Westlands is working hard to purchase water, and to ensure that the water is available to the farmers in the District when they need it. That means working collaboratively with local, state, and federal partners, including regulators, to make it as easy as possible to move water as soon as possible.


  1. Groundwater stewardship

The farmers in Westlands have a long legacy of being good stewards of local groundwater resources – in fact, Westlands was formed, in part, because of concern with the groundwater aquifer underlying Westlands, with a focus on monitoring groundwater conditions. Farmers in Westlands have long known that groundwater management was critically important to the long-term viability of the region. The farmers’ and Westlands’ commitment to being thoughtful about groundwater use continues – not only because we’re now required to under the provisions of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) but also because it’s the right thing to do to protect local aquifers.


  1. Supporting major infrastructure investments

The water infrastructure system that brings water to Westlands has suffered from decades of inadequate funding. There has been inadequate investment in new storage to keep up with increased social demands and climate change patterns. The inadequate storage facilities are unable to store sufficient water in the wet periods to sustain the San Joaquin communities in the dry years. There has also been inadequate investment in our conveyance system, which, as a result, has lost carrying capacity. This lost capacity means it costs more energy and money to move less water today than it did just years ago.


In pursuit of improved water infrastructure, the District is proud to support companion state and federal legislation designed to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in much-needed funding to help make necessary upgrades to our state’s major water infrastructure. We also have continually advocated for projects that can help increase above and below ground storage, such as the District’s Pasajero Recharge Project, to help improve water reliability during dry years.


  1. Implementing Voluntary Agreements

The Voluntary Agreements (VAs) – an effort started by then-Governor Jerry Brown and maintained by Governor Gavin Newsom – is aimed at protecting and restoring the Bay-Delta ecosystem while improving reliability for the 35 million people, nearly 8 million acres of farmland, and hundreds of thousands of acres of California wetlands that depend on the Sacramento-San Joaquin watershed.


Westlands is among a broad coalition that  supports adoption and implementation of the VAs, which represent a 15 year science-based strategy that provides the resources needed to address the multiple factors that impair the ability of the Sacramento-San Joaquin watershed to serve the many needs California places on it.


Solar Project in the San Joaquin Valley

  1. Farming the sun

Westlands and farmers within Westlands recognize the value of solar energy development, which not only helps California reach its carbon-free energy goals and mitigate impacts of climate change, but it also gives “new” value to agriculture land. There’s already more than 700 MW of operational solar energy in the Westlands footprint – enough electricity to power approximately 130,000 homes. Westlands and the farmers within Westlands are often considering or pursing new solar projects.


The reality of our changing climate means that droughts may become even more frequent. Westlands is continually working to proactively to ensure the investments are made to reduce climate and drought impacts – not only this year but for many years to come.



2021-07-07T13:25:42-07:00July 7th, 2021|

Slowing Development Over Farmland

California Farmland Trust to Host Event to Slow Pace of Farmland Loss to Development


 California Farmland Trust (CFT) will be hosting the inaugural Race to Slow the Pace run at Bokisch Vineyards on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021. This live (virtual optional) 5K fundraiser aims to connect people with nature, the environment and the family farms that feed them. The run will foster a connection to the land and the importance of slowing the pace of development to protect valuable farmland.

“We believe in connecting people with the land that feeds our families and the Race to Slow the Pace is a fun, healthy opportunity to take in the climate resilient environment that farmland provides,” shared Charlotte Mitchell, executive director at California Farmland Trust. “When we were brainstorming locations, Bokisch Vineyards was an obvious fit. Markus and Liz have a true appreciation for the land and have championed our mission. Not to mention, the course offers breath-taking views and opportunities to learn what makes Bokisch Vineyards unique.”

California Winegrape Vineyard

California Winegrape Vineyard

Race to Slow the Pace runners will weave through the scenic Bokisch Vineyards, kicking-off where the winery meets the vineyard, continuing through the property on a maintained terrain, taking in the vines and the habitat, and eventually crossing the finish line at Bokisch’s infamous oak tree picnic area. Runners and registered guests will be served a paella lunch and celebrate with awards and Bokisch wine.

