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.

California State Fair announces first Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition

Source: CDFA

The California State Fair is expanding its commercial competitions for 2015 to include a competition for extra virgin olive oil. Of all the olive oil produced in the United States, California produces 99 percent of it.

Extra virgin olive oils in more than 15 different classes and divisions, including blends and flavored olive oils will be judged during the competition. The entry deadline is April 1, 2015. The California State Fair Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition is open only to California olive oil producers.

From July 10-26 the State Fair will feature a special California extra virgin olive oil exhibit with the award-winning extra virgin olive oils on display, interactive educational exhibits, free tastings and market research surveys.

On average, the world consumes approximately 2.25 million tons of olive oil each year and annual consumption in the United States has increased from 30 million gallons to nearly 70 million gallons a year over the last two decades.

Producers wishing to enter the Extra Virgin Olive Oil competition should visit to view the competition handbook for rules and entry information.

This project is supported by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is funded by the USDA and administered by CDFA. The goal of the project is to promote the awareness and availability of award-winning California extra virgin olive oils.

Save Our Water Does Double Duty at State Fair, Hosts Exhibits Featuring Indoor and Outdoor Water Saving Tips

The drought is on and so is the California State Fair. This year, the Save Our Water campaign is doubling down its messaging on conservation by hosting two exhibits at the fair – one on indoor water conservation and the other on outdoor conservation.

Save Our Water is the water conservation campaign co-managed by ACWA and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).  Staff from both organizations will be on hand this year to help attendees identify opportunities to conserve.

The outdoor garden area exhibit on outdoor water conservation tips is themed “It’s Easy as 1, 2, 3.” Its featured tips are:  1 – Get efficient– with your Irrigation system. 2 – Get smart with new technology. 3 – Get green with great plants, compost and mulch.

The indoor exhibit is set up to look like a home to inspire fairgoers to conserve water. It offers three islands that focus on saving water in the kitchen, laundry, and bathroom. Each island has an interactive component.

“Californians have a great resource in Save Our Water to help them combat this extraordinary drought,” said Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. “We hope taking part in events like the State Fair will encourage even more of us to join the effort to save water.”

Mark Cowin,  director of DWR, added:  “The State Fair has always been a great opportunity to connect with Californians and spread the message of how important it is to save water. Now that the drought has brought the issue of conservation to the forefront, the Save Our Water displays are especially timely.”

Save Our Water has been connecting Californians to daily drought tips and news via its recently launched Don’t Waste Summer campaign. The campaign is devoted to providing daily tips and news on the new microsite –– to help Californians find ways to conserve at home and at work every day. Save Our Water’s Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram are also great resources for Californians looking to join the effort to save water.

To learn more about the Save Our Water program, visit

Agriculture Shows Off at the California State Fair!

The State Fair Farm is three acres of living proof of the importance of agriculture and food production in California.

The Kitchen

‘The California State Fair is pleased to announce the newly expanded and enhanced program, “The Kitchen.” The success of this annual culinary program (formerly known as Foodstyle) has afforded the fair the opportunity to relocate it into the California Counties Building, where it will be centrally located among The Farm, Save Mart Supermarkets Wine Garden, and the Craft Brew Pub. The Kitchen will give us more room to expand the program and allow us to continue to showcase California’s Agriculture and the bounty our great state produces.State-Fair-SaveMart2013

The new “Kitchen Theatre” will continue to offer our traditional food judging events, cooking demonstrations, and chef challenges while the programming will showcase the “Farm to Fork” philosophy. Along with the three main cooking stations in the Kitchen Theatre, The Kitchen will also have a new “Do-It-Yourself” space that will offer programs such as “Make Your Own Pickles,” “5-Minute Marinades,” and many other topics of interest.

The Kitchen’s exciting exhibits will not only educate fair guests, but will entertain as well. Sacramento Area Beekeepers Association’s Kate Morton continues to be instrumental in helping us to educate the public about beekeepers and in staffing the wonderful volunteers that come out to help every year.

The Farm presented by Save Mart Supermarkets

What’s growing on at The Farm?  The Save Mart Supermarkets is taking “farm to fork” to the next level this year, relocating next to The Farm presented by Save Mart Supermarket to create a completely immersive experience, not to be missed. Guests can go to Save Mart’s California Kitchen (featuring the SMUD Energy Efficient Kitchen Theatre with Official Partner California Family Fitness) and get a Save Mart Supermarkets recipe passport and learn about more than 70 crops grown in California. Taste local culinary delights prepared by chefs at our outdoor kitchen grill.

Epic Chef Battles

Food Network junkies will enjoy watching as firefighters, postal workers, 4-H youth, rising stars from cooking schools and others go head-to-head in timed cooking competitions with surprise ingredients. Don’t miss local pros as they defend their street-cred in the Professional Chef Challenge. And this year, check out our men in uniform as they face-off for a Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) Cooking Challenge.

