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|

California Supplies Thanksgiving

California Feeds the Nation on Thanksgiving!

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California ranks #8 in turkey production in the United States (2016), and we supply most of the western states from our poultry farms located in several areas in the state.

The famous Mrs. Cubbison’s Stuffing or “Dressing” originated from a ç, born in 1890 in the San Marcos area of San Diego County. In short, Cubbison graduated from California Polytechnical University in May 1920 with a degree in Home Economics having paid her way through school with the money she earned feeding the farm workers.

Cubbison created her popular stuffing in 1948 using broken pieces of the popular Melba toast and various seasonings. The factory in Commerce, California churns it out in mass quantities this time of year.

California farmers produce almonds, raisins, walnuts, prunes, figs, dates, apricots, pistachios, and pomegranates, right on up the food line.

These are all celebrated Thanksgiving foods.

Celery from the Oxnard and Ventura area completes the stuffing mix. Nutrient-dense carrots, lettuce and fresh spinach from Salinas now arrive, pre-washed and bagged, in your local produce department. Your Thanksgiving traditional green beans come from California growers.

An ample supply of freshly harvested oranges and kiwi fruit, table grapes, strawberries, and raspberries are shipped from many areas in the state. Seasonal features include sweet potatoes from the Merced, about an hour north of Fresno, plus all kinds and colors of potatoes and tomatoes, parsley, onions, and garlic—all crops are raised in California.

Nearly all the fruits, vegetables and nuts that are part of America’s Thanksgiving are sourced from California.

Don’t forget about the great varieties of wine grapes grown in the No. 1 agricultural state that are deftly crafted into delectable California wines.

Or the thirst-quenching Martinelli sparkling apple or grape cider from Watsonville California, near the Monterey Bay area. Local growers provide the tree-ripened fruit to the award-winning company that is still family-owned after almost 150 years and is managed by the founder’s grandson and great-grandson. Here’s something to discuss at your Thanksgiving meal:  the company won its first Gold Medal at the 1890 California State Fair in  Sacramento.

How about those heirloom and new apple varieties, plus those small round watermelons that we snack on or toss into a dessert fruit salad, topped with California pomegranate arils?

Of course, we raise poultry, and even California lamb, if you want to go that way. Here is a Did-you-know? challenge for your holiday meal:  What are the most recent Presidental Thanksgiving Turkeys from California pardoned by United States presidents? (Answers are below.)

And by the way, you know that food-safety pop-up turkey timer that indicates when the turkey has reached the correct internal temperature? Public relations genius Leo Pearlstein and a turkey producer in Turlock, a small town north of Fresno in Stanislaus County, invented this Thanksgiving fixture.

Back in the 1960s, they were sitting in a room trying to solve the undercooked poultry challenge, when they looked up and noticed ceiling fire sprinklers. The sprinklers sprayed water when the room temperature became hot enough to melt a tiny piece of metal alloy in the mechanism. This innovative team of two applied the same concept to the pop-up timer!

With the exception of cranberries, our national day of giving thanks for a bountiful harvest is really a California Thanksgiving.

Here are some friendly topics for discussion at your Thanksgiving Table:

  • What is the name of the famous Thanksgiving stuffing that originated in California?
  • What beverage company that is still operating won its first Gold Medal at the 1890 California State Fair?
  • How was the pop-up timer invented and by whom?
  • How does high does California rank in U.S. turkey production?
  • What are the most recent Presidental Thanksgiving Turkeys from California pardoned by United States presidents?

In 2010, President Obama pardoned Apple, a 45-pound turkey from Modesto, California-based Foster Farms; and alternate bird Cider. 

In 2015, President Obama pardoned Apple, a 45-pound turkey and an alternate 43-pound bird named Honest, again from Foster Farms.

The Presidential Turkey flock are Nicholas White turkeys, which originated in California’s Sonoma Valley in 1957. Today, the Nicholas White is the industry standard. (Foster Farms)

2021-05-12T11:17:10-07:00November 20th, 2017|

California Proudly Provides Most of Thanksgiving Feast to America

Enjoy Your Thanksgiving Feast

From California’s Farms to Your Table


By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director


Turkeys come from several areas of the state, and while California is ranked No. 7 in turkey production, we do supply most of the western United States.

The famous Mrs. Cubbison’s dressing comes from Sophie Cubbison, a California entrepreneur who was born in 1890 in the San Marcos area of San Diego County. A longer fascinating story made short: In May 1920, she graduated from California Polytechnical University with a degree in Home Economics. In 1948, she added seasoning to broken pieces of the popular Melba toast to make stuffing. A factory in Commerce, California churns it out this time of year.

