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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

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...




4-H chili cookoff: Heralding green and white
What's green and white and wins a county 4-H chili cookoff? Chili, 4-H chili. And it's just in time for Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 4 when the New England Patriots square off in Minneapolis, Minn., with the Philadelphia Eagles. A sibling team from the Dixon Ridge 4-H Club won the 2018 Solano County 4-H Chili Cookoff with a recipe titled “4-H Green and White Chili," featuring pork shoulder and pork sausage and four different varieties of peppers. The five-team competition took place at...




Keep spoilage away with UC Master Food Preserver guidelines
What's the best aspect of food preservation in the winter? Safely enjoying the fruits (veggies and meats) of your labor! How do you ensure that time is spent savoring the sight, smell, and taste of a home preserved product, rather than turning up your nose at unsightly mold speckled contents? First, stay organized. From the very beginning, implement a canning system. For example, jars, lids, and rings are used in the canning process, but not all can be re-used. Visibly mark used lids to...




Produce safety training ensuring continued enjoyment of specialty crops
Oakleaf, Mizuna, Red Rib Chicory, Lollo Rosa, and Lamb's Lettuce, are the names of a few of the leafy vegetables which graced my salad plate. The thinly sliced fresh red onion, juicy pomegranate kernels, and fresh citrus dressing added to the delectable ensemble. I, as well as so many other California diners, have grown accustomed to the taste-bud sensations that await us in this day of the farm-to-fork movement. As I inhaled my salad, I couldn't help but think of the recent E. coli O157:H7...




New project seeks to build on the benefits of elderberries
Can plants typically grown for hedgerows also be a source of income? That's the question guiding a new UC study on the potential for farmers to grow elderberries as a commercial crop. Blue elderberry, a California native plant with clusters of small bluish-black berries and a sweet-tart flavor, have long been eaten by Native Americans in the western states and are used today in jam, syrups, wines and liqueurs. And while elderberry orchards are popping up in parts of the Midwest, California's...




Trends we're watching in 2018: experts weigh in on water, GM, science communication and more
As we settle into 2018, it's natural to wonder what the New Year may bring. There have been dozens of "trend pieces" discussing what's in store. In this wrap, we consider possible 2018 trends in water, the GM debate, science communication, and food and nutrition. Water After one of the driest Decembers on record, many Californians continue to worry about water supply. I turned to UC ANR water expert Faith Kearns. Faith is a scientist and communicator at the California Institute for Water...




No joke: The reality of the starving student and what UC is doing to help
As we celebrate the winter holiday season with its many joyful occasions, it's sobering to think how many people are in need of nutritious food. Millions of people are at risk of going hungry, says Feeding America. And according to groundbreaking studies by the University of California, we now know that a large number of college students are among the hungry. A significant problem, “starving students” are not a lighthearted joke: students are going hungry and sometimes homeless,...




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