UC Food Blog
According to current statistics, approximately 40 percent of school-age children in the U.S. are overweight or obese. This statistic is reflected in rising rates of diabetes, pre-diabetes, and heart disease risk factors. Nearly one-quarter of all children are pre-diabetic or diabetic at the time when they leave high school, a figure that has increased dramatically in the last decade. Dental problems, the other very common health problem of youth, carry the potential for current and future pain, infection, and tooth loss. Although low-income children and children of color are at particular risk for both conditions, risk is unacceptably high for all children.
It is important to note that these all-too-common conditions share the same critical risk factor: consumption of sugary foods and beverages. Unknown to many, over half of the added sugar consumed by children is ingested in liquid form—soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and other pre-sweetened beverages including iced teas and others. For teenagers sugar-sweetened beverages are the single largest source of calories in their daily diet. Further, research has demonstrated that liquid sugar is more highly related to obesity than added sugar coming in solid form.
To improve the medical and dental health of our children we need to help children and families find ways to reduce their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
Fortunately research is being conducted to find effective ways to reduce children's sweetened beverage consumption.
- Reduce provision of sweetened beverages in the school, after school and childcare settings. UC ANR's Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) has documented dramatic reductions in sugary beverage consumption after the enactment of state restrictions on the sale of highly sugared beverages in California schools and childcare. While much has been accomplished, more can be done to see that these kinds of restrictions are fully maintained.
- Offering children easy access to water stations and other free tap water sources in childcare settings, schools and recreational facilities provides a healthful alternative to sugary beverages.
- Encourage strong nutrition education programs for children. UC Cooperative Extension's EFNEP and statewide SNAP-Ed programs have been leading efforts to educate children on the value of a healthy diet including the risk of consuming too many sugary beverages.
- Similarly, educating families on healthy eating and on the benefits of reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption can support and reinforce the messages to children in the school-based programs.
A consistent message on sugary beverages delivered to families by dental and medical health practitioners, in tandem with other educational and community efforts, can substantially benefit children's health. As respected community members, dental and medical health practitioners are in a position to deliver consistent messages to families and also to work with community agencies and groups, including UC ANR and its affiliates, to initiate and support efforts to reduce children's and families' sugary beverage consumption. Our children deserve a healthy start.
For more information, see:
- Nutrition Policy Institute (http://npi.ucanr.edu)
- National Drinking Water Alliance (http://www.drinkingwateralliance.org/about)
- Dooley D, Moultrie N, Sites E, Crawford P. Primary care interventions to reduce childhood obesity and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption: Food for thought for oral health professionals. Journal of Public Health Dentistry, 16 June 2017. DOI:10.1111/jphd.12229.
Tree fruit and nut growers are invited to attend the “Principles of Fruit and Nut Tree Growth, Cropping and Management” course offered by the UC Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center. The annual two-week course will be held from Feb. 19, 2018, through March 1, 2018, at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC).
Understanding the fundamentals of tree biology is essential to making sound orchard management and business decisions in the fruit and nut industries. However, access to educational courses on basic fruit and nut tree biology, and how it relates to horticultural practices, is limited. This course incorporates lecture, lab exercises and field demonstrations to provide information on all aspects of plant biology and the relationship between tree physiology and orchard management.
Week 1 (Feb. 19 – Feb. 23) – Five days of lectures, hands-on exercises, demonstrations and field tour at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center and UC Davis teaching orchards.
Week 2 (Feb. 26 –March 1) – A four-day field tour throughout tree fruit and nut growing regions in Northern and Central California. The field tour includes visits to current UC experiments, processing facilities and orchards in a wide range of tree fruit and nut crops.
This course is designed by UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences scientists for tree fruit and nut growers and professionals. People who have small acreage farms or who are new to the fruit and nut business are also welcome.