Farmers and farmworkers in California produce almonds, raisins, walnuts, prunes, pistachios, figs and dates, apricots, pumpkins, pecans and pomegranates. . . right on up the food line.

These are all part of the American Thanksgiving feast.

Celery from the Oxnard and Ventura area, and the rest of the ingredients for the stuffing mix, plus carrots, lots of crisp lettuce and fresh spinach from Salinas — all these greens waiting for you, already washed and bagged in the produce department. The green beans in your casserole come from California growers.

You’ve got oranges and kiwi fruit, table grapes, strawberries, raspberries freshly harvested from the Salinas and the San Joaquin Valleys. You’ve got sweet potatoes from Merced County — this is their pinnacle season. You’ve got all kinds, colors and sizes of potatoes and tomatoes, plus parsley, onions and garlic. . .  all grown in California.

Practically all the fruits, vegetables and nuts make America’s Thanksgiving celebrations festive, and nearly all of them come from California.

And don’t forget about the great variety of California winegrapes cultivated by California growers and then crafted with great care into great California vintage.

Wait! We grow firm, juicy apples and those small round watermelons that are a great snack or accent to a flavorful dessert fruit salad. And besides poultry, we even have California lamb, beef, rice or pasta—if you want to go that way.

Of course, you’ve got Martinelli’s sparkling apple or grape cider from Watsonville, near the Monterey Bay area. Local growers provide the tree-ripened fruit to the award-winning company, which is still family-owned and is run by the founder’s grandson and great-grandson.

At more than 140 years old, Martinelli’s is merely one century younger than our nation. In fact, the company received a first place award at the California State Fair in 1890.

By the way, do you know that little pop-up turkey timer that indicates when the turkey has reached the correct internal temperature? Food public relations genius Leo Pearlstein¹, along with a turkey producer from Turlock, invented that gizmo. Pearlstein, who handled the promotions for the California Turkey Advisory Board, was contemplating the enduring Thanksgiving conundrum—how long to cook the turkey and how to figure out when it is done?

Pearlstein said he and the turkey rancher were sitting in Pearlstein’s test kitchen mulling over ways consumers could determine when the turkey was done. They noticed the fire sprinkler system overhead. When the kitchen gets too hot, the fire sprinkler turns on. A metal alloy in the sprinkler is activated or melted when subjected to the high temperature of a fire in the room (185 degrees Fahrenheit). They applied that concept to the pop-up timer.

Officially, the National Turkey Federation advises consumers also use a conventional meat thermometer to verify that the cooked turkey’s internal temperature reaches:

165 degrees F to 170 degrees F in the breast or
175 degrees F to 180 degrees F in the thigh and
165 degrees F in the center of the stuffing

Except for cranberries, it is really a California Thanksgiving.

¹Leo Pearlstein is founder and president of Lee & Associates, Inc., a full-service public relations and advertising firm, which he opened in 1950. According to the company website, he currently runs the company with his partners, two of his sons, Howard and Frank Pearlstein. He is also founder and director of Western Research Kitchens, the food and beverage division of his agencyHe is considered a pioneer food consultant and his agency was recently named as one of the top agencies in the country that specializes in food and beverage clients.

For more food safety guidelines, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) provides this portal.

2021-05-12T11:17:11-07:00November 23rd, 2016|

Historic Temperance Flat MOU Signing

Assemblymember Bigelow on Historic July 1 MOU Signing

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

East of Fresno at Friant Dam last Friday, July 1, the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority (SJVWIA) and the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate and complete feasibility studies of the proposed Temperance Flat Dam. 

Historic July 1, 2016 MOU Signing for Temperance Flat Dam

Historic July 1, 2016 MOU Signing for Temperance Flat Dam

State Assemblymember Frank Bigelow, 5th Assembly District (serving a large portion of Madera County, along with all the foothill and mountain communities north of Madera to the Sacramento area) noted the critical importance of getting Temperance Flat Dam built to store freshwater for the citizens and farmers of California.

Bigelow, a Madera rancher and farmer of pistachios, figs, and persimmons, said, “This is a huge event to enable us to have additional [water] storage. I just am so thankful to the people who put the water bond forward. Without the money that the people have made possible by voting to support the water bond, none of this would be possible; that’s a clear message.”

Friant Dam and Millerton Lake State Recreation Area

Friant Dam and Millerton Lake State Recreation Area (Source: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation)

“Without water,” Bigelow explained, “none of our communities would continue to survive in the way they have for years and years. Much of the water we see is being used in different ways; it is not all going to agriculture, and it is not all going to residential. It is going to the environment. So we’ve got to divide that up by the law now, and in equal proportional value.”

