Americans Need to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

After Nearly 25 Years, It’s time to Advocate for Consumption

News Release From SafeFruitsAndVeggies.com

There is so much good stuff to say about organic and conventional produce, from studies which clearly show the safety of both to decades of research that illustrate the disease-prevention aspects of these nutrient-dense foods.  Plus, farms and farming companies continue to develop innovative, convenient fruits and vegetables, which are helping to increase consumption.

But while we are making some headway, only one in 10 Americans eat enough produce according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Why?  Because barriers to consumption still exist. One of those barriers is safety fears generated by certain groups who inaccurately disparage the more affordable and accessible forms of produce.

Among the longest and biggest offenders comes from an activist group that annually releases its so-called “dirty dozen” list.  Since 1995, this group’s fear-based ‘marketing against’ tactic disparaging the most popular produce items has been used in an attempt to promote purchasing of organic products.

Look, we completely understand advocating for your members when the information is credible and the science is strong.  The AFF advocates on behalf of organic and conventional farmers of fruits and vegetables and the safety of their products every day.  But when you raise unfounded fears based upon unsupportable science about the only food group health experts universally agree we should eat more of, it is time to revisit your approach.  Especially when peer reviewed research is showing this tactic may result in low income consumers stating they are less likely to purchase any produce—organic or conventional—after learning about the “dirty dozen” list.

Put another way, according to these research findings, this activist group may actually be marketing against their own constituents’ organic products by releasing this list.

To summarize, the “dirty dozen” list is scientifically unsupportable, it may negatively impact consumers’ purchasing decisions, and it’s possibly even detrimental to the very products the list authors are trying to promote.   After almost 25 years, it is time to retire this tactic in favor of more creative “marketing for” strategies that encourage consumption and doesn’t scare consumers.

Bowles Farming Co. Shares Success Secrets

Google Hangouts Helps Bowles Farming Communicate Throughout 

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

When it comes to agriculture, Merced County-based Bowles Farming Company has it figured out. With 160 years of experience, and six generations worth of history, the company has had a major influence on the state. Danny Royer, Vice President of Technology at Bowles, has valuable insight on what makes the company so successful.

Royer is in charge of the technology behind growing various crops including tomatoes, cotton, wheat, watermelon, and other organic commodities. He said that the key to solving issues is by sharing data within the operation.

“Data is what’s going to provide the solution, but we have to create systems that give the people [the data] who have the competencies to solve the problem,” he explained.

One way Bowles Farming Co. is able to achieve this is by using Google Hangouts on the farm, which enables them to communicate with different sectors of the operation single-handedly.

“We’ve got to be a little more transparent and open about sharing our information with people that are coming from the tech sector trying to help us,” Royer said.

“Facts Not Fear” Tour Brings Consumers One Step Closer to the Farm

“Facts Not Fear” Produce Safety Media Tour Helps Bloggers Learn About Ag

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

Closing the gap between the consumer and the farm is a continuous work in progress. Teresa Thorne, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming, is dedicated to making this happen. She helped put on the second “Facts Not Fear” Produce Safety Media Tour for registered dietitians, health and nutrition writers, and bloggers recently in the Salinas Valley, which directly focused on consumer concerns.

The “Fact Not Fear” tour allowed media influencers to see farming practices first hand, in hopes that they would share the information learned with the consumers that follow them.

Teresa Thorne

“We look at them to kind of be the consumer eyes and ears and really learn more about how we produce food,” Thorne explained.

Thorne also noted that one of the main topics brought up during the round table discussion was the great “organic versus conventional farming” debate. “The farmers that were there did a great job of talking about the fact that there’s actually more similarities than differences,” she said.

In a consumer-driven industry, educating people has never been more crucial.

“For them to come out and see firsthand what we do, and then share that back with those consumers and be able to address their concerns directly, it’s just really important for us.”

Tracking Social Media To Understand Consumer Food Likes

Social Media is Helpful in Agriculture

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Reaching consumers is key to helping with food confusion. Tamika Sims, the director of Food Technology communications for the International Food Information Council Foundation, is using social media to aid consumers.

“We will follow what is happening in … social media—including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest—to get a feel for how consumers are talking about food,” Sims said.

Sims noticed that differences and similarities between organic and conventional crops are being discussed with consumers, emphasizing how safe both are.

“That’s the one that we can’t seem to get enough of,” she said.

They talk about the differences and similarities as far as organic and conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.

“We talk to consumers about how they’re equally safe and equally nutritious and that one is not superior to the other when it comes to food safety or nutrition,” Sims said. “If you have access to either, feel free to enjoy both in an equal way.”

Interested in learning more? You can go to the IFIC’s website to check out their resources.

