Tulelake Farm Advisor
University of California
Tulelake Farm Advisor

UC Food Blog

Can you taste barley varieties in beer? UC ANR scientist wants to know.

Different varieties of hops can be used to create an array of flavors and styles of beer. Does the variety of barley used in beer-making affect the flavor of the brew?

This is a question UC Cooperative Extension advisor Konrad Mathesius hopes beer drinkers will answer on Friday, July 12, at YOLO Brewing Company in West Sacramento.

To find out if barley makes a difference, the public is invited to taste a flight of five beers – four beers made from the specially grown barley varieties and YOLO Brewing's own Chinook SMASH DIPA – then fill out a short survey about what they taste.

Several varieties of malting barley were grown by a Woodland farmer in the same field, under the same conditions, then brewed with the same recipe by YOLO brewing company.

The taste test is part of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Malt Project evaluating malting barley's potential as new crop in California. Mathesius is also studying whether barley can be grown well in California and which varieties perform best for growers, maltsters and brewers.

“We'll conduct a consumer preference survey to answer the questions: Can the average consumer pick up on differences that come about solely from the barley variety used in the brew recipe? Are there any particular favorites that stand out?” Mathesius said.

If there is a clear favorite among the specialty barley beers, Mathesius will compare it with notes from Sierra Nevada's tasting panel to identify the flavor characteristics people tend to favor.

The beer tasting will be Friday, July 12, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at YOLO Brewing Company, 1520 Terminal St, West Sacramento, California 95691.

A pre-selected flight of the four specialty beers plus YOLO Brewing's Chinook SMASH DIPA costs $10.

Sacramento calls itself the Farm-to-Fork Capital. Could it also be the Farm-to-Pint Capital?

Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 2:51 PM
Tags: barley (1), beer (5), Konrad Mathesius (1)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

With access to native foods, Native American families less likely to face food insecurity

Nearly all of the Native Americans surveyed in the region said they want more native foods such as salmon. Photo courtesy of Klamath Tribes Food Security

Native Americans suffer from the highest rates of food insecurity, poverty and diet-related disease in the United States. A new study finds that Native American communities could improve their food security with a greater ability to hunt, fish, gather and preserve their own food.

“How food security is framed, and by whom, shapes the interventions or solutions that are proposed,” said Jennifer Sowerwine, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, who led the study in partnership with the Karuk, Yurok, Hoopa, and Klamath Tribes. “Our research suggests that current measures of and solutions to food insecurity in the United States need to be more culturally relevant to effectively assess and address chronic food insecurity in Native American communities.”

The study conducted by researchers at UC Berkeley and four Native American tribes shows that 92% of Native American households in the Klamath Basin suffer from food insecurity.

Native American tribes in the Klamath Basin seasonally harvest, consume and store diverse aquatic and terrestrial native foods including salmon, acorns and deer. In survey responses, 86% of the participants said they consumed native foods at least once in the previous year. Yet significant barriers, including restrictive laws and wildlife habitat degradation, limit availability and quality of these foods.

While 64% of Native American households in the Klamath Basin rely on food assistance (compared to the national average of 12%), 84% of the Native Americans using food assistance worried about running out of food or had run out of food. This suggests the need to consider more effective solutions rooted in eco-cultural restoration and food sovereignty to address food insecurity in Native American communities.

Ben Saxon field dresses a deer. Tribe-led workshops on native foods gathering, preparation and preservation was among solutions suggested to improve food security for the Native American community. Courtesy of Karuk Tribe Food Security

Study participants strongly expressed the desire for strengthened tribal governance of Native lands and stewardship of cultural resources to increase access to native foods, as well as strengthening skills for self-reliance including support for home food production. Community members suggested solutions including tribe-led workshops on native foods gathering, preparation and preservation; removing legal barriers to hunt, fish and gather; restoring traditional rights to hunt, fish and gather on tribal ancestral lands; providing culturally relevant education and employment opportunities to tribal members; and increased funding for native foods programs.

While growing evidence suggests that native foods are the most nutritious and culturally appropriate foods for Native American people – and over 99% of people surveyed in the region said they want more of these foods – nearly 70% said they never or rarely get access to the native foods they want.

“We know our efforts to revitalize and care for our food system through traditional land management are critical to the physical and cultural survival of the humans who are part of it,” said Leaf Hillman, program manager for the Karuk Tribe's Píkyav Field Institute. “This study will support our ability to bring that message to the decisionmakers who need to hear it.” 

With the study results indicating that increased access to native foods and support for cultural institutions such as traditional knowledge and food sharing are key to solving food insecurity in Native American communities, Sowerwine and the research team propose including access to native foods as a measure for evaluating food security for Native people.

