Trade Offs for Sustainability

Sustainability is All About Trade Offs

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network

There is often misunderstanding and disagreement on what is truly sustainable when it comes to food and agriculture. Food futurist and author Jack Bobo said a lot of this difference in perspective comes from how localized your point of view is coming from. He says it’s a continuum that involves trade offs along the way.

“We need to think of sustainability, not in terms of good or bad or right or wrong, but in terms of choices and consequences. Consumers think of sustainability in terms of local sustainability,” Bobo said. “If I use less water, less fertilizer, less insecticides, that’s good. But agribusinesses think in terms of global sustainability. The more intensively I farm, the lower the impact in other places. And so it’s a continuum from local sustainability to global sustainability, and there will always be trade offs between the two.

“Organic has a lower local environmental footprint often, but it has a bigger global footprint because you just need more acres. Consumers though, are working with food companies and asking for regenerative because it has that local environmental benefit, but we need them to also understand the global consequences of that,” explained Bobo.

Bobo recently released a new book titled “Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices”.

2021-09-08T21:07:09-07:00September 8th, 2021|

Benefits of Gene Editing in Produce

Gene Editing in Produce Could Help Solve Food Shortages

By Tim Hammerich with the Ag Information Network 

 

Throughout the GMO revolution of many row crops, the technology was largely not applied to the fresh produce industry. Gene editing, however, is different. It allows breeders to edit the genome of these crops in the same way that could happen in nature, speeding up the process and opening new doors to solve problems in the food supply. Here’s Produce Marketing Association vp of technology Vonnie Estes.

 

“There’s a number of things like, non-browning is a trait that’s pretty easy to do on a lot of different crops,” said Estes.  “And so that really allows for a lot less food waste. And so let’s focus on that. How can we make, you know, fruit and vegetables, more convenient so that people, especially children eat more of them? And so looking at the convenience factor is important. So I think we’re at this really great point right now of we have these tools, you know, how do we move this along so that it’s best for the consumer?”

Estes sees big benefits to gene editing technology for consumers, the planet, and for farmers.

“You know, these technologies are really going to help as we start having the effects of climate change more, where you don’t have as much water as you used to. And so you have to grow a different variety because you don’t have as much water, or it’s too hot. Really being able to use gene editing to help around climate change and where people are growing crops is going to make a big difference,” explained Estes.

 

The key, says Estes, will be communicating about this technology to consumers.

2021-08-18T17:26:30-07:00August 18th, 2021|

Virtual Almond Conf. Attracted World Wide Audience

Virtual Almond Conference Was Big Success

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with the Ag Information Network

The recent virtual almond conference was a big success and people all over the world were watching and participating.

Richard Waycott is president and CEO of the almond board of California, with some details of the virtual conference.

“We have a few statistics. We had over 3,000 unique visitors and participants throughout the three days, we also had 149 exhibitors that partook in this year’s conference, and more than 40 countries from around the world participated as well. So, I think a pretty robust experience or the Almond Conference 2020,” said Waycott.

Waycott said, it always seems to go by fast, whether it’s a virtual or in- person conference.

“I know that usually when we’re in an in-person conference environment, we usually have a gala dinner on the second night and all the remains of the conference is sort of a half day on Thursday on the third day,” Waycott said. “And I always remark how, wow, how did those two days go by so quickly? And we’re almost over, you know?”

And it happened in the virtual conference as well. And Waycott is confident that we’re going to be meeting in person next year.

“It’s December 7-9 2021, we are going to be in Sacramento at the Convention Center. I will be there, come vaccines, whatever it takes but we will be there. And we look forward seeing you there,” Waycott noted.

2021-01-05T10:26:15-08:00December 22nd, 2020|

Dan Sumner on Almond Industry

 

Economics Of The Massive and Growing California Almond Industry

By Patrick Cavanaugh, with the Ag Information Network

Dan Sumner is a Distinguished professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis, as well as the Director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis.

“Of course, we’ve seen this coming for a decade. So, we’ve known that the bearings acreage was going to continue to go up because we’ve got the non-bearing acreage, and that’ always coming up,” Sumner said. “We don’t know for sure how many acres will be pulled, but nobody’s surprised that we have a massive crop.”almond crop

“The question is long-term demand. Do we get used to lower prices? There’s a million-dollar question. Actually, that’s a billion-dollar question, isn’t it? And nobody really knows the answer and I’m not going to pretend like I do either,” said Sumner.

“And we do know as well that even though you can’t grow almonds, very many places everybody’s trying to figure out whether the can expand outside of California. So,we know it’s a world crop and California dominates the world,” Sumner said. “It’s not just our additional size of crop, but it’s the rest of the world as well. And you can do a few almonds in Australia and you can do a few almonds here and there, and everybody’s going to try to figure out they can expand,” he said.