Conventional or Organic Strawberries — All Safe to Eat

Strawberry Grower Says At PPB, Anything Can be Found

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

David Peck is a longtime strawberry grower in Santa Maria. He objects to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen list, which had strawberries at the top of their list.

David Peck, COO and Farmer of Manzanita Berry Farms in Santa Maria

“If you take the data that the EWG is presenting, you can say, yeah, okay, that’s fair,” Peck said.

“Based on what they are presenting, they can find detectable amounts of whatever at however many parts per billion. I’ll buy that; but they’d have no perspective on the types of residues and what that means regarding human health, human safety, and human risk,” noted Peck, who grows both conventional and organic strawberries.

Peck said that even organic strawberries would have detectable amounts of residues.

“I tell people that I grow organic strawberries and that I do not put on the crop protection materials that the EWG is talking about,” he explained.

“At parts per billion (PPB), you can find dozens of carcinogens at minute levels. Where did they come from? Well, they are everywhere in such small quantities that no one should worry about it,” Peck said.

Peck said that the decision for consumers is not organic versus conventional, but to eat more strawberries and other fruits and vegetables.

“I say eating California produce in general is so much healthier than avoiding California fresh fruits and vegetables,” he said.

The Alliance for Food and Farming works hard to bring the truth to the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. They report that all produce is healthy to eat and that consumers need to eat more every day. More Information at www.safefruitsandveggies.com

Eighteen New California Farm Academy Graduates!

Eighteen New Farmers Graduate from California Farm Academy

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

The California Farm Academy, a part-time, seven-month, beginning farmer training program run by the Land-Based Learning, graduated 18 new farmers on Sunday, September 18, 2016.

 

With more than 250 hours of classroom and field training behind them, these enterprising graduates were honored by notables such as Karen Ross, secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA); Craig McNamara, president and owner of Sierra Orchards, as well as president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture; Sri Sethuratnam, director, California Farm Academy (CFA); and Mary Kimball, executive director, Center for Land-Based Learning, based in Winters California.

new farmers graduate from California Farm Academy beginning farmer training program run by the Land-Based Learning.
Eighteen new farmers graduated from California Farm Academy’s beginning farmer training program run by the Center for Land-Based Learning.

 

“The impetus of our program,” said Christine McMorrow, director of development for Land-Based Learning, “is the need for more farmers as the current ones age out. According to the USDA, over 700,000 new farmers will be needed in the next 20 years to replace those who retire.

 

CFA teachers, farmers, academic faculty and staff, and agricultural, natural resource and business professionals, teach CFA students basic production agricultural practices; crop planning; soil science; pest management; organic agriculture; irrigation and water management; marketing; ecology and conservation; obtaining loans, insurance and permits; farm financials; human resource management; risk management; farm safety; regulatory compliance and problem-solving.

 

McMorrow stated, “These folks have been with us since February, following a rigorous application process. A lot of these folks either have land they have dreamed of farming but did not know how to put it into production. Some of them come from farming families, but they wanted to get involved in the family business on their own. They may have been in a different career and now want to do something new or different. Perhaps they haven’t studied agriculture or they have not seen much agriculture other than what their family does, so this is an opportunity for them to learn and to explore a new business idea.

 

“We only take people who are serious about production agriculture. This is not a program for somebody who thinks, ‘I’ve got an acre in my backyard and I really want to grow something.’ While that’s a cool thing to do, the academy is not for those people.”

 

“Our graduating farmers, who range in age from their late 20s to early 50s, each wrote a business plan and presented it to folks within the agriculture industry,” said McMorrow. “They also planted some of their own crops on a farm in Winters.

 

McMorrow elaborated, “These new farmers have been able to create their own networks, having made contact with more than 40 different folks within the agricultural industry throughout the time they spent with us. These networks include local farmers around Yolo County, Solano County, Sacramento County, and other regions, and will help our graduates realize their dreams.”

 

California Farm Academy (CFA) We grow farmers

“This is the fifth class that has graduated,” explained McMorrow, “and mind you, these folks are doing lots of different things. Some of them already have their own land, some are going to work for someone who has land, some will work other farmers, and some will go into a food-related business.”

 

“Still others will stay and lease small plots of land from us,” McMorrow commented, “to start their own farming business. Beginning farmers face huge barriers to getting started, the biggest of which is access to land, capital and infrastructure. So, to get their farming businesses started, California Farm Academy alumni are eligible to lease land at sites in West Sacramento, Davis and Winters at a very low cost.”


The Center for Land-Based Learning exists to cultivate opportunity.

For the land.

For youth.

For the environment.

For business.

For the economy.

For the future of agriculture.