- The basics of how trees work
- Ideal climatic and soil conditions for tree fruit and nut crops
- Dormancy, chill requirements and rest breaking
- How trees grow and what determines architecture
- Understanding cropping, pollination and fruit set
- How trees use water and nutrients
- Fruit growth and development
- Harvest and harvest indices
- Postharvest quality and technology
Hands-on exercises and field demonstrations include:
- Bearing habits
- Measuring fruit quality and fruit tasting
- Pruning, training and light management
- Measurement of plant water status and irrigation scheduling
- Measurement of plant nutrient status and fertilization scheduling
The course instructors are experts in fruit and nut tree production:
- Ted DeJong, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis
- Carlos Crisosto, UCCE specialist and director of the Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center
- Patrick Brown, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis
- Astrid Volder, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis
- Kevin Day, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Tulare County
- Ken Shackel, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis
There is no known comparable course in the United States that provides instruction by faculty and Cooperative Extension researchers in university research facilities. The course provides a UC Davis pomology education in a shorter time frame and at a reduced cost than is currently available through traditional university classes.
In previous years, participants have included first-time growers as well as established members of the California fruit and nut tree industries, growing almonds, walnuts, pistachios, stone fruit, pome fruit, and specialty tree crops. In course evaluations, participants stated that the course was “superb,” “an amazing opportunity” and “an interesting week of fruit tree wisdom.
Attendees will receive a certificate after completing the course.
The fee is $2,850 for the entire course (plus the lodging cost for the field trips), or $1,850 for the first week only. A scholarship is available for California growers under specific criteria.
Visit http://fruitandnuteducation.ucdavis.edu/education/principles to register and for more information about the program and instructors.
If you have any questions, please contact Julie Jacquemin at the Fruit and Nut Research Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 754-9708.
Training people to farm is successfully preparing them for careers, according to a new report from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Their report, “Cultivating the Next Generation,” evaluates the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which was funded in the 2008 Farm Bill.
According to a national survey, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program-funded project leaders estimated that over half of their participants are now engaged in a farming career, and that nearly three-quarters of them felt more prepared for a successful career in agriculture after completing the program.
The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program has also helped nonprofit and community-based organizations, along with their academic partners, to build their capacity and serve more farmers with better services.
In California, UC Cooperative Extension has been providing beginning farming and farm business planning training in Placer and Nevada counties for over a decade. In a 2016 survey of Placer and Nevada county producers, 72 percent of respondents said they had taken one or more business classes from UCCE and another 9 percent had taken other business training. The training appeared to make a difference in their success.
“In a survey of local producers, over 90 percent were profitable as compared to 25 percent on the last national ag census,” said Cindy Fake, director of UC Cooperative Extension in Placer and Nevada counties.
In Sonoma County, UC Cooperative Extension offers "FARMING 101" workshops on the second Tuesday of the month. Experienced farmers, ranchers, and business specialists share a broad range of practical skills that new farmers and ranchers need to know. They also have resources at http://cesonoma.ucanr.edu/New_to_Sonoma_County_Ag to help new farmers and ranchers create a business plan and connect with mentors.
“For me, the full-time job I received is the direct result of my participation in the class,” wrote one Sonoma County participant. “Our products there provide 20 dozen eggs to three restaurants weekly in Healdsburg, and an average of 60 tons of wine grapes to two wineries annually.”
Jennifer Sowerwine, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, served on an advisory board for the USDA program's evaluation. The report gave her ideas for improving training for California's aspiring farmers and ranchers.
“There is an opportunity for UC ANR to take more advantage of Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program funding to increase our support for beginning farmers and ranchers,” said Sowerwine.
According to the report, more beginning farmer training programs are led by the nonprofit sector than by land grant universities – 56 percent of all programs were led by nonprofits, 40 percent were led by land grant universities and 4 percent were led by other universities.
“There is an opportunity to deepen UC ANR support for beginning farmers in accessing land, capital and farm business management training,” Sowerwine said. “In addition to UC ANR's valued expertise in providing technical assistance to beginning farmers, we can also foster more farmer-to-farmer mentoring and networking opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers to enhance their support systems.”