Removing legal barriers to hunt, fish and gather food would improve Native Americans' access to native foods. Courtesy of Yurok Tribe Food Security

The assessment is based on 711 surveys completed by households from the Karuk, Yurok, Hoopa and Klamath Tribes, 115 interviews with cultural practitioners and food system stakeholders, and 20 focus groups with tribal members or descendants.

In addition to Sowerwine and Hillman, the study was conducted by post-doctoral researchers Megan Mucioki and Dan Sarna-Wojcicki, and research partners from the Yurok, Karuk and Klamath Tribes.

“Partnering with tribal community members in the research makes the research stronger, and that is especially true in this unique food security assessment,” said Sowerwine. “With the study design grounded in nearly a decade of relationship-building and respectful engagement with our tribal partners, we are confident that our results reflect their priority questions and concerns while contributing valuable new information to the field of indigenous food systems.”

Reframing food security by and for Native American communities: a case study among tribes in the Klamath River basin of Oregon and California” is published in the journal Food Security.

This research was part of a $4 million, five-year Tribal Food Security Project funded by USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Food Security Grant #2012-68004-20018. For full results and recommendations from the project team, visit https://nature.berkeley.edu/karuk-collaborative/?page_id=1088.

Posted on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 at 1:38 PM
Focus Area Tags: Family Food

California takes the lead on hybrid sunflower seed production

Rachael Long takes notes on sunflower seed production.

Enjoying a tasty sunflower seed snack? Cooking with sunflower oil? Thank a California sunflower seed grower for producing the hybrid seed that's used for planting sunflower crops throughout the United States and the world, for confectionery and oil seed production.

California farmers grow about 70,000 acres of sunflower, mostly in the Sacramento Valley, for hybrid seed stock.

“We have perfect conditions for growing sunflowers, with hot, dry summers and plenty of good irrigation water for producing high quality seed,” says Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties. “We also have good pollination by honey bees and field isolation from wild sunflowers, needed for high yields and genetic purity of planting seed stock.”

Indeed, take a look at the lovely fields of sunflowers blooming in the summertime. Their striking show of bright yellow faces across the valley's vast agricultural landscapes elicit feelings of warmth and happiness.

“But don't stop there!” says Long. “Take a closer look at the fields and you'll see rows of plants with single large flowers alternating with rows of smaller plants with multiple flowers. Stalks with single flowers are female, smaller ones are male; cross pollination occurs by honey bees to produce the hybrid planting seed, harvested from the single female flowers.”

To assist farmers in producing hybrid sunflower seed crops, Long led a team of researchers to produce a new 2019 sunflower hybrid seed production manual for California. The manual provides information on production needs, such as irrigation and nutrient management, as well as a color guide to insect pests, diseases, and weeds of concern for hybrid sunflower seed production.

“In order to ship seed to worldwide markets, strict field certifications are in place to ensure that pests endemic to California are not spread elsewhere,” Long says. Weeds, insects and diseases growers should watch for are identified in the manual. 

“Sunflower Hybrid Seed Production in California” is available for free download at https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=8638. In addition to Long, authors of the manual include UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors Sarah Light and Konrad Mathesius, retired USDA plant pathologist Thomas Gulya, UC Cooperative Extension irrigation specialist Khaled Bali, and emeritus UC Cooperative Extension soils specialist Roland Meyer.

“A special thanks to the sunflower seed industry and associate editor Dan Putnam, UC ANR agronomist at UC Davis, for their extensive contributions to this manual to make it a valuable resource for sunflower seed growers,” Long adds. “All of us are also grateful to UC ANR Communication Services for putting together a high quality publication!”

 

Posted on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at 11:45 AM
Tags: Rachael Long (3), sunflowers (1)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Garbanzo bean production guide published for small but thriving industry

Rachael Long examines a garbanzo field in California for stand health.

Try topping your salads with some tasty garbanzo beans this summer. Not only are they a healthful source of protein, vitamins and minerals, but the ‘green' legumes are produced in California with a small environmental footprint!

California farmers grow about 10,000 acres of garbanzo beans, mostly for the canning market.

“We have the right growing conditions, including cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers, to produce high-quality, large, creamy-white garbanzo beans for high-end markets, like salad bars,” says Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties. “Other areas, such as Washington State, grow a smaller garbanzo bean destined for processing, like hummus, a creamy vegetable spread.”

Garbanzos, also called chickpeas, are originally from the Middle East, where they have been farmed since ancient times. In California, their heritage dates back to the Spanish Mission era. California garbanzo beans are grown in the winter time, minimizing water use. The nitrogen-fixing legumes supply their own nitrogen and require few pesticides for production as the plants secrete acids that ward off insect pests.

To assist farmers in production practices, Long led a team of researchers to produce a new 2019 Garbanzo (chickpea) production manual for the dry bean industry in California.

