The UC system's goal to purchase 20 percent of its food from sustainable sources by 2020, one of the efforts connected to the UC Global Food Initiative, has already been achieved four years early, reported Scott Thill on Civil Eats.
The residence dining halls purchased 22 percent of their food from sustainable sources and five UC medical centers have reached 20 percent.
"I think our challenge going forward is realizing that 20 percent is considered a minimum-level threshold," said Tim Garlarneau, co-chair of the UC Sustainable Food Service Working Group and co-chair of the UC Global Food Initiative's Food Access and Security Subcommittee.
One way the article suggested to make more progress in sustainable food procurement is to purchase popular foods – like coffee – from growers in California, where the bean isn't typically grown. UC Cooperative Extension advisor Mark Gaskell said that he expects to see more coffee plantings and increased overall coffee acreage in central and southern California.
“This will always be a niche crop on small farms in California destined for high-value niche markets, but fortunately we have clearly demonstrated that very high-quality coffee can be produced in California,” he said.
Garlarneau notes that crops like coffee and bananas are better grown and sourced fairly from abroad while UC focuses on local sources for California-grown foods.
Systemwide coordination for purchasing higher costing food products (such as meats) that can meet campus and medical center specifications and demonstrate increased sustainability will require going out to bid to larger entities to meet the demand. As an example, Garlarneau shared UC's Sea to Table commitment to support small-scale fisherfolk to complement larger company offerings of sustainable tunafish and other seafood.
Brothers Steve and David Gill, co-owners of Gill Onions in Oxnard, credit a UC Davis researcher for helping them turn a liability - millions of pounds of onion waste - into an asset.
The brothers wrote in an article published last week in The Business Journal that their fresh-cut onion processing firm used to truck onion leftovers to surrounding farm fields and plow them into the soil as compost. But as the company grew and produced up to 1.5 million pounds of onion waste each week, the solution became too costly and environmentally unsustainable.
UC Davis bioenvironmental engineering professor Ruihong Zhang determined that onion juice was very good food for methane-producing microbes. With her research data, the company's engineers and contractors developed an anaerobic digester system that turned leftover onions into electricity.
This year, the system will save the company $700,000 on power bills and $400,000 on trucking costs, the article said. The leftover onion pulp is a high-quality cattle food.
"Thanks to Professor Zhang, our waste problem is now an energy source and new product line. We expect to make back our $9.5 million capital investment in six years," the brothers wrote.
The Gill Brothers used their opinion piece to support UC Davis' $1 billion fundraising campaign, launched two weeks ago.
Responding to consumer demand, grocery retailers are pushing growers to practice "sustainable farming," according to a feature in the Fresno Bee.
"This is not an issue that is going away, and it's one that more retailers will likely adopt," the story quoted Gail Feenstra, food systems coordinator with the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program at UC Davis. "It is best that farmers get out ahead of the game to the extent that they can."
Examples of sustainable marketing include:
The article was based on press release distributed yesterday by UC Davis.
A campaign on Facebook is encouraging Americans to assert "food independence" on July 4th and enjoy sustainable holiday picnics as an inspiration to others.The effort drew the attention of Huffington Post columnist Leslie Hatfield, who declared in an article published yesterday that "eating local food is patriotic."
Hatfield contacted the director of UC Cooperative Extension in Ventura County, Rose Hayden-Smith, to get her take on food and patriotism. Hayden-Smith just finished her dissertation on the history of U.S. Victory Gardens at UC Santa Barbara.
She told Hatfield that demonstrations of American patriotism have often been linked to food, going back to the American Revolution, when Americans dumped British tea into the Boston Harbor rather than pay taxes on it.
"Many of the foods we traditionally associate with the Fourth of July - including apple pie - reflect the diverse mix of immigrant heritages that make our nation strong and unique," Hayden-Smith was quoted. "Like people, food ways have mingled, creating new and unique cultural expressions."
Hatfield seemed taken aback by the suggestion that apple pie is not all American. Hayden-Smith told her apple pie's roots go back to the 14th century, not in America, but in Germany, Holland and England.
Returning to her point, Hatfield wrote that she believes eating industrially-produced foods helps support systems which have put a lot of farmers out of business and made a lot of people a lot less healthy."Let's get patriotic in the easiest, most delicious way possible," Hatfield suggests, "by eating some awesome food."