The Ventura County Star on Sunday ran a lengthy op-ed piece by UCCE advisor emeritus Daniel Desmond and horticulture and 4-H advisor Rose Hayden-Smith with a headline that begs for explanation: "Food will win the war."
The story gives a historical perspective on gardening's past ties to patriotism and makes that case that today, in light of high food and fuel prices and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, it's time again to pick up a hoe for the homeland.
"During both world wars, food was vital to national security. To protect our country, Uncle Sam called on Americans to garden, and they did, in record numbers," the authors wrote.
Desmond and Hayden-Smith suggest how gardening can once again become a national initiative.
"We believe that the federal government should immediately allocate Homeland Security funds to promote school, home and community gardening efforts on a nationwide basis," they wrote.
What can ordinary Americans do?
Suggest your school or community develop a garden and volunteer to help with the effort
Find a spot of earth or a container and plant something edible
Buy from local farmers and producers
- Visit a farmers market
- Write to your elected officials
These ideas will certainly result in more active and better fed Americans, and maybe it will even win the war.
The Stockton Record devoted nearly 500 words in yesterday's paper to introducing the new UC Cooperative Extension dairy farm advisor for San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, Jennifer Heguy. Reporter Reid Fujii spoke to both Heguy and San Joaquin UCCE county director Mick Canevari for the story.
According to the article, Heguy grew up in a farm family that ran a beef cattle operation outside Los Banos. She was active in 4-H and FFA and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in animal science at UC Davis.
Heguy most recently worked in the ruminant nutrition lab of UC Davis animal science professor Edward DePeters.
"That's definitely a plus, because he is well-connected with the issues currently facing the dairy industry," Canevari is quoted in the article. He noted that Heguy is "on the cutting edge of the issues and some of the research they are doing."
Dairy production in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties is valued at more than $700 million a year, the story said.
"I really enjoy being part of something this big," Heguy is quoted.
Placer County mandarin grower Joanne Neft wants to confirm a theory that the diminutive fruit is a natural allergy treatment, according to a story in the Colfax Journal. She raised more than $20,000 to fund a USDA analysis of mandarins grown in the county that will determine how much natural synephrine the mandarins contain and how long the substance can last when frozen.
According to the story, synephrine is a decongestant. Curiously, Wikipedia doesn't mention the compound's decongestant properties in its synephrin entry, but says synephrin is a drug for weight loss derived from Citrus aurantium, also known as bitter orange.
According to the Colfax Journal story, Neft said she initially heard from a mandarin grower that synephrine is found in mandarins, based on what his grandfather had heard from a UC Davis scientist.
For the story, reporter Gus Thomson also spoke to UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Cindy Fake. Fake said a scientific "stamp of approval" on mandarins could help local farming because of the public’s interest in health and nutrition.
An allergy-fighting mandarin, she said, could give the citrus fruit a sales boost like high antioxidants have given blueberries.
“People would like to find out that something they already love to eat is not only a healthy piece of fruit but has healthy substances that can lessen the impact of colds and allergies,” Fake is quoted.
The Sacramento CBS television news affiliate also did a story on mandarins' potential to fight allergies.
A 2006 study by the California Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and UCCE in Butte County inspired Hidden Valley Salad Dressings to launch the "Love Your Veggies(TM) Nationwide School Lunch Campaign," according to a news release posted today on PR Newswire.
The UCCE study found that children consumed 23 percent more vegetables when paired with a moderate amount of ranch dressing. A second study, conducted at Iowa State University, found that certain vitamins and cancer-fighting compounds found in fruits and vegetables are fat-soluble.
"This study suggests that a moderate amount of fat may help the body adequately absorb nutrients," according to the release.
The Love Your Veggies Campaign this year awarded 51 elementary schools each with a $10,000 nutrition grant. Two of the recipient schools are in California: Horace Mann Elementary School in Oakland and Starr King Elementary School in San Francisco. The funding can be spent on fresh produce, vegetable stations, kitchen equipment, program staffing, nutrition education supplies and training, the news release said.
Not surprisingly, a story in yesterday's Sacramento Bee about goats that have been genetically modified with human genes is generating comments on the newspaper's Web site.
The story was prompted by a UC Davis news service press release by Pat Bailey.
In short, UC Davis animal scientists James Murray and Elizabeth Maga engineered a small herd of dairy goats to produce high levels of a human antibiotic-like protein in their milk. Pigs fed milk from the transgenic goats had significantly lower levels of E. coli bacteria in their small intestines than those raised on regular goat's milk. The scientists feel the results mean the goat milk could one day be used to protect or cure people of diseases, especially in poor regions of the world.
Comments on the story ranged from outraged to indifferent to funny.
"Completely disturbing... on so many levels," said one.
"What's disturbing is the irrational fear," wrote another.
"It might be disturbing, but it sure explains a lot about my mother in law," commented a writer.
Those interested in learning the ins and outs of dairy goat production may wish to attend a workshop May 15 in Merced. UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Deborah Giraud says the market for goat milk is growing due to increasing popularity of specialty goat milk cheese and yogurt. For all the details and registration information, click here.