She also sees opportunities to incorporate more principles of adult education – such as engaging participants in the design and evaluation of the training and offering more hands-on, experiential learning activities using multisensory techniques – which were found to be highly effective practices in training beginning farmers.
Sowerwine is wrapping up a three-year beginning farmer and rancher project titled, "Growing Roots: Deepening Support for Diverse New Farmers and Ranchers in California.” Christy Getz, UC Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Berkeley, and Rob Bennaton, UC Cooperative Extension urban agriculture advisor, and Sowerwine, together with their nonprofit partners, have trained 340 beginning farmers and ranchers in 10 counties to help improve the economic viability and ecological sustainability of their agricultural operations.
The training is offered in Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Merced, Monterey, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Stanislaus and Yolo counties. Most of the participants are Southeast Asian, Latino and other immigrant farmers in urban, peri-urban and rural areas, along with low-income urban farmers.
By partnering with National Center for Appropriate Technology, Sustainable Agriculture Education, the Alameda County Resource Conservation District and UC Cooperative Extension colleagues in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, the team has been offering in-depth, culturally and regionally appropriate workshops and technical assistance. They also developed materials about business planning and marketing, hosted field days and farmer tours to observe organic and sustainable farming and ranching practices, and provided opportunities for the new farmers to network with other farmers.
“Collectively our project has reached 5,050 participants to date,” Sowerwine said, noting that many are people who have attended multiple events. Of the 3,485 who filled out evaluations, 89 percent reported an increase in their knowledge of workshop and field day topics and 73 percent reported plans to change their farming or business practices based on what they learned.
“We are in the process of evaluating how many have adopted practices based on what they learned,” Sowerwine said. “Based on what we learned, we are developing culturally relevant training tools in various languages.”
To download the Cultivating the Next Generation report, visit http://sustainableagriculture.net/publications/bfrdp.
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources will be offering a three-day, multi-topic Pistachio Production Short Course on Nov. 14-16, 2017. Held in Visalia, this course will provide participants with the latest information and research from several UC experts on pistachio orchard production, field preparation, planting, pruning, economics, diseases, integrated pest management, and harvesting. The course is designed for orchard decision makers, and covers the latest scientific research that supports current and developing pistachio production practices, including regional differences.
The short course will take place at the Visalia Convention Center at 303 E Acequia Ave in Visalia. Registration is open and offers at a three-day package that includes a light breakfast and lunch each day. Discounted early registration ends Oct. 23, 2017. Register at http://ucanr.edu/registration2017pistachio.
Visit our website to see the latest information and to sign up to receive email notices http://ucanr.edu/sites/PistachioShortCourse/.
If you have any questions, please contact Kellie McFarland at (530) 750-1259 or email@example.com.
Global Food Initiative (GFI) fellows for 2017-18.
UC Berkeley graduate students Kristal Caballero, Elsbeth Sites and Sonya Zhu are the GFI fellows who will work with ANR academics and staff to address the issue of how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a world population expected to reach 8 billion by 2025.
The GFI fellows are part of a group of 50 UC graduate and undergraduate students working on food-related projects at all 10 UC campuses, UC Office of the President, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC ANR.
The GFI fellows gather for lectures, field trips and networking events. Last spring, UC ANR hosted the fellows on a tour of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta region to learn more about the relationships between food, farming and the environment.
The 2017-18 GFI fellows:
Kristal Caballero of San Jose is a graduate student at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Working with UC ANR's Strategic Communications team, Caballero will focus on community outreach and education to educate the public about nutrition, food security, federal food programs, food waste, childhood obesity prevention and related subjects. She will use a variety of communication tools to publicize the results of Nutrition Policy Institute research on nutrition and food issues and to inform policymakers.
Sonya Zhu of Iowa City, Iowa, is a graduate student at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy. At the Nutrition Policy Institute, Zhu will conduct a secondary analysis of the Healthy Communities Study (HCS), an observational study of more than 5,000 children ages 4 to 15 years recruited from 130 communities across the U.S. in 2013-2015. She will be examining the effect of household food insecurity on children's dietary behavior and physical activity.