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Weekly food dispatch


Lake County residents suffer poor ‘health outcomes'
California's Lake County was found to have the lowest “health outcomes” in the state, according to a recent study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin. The Lake County population has the shortest length of life and, in terms of physical health, the lowest quality of life compared to other counties in California. Lake County Tribal Health Consortium is trying to change the ranking. HealthyCal.org

Industry influence kills labeling bills
California lawmakers considered four bills this year that would give residents more information about their food and beverages. Two of them, one that would have required labeling of GMO foods and the other the addition of warning labels on non-diet sodas, died in the face of industry opposition. “There is definitely a dynamic at play where the lobbying resources make a difference,” said Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel). Sacramento Bee

The nation

Food costs buoy inflation
The rising cost of food U.S. is behind a persistent 2 percent (annual) inflation rate in the last four months. Core inflation, which disregards food and energy, is at 1.9 percent per year. The Washington Examiner

Extra! Extra! Tofu scramble and Asian kale
The city of Chicago is converting four defunct newsstands into kiosks that sell fresh, healthy food. The new “e.a.t. spots” (which stands for education, agriculture, technology) features food items developed by local chef Shaw Lash to provide quick, easy access to healthful food. Chicago Tribune

Cupcakes, conversation hearts and chocolate banned
All school parties – including birthdays, Halloween and Valentine's Day – will be free of food, candy and beverages (except water) in a suburban Illinois school district, a committee of parents and staff decided. Furthermore, elementary school students' snacks will be limited to fruits and vegetables; middle school children's snacks may also include cheese and yogurt. The strict policy was instituted to reduce allergic reactions. Chicago Sun Times

The world

Ten companies control the world's food
A relatively small number of companies wield an enormous amount of influence on agriculture and world food production. All had revenues in the tens of billions of dollars in 2013. With such scale, many of the company policies have a significant impact on millions of lives. The largest of the 10 companies, Nestle, had sales exceeding $100 billion and employed 333,000 people in 2013. Huffington Post

Nestle pushes suppliers to improve animal welfare
One way Nestle is exerting its power is by adopting animal welfare standards that will affect its 7,300 suppliers around the globe. Under the new standards, Nestle will not buy products derived from pigs raised in gestation stalls, chickens in barren battery cages, cattle that have been dehorned or had their tails docked without anesthesia, and animals whose health has been damaged by drugs that promote growth. New York Times

They're great!
Another of the 10 largest food companies in the world, Kellogg's, has pledged to use responsible sourcing and new natural resource conservation efforts to address climate change. Examples of its sustainability achievements, shared in a news release, include “helping wheat farmers in the United Kingdom improve soil health, supporting a women's cooperative of more than 600 farm families in Bolivia, and promoting new rice growing methods in Thailand that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Kellogg's

A compilation of news from the World Wide Web relevant to the UC Global Food Initiative, which aims to put the world on a path to sustainably and nutritiously feed itself. By building on existing efforts and creating new collaborations among UC's 10 campuses, affiliated national laboratories and the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the initiative will develop and export solutions for food security, health and sustainability throughout California, the United States and the world.

Posted on Friday, August 22, 2014 at 9:20 AM

UCCE plays a significant role in valley ag education

The UCCE 4-H program focuses on citizenship, leadership and learning life skills. (Photo: Kathy Keatley Garvey)
When the director of the Fresno Farm Bureau, Ryan Jacobsen, developed an episode of the half-hour Valley's Gold program on ag education, he included two segments on UC Cooperative Extension.

"I'm a very proud 4-H member, from 4th grade to early college, in beef, rocketry and sugar beet (projects)," Jacobsen said. "When we think of 4-H, it's just so much more than those projects. There are so many leadership opportunities for these kids."

Jacobsen interviewed John Borba, the 4-H youth development advisor for UCCE in Kern county.

"4-H has an emphasis on citizenship, leadership and learning life skills," Borba said. "We encourage youth to take on leadership responsibilities, where the older youth mentor the younger youth."

Borba said 4-H program in California, which has 120,000 youth participants and 14,000 adult volunteers, isn't just for rural kids.

"In the San Joaquin Valley, 4-H is offered in the traditional mode, 4-H clubs, where volunteer leaders assist the youth in different programs. But we also have programs on military bases, active duty and national guard, and we have after-school programs where we teach the staff ... to provide 4-H programs after school."

Jacobsen interviewed Shanon Mueller, the director of UCCE in Fresno County, at the Garden of the Sun, a one-acre demonstration garden created and maintained by the UCCE Master Gardener program.

She explained the role of UCCE's farm advisors and nutrition educators.

"Farm advisors bring the research-based information to the county," Mueller said. "A lot of times we can't directly import that. We will adapt that research so it's locally relevant. We do research trials, demonstration trials. We have field days, workshops, meetings."

Mueller continued, "Our goal is to bring the most up-to-date information to growers on varieties, production practices, irrigation, pest management. Any component that relates to agriculture to make sure we keep our ag economy strong."

Mueller said Fresno County UCCE maintains one of the premiere nutrition programs in the state. Much of the nutrition education takes place in Fresno County schools.

"They talk about good nutrition, physical activity and health issues in classrooms," Mueller said. "One of the fun activities they do is monthly tasting time. They will bring some product for the kids to taste in a comfortable environment. All the kids are tasting jicama, apricots or something they haven't tried before in hopes that they'll try it and like it and that their parents will buy it at the grocery store."

Valley's Gold is produced by the Fresno County Farm Bureau and appears on the local PBS affiliate, KVPT.

The ag education episode can also be viewed below. Borba's interview begins at 12:25 and Mueller's at 15:08.

Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 10:45 AM

UCCE leads Northern California Fire Science Consortium

UCCE fills the need for the latest fire science in joint program.
Fire is the focus of increasing attention and interest in California and throughout the country. However, the interpretation and application of science remains a challenge, and fire scientists and managers often find themselves in separate spheres, with limited opportunities for shared learning and knowledge exchange.

The Joint Fire Science Program – a multi-agency program that funds wildland fire research – has recognized this issue, and fire science delivery has become one of its core objectives. Using Joint Fire Science funding, the newly formed California Fire Science Consortium (CFSC) is now a statewide educational organization with five regional teams.

UCCE staff members in Humboldt County are leading the northern California region of CFSC, along with partners from the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and Humboldt State University. They have formed a multi-agency advisory committee, which includes 11 scientists and managers from different agencies and organizations in the region, to offer guidance and support for consortium activities. The Northern California team is also working closely with faculty and staff at UC Berkeley, who act as a central hub for the statewide effort.

As fire managers develop new management plans, navigate permitting and other regulatory hurdles, and attempt to adapt to changing social, political, and environmental climates, they need access to current, science-based information that is digestible and readily applicable to their unique landscapes and management challenges.

In leading the Northern California CFSC effort, UCCE has helped to harness the vast array of scientific data on fire that is applicable for the Northern California region and make it available and understandable for the non-scientific community, contributing to the integrity and efficiency of fire management, both in the region and throughout the country.

“Responses from all of our educational events suggests that we are filling a void and helping regional fire managers and landowners become aware of the latest science,” said Yana Valachovic, forest advisor and county director for UC Cooperative Extension in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 9:50 AM

A healthy start back to school

With integrated pest management, school yards are healthier environments for children.
As summer is quickly coming to a close, and most kids have already headed back to school or will be returning in the next couple of weeks, integrated pest management will be an expected and important tool for the upcoming school year.

Classrooms, playgrounds, and athletic fields that were quiet during the summer months will once again be filled with the sounds of learning and playing. Landscape and pest management professionals have been taking advantage of the slow summer months preparing the grounds and facilities for the upcoming year. While at one time this may have meant heavy applications of pesticide to rid the facilities of pest problems, today schools are healthier environments for our kids.  

Schools are required to follow the Healthy Schools Act (HSA), a law passed in 2001 in response to increasing concern of pesticide exposure and resulting heath issues. The HSA gives parents and staff the “right to know” about what pesticides are being applied and requires schools to keep records of applications and report information to the state. The HSA also encourages the use of integrated pest management (IPM) and the adoption of least toxic pest management practices as the primary way of managing pests in schools. Each school or district appoints an IPM coordinator to carry out the requirements of the Healthy Schools Act.

Healthy Schools Act Reminders for the School Year
At the beginning of each academic year, schools must provide parents and staff in writing of all pesticide products expected to be used throughout the year. The notice must include the names of the products and active ingredients. Parents and staff who wish to be notified of each specific pesticide application at their school site can register to be notified individually by mail 72 hours before the application. At least 24 hours prior to a pesticide application, schools must post warning signs. The signs must remain up for at least 72 hours after the treatment.

Each school is also required to maintain records for at least four years of all pesticides used and to report pesticide use to both the county agricultural commissioner and the Department of Pesticide Regulation. There are certain products that are exempt from the notification and posting requirements of the HSA. These include reduced-risk pesticides, such as self-contained baits or traps or gels or pastes used for crack-and-crevice treatments. Antimicrobials and pesticides exempt from registration are exempt from all aspects of the Healthy Schools Act, including reporting.

While not required, schools are strongly encouraged under the HSA to adopt an integrated approach to managing pests. IPM focuses on long-term prevention of pests by monitoring and inspecting to find out what caused the pest and taking steps to eliminate those favorable conditions to reduce future problems. IPM uses a combination of methods to solve pest problems using least toxic pesticides only after other methods have allowed pests to exceed a tolerable level.

With IPM, schools get long-term solutions to pest problems. There is less pesticide used reducing the risk of pesticide exposure. Finally, less notification, posting, and recordkeeping is required from schools.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation School IPM Program has a new handout reminding schools of the requirements of the HSA. For more information on the School IPM program and the Healthy Schools Act, visit the DPR website, and for more on IPM, visit the UC Statewide IPM website.

Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Bakersfield gets a 'First Look' at UCCE centennial celebration

Brian Marsh, the director of UC Cooperative Extension in Kern County, talked about the upcoming UCCE centennial celebration with host Scott Cox on First Look, a web video and radio program that provides Kern County resident with an overview of the day's news. The program is broadcast on the Bakersfield Californian webpage and on KERN radio.

At a dinner Aug. 21 marking the 100th anniversary of UC Cooperative Extension, the organization will honor 14 Kern County families with a farming legacy that stretches back 100 years or more. Cox was impressed.

"For a family farm to be in business for 100 years, it's a tough way to make a living," Cox said. "There's a lot of temptation for kids to go off to school and learn how to do something else and sell the farm off. These are people who have stuck it out."

Marsh said the farming underway today is different than 100 years ago.

"The children are coming back to the farm with advanced degrees," Marsh said. "Farming isn't the simple life. .. There is a lot of technology, there's a lot of regulations to deal with. A lot of our products are exported, so you're dealing with international trade and residue concentrations in other countries."

Cox agreed. "From agribusiness, to science, there's a lot going on out there."

Marsh emphasized the importance of the California farming industry. "I like to eat everyday," he said.

Brian Marsh is the director of UC Cooperative Extension in Kern County and an agronomy farm advisor.
Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 9:23 AM

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