“And so, I don’t see any long-term disaster going on and almonds that is to say demand will continue to grow. But the real question is can demand keep up with the very rapid production increases. And the answer is maybe,” explained Sumner.

2020-12-17T18:01:07-08:00December 17th, 2020|

Act Now to Help Pass the USMCA

House to Take First Step Towards Full Ratification of USMCA

Provided by California Farm Bureau Federation

This Thursday, the House will take the first step towards full ratification of the renegotiated NAFTA known as the “US-Mexico-Canada Agreement” (USMCA). California agriculture exports $6.6 billion in goods to Canada and Mexico and supports more than 56,000 jobs.
 
Since NAFTA was implemented, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico quadrupled from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $39 billion in 2017. After President Trump renegotiated NAFTA, the International Trade Commission determined that the USMCA would have a positive impact on the U.S. economy and a positive impact on U.S. agriculture. An additional $2.2 billion in exports is expected once this agreement is ratified.
 
Congress must pass USMCA to preserve the proven successes of NAFTA while enjoying greater access to dairy, chicken, and eggs. The agreement has positive updates for fruit exports, improvements in biotechnology, protected geographical indications, and strengthened sanitary/phytosanitary measures.
 
All in all, the USMCA is needed to bring more stability to the volatile trade market. Please reach out today to your U.S. Representative to urge their YES vote on this important agreement.

Click Here: ACT NOW for USMCA House Passage

2019-12-25T14:06:59-08:00December 18th, 2019|

Produce Passes All Residue Testing in 2017

FDA Produce Residue Sampling “Once Again” Verifies Safety

Last week the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released its 2017 pesticide residue sampling data results. FDA concluded: “The latest set of results demonstrate once again that the majority of the foods we test are well below the federal limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Note the term “once again” in FDA’s statement. They used it because government residue sampling data year after year reaffirms the safety of our food and the exceptionally high level of compliance among farmers with laws and regulations covering the use of organic and conventional pesticides.

Let’s get a little technical for a moment and focus on how FDA residue sampling is protective of consumers. FDA employs a three-fold strategy to enforce the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) tolerances or safety standards for pesticide residues.
If you haven’t heard – September is National Fruit and Vegetable month. Yes, it is time to celebrate the only food group health experts and nutritionists agree we should all eat more of every day for better health and a longer life.
While decades of studies have shown the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables are overwhelming and significant, the safety of both organic and conventional produce is also impressive. Government sampling data shows an over 99% compliance rate among farmers with the laws and regulations required for pesticide applications on organic and conventional fruit and vegetable crops. This led the United States Department of Agriculture to state that: “The U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world.”

Many health organizations are promoting National Fruit and Vegetable month to remind consumers about the importance of increasing consumption – only one in 10 of us eat enough of these nutrient-packed foods each day.

However, studies show a growing barrier to consumption is fear-based messaging which inaccurately calls into question the safety of the more affordable and accessible fruits and veggies. This messaging is predominantly carried by the same activist groups year after year despite studies which show that “prescriptions” for fruits and veggies could reduce health care costs by $40 billion annually. Or that 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented each year.

2019-09-23T15:06:22-07:00September 23rd, 2019|

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.

2021-05-12T11:05:02-07:00July 19th, 2019|

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.

2019-07-11T15:56:37-07:00July 11th, 2019|

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.

2021-05-12T11:05:02-07:00July 10th, 2019|

Help Avoid Cardiovascular Death—Produce is Medicine

Study: Low Produce Consumption Results in Millions of Cardiovascular Deaths

News Release

Over the last two months, the findings of three major peer-reviewed studies have led the lead authors to the exact same conclusion:  We must increase our efforts to promote produce consumption for the benefit of public health.

The most recent study published in Science Daily found that one in seven cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough fruit, while one in 12 of these deaths could be attributed to not eating enough vegetables. Put another way, low fruit and veggie consumption resulted in an estimated three million deaths from heart disease.produce

“Fruits and vegetables are a modifiable component of diet that can impact preventable deaths globally,” according to lead author Dr. Victoria Miller, Tufts University, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world.”

Another study recently published found that “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. And the third found that improving eating and drinking habits could prevent one in five deaths around the world.  “Eating too few fruits and vegetables and too much sodium accounted for half of all deaths and two-thirds of the years of disability attributable to diet,” according to this study.

While these findings about the nutritional benefits of produce are significant and dramatic, the three studies simply support decades of research which found that a plant-rich diet leads to better health and a longer life.

This is why the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) strongly advocates for consumer choice by working to remove misguided safety fears as a barrier to consumption.  Click here to continue reading or to “Like” or share this blog post.

2021-05-12T11:05:02-07:00July 2nd, 2019|
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