Food & Farm News
September 21, 2011
Sweet potatoes bask in popularity
With the health benefits of sweet potatoes making headlines, California farmers are enjoying a surge in popularity for the crop. Sweet potato consumption has grown during the past five years, and last year's crop was the largest since 1950. This year's total may be even higher. Sweet potato harvest has started in the Central Valley, and farmers say they hope that early rains don't hit the crop. California ranks second in the nation in sweet potato production.
Lettuce on track in Salinas Valley
Lettuce harvest in the Salinas Valley will continue for more than a month, as marketers report steady demand for their crops. A report from the U.S. Agriculture Department noted that demand for iceberg lettuce has stayed fairly level, while romaine has seen a slightly higher market and greater demand from consumers. Once the harvest in Salinas wraps up, farmers will begin harvesting fields in the San Joaquin and Imperial valleys as well as Arizona.
Interactive 'Food Dialogues' to be held
To address consumers' questions about how their food is grown, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance will hold a nationwide discussion about food and farming this week. The interactive, online event will take place Thursday, with town hall-style discussions in four cities, streamed live over the Internet at www.fooddialogues.com. One panel will occur in Davis, and will focus on agro-ecology, cutting-edge science and sustainability.
Budget cuts put ag programs in a bind
Just as agriculture programs at California's public universities are seeing an increase in interest and applications, they are also experiencing major cuts to funding. Programs have had to reduce course offerings and, in some instances, eliminate positions. University officials worry that the cuts will lead to less hands-on experience, decreased interaction between students and instructors, and fewer high-tech tools to prepare students for what they will encounter after graduation. To ease the budget sting, campus farms are becoming more self-sufficient and also partnering with businesses.