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Food news from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Food news from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Fresno’s Southeast Asian farmers are on trend with new ‘superfood’
Farmer Vang Thao has been managing a successful farm south of Fresno for nearly 30 years, producing a spectacular array of vegetables – heirloom tomatoes, purple bell peppers, water spinach, bitter melon, Thai eggplant and dozens of others. Every weekend the family traverses the Grape Vine to set up a visual feast at farmers markets in Santa Monica, Hollywood, Palos Verdes, Torrance and Hollywood. Acclaimed Los Angeles chefs rave about his produce, according to a Los Angeles Times...




School food: Supporting healthy kids and local food systems
School food service is a multibillion dollar industry that impacts the lives of over 30 million (mostly) low-income students. Every school day and, with increasing frequency, during summer weekdays as well, this industry provides two-thirds of students' meals (breakfast and lunch), as well as snacks, contributing a large portion of the nutrients youth consume throughout their childhoods. To qualify for a free school lunch, a family of three must make less than $26,208 in 2016-17. School food...




Growers get labor-saving ideas at UC Grape Day
Will machines replace the romance of the hand-cultivated wine grape vineyard? A “touchless” vineyard was among the latest research on labor shortages, weeds and pest management by UC Cooperative Extension scientists discussed at Grape Day at the UC Davis Oakville Station, located in the epicenter of California wine country, on June 6. About 200 wine grape growers, vineyard consultants and other industry people attended to learn about the latest UC Cooperative Extension research....




UC Master Food Preserver volunteers in tribal communities
Throughout Humboldt and Del Norte counties, the UC Master Food Preserver Program is actively engaging with tribal members. In fact, the UC Master Food Preserver volunteers have been “jamming it up” since 2017 with over 15 workshops for tribal community members. Kella Roberts, of United Indian Health Services, has helped more than 280 community members improve their health and wellness - one jar, one dehydrator, one freezer bag at a time. Their workshops support existing efforts...




Strawberry stands sell berries fresh from the field
Slugs, snails, ants, aphids, spider mites and inclement weather conspire against strawberry growers harvesting perfect red berries to sell. “Farming is hard work,” said Fam Lee, as she pulled a weed from a row of strawberry plants. Lee and her husband Nathan Punh are among about 60 Mien farmers in the Sacramento area who call on Margaret Lloyd, a UC Cooperative Extension advisor, for farming advice. “Although we are not organic farmers, we always want to go with...




A Sacramento coalition wants to serve 1 million healthy meals to children this summer
When school's out, many children who live in poverty no longer eat nutritious meals like they do during school as part of the free and reduced-cost school lunch program. UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in Sacramento County has joined a coalition to promote the summer meals program, which is aiming to serve one million meals during summer 2018. The coalition was formed by State Sen. Richard Pan, who invited Sacramento students to...




Growing gardeners and nourishing communities
Spring is here, and oftentimes the busiest season of the year for gardeners to plant edibles with dreams of ripe tomatoes and rows of juicy strawberries. But what about the “non” gardeners, you know the people who struggle to keep a cactus alive? Is there hope for a plentiful harvest for those self-identified terrible gardeners? Absolutely. Food gardening takes some work, but if you have the determination and are willing to get your hands dirty, UC Master Gardener Program...




Growers get help from UC in estimating raspberry production costs
When growers are considering a new crop to plant, and penciling out their expenses and income, cost estimates from the University of California may help. A new cost and return study for commercially producing raspberries released by UC ANR Agricultural Issues Center and UC Cooperative Extension includes an expanded section on labor. Sample costs to establish, produce and harvest raspberries for fresh market in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties are presented in “Sample Costs...




UC Global Food Initiative Fellows gather to discuss food system changemaking
Sustainability. Food justice. Research to action. These were the themes discussed April 13–14, 2018, as emerging food leaders throughout the UC system gathered in San Diego for a tour titled “The Rooted University: Bridging food system changemaking on and off campus.” The trip brought together nearly two dozen 2018 Global Food Initiative Fellows, all of whom are working on projects that advance the mission of the UC-wide Global Food Initiative. This strategic initiative was...




New labor laws factored into UC cost studies for table grape production
To help table grape growers make decisions on which varieties to grow, the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Agricultural Issues Center has released four new studies on the costs and returns of table grapes in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. The studies on different table grape varieties are each based on a 500-acre farm with vineyard establishment on 40 acres. The studies focus on four table grape varieties. There are two early maturing varieties, Flame Seedless and Sheegene-21, that...