“We’re honored to host the inaugural Race to Slow the Pace benefitting California Farmland Trust,” shared Markus and Liz Bokisch. “It’s been our mission to leave the land better than we found it, for our children and our children’s children, while also teaching and inspiring others towards that cause. We look forward to having trained runners, casual joggers, wine enthusiasts, and those that simply love the land, visit our vineyard.”


For event information visit To learn more about Bokisch Vineyards visit

2021-06-24T21:35:08-07:00June 24th, 2021|

Patrick Cavanaugh Retires as Long-Time Print Editor

Cavanaugh Will Continue as Editor of and Broadcast Radio Reports


Following more than 36 years at the editor’s desk, Patrick Cavanaugh decided to end his month-to-month deadlines for Pacific Nut Producer (PNP) and Vegetables West magazines. Since his first stories in 1985, where he felt like an undergrad in a Ph.D. class until the April 2021 editions, Cavanaugh has written more than 2000 feature stories and edited both magazines.

“My career has been a rewarding journey of discovery, an appreciation of the movers and shakers in this innovative industry that feeds the world, and an opportunity to convey the challenges, complexities, and forward-thinking leadership that have shaped this essential industry,” noted Cavanaugh,

“When I first began my agriculture journalism work in California, it was for another publishing company no longer in business. In 1995 I left that company to launch PNP, which I co-owned with Dan Malcolm, Malcolm Media,” said Cavanaugh.  “After the first issues were published, the other publishing company, who published Nut Grower magazine, went out of business. It was time for PNP to take off, and it did.”

Tree nut nurseries were providing new and better varieties, and growers were planting them.  It was great seeing the dynamic industry become the dominant business that it is.

Looking back on those early days of covering the industries, there is a vast difference now. “For example, I remember the early Almond Board Annual meeting that consisted of a long table on a riser with elected handlers and growers sitting in particular seats. It was a half-day meeting. Today, the annual Almond Board Meeting has been expanded to nearly three days with scores of educational talks and a massive trade show,” said Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh in his Tucson office.

“From my vantage point, I have witnessed the incredible growth of this dynamic industry. In 1985, Almonds were on 400,000 acres, Pistachios were on 51,000 acres, and walnuts on about 134,000 acres. Tree nut nurseries have been providing new and better varieties, an increasing number of growers were planting these permanent crops, and tree nut acreage has more than doubled,” he said.

“Among the most important stories I’ve covered for Vegetables West was in 2007.  Following a tragic outbreak of E. coli linked to fresh spinach that sickened more than 200 people,” said Cavanaugh. “California farmers made an unprecedented commitment to protecting public health by creating the California Leafy Green Products Handler Marketing Agreement (LGMA). The program’s goal is to assure safe leafy greens and confidence in our food safety programs,” he noted.

Cavanaugh grew up in Florida and became very interested in agriculture. He studied agricultural production at the University of Florida. Upon graduating, he moved to Tucson to escape the humidity of the south.

Farmed Jojoba and Table Grapes in Arizona

While in Tucson, he worked for an Ag Management company producing 500 acres of jojoba that we pressed the oil from and sold the oil to cosmetic companies. The farm was near Casa Grande, about an hour north of Tucson. Cavanaugh was the ranch manager, and the company eventually converted the jojoba ranch into table grapes. Once we had Arizona’s Finest crop in cold storage, it would be sold and distributed to grocery stores in Phoenix and Tucson, as well as surrounding areas.

While at the ranch, Cavanaugh began writing freelance articles for the original company.  Eventually, Harry Cline, the company’s editor, made an offer to come to Fresno and work for the company. “That’s what I did.  And Harry became a valuable mentor,” he said.

While his magazine writing career is ending, he will still oversee and broadcast a daily Tree Nut Report for the Ag Information Network. That report is broadcasted throughout the state.

“Two years ago, my wife Laurie and I moved back to Tucson. We love the Southwest and wanted to return,” noted Cavanaugh.

“Lastly, I want to say that I am in awe of farmers, and I am grateful for their work to provide food for all of us. It has been a true joy to know so many growers and being on your farms,” he said.