UC’s Karen Klonsky Retires

Karen Klonsky Retires, Gets Major Credit for CA Agricultural Cost and Return Studies

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor and Laurie Greene, Editor

 

This is an exclusive interview with Karen Klonsky, UC Davis Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus, in the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Her expertise has been farm management and production, sustainable agriculture and organic agriculture.

CAT: Congratulations on your recent retirement!UCANR 100 years logo

Klonsky: Thanks Patrick. I retired on July 1, 2015, after 34 years. I started at UC Davis in ’81, straight from graduate school.

CAT: What has been your primary research interest?

Klonsky: My primary research areas are sustainable and organic agriculture. I have approached these subjects from several dimensions, including the economic feasibility of alternative farming practices, the size and growth of organic production in California, and factors influencing the adoption of alternative farming systems.

CAT: Wow, what a great career! I understand your interest in alternative farming systems began with your dissertation work comparing alfalfa systems with integrated pest management.

Klonsky: I studied agricultural economics in graduate school and started working with a professor in my department who had a joint appointment in agricultural economics and entomology. And I just became very interested in that research area.

I worked with entomologists and researchers on a computer model of plants and alfalfa weevils, and their interaction, plus a management component. I studied the plant and bug components, then did the management part and imposed it on top and asked, ‘If you did this, how many bugs would die?’ The plant model showed how much the alfalfa would grow, and at what point you could cut the alfalfa and achieve the desired yield. I never actually did any fieldwork.”

CAT: Since 1983, you not only directed ongoing Cost and Return Studies, but the development of an entire archived library of Cost and Return Studies for the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. You recently completed studies on pistachios and walnuts, right?

Klonsky: Yes, both “Sample Costs to Establish and Produce English Walnuts In the Sacramento Valley, Micro sprinkler irrigated” and “Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Pistachios In the San Joaquin Valley-South, Low-Volume Irrigation.”

Our library contains studies about field, tree and vine crops and animal commodities. But since I retired, Dan Sumner, director, University of California Agricultural Issues Center and Frank H. Buck, Jr. Distinguished Professor for the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics has taken that over and I continue to be peripherally involved.

CAT: These cost studies have been recognized worldwide.ARE Cost and Return Studies

Klonsky: Yes, and it has been very gratifying work. We decided to put them online routinely, and we have had a million downloads per year. Around 2005, Pete Livingston, my staff research associate, got the idea of scanning in the older studies. All of the newer studies were in electronic file format, so posting was easy. However, most of the older studies were paper copies, so we got a grant to scan and add them to our new online archive.

CAT: What was the most interesting thing about doing those cost studies?

Klonsky: I loved doing those studies. I really learned a lot because all cost studies are done directly with farmers we met through county farm advisors. I really got to know what farmers were thinking about and what their options were.

CAT: So those were real costs, not university costs?

Klonsky: Those were not university costs. The farmers tell us what equipment they will use, and then we calculate the cost of using their equipment—the fuel used to operate the equipment and the repair costs—with an agriculture-engineering program.

CAT: Do you have a math background?

Klonsky: Yes, I got my bachelor’s at the University of Michigan in mathematics. It was very helpful.

CAT: And you also earned your Ph.D. at the University of Michigan?

Klonsky: Yes.

CAT: So did you grow up in Michigan?

Klonsky: No, I grew up in New York.

CAT: And you just had an interest in going to Michigan State University?

Klonsky: Well, I had an interest in agriculture because I had an uncle who farmed corn and vegetables in upstate New York. We would go up there and I thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world.

CAT: What were some of the highlights of your career?

Klonsky: For many, many years, I was involved in the long-term on-campus sustainable agriculture research on land that is now on Russell Ranch, but it started as Sustainable Ag Farming Systems. We looked at four different farming systems, organic, low input, high-input, and we did a lot of analyses with cover crops and rotations. It was great to work on that project.

CAT: And you worked with USDA on the trends of organic farms?

Klonsky: And then I worked quite a bit with Department of Food and Agriculture on using the registration data for their organic farmers to compile statistics about how many farmers they had, what they grew, and the number of acres they planted with each crop. They had this database, which started in 1992 I believe, but they weren’t using it. Now the most recent registration analysis is available for 2012.

CAT: Just to try to get more data on the organic movement and organic growth?

Klonsky: Yes, because there was no data at all about it. Now NASS (National Agriculture Statistics Service) conducts a nationwide Organic Census, in addition to the regular Census of Agriculture.

CAT: I understand you served as an editor of the Journal of American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA). What did that entail?ASFMRA

Klonsky: Yes. I did that for many years. ASFMRA is a national organization. The Journal of the ASFMRA comes out annually. As editor, I corresponded with the authors, assigned reviewers, and ultimately, accepted or rejected submissions, like any journal.