NPI study finds that prices for fruits and vegetables may be higher in low-income neighborhoods
Shoppers purchasing fruits and vegetables in stores located in low-income neighborhoods in California may pay more for those fruits and vegetables than shoppers in other neighborhoods, according to a study that examined prices in a large sample of stores throughout the state. Published online in March 2018 in the journal Public Health Nutrition, the study, conducted by researchers at UC's Nutrition Policy Institute, involved more than 200 large grocery stores, 600 small markets, and 600...




What's that in your cornmeal?
You're thinking about making Grandma's Southern Cornbread. You head for your pantry. You remember that six months ago you purchased a bag of cornmeal from a local supermarket and that you immediately emptied the contents into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. You open the airtight jar and notice something strange. It's moving. Moving? Moving? Yes! It's crawling with a transparent carpet of dozens of nearly microscopic critters. What? First, what are they? If you're like me, you grab your...




Got backyard chickens? Get their eggs tested for free
Californians who raise poultry outdoors are invited to get their eggs tested for contaminants. To find out if harmful substances on the ground that are eaten by birds get passed along in the eggs they lay, Maurice Pitesky, UC Cooperative Extension poultry specialist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, is providing free egg testing. “We're trying to understand the connection between the environment that backyard poultry are raised in and the eggs they are producing,”...




Urban farming workshops start soon in Sacramento and San Diego
Are you an urban farmer in the Sacramento or San Diego region? Are you a gardener thinking of selling some of your produce to neighbors, restaurants or at a farmers' market? Are you part of a non-profit organization growing and distributing food in your community? If so, you are invited to join other urban farmers at one or more of four low-cost full-day workshops starting soon in both the Sacramento and San Diego regions, offered by UC Cooperative Extension and local partners. Learn more...




Announcing California's inaugural Food Waste Prevention Week
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Nutrition Policy Institute are pleased to announce March 5 - 9, 2018, as California's inaugural Food Waste Prevention Week. During this week, a range of partners statewide, including the Governor, the Secretary of Agriculture, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, as well as many other agency leaders in public health, natural resources management, nutrition, and other sectors, are coming together in an unprecedented collaboration to raise...




SNAP-Ed: It's a life changer
In January, more than 600 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) professionals across California gathered in Sacramento for the SNAP-Ed Local Implementing Agency Forum. This two-day annual gathering celebrates SNAP-Ed work, offers a platform to share lessons learned, and provides training opportunities. The 2018 theme was: “Building Power through Stories of Change”. During one of the plenary sessions, Stories of Change: Voices from the Community, we...




Why I'm the cupcake police
Put yourself for a minute in some kid-sized shoes. Let's call you Maggie. You are in third grade. Your dad works full time and he picked you up from the afterschool program at 6:00 p.m. You and dad got home about 7:00 p.m. because you had to stop by QuikMart to pick up something for dinner and put a little gas in the car. When you got home dad cooked the frozen pizza and you sat down to eat and drink your soda around 7:30 p.m. By the time you finished eating, took your shower, helped dad...




New preschool food mural to encourage healthful eating to be unveiled Feb. 23
Students' surroundings can greatly impact their learning and health, research has shown. In an effort to enhance nutrition, learning and health for these students in Oakland, the University of California Cooperative Extension, UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program, Luther Burbank Preschool and Oakland Unified School District Early Childhood Education supported the installation of a mural that features silhouettes of children of different abilities among flowers, fruit and other foods cast...




Farmers can increase income by expanding small operations with creative new businesses
Farms that sell only fresh produce are dependent on buyers for markets and pricing. The UC Cooperative Extension small farms team in Fresno and Tulare counties believes farmers can earn more money by taking production a step further, by adding extra value to their products with processing, preserving and packaging the produce. UC Cooperative Extension small farms advisor Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, and Fresno State's Office of...




On Super Bowl Sunday, don't drop the ball on food safety
At Super Bowl parties, dropped passes and missed tackles should be the only things making football fans' stomachs churn. Leaving food out for more than two hours can be hazardous to your health and that of your guests, cautions a UC Cooperative Extension nutrition expert. You may be thinking, “I've eaten food that sat out longer than two hours and not thrown up.” Consider yourself lucky. “We keep learning more about foodborne illness,” says Patti Wooten Swanson, UC...




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