2021-06-21T15:37:25-07:00June 21st, 2021|

Mask Rule Dropped for Ag Employees

Cal/OSHA Votes To Drop Workplace Mask Rule For Fully Vaccinated Workers

On Thursday, June 17th, California regulators approved revised worksite pandemic rules that allow fully vaccinated employees the same freedoms as when they are off the job. The revised regulations adopted come after weeks of confusion. They conform with general state guidelines by ending most mask rules for people who are vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order enabling the revisions to take effect without the normal 10-day approval period by the state Office of Administrative Law. See the COVID Prevention Emergency Readoption Standard here.

The key change in the revisions is abandoning a controversial provision where all employees would have had to wear masks indoors if there were unvaccinated employees in the workplace. Physical distancing and barriers are removed from the ETS, regardless of vaccination status. Physical distancing rules in employer-provided housing and transportation also are eliminated, if all employees are vaccinated.

Watch for additional details of the revised standard in Monday’s edition of the Update and register for the “Impacts of New COVID Rules on Ag Labor” webinar (see below).

2021-06-18T08:28:35-07:00June 18th, 2021|

Center for Land-Based Learning Increases Growth

Center for Land-Based Learning announces Unprecedented Organizational Growth

As the need for new farmers, agricultural leaders, and natural resource stewards continues to increase, the Center for Land-Based Learning is announcing its unprecedented organizational growth in response to this need.

The Center, which started offering its FARMS program in 1993, has remained committed to inspiring, educating, and cultivating future generations of farmers, agricultural leaders, and natural resource stewards in California over the long haul.

In 2017, the Center set forth a multi-year strategy plan to, among other goals, “build a new home in a new place.”

In May 2020, the Center moved to Woodland, after a successful capital campaign. The Center for Land-Based Learning’s Headquarters at Maples Farm is a 30-acre campus that houses their new offices, the Best Classroom where they will hold in-person classes when it is again safe to do so, and productive farmland and associated infrastructure. Beginning farmers in the Center’s California Farm Academy Farm Business Incubator Program can lease plots of farmland on Maples Farm or in West Sacramento, to grow their nascent agricultural ventures.

“We have been overwhelmed by the incredible support and the ability to propel innovative new programs and services at our new facility”, says Jeana Hultquist, Chair of the Center’s Board. “This also meant aligning our leadership with comparable forward-looking non-profit organizations.”

In the fall of 2020, the Board promoted Mary Kimball from Executive Director to CEO. Mary was the first employee hired to work with the Center back in 1998 and has served at its helm since 2003. Under Kimball’s leadership, the move to Maples Farm positions the Center for growing success for another 25 years.

The Center has also created several new positions in recent months. These include their new Director of Operations, filled by Jesus Zavala since December, their West Sacramento Urban Farm Program Coordinator, filled by Heather Lyon since April, and their Beginning Farm and Ranch Management Apprentice, filled by Erin Morris since April.

California Farm Academy Director, Dr. Sridharan (Sri) Sethuratnam, added, “At the Maples Farm, we have access to quadruple the amount of land, and dramatically improved infrastructure and equipment. The land and infrastructure provide us with the capacity to better support the beginning farmers in the region and will eventually contribute to growing the next generation of farmers that our country needs.”

To learn more about the Center for Land-Based Learning, or to give to their mission, please visit


The mission of the Center for Land-Based Learning is to inspire, educate, and cultivate future generations of farmers, agricultural leaders and natural resource stewards.

2021-06-18T08:37:57-07:00June 17th, 2021|

Almond Shipments Set New Record

Increased Demand Helps Almonds Overcome Port Issues, Tariffs, and COVID-19 Limitations


California almond shipments to consumer markets in the U.S. and across the globe hit a new record this year, despite port and trade issues and COVID-19 complications.


The May 2021 Position Report from the Almond Board of California (ABC) shows that the California industry shipped 219 million pounds in May – a record for the month – bringing the total this crop year to 2.45 billion pounds, setting a new record in just 10 months. The crop year for almonds runs from Aug. 1 to July 31.

“This shows continuing high demand for California almonds among consumers around the world,” said ABC President and CEO Richard Waycott. “People love almonds because they’re a remarkably sustainable plant protein, they’re versatile in a range of cuisines, they have outstanding health and beauty benefits, and they’re delicious.”