CAT: Did you travel a lot with your work and presentations?

Klonsky: You know, not so much, I went to Spain one time and France once for work. But I did travel around domestically to symposiums and conferences to speak on the economics of growing a lot of different crops, including many presentations at the EcoFarm Conference.

CAT: You worked and collaborated with some really interesting people.

Klonsky: Most of my important collaborations were conducting trials with people in other disciplines. For instance, at Russell Ranch, I was the only economist involved in the collaboration with plant pathologists and pomologists who ran trials to discover fumigation alternatives in the preplanting of trees.

Then I worked with people at UC Santa Cruz on alternatives for strawberry fumigation. Most of my work has been interdisciplinary.

CAT: California farming in general is huge, diverse industry. We produce 60% of the fruits and vegetables, and nearly 100 percent of the nut crops that people across the country consume. Any comments on that and on how valiant and resilient farmers are to get through year after year, particularly lately with the drought and the lack of water deliveries?

Klonsky: When I first started, there was a land price bubble, and there were a lot of bankruptcies because people had these land payments they just couldn’t pay.

It was kind of like the mortgage crisis that housing saw in 2008, agriculture saw in the early 80s.

CAT: So as you have been editor for the Journal of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, you see land values going up and that keeps agriculture strong—the high land values, right?

Klonsky: Well, but it keeps it expensive. So now there is more and more leasing of land. As farmers retire from permanent crops, they have an orchard, but they don’t really want to sell it, so they lease it.

CAT: There you go. Keep it somehow in the family.

Klonsky: Yes, they try to keep ownership in the family. Or what we see also are these development leases where a young farmer can’t afford to buy the land, so they lease the land, but they pay for the trees to be planted.

CAT: So you are still coming to your office at UC Davis?

Klonsky: I am officially retired, but we have what we call a ‘partial recall’ where you can do things if you have funding. I have a project along with Rachel Goodhue, Professor, UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, funded through the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The Department of Pesticide Regulations is required by law to do an economic analysis of all proposed new regulations. So that is what I am working on.

CAT: Give me a couple of examples. VOC regulations?

Klonsky: Yeah, we do VOC.

CAT: Are you looking at sustainable groundwater legislation?

Klonsky: No, just pesticide regulation. It is funded by the Mill tax on pesticides.

CAT: Did you work with a lot of graduate students at UC Davis?UC Davis Graduate Studies

Klonsky: Oh yeah, I worked with a lot of graduate students coming through. One of them was on different ways of pesticide management on eucalyptus trees. I said I went to Spain. On that trip, I spoke about growing eucalyptus for firewood.

CAT: That was an economic study, wasn’t it?

Klonsky: Yes it was. They grow it not for firewood, but for paper. But that never really caught on here.

CAT: Are you bullish on agriculture? Do you think Ag is going to continue thriving in California?

Klonsky: Oh, sure. Oh, sure. But I think that the water situation is definitely real, and I think agriculture already has definitely made tremendous strides in irrigation systems, especially the subsurface irrigation in vegetables, in particular processing tomatoes, which I worked on.

CAT: That was a huge improvement in growing tomatoes. And people didn’t think it was going to work, but it turned out to be fantastic.

Klonsky: Yeah, a really win-win on that one. And orchards are getting more efficient. If you look at the water per pound of crop produced, you see major improvements with water efficiency.

CAT: Absolutely. Of course, most plants transpire most of the water they take up through the roots, up through the leaves and the stomata cells. By the way, do you have any interesting stories regarding your career?

Klonsky: It’s not the highlight, but the weirdest thing of my career is I got an email from somebody in Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries from the United Arab Emirates. They wanted me to give a live presentation about Cooperative Extension in California and how it’s organized.

So I had to go to this office building in downtown Sacramento at 10:00 at night because of the time difference. I went into a conference room that had a special kind of projector so I could see them and they could see me. And on the monitor I see all these men walked in—they were all men—and half of them were in Western dress and half of them were wearing a Sheik-like headdress, with a band that sits on top and holds it on.

That was crazy, just being downtown after everybody is gone and the whole building was dark and quiet, except the one room that I was in.

CAT: How long was the presentation?

Klonsky: Gosh, maybe an hour.

CAT: You needed to do some research for that presentation?

Klonsky: Yeah, I had to do some research, I had to think about Cooperative Extension in a different way—the big picture. 

CAT: Keep up the good work, and I hope you are enjoying retirement.

Klonsky: Yeah, I come in two days a week, so it is nice to see everybody. I still get a lot of emails, which I need to answer.