Food & Farm News
May 7, 2014
Dry times spark wildfire concern
With extremely dry conditions this year, California is preparing for a severe wildfire season. As part of Wildfire Awareness Week, fire officials remind homeowners to create a defensible space of at least 100 feet around their homes. Other fire-safety reminders include removing dead vegetation, creating space between shrubs and trees, and cutting or mowing annual grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
Technology helps cherry crop
Because of the warm winter, California cherry farmers expect a light crop and short season in 2014. But new technology will help assure that only the best-quality fruit reaches market. New optical sorting equipment installed by cherry packers takes up to 30 pictures of each cherry as it moves through the packing line. The system can reject cherries that don’t meet color, quality and other standards. Cherry harvest continues through June.
Birds benefit from rice farms
Rice farms serve double duty by growing food for people and providing habitat for waterfowl, and now a study shows that the cost of replacing rice land with natural wetland habitat would cost more than $3.5 billion. The study says farms in California and other rice-growing areas overlap with important waterfowl wintering grounds. For instance, rice fields provide more than 40 percent of food resources for winter dabbling ducks in the Central Valley.
School nutrition program fights obesity
Childhood obesity dropped from 56 percent to 38 percent during a single school year, in schools participating in a new nutrition program developed by the University of California, Davis. Researchers found the fourth-graders who followed the program ate substantially more vegetables and lowered their body mass index. The university said the program was pilot-tested in schools in Sacramento and Stanislaus counties, and would cost little to implement nationally.