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Traditional UCCE activities make the news

When UC Cooperative Extension was established in California nearly 100 years ago, it aimed to help housewives put up preserves and teach kids how to care for hogs, among other pursuits of typical rural-living, farming families. Though the program has advanced significantly in scientific research, nutrition education and youth development, traditional activities haven't been entirely abandoned.

The Modesto Bee spoke to Stanislaus County UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor Terry Spezzano for a story in today's paper about home canning.

"A lot of people have been calling me with questions, and I'm here for their calls," Spezzano was quoted.

The Lake County News included a profile written by local 4-H member Canaan Andrade, who raises swine.

"As a member of a 4-H market animal project I learn to be disciplined, organized and accomplish goals," Andrade wrote.

Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 10:25 AM
Tags: 4-H (64)

NBC Nightly News covers colony collapse disorder

Haagen-Dazs was front and center once again in a news story about colony collapse disorder, a mysterious ailment that is threatening bee hives and, in turn, the crops the bees pollinate. The opening interview on the NBC Nightly News piece was with Haagen-Dazs' spokeswoman Katty Pien standing in front of a grocery freezer full of the ice cream.

"More than 40 percent of the all-natural flavors that Haagen-Dazs has contain ingredients that are dependent upon honeybee pollination. For example, the Vanilla Swiss Almond ice cream has almonds that are 100 percent pollinated by honeybees," Pien stated.

The story, with Anne Thompson reporting, then turned to farmers and scientists, who testified before Congress about their CCD concerns. Toward the end of the story, the camera was pointed at UC Davis bee researcher Sue Cobey in the field with bee hives.

"Your choices may become slimmer or the quality of the fruit may become smaller, misshapen, because it's not properly pollinated. We're going to have to be more tolerant of--as consumers of things like this or willing to pay a much higher price," she said.

The photo shows NBC's Houston Hall behind the camera. He interviewed and shot the video of Sue Cobey in Davis.

Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey.
Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey.

Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 at 9:32 AM

Bay Area forests could go back to grassland

Sudden Oak Death is changing the Bay Area landscape, according to a story in today's San Jose Mercury News by Julia Scott. The story was prompted by the removal of 40 dead trees in the forests surrounding Crystal Springs Reservoir. The trees were killed by Sudden Oak Death, which is gaining momentum in San Mateo County.

In the article, UC Berkeley forest pathologist Mateo Garbelleto offered a ray of hope, and what some might consider a worst-case scenario.

Garbelleto said a substance developed in his lab, Agri-Fos, can be applied to high-value trees to protect them from Sudden Oak Death. However, it would be cost prohibitive to treat all susceptible trees, so Bay Area forests will likely redesign themselves to accommodate changes over time.

"The oaks aren't going to disappear, but they're going to be rearranged," he is quoted. "These forests are going to progress more toward Douglas fir or they're going to go back into grasslands, which is the way the Bay Area was 150 years ago."

Posted on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 12:50 PM
Tags: exotic pest (41), Sudden Oak Death (33)

Food prices could double

A UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor warned that food prices could double as a result of the surge in U.S. fuel prices. The advisor, Milton McGiffen, who works with vegetable crops in Riverside County, was quoted today in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“If you double the price of oil, I would assume that food would at least double, and it might be more because the cost of oil gets magnified in the food chain," he is quoted in the story.

The article said the fuel-to-food price link stems from:

  • Farmers paying more to fill their tractors with diesel for planting and harvesting
  • Higher cost of fertilizer, pesticides and plastic packaging, most of which are petroleum-based
  • Energy consumption for food transportation, storage and processing

The the latter part of the Tribune article, written by Mike Lee, focuses on ways consumers are cutting food costs, such as gardening, canning, cooking at home, clipping coupons, comparing supermarket ads, planning meals for the week, selecting produce in season, reducing meat and dairy consumption, and eating more grains, nuts and legumes.

The reporter also spoke to UCCE family, nutrition and consumer sciences advisor Patti Wooten Swanson. She said more families are forming meal plans to help them focus on what to buy at the grocery store, find related coupons and avoid spoilage.

Posted on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 11:32 AM
Tags: fuel (4), inflation (1)

UC's Small Farm Center director comments on CSAs

The director of the UC Small Farm Center, Shermain Hardesty, said there are a number of hurdles California small-scale farmers must overcome to compete in state's highly industrialized food production and distribution system, according to a recent Bakersfield Californian news story. The article, written by Jeff Nactigal, centered on Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, a system in which consumers pay a monthly subscription and receive a weekly supply of produce, typically organically grown.

Featured farmer Vernon Peterson started his CSA 10 months ago with 50 subscribers and now delivers more than 1,000 boxes of organic produce to 20 cities between Tulare and Simi Valley.

“There’s growing interest in local foods. So he’s taking advantage of the locally produced, and the identity about who’s produced what in the box,” Hardesty was quoted in the article.

She noted that marketing, developing a customer base, offering a steady variety of products and maintaining a customer-service mentality are important elements of a successful CSA.

The article also cited information from "Riding the Organic Wave," by UC Davis Cooperative Extension agricultural economist Karen Klonsky. The publication says organic sales in California are growing at double-digit rates while the number of growers has stayed the same.

Don't miss the video produced by the reporter himself, which is available on the same page as the story, to the left of the text.

Posted on Tuesday, July 15, 2008 at 10:04 AM
Tags: CSA (3), organic (25), small farms (12)

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