“This is a great resource for farmers and the industry,” says Nathan Sano, manager for the California Dry Bean Advisory Board, about the publication, which covers garbanzo production from seed selection to harvesting and markets.

The California garbanzo bean production manual is available for free online.

The manual identifies garbanzo varieties that have pest and disease resistance. Nutrient management information helps growers comply with regulations for protecting groundwater from nitrate. The irrigation section provides tables on water needs for crops grown in different areas of California, helping to conserve water.

“Our UC ANR Grain-Legume workgroup started this production manual back in 1992,” Long said. “I'm thankful for a strong team and grower and industry input and support. I also appreciate the incredible mentoring and reviews of this manual by Roland Meyer, UC Cooperative Extension emeritus soil specialist, and a fantastic editor, UC Cooperative Extension agronomy specialist Dan Putnam, to make this publication a reality. This was a big group effort, and I appreciate everyone's contributions to make this a valuable resource for the California dry bean industry.” 

The California garbanzo bean production manual is available for free online at https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/Details.aspx?itemNo=8634.

In addition to Long and Meyer, co-authors include UC Cooperative Extension farm advisors Michelle Leinfelder-Miles, Konrad Mathesius, Sarah Light, Mariano Galla, Shannon Mueller, Allan Fulton and Nick Clark, and UC Cooperative Extension irrigation specialist Khaled Bali.

Posted on Monday, May 20, 2019 at 3:01 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

Get required produce safety training from UC

The food production environment introduces many potential points of contamination risk from the soil to the table. Consumer demand for food safety practices along with new government regulations for fresh produce have raised grower awareness of the need for best practices to reduce microbial risks during the production and processing of nuts, fruits and vegetables.

Produce Safety Courses Available in Northern California

Produce safety training courses offered through the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security (WIFSS) are informing the farming community about Good Agricultural Practices (GAPS) to reduce microbial risks and meet Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) training requirements. The FSMA Produce Safety Rule requires vegetable, nut, and fruit growers, to have at least one supervisor or responsible party on the produce farm who has successfully completed food safety training. The training courses are offered in English and Spanish and run through June 2019.

Donna Pahl, UCCE, dons a poop emoji hat during table top exercise emphasizing the need for pre-harvest inspection of animal feces.

What to expect

The Produce Safety Alliance team at Cornell University developed the curriculum for the PSA Grower Training Courses working together with many growers, researchers, extension educators, produce industry members, and state and federal regulatory personnel.

Trainers, such as lead trainer David Goldenberg, food safety and security training coordinator at WIFSS, provide approximately seven hours of instruction time, which includes table top exercises and question and discussion time.

Topics include:

  • An introduction to produce safety
  • Worker health, hygiene, and training
  • Soil amendments
  • Wildlife, domesticated animals and land use
  • Agricultural water, production water and post-harvest water
  • Post harvest handling and sanitation, and how to develop a farm food safety plan
Goldenberg (back row 3rd from left), Gazula (front row green sweater), Cromwell (front row far right), and Pahl (front row 2nd from left), pose for photo with participants from the opening PSA Grower Traiing course in Davis

Training underway

The Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training courses, underway since January of 2019, have been attended by vegetable, nut, and fruit growers from Butte County to Monterey County. David Goldenberg along with Aparna Gazula, farm advisor for small farms and specialty crops, with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension in Santa Clara County, conducted the first WIFSS training class. Assisting in the training with Goldenberg and Gazula were Avery Cromwell with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and Donna Pahl, Cornell University, Produce Safety Alliance Extension Associate, with the Southwest Region, Riverside.

Dr. Russell talks to farming community in Oroville about GAPs.
Dr. Michele Jay-Russell, research microbiologist and manager for the Western Center for Food Safety and Liaison to WIFSS, joined Goldenberg in Oroville in March, where they presented an interactive demonstration of wildlife fecal contamination risk and mitigation at the Butte County Farm Bureau.

Benefits from attending the course

Course participants will be eligible to receive a certificate from the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) that verifies training course completion. To receive the certificate, you need to be present for the entire one-day course and submit the paperwork to your trainer at the end of the course.

Costs to attend

Sign up now for training courses to obtain a certificate of completion for the mandatory training to comply with the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. This is a chance to learn about foodborne illness and its impacts to the produce industry and consumers, different types of foodborne illness organisms, why prevention of contamination is critical to produce safety, how to conduct basic risk assessment, and steps involved in monitoring, record keeping, and corrective actions. CDFA, through a contract with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is subsidizing the cost of the training. A $30 cost per registrant will be charged to provide a lunch, beverages and the course manual and certificate completion.

Posted on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 9:33 AM
Tags: food safety (41)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture

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