“Right now,” he detailed, “Millerton Lake captures 526,000 acre-feet of [fresh] water, but we have millions of lost acre-feet that flow past every year into the Delta, then ultimately to the ocean.” Upon completion, the Temperance Flat Dam would hold more than twice the amount of water that Friant Dam holds—”especially important for capturing freshwater during heavy rain and snow years,” noted Bigelow.


2016-07-07T10:05:08-07:00July 7th, 2016|

Valley Fig Growers Have Rich History

Valley Fig Growers Foresees Bright Future

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

As the 2016 fig crop continues to ripen in Madera County orchards, the fig industry is finding a good balance between supply and demand. Gary Jue, president of Fresno-based Valley Fig Growers, said the association is last fig growers cooperative in the world. “Our growers, who are mainly in Madera County, produce only dried figs,”said Jue. “We do not handle any fresh figs.”

“Formed in 1959 by a group of growers,” explained Jue, “Valley Fig grower-members are our owners, and individuals like myself work at the pleasure of the board of directors and our owners. We are a very diversified dried fig company. We probably produce the largest quantity of dried fig products offered by any processor/packer.”

“Our goal is to provide innovative products to our customers,” Jue explained, “our industrial customers—food manufacturers, in particularas a way to enable them to use our products in their products. We want to be as user-friendly as we can, so we listen to consumer needs to get our product in their hands and make it easy for them to use. The more we can do that, the more successful we’ll be at with providing figs to the consumer,” he said.

Gary Jue

Gary Jue, president of Valley Fig Growers.

Fig popularity has grown over the last five to seven years, Jue said, including fresh figs in season. “That’s been very popular especially at the high-end restaurants,” noted Jue. “We’re starting to see more and more dried fig products used in entrees in high-end restaurants, and even in mid-sized-priced restaurants.”

“If you go to the renowned coffee supplier that you see in every port and city in the U.S. and abroad,” Jue said, “you’ll see our figs in a product they provide. It is great to see products like that on the shelf! Confectioners are also on the wagon, as we’re starting to see more confectionery products now made with dried figs that we had not seen in the past.”

Jue mentioned during the holiday season last year, one of the Valley Fig accounts provided a whole chocolate covered fig product that was great. “Now,” he said, “we’re looking to determine if this is going to be a seasonal item or a year-round item. That large wholesale supplier really did a great job of introducing this confectionery fig into the mainstream public marketplace. It’s not a high-end specialty item, but something that anybody can go to the retail shop everyday to buy and enjoy. That has been a great, great upshot,” Jue affirmed.

This is all good news for the fig industry because Americans tend not to be big fig consumers as the fig is not indigenous to the United States. More typically, figs are enjoyed with greater consumption throughout the Mediterranean region as they have been produced there since pre-biblical times. During Roman times, figs were given as prizes. “Through carbon dating studies,” Jue elaborated, “we have determined figs were the first cultivated food known to humankind.”

“Because the crop has been around for so long, figs are very well known in Europe. Europeans grow up eating figs, but Americans are starting to develop a palate for dried figs and fresh figs as well,” said Jue. “And for us in the fig industry, it’s great to see that occurring.”

2016-06-29T21:06:21-07:00June 29th, 2016|

Semios Approved for Navel Orangeworm Control

Semios Aerosol Pheromone Approved for Navel Orangeworm Control

Announced TODAY, Semios, a leading provider of real-time agricultural information and precision pest management tools, has received US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval and California Department of Pest Regulation (DPR) approval for aerosol pheromone biopesticide products that disrupt the mating of the Navel Orangeworm (NOW).  
Michael Gilbert, founder and CEO of Semios said, “The Navel Orangeworm pest causes significant loss of crop and revenue in the California almond and pistachio industries, and it’s getting worse every year.  The Semios NOW pheromone aerosol formulas give farmers the ability to reduce and control pest populations and, as a result, significantly reduce crop damage.  The Semios pheromone aerosol dispenser is part of a custom-designed controller and sensor network that gives farmers decision-making tools and remote access to the field conditions in real-time- all day, every day.”

Remote Control Makes it Highly Effective

The Semios platform includes in-field camera traps that monitor the number of pests and flight strength, which when combined with wind, temperature and other environmental conditions measured and reported by Semios, optimize pheromone deployment.  The combination of traps, pheromone dispensers and other sensors on the same network means farmers can deploy the right amount of pheromones where and when needed through a single interface.