Record shipments across the globe


California almonds ship to more than 100 countries, and export growth has been impressive with a 30% overall increase over last year to date and record shipments in a number of markets.


tradeA month ago, India made history for California almonds. For the first time ever, a single market exceeded 300 million pounds of imports in one crop year. The current May report shows that India has now received 322 million pounds and is up 54% over the previous year to date.


The entire Asia-Pacific region continues its strong growth with a 46% increase overall. In that region, the China/Hong Kong market is up 72% year-to-year despite tariffs, South Korea increased by 42% and Vietnam is up an astounding 132% from last year.


Almost all European markets, east and west, continued their impressive growth in response to the high demand. Germany and Spain posted strong gains as did the Netherlands and Italy. Overall, European imports are up 18% from 2019-20.


The Middle East and North Africa are also regions with strong growing markets. Countries of note include the United Arab Emirates, which grew 31%, Egypt with 20% growth, and Morocco, which has a year-to-date increase of 148% over last year.


Growth in the U.S. continues to be strong, especially considering that the domestic market is large and well established. The year-to-year increase stands at 4% for the crop year.


“The world-wide appetite for almonds and our range of products continues to grow,” Waycott said. “Almonds outpaced all other nuts in new product introductions ranging from dairy alternatives and snacks to confectionery, bakery and bars. Our industry members have done a terrific job of moving the current crop and meeting the demand from consumers here in the U.S. and around the world.”

2021-06-14T13:53:28-07:00June 14th, 2021|

New Board of Directors Elected at Almond Board

Almond Board of California 2021 Election Results


The Almond Board of California (ABC) has released election results for the Board of Directors positions whose terms of office begin August 1, 2021. As a governing body for the industry, the ABC Board of Directors is comprised of five handler and five grower representatives who set policy and recommend budgets in several major areas, including production research, public relations and advertising, nutrition research, statistical reporting, quality control and food safety.

The names of the following nominees have been submitted to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for selection:

Independent Grower

Member Position One (one-year term):                

Paul Ewing, Los Banos       

Alternate Position One:          

Brandon Rebiero, Modesto

Member Position Three (three-year term):            

Joe Gardiner, Earlimart

Alternate Position Three:                                          

Chris Bettencourt, Westley   

Independent Handler

Member Position Two (three-year term):       

Bob Silveira, Williams

Alternate Position Two:                                             

Dexter Long, Ballico       

Member Position Three (one-year term):                  

Darren Rigg, Le Grand

Alternate Position Three:       

Chad DeRose, McFarland     

Cooperative Grower

Member Position Two (three-year term):        

Christine Gemperle, Ceres    

Alternate Position Two:     

Kent Stenderup, Bakersfield 

In addition, Lisa Giannini, Hickman, has been named to fill the Cooperative Grower Alternate Position One role.

2021-06-01T16:32:57-07:00June 1st, 2021|

Food Safety Constantly Improves

LGMA Taking Steps to Improve Food Safety


By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network

The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Board continues its efforts to assure safe leafy greens and confidence in food safety programs. Yesterday we reported on their endorsement of new pre-harvest testing guidance. CEO Tim York says this is just one step to continue improving overall food safety and avoiding future outbreaks.

“You know, this is just the first step in what we’re tackling that is the risk mitigation. Evaluating risks on their farm, whether it’s the adjacent land that we’ve talked about with cattle, whether it’s water, whether it’s soil, whether it’s the environment, harvest practices,” said York. “All those things we’re providing industry guidance on and working on metrics to help ensure and tighten up food safety requirements. Because we don’t want any more outbreaks. We don’t want any more sick consumers.”

“We don’t want any more impact on the industry. And so we have to accelerate what it is we’re doing address broader issues than just cattle, but starting somewhere, again because of FDA report started with cattle. But a number of different areas are under our purview that we’re working very quickly on within our technical committees to accelerate the guidance and accelerate the adoption of practices that would mitigate pathogen presence,” noted York

Learn more about these continued efforts on their website:

2021-05-28T11:58:35-07:00May 28th, 2021|
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