Get Your Grill On
Just outside The Kitchen is The Grill, a shady outdoor demonstration kitchen that brings the fork right to the farm. Here, you can pick up techniques for your own backyard culinary adventures.

Bragging Rights
Our panel of highly esteemed judges has a tough job to do, tasting their way through the state’s best homemade cookies, pies, preserves, sauces and more. Watch the judging events live – but try not to drool!

In The Raw
Sample California’s finest and freshest produce at the In The Raw Taste Center, featuring personal appearances by farmers, suppliers and Save Mart Supermarkets experts.  This experience is sure to have you looking at food in new way. 

Blue-Ribbon Secrets
Learn the recipes for top fair entries as home chefs demonstrate how to make their prize-winning treats.

Fermentation Sensation
The Home Brew and Home Wine exhibits will introduce fair-goers to the time-honored tradition of home-crafted libations. Get tips on how to taste wine; hone your nose with interactive sensory experiences; and experience innovative technologies and demonstrations on brewing beer.

Food With A View
This demonstration counter allows you to get up-close-and-personal with California’s culinary experts. Gain inspiration for your own kitchen learning about dehydrated foods, gourmet waffle making, one-pot meals, decorative food carving and more.

A Taste Of The East
The Little Saigon Cooking Series invites chefs from the famed Sacramento neighborhood to demonstrate Asian recipes and cooking techniques.

Learn about fish farming by visiting our aquaculture and aquaponics displays. Check out water-efficient gardens sponsored by the Department of Water Resources. Get gardening tips from our Master Gardeners booth. For even more fun, go inside our greenhouse to learn about orchids and careers in horticulture. Step back in time at our blacksmith booth. See what’s buzzing at the insect pavilion. Visit Urban Farming to learn about backyard and container gardening. Then let the kids race off to Kids Pedal Tractor Pull for some good family fun!

Don’t forget the Commercial Wine Competition, Cheese Competition and Commercial Craft Brew Competition, plus the Winery-of-the-Day partners.

Want to plan your day at the fair down to the last deep-fried Twinkie? There’s an online tool for that.

Make an account on the California State Fair website, advises the Sacramento Bee, and browse through each day’s events, exhibits and special activities. Add items to a schedule you can import to your phone’s iCal or Google Calendar for easy reference at the fair. You can also search all activities in a certain category, such as animals or entertainment, to figure out when and where your fair favorites are being offered. Though the program is not available for download, the tool is mobile-compatible, so you can access the site on your phone anywhere you go.

California State Fair Announces 2014 Agriculturalist of the Year

For over 160 years, the California State Fair has showcased the progress and advancements of the State’s agricultural industry. The extraordinary contributions of many individuals and businesses committed to advancing our robust agricultural industry has resulted in growing public interest. In celebration of these accomplishments, the California State Fair annually presents a series of prestigious awards.

The California Exposition and State Fair Board of Directors unanimously approved the nomination of Craig McNamara as the 2014 Agriculturalist of the Year.

“The State Fair has been recognizing California’s best for over 160 years, and honoring Craig is in keeping with this tradition of excellence,” said Rick K. Pickering, Chief Executive Officer of the California State Fair. “His leadership on critical policy issues facing California’s farmers, his passion to inspire the next generation of farmers, and his tireless dedication to responsible land stewardship, are samples of how he has positively impacted our great State for generations to come. California is a better place because of leaders like Craig McNamara.”

California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross also praised McNamara, “I wish to offer my congratulations to my colleague and friend Craig McNamara for being named Agriculturalist of the Year by the California State Fair. Craig is a uniquely visionary leader – someone who is highly deserving of this prestigious award.  Beyond his deep commitment as a farmer and as president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, Craig has a passion to bring disparate parties together to focus on the big challenges of our time. He has demonstrated his understanding of the need to reach our next generation through the great work of his groundbreaking Center for Land Based Learning in Winters, which connects students to nature and agriculture and, in the process, helps to groom our future farmers and leaders. Again, my heartfelt congratulations to Craig. He’s an agriculturist for all-time.”

The Agriculturalist of the Year award is presented to an individual who has contributed extensively, in a professional capacity, to California’s agricultural industry. Award criteria stipulates this individual must have demonstrated leadership and clearly represented the industry over a number of years in one or more of the following areas: finance, government, production agriculture, education, labor, research, communications, trade and public service.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” said honoree Craig McNamara, President of the State Food and Agriculture Board. “Todays farmers face daunting challenges but the opportunities available to us have never been more robust or promising. Our state is fortunate to have visionary leaders and informed citizens who care deeply about the future of our farms and our food.”

The Agriculturalist of the Year Award will be presented to Craig McNamara at the annual State Fair Gala held on Friday, June 27th, 2014. To learn more about ticket and sponsorship opportunities, contact Linda Hunt at  

To learn more about Craig McNamara, please click here to see his biography.