A Destructive Pest for Many Crops

NOW is the most destructive pest of introduced nut crops. Semios NOW Plus and Semios NOW Standard (for organic growers) are available for control of NOW in orchards growing walnuts, pistachios, almonds, dates, figs, citrus, pome and stone fruits.


Sustainable Solution

Pheromones are a naturally occurring part of the communication systems used by insects.  Semios uses pheromones to disrupt the mating cycle of insects, thus diminishing pest populations and reducing crop damage.  Pheromones do not kill or damage the target insects and, as pheromones are species-specific and only target the specific pest, pollinators and other beneficial insect species are not affected.


About Semios

Semios is a leading precision farming platform that provides real-time information and pest management tools for the tree fruit, nut and grape growers.   Semios combines hardware with powerful secure online software that monitors field and weather conditions and allows remote pest monitoring and deployment of mating disruption pheromones. It’s easy to use, reduces labor and allows farmers to make decisions that preserve and increase crop value.
2021-05-12T11:03:03-07:00March 2nd, 2016|

Joe Marchini, Mr. Radicchio

Joe in truckJoe Marchini Brings Radicchio to California

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Joe Marchini, of J. Marchini Farms, was born in 1938 to Italian parents who farmed and packed tomatoes in Le Grand, Calif. Marchini has lived and worked in that locale for his whole life, exemplifying a high level of spirit and accomplishment.

His father, Florindo Marchini, brought his family over from Tuscany in 1920.” They settled in Le Grand because Florindo’s brother was already living there when Florindo first arrived. Before long, Florindo met a long time grower by the name of Carlo Giampaoli who invited Marchini to grow tomatoes and bell peppers with him. So Giampaoli took Florindo Marchini under his wing, and his brother as well, and established their farm, Giampaoli-Marchini Company. Together, they packaged tomatoes under the Live Oak brand because they actually packed the produce by hand in the shade of a live oak tree that still thrives there today!

Florindo’s son, Joe Marchini, was around seven when he began working at the packing shed stamping produce boxes. “I would sit on a box,” he said, “and as they came down the line, I used a little stamp pad to size tomatoes 6/6, 7/7, 7/8, 5/6, 4/4, 3/4. I only worked about 3-4 hours a day, and that was it. The older I got, the more I became involved in different things, from stamping, to packing, to wrapping tomatoes in cellophane paper and putting them in a box.”

The tomatoes were packed green and transported back east by train in ice cars. “They weren’t pink ones; no, they were dead green! They knew when to pick them, when the gel formed inside of the tomatoes,” Marchini said. “They could tell by the color and the shine of the tomatoes, and that’s what the pickers were supposed to pick. They were going to break soon. It took about a week, running day and night, to get to New York on steamer trains.”

“The early farming venture was comprised of 150 acres, which was a lot of acreage with horses,” said Marchini. “In the fall, we would travel to Gustine and cut tulles and bamboo for our tomato stakes.”

“My two brothers, Richard and Leonard Marchini, went to school with me. None of us could speak any English; we only spoke Italian,” Marchini said. So they all learned English in a small schoolhouse with two classrooms and one teacher.

“My dad grew tomatoes on that land for two years and then planted 40 acres of almond trees. The almonds were harvested green and then dried down by air.” Of course this was before mechanical shakers were used to harvest, so it was done with mallets and tarps. “It was very tough work,” noted Marchini, “and the price of almonds was less than 60 cents a pound.” Marchini credits Blue Diamond Growers, a cooperative he joined, with marketing the almonds so prices could increase.Radicchio


Mr. Radicchio

Not satisfied with growing only tomatoes and almonds, Joe Marchini was always looking for something new to grow. In 1962 on a trip to Italy, Joe noticed fields of radicchio, a leafy Italian chicory and relative of endive, in the Venice area and found the crop was selling well in Italian grocery stores. He said, “I liked the crop and thought it would grow well in California, so I smuggled in little packages of seeds.”

Unfortunately, the seeds he brought back did not grow well. “Radicchio production wasn’t perfected and the source I had in Italy did not tell me what season the seeds were for.” Marchini’s radicchio would grow and form green leaves but not make a head. So Marchini went back to Italy, 40 miles southeast of Venice, to talk to growers, but no one would talk. “I certainly could not tell the guys that I was going back to the U.S. to grow the crop,” he said.

Marchini finally found a couple of growers to ship a 100-pound sack of seeds to San Francisco for him. “I picked up the bag, planted the seed and the same thing happened—it didn’t grow.” He called the Italian growers and asked how many different radicchio varieties they were growing. They told him eight varieties. “I asked them why they sent me only one variety, why they did not tell me when to plant the seed, and if they wanted me to buy more seed, they had better tell me what varieties to grow,” he said.

