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.

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Celebrate Labor Day With California Strawberries!

Add California Strawberries to Your Labor Day Event

 

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

Many people will be out and about with an extra day off on Labor Day, trying to get that last swallow of summer. They’ll crowd beaches, lakes, parks and backyard BBQs. What better way to celebrate the achievements of American workers than to add fresh-picked California strawberries to the menu?

Carolyn O'Donnell
Carolyn O’Donnell, communications director, California Strawberry Commission

 

“Any holiday can be celebrated with strawberries as they are available year-round,” said Carolyn O’Donnell, communications director of the California Strawberry Commission in Watsonville. “Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits around. They are sweet but low in sugar, and they are quite nutritious. People are often surprised to find out that having just eight medium strawberries gives you more vitamin C than eating an orange,” she said.

 

“Grown year-round, right now strawberries are coming mostly from the Salinas-Watsonville area on the Central Coast and also in the Santa Maria area,” noted O’Donnell. “As we get more into the fall there will be less coming from the northern sections and more from the Ventura County area to the south. Eventually strawberries will come out of Orange County and Northern San Diego County. The crop will roll back up the coast again with the New Year. By next April or May, strawberries will be coming mostly from the Watsonville area again,” O’Donnell explained.

generational_small strawberries

 

O’Donnell said that strawberry growers are very dedicated to growing the best possible product they can for their customers. “Their strawberries are actually often a crop of opportunity. A number of our farmers started as field workers and were able to work their way up to owning a farm because you can produce a lot of fruit and make a good living on a small amount of land.”

 

O’Donnell said supplies should be plentiful in the grocery store. “We probably have more fruit this time of year than usual probably because rain this past winter delayed harvest, which was good news. Now we’re just working our way along. Folks in the Watsonville areas are also beginning to start preparing their other pieces of fallow ground so that they can plant around Thanksgiving and produce next year’s crop,” she said.

 

Photos: Courtesy of California Strawberry Commission

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Lygus Bug Control in Strawberries

Lygus Bug Control in Strawberries Can Prevent Significant Damage

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

Adult Lygus Bug, Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM
Adult lygus bug, Lygus hesperus.
(Photo by Jack Kelly Clark, UC IPM)

In the coastal areas of California where the majority of strawberries are grown, the top pest pressure comes from the lygus bugHillary Thomas, senior production research manager with Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission, works on lygus bug control in strawberries, as it causes significant damage to the crop each season.

“We conservatively attribute between $150 and $250 million in damage each year to the lygus bug alone,” Thomas said. “We have only a few tools to handle this pest, including insecticide and vacuums, that can be used for the strawberry industry.”

Thomas explained vacuum use is widespread by both conventional and organic growers despite its drawbacks, beginning with the huge investment required by the grower. The vacuum is generally tractor-mounted with three or four vacuum fume hoods to one hydraulic system, and the entire vacuum system runs off the tractor’s PTO (power takeoff). The vacuum is so difficult to remove, it is typically installed on the tractor for the entire season.

Therefore, current research aims to make the vaccuum more useful, according to Thomas, by focusing on technological innovations to improve vacuum efficiency. She explained, “We are literally trying to suck up as many bugs as possible by moving the largest cubic volume of air and killing all the insects that move through the vacuum. We have created some standard operating procedures for vacuums as well as recommended short-term modifications to improve their efficiency by 25 percent. The Commission has also developed a series of trainings to disseminate information on the best management practices vacuums for growers.

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Alliance Against Food and Farmer Disparagement

The Alliance for Food and Farming Counters Food and Farmer Disparagement

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Laurie Greene and Courtney Steward, CaliforniaAgToday

Experts around the world agree that eating more fruits and vegetables is the best thing we can do to reduce disease, prevent obesity, and improve our health. But sometimes consumers need to know more about organic and conventional fruits and vegetables so they can make the right shopping choices for themselves and their families.

The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF), based in Watsonville, is a non-profit organization comprised of both organic and conventional farmers that delivers credible information to consumers about the safety of organic and conventional fruits and vegetables.

According to Teresa Thorne, with AFF, “Many organizations such as Friends of the Earth (FOE), and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) are at odds with AFF for providing science-based and peer-reviewed information to consumers so they can make good shopping choices for their families.”

Friends of the Earth logo“Whether consumers purchase organic or conventional produce, both are safe,” Thorne said. “Health experts say simply that we should be eating more. Decades of nutrition science and health experts everywhere support the recommendation to eat more organic and conventional produce every day for better health. So, it is a little puzzling why FOE and some of the other activist groups would be concerned about that message. But, apparently they are.”

“So, what we are trying to do,” explained Thorne “is present accurate and more balanced information for consumers. Our Board of Directors, nearly 7 years ago, established that calling our healthy and safe produce “dirty” or “toxic” has to stop. We are not going to allow the disparagement of these nutritious products and the disparagement of the farmers who are working hard every single day to provide these healthy products to consumers, to stand.”

Thorne said, “So, AFF got in gear to stop it, largely by going toe-to-toe with the EWG’s so-called ‘Dirty Dozen’ list—one of the main vehicles of product disparagement. Not long ago, when the EWG published the list, nearly all newspapers, television networks and cable channels gave it widespread media coverage in major media markets and publications.”

AFF has achieved some success by introducing peer-reviewed science from experts into consumer media, with the credible message that both organic and conventional produce are safe, healthful, and people should eat more of them every day. “Just in the course of the last six years of the campaign,” said Thorne, “we’ve seen coverage of the EWR list diminish to the extent that in 2015, only one daily newspaper in Ohio covered the story. So their message is mostly limited to blogs for those who are very friendly to their message.”

ewg logo

 

Aside from the “Dirty Dozen” list, the EWG website does support the same scientific research as the Alliance:

Should we eat more fruits and vegetables?

