For the story, Evich spoke to Glenda Humiston, vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), the research and outreach arm of the University of California. UC ANR extends science-based agricultural production and nutrition information to California farmers and communities. Humiston said California agricultural industry leaders have made it clear that they don't want traditional subsidies, like price supports.
"They want help with the infrastructure to do their jobs better," she said, including more funding for research labs and data collection that can help industry solve problems.
It isn't clear whether subsidies would reduce the cost of fruits and vegetables, nor does the potential of lower-cost healthy food ensure that people will eat it, the article said.
Many consumers also lack the time or the skills to prepare and cook their perishables. And some don't care for the flavor of healthful produce like kale, kohlrabi and rapini, to name a few.
The top fruits and vegetables consumed by Americans are potatoes (french fries) and tomatoes (primarily driven by ketchup). Only 14 percent of Americans consume 1.5 to 2 fruits and veggies per day, according to State of the Plate, a 2015 study on Americas' consumption of fruit and vegetables. (See below.) The USDA's dietary guidelines recommend 9 to 13 servings of fruit and veggies per day.
California small-scale farmers have an ally in their corner when it comes to specialty crop production - UC Cooperative Extension small farm advisors, noted a recent article in Capital Press.
In Fresno, UCCE small farm advisor Richard Molinar is working with Southeast Asian farmers on such crops as Chinese long beans, gailon, eggplant and jujubes, the story said.
He's also helping growers produce Uzbek-Russian melon, which is said to be more flavorful than cantaloupe or honeydew. And for the past seven years, he's been experimenting with miniature watermelons, another specialty crop well suited for small-scale production.
"We're taking a little twist off big watermelons," Molinar was quoted. "We're looking at varieties that growers can obtain and plant."
UC small farm advisor Mark Gaskell helps coastal farmers grow crops for niche markets.
"That's the kinds of things we do," Gaskell was quoted. "We get these things out in trials and get them in growers' hands."
The story said Gaskell, Molinar and other UC farm advisors are now working with Hidden Valley Salad Dressings to identify unusual vegetable varieties that will get elementary school students excited about eating right.
“We’re looking for vegetables that are not on everyone’s radar yet,” Gaskell said. “In some cases, a new crop is one that’s been grown by another culture for hundreds of years and is just ‘new’ to us.”
For more information the "Great Veggie Adventure," view the video below or see the UC news release.
|View a 90 second video about the Small Farm Program
and the Great Veggie Adventure.
Three UC Davis researchers will receive grants from USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture for projects to benefit the California specialty-crop industry, according to a UC Davis news release issued yesterday.
The new grants are:
- $2.6 million to study the use of sensors for precision canopy and water management of specialty crops. The lead researcher is professor of biological and agricultural engineering Shrini Upadhyaya, a precision farming expert.
- $2.5 million to develop improved lettuce varieties. The research team, led by Richard Michelmore, director of the UC Davis Genome Center, will explore the genetic basis of horticulturally important traits in lettuce.
- $1.5 million to study the recurrent migration of Verticillium dahliae, a soilborne fungus that causes plant diseases. Researchers will investigate the relationship between international and interstate seed trade and spread of the fungus, as well as the risks of transmitting diseases and causing soil infestations by planting infected spinach and lettuce seed. The lead researcher is plant pathologist and Cooperative Extension specialist Krishna Subbarao. The Salinas Californian ran a story about the project last week.