“Since I spoke Italian, the growers started to open up. Eventually, I brought them to the U.S., and we partnered up to grow radicchio. I even sent them to Mexico because they thought they could produce an earlier crop than in California,” Marchini said. After reaching mediocre success for about four years in Mexico, they moved back to California to work with Marchini, now without a partnership.

The company now productively farms in Mexico with the right seed. “We farm in Mexico for the winter crop in February, March and April. But before we started growing in Mexico, in the late 1970s, we started in Salinas and then in the San Joaquin Valley. The Italian growers knew what to plant and we got all the varieties in the right mode that would do well. The Italians wanted to be partners again and I declined it because I had kids coming up, but I told them that I would buy all the seeds from them, and they were making good money. So they ended up disclosing the secret in the whole deal of growing radicchio. So without them, and me speaking Italian, we would have never gotten started. We are still friends today and I’m still buying seed from them,” Marchini said.

Over the years, Marchini has worked with his son Jeff to plant the right seed at the right time. They learned which varieties could handle different climates, such as going into the heat, and coming out of the heat, and they emerged with 6 or 7 dependable varieties.

“So we plant six varieties in the fall, one week after the other. We can have radicchio in the San Joaquin Valley from November until March, and we harvest seven days a week.

His processors want radicchio 12 months out of the year, so Marchini’s company manages harvesting to fill the sales pipeline 12 months a year. “And we never run out of it,” he said.

Joe's Premium LogoToday, Marchini uses about 12 different labels, including his own image on the ‘Joe’s Premium Radicchio’ box, for the domestic market and select export markets. “We let global importers pick their own labels. J. Marchini ships all over the world now, including Italy, and has a large percentage of the market in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. “They love the color of radicchio in a blend,” he said.

J. Marchini deals with nearly every processor in California including Taylor Farms, Apio, Fresh Express, Dole, Earth Bound, and Ready Pac, year-round, with production from Kern to Merced counties and Mexico.

Managing all this production with Joe and his son Jeff (the third generation), are grandchildren Marc and Nic and Francesca (fourth generation), with the fifth generation coming along with Gabriella, Maximus and little Giuseppe, named after his great-grandfather Joe (Giuseppe). Marc and Francesca work in the sales and post-harvest side of the business. Nic works in the farming operation side of the business. Jeff oversees the company as a whole.

Overseeing production, and especially the harvest of the radicchio throughout the growing regions, including Mexico, is Alejandro Calderon, Joe Marchini’s right hand since day one. Jenny MacAfee, a key person in the sales department, has been on board for the last 20 years.

Today Marchini farms three main radicchio varieties: Castelfranco (white head with red polka dot specks), Treviso (elongated red with white ribs), and Palo Rosa (red head type with white veins). “We do a three-pack deal in the wintertime with all three varieties together, but we also grow many other varieties,” said Marchini.

J. Marchini Farms’ production operation, based in Watsonville, a great climate for radicchio in the summer months, includes 2,000 acres spread between the Central Valley, the Coastal areas and Mexico.

The Central Valley fall and winter nighttime temperatures are cool, and radicchio production, five lines down the row on 80-inch beds, is about 20,000 pounds per acre, with most of it on drip or sprinkler.

The operation also grows almonds, walnuts, fresh figs and other crops, “but radicchio has been a good ride,” said Marchini. “We have had ups and downs with the crop, but overall it has provided a good cash flow,” he said.


For the last three years, Joe Marchini has been dealing with Squamous Cell Carcinoma (the second most common form of skin cancer) and has undergone multiple surgeries and treatments. His love for his family and his incredible passion for farming keep him going.


J. Marchini Farms

2016-05-31T19:27:06-07:00October 16th, 2015|

Gladwin’s Final Year As A Farmer

Tonetta Simone Gladwin on Final Year as a Farmer

As the fourth-year drought continues, some farmers have conceded to the elements and the limited water allocations and have made the decision to make their final year in the farming business. Tonetta Simone Gladwin, the third generation owner of Passion Fruit Farms, a fig operation in Merced, Calif., said this year would be her last.

“As a third generation, I’m the last generation in my family. We’ve all farmed figs,” Gladwin said. “I don’t think Grandpa had any idea of the challenges we have to face today. Never did he think we’d have $10 per hour in labor wages, no water deliveries and some of the regulations we’ve had to face and overcome. These challenges are so different from those in his day.”


Passion Fruit Farms FBPassion Fruit Farms

2016-05-31T19:28:06-07:00August 18th, 2015|
Go to Top