…The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Eating conventionally grown produce is far better than skipping fruits and vegetables. And with EWG’s Shopper’s Guide™, consumers don’t have to choose between pesticides and healthy diets.

Do all these pesticides mean I shouldn’t eat fruits and vegetables?

No, eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide™ to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally grown produce is better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.

Shouldn’t I try to buy everything organic?

EWG recommends buying organic whenever possible.

…However, we know that organics are not accessible or affordable for everyone, so we created the Shopper’s Guide™ to help consumers make the healthiest choices given their circumstances.

…EWG always recommends eating fruits and vegetables, even conventionally grown, over processed foods and other less healthy alternatives.

SafeFruitsandVeggies logo

AFF claims on its website:

We have an obesity epidemic and current media and internet reporting is increasing fears consumers have about eating fruits and vegetables and is lowering the faith people have in the government regulations implemented to protect them.  It is inaccurate to suggest that organic is the only safe choice when it comes to selecting safe fruits and vegetables; because there is no scientific consensus to substantiate this claim.

-See more at the Alliance’s website, SafeFruitsandVeggies.com.

Thorne believes the Alliance’s success has lead to another activist group, Friends of the Earth (FOE), taking them on. Thorne said FOE is trying to discredit the Alliance by calling it a “front group”.

In its “Spinning Food” report, published in June 2015, the FOE reports:CFBF logo

While the Alliance presents itself as a science-based resource on the safety of organic and conventional produce, its funding comes from trade groups for industrially grown apples, citrus, pears and grapes, among other industry groups.

The “leading corporate Board Members or Donors” of the Alliance are listed as:

-California Farm Bureau Federation

-Western Growers

-Produce Marketing Association

Western Growers logo

 

Wikipedia defines a front organization as “any entity set up by and controlled by another organization, such as intelligence agencies, organized crime groups, banned organizations, religious or political groups, advocacy groups, or corporations. Front organizations can act for the parent group without the actions being attributed to the parent group.”

Thorne stated, “We’re not a front group. We are who we are—very transparent. The entire tax return is posted on the “About Us” section of the AFF website, as well as:

Who is Behind the Alliance for Food and Farming?   andPMA Logo    How is the Alliance for Food and Farming funded?

“But they never attack the scientific content we present,” stated Thorne, “and that really underscores our science is good and solid. They only try to discredit the organization itself with those unfounded ‘front group’ allegations.”

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Strawberry Meeting Focused on Fumigants, Pest Control

Fumigation Was Big Topic at Santa Maria Strawberry Meeting

 

New laws and regulations on fumigation for Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County strawberry growers were in place for the first time this season, and growers did a good job for the most part. This and other topics were discussed at the Wednesday’s annual Strawberry Production and Pest Management Meeting in Santa Maria.

According to Lottie Martin, Ag Biologist, Santa Barbara County Ag Commissioners office, for the most part, grower chose the right tarps for the right situation. “Growers must be careful to use a 60 percent tarp when capping a fumigation with the

Surendra Dara, crop advisor, UC Cooperative Extension, San Luis Obispo
Surendra Dara, crop advisor, UC Cooperative Extension, San Luis Obispo

1,3 D,” said Martin. “Growers should plan well in advance to make sure the tarp that is needed, is available.”

Martin said mandated buffer zones were noted and documented, however operators need to do a better job with required signage.

Surendra Dara, a Strawberry and Vegetable Crops Advisor, UC Cooperative Extension, San Luis Obispo, spoke about re-evaluating lygus bug IPM tools in strawberries with a focus on field vacs, monitory and economic thresholds. He spoke of an experiment with softer chemistry such as well as using B. bassiana, a soil fungus that acts as a parasite to lygus. “A combination of B. bassiana and azadirachtin.

Hillary Thomas, research manager, California Strawberry Commission
Hillary Thomas, research manager, California Strawberry Commission

Hillary Thomas, Research Manager with California Strawberry Commission in Watsonville also spoke about lygus. Her focus was third year bug vac research for lygus control.

Kirk Larson, pomologist and strawberry production specialist with the UC South Coast Research and Education Center, Irvine
Kirk Larson, pomologist and strawberry production specialist with the UC South Coast Research and Education Center, Irvine
Kirk Larson, Pomologist and Strawberry Production Specialist with the UC South coast Research and Education Center, Irvine spoke about advanced selections and non-chilling plug plants.

Mark Bolda, Strawberry and Caneberry Farm Advisor and County Director with UC Cooperative Extension, Santa Cruz County spoke about strawberry transplanting and the critical importance of chilling hours necessary for strawberry production.

Steve Fennimore, Cooperative Extension Specialist, UC Davis updated attendees on the use of steam to kill soil pathogens, in place of fumigants. He said work is focused on reducing the cost and outlined possible use of a prototype machine around certain higher risk areas near buffer zones on production fields.

Karen Klonsky UC Cooperative Extension specialist
Karen Klonsky UC Cooperative Extension specialist

Karen Klonsky, Cooperative Extension Specialist, UC Davis spokes about the economic considerations of alternatives to fumigation and producing a second year crop.

Also speaking was Thomas Flewell, Flewell Consulting, Watsonville-Salinas. His topic focused on evaluating pest management strategies with numbers. What do the numbers mean and how do we really know what we’re doing.

A more detailed report can be found in future issue of Vegetables West Magazine. Free subscription at VegetablesWest.com.

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