Stalls filled with gorgeous fruits and vegetables, flowers, bread, eggs, and herbs are the subject of the new set of four farmers’ market themed postage stamps. Each one is a colorful reminder of how important farmers’ markets are to our community, our farmers, and our health, and how they are much more than just places to buy fruit and vegetables. They support the local economy and provide us with a connection to what we eat.
Each of the four stamp designs shows a group of special items you would find at your local farmers’ market. One has fruits and vegetables, another has colorful flowers, the third depicts fresh bread, artisan cheese, and eggs, and the last one has fresh herbs and potted plants. This community gathering place is how artist Robin Moline depicts a farmers’ market.
Earlier this year Daniel Best, general counsel for the California Federation of Certified Farmers’ Markets and Barbara Plunkett, the Postal Service’s district manager in Sacramento unveiled the series of stamps at Capitol Mall. Also in attendance was John Silveira, director of Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association. He says “Farmers markets can change the culture in a community and I think the stamp is a recognition of that.”
Show your support for your local farmers’ markets and your community by purchasing some of these gorgeous stamps. These commemorative stamps and other related farmers’ market stamp products can be purchased at your local post office or at www.usps.com/stamps.
This is the time of year to be grateful. We thank our farmers for bringing us fruits, vegetables, nuts, flowers, meats, eggs, and other California products, even in these trying times of drought. And we are grateful to those of you who have supported your local farmers’ market this year.
In this month’s Market Thymes we offer information on sweet potatoes, and a very informative article by our Cookin’ the Market chefs on shallots and how to use them. We are also announcing the launch of our “Brown is the New Green” campaign which offers thoughts on conserving water in this multi-year drought.
And we’d also like you to remember those who are less fortunate this time of year. Not everyone can sit down to a table laden with all the Thanksgiving fixings. Hunger is prevalent in every community in the nation and at all seasons of the year. PCFMA supports programs that help people access healthy foods so stop by your local farmers’ market and select fresh produce to donate locally.
The time for citrus is coming soon. The winter months provide us with local oranges and tangerines and more, but the crop could be in jeopardy with the significant finding of the citrus psyllid in Santa Clara County.
The Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is beginning an extensive survey in response to the detection of Asian citrus psyllids (ACP) in the City of San Jose near Kelly Park. This is the first detection of ACP in Santa Clara County and the Bay Area.
The ACP were detected in a residential neighborhood near Phelan Avenue and Roberts Avenue in San Jose. Treatment activities will be carried out on all citrus plants surrounding the sites where the insects were trapped. Residents in the treatment area will be notified in advance of any activity. Additionally, an increased number of traps have been deployed and a visual survey is ongoing on the surrounding properties in an attempt to determine if there is an infestation.
“The Asian citrus psyllid is a dangerous pest of citrus,” said Joe Deviney, Santa Clara County Agricultural Commissioner. “We’re working to determine the full extent of this infestation so that we can protect our state’s vital citrus industry as well as our backyard citrus trees. We want to emphasize citrus is safe to eat and the disease is not harmful to human health. Working together we can prevent the harm this invasive species can cause.”
The ACP is an invasive species of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening. All citrus and closely related species are susceptible hosts for both the insect and the disease. There is no cure once a tree becomes infected, the diseased tree will decline in health and produce bitter, misshaped fruit until it dies. HLB has been detected just once in California – in 2012 on a single residential property in Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles County. HLB is present in Mexico and in parts of the southern U.S. Florida first detected ACP in 1998 and the disease in 2005, and the two have now been detected in all 30 citrus-producing counties in that state. The University of Florida estimates the disease has tallied more than 6,600 lost jobs, $1.3 billion in lost revenue to growers and $3.6 billion in lost economic activity.
Check your trees at home and be vigilant in letting the CDFA know if you have spotted what you think is the citrus psyllid. Check with your local Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County. Residents in the area who think they may have seen the pest are urged to call the Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899. For more information on the Asian citrus psyllid and huanglongbing disease, please visit: www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/acp
Share an intimate evening with local farmers while you enjoy multiple courses highlighting the food they grow. The Seasonal Supper will be a true Field to Fork event hosted by the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association at Hap Magee Ranch in Danville.
Each course, delicately crafted by Chef Mario Hernandez, will feature the seasonal harvest from Tomatero Farm, Frog Hollow Farm, Happy Acre Farm and more producers from the Danville Farmers’ Market. Glennhawk Vineyards will be generously providing tastings and menu pairings of their wine selection, grown right here in Danville, adding to this truly local experience.
Enjoy farm-fresh food, live music, fine local wine, and a raffle benefiting nutritional education programs for low-income families of the Bay Area made possible by our sister organization, Fresh Approach.
Proceeds from this event will go to Fresh Approach programming and support the participating farms. Extra donations are gladly accepted. Many thanks to Glennhawk Vineyards for sponsoring this event.
All of your donations will support Fresh Approach and their efforts to increase healthy food access in the Bay Area.
Tickets are limited! They are available now at the Danville Farmers’ Market or atBrown Paper Tickets. Check with the market manager for details.
Join Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA) in celebrating National Farmers’ Market Week this year from August 3rd to 9th. PCFMA joins the USDA and farmers’ markets around the country in celebrating the first week of August. “Farmers markets are an important public face for agriculture and a critical part of our nation’s food system,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “They provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also help fill a growing consumer demand for fresh, healthy foods.”
PCFMA will celebrate throughout the entire month of August with the 2nd annual “Love My Market” photo contest. To participate, snap a photo of what you love about YOUR local farmers’ market whether it’s the unusual produce, your favorite farmer, being with your family or anything else farmers’ market related. Submit the photo to email@example.com OR post the photo on Instagram with the hashtag #lovemyPCFMAmarket between August 1st and August 31st. Please limit ONE ENTRY per person. See official rules at http://www.pcfma.com/lovemymarket . Please also include the name of your farmers’ market in your caption or email.
Contestants will have a chance to win the Grand Prize of a one night stay for two at the Capay Valley Bed & Breakfast and tickets to the nearby Hoes Down Festival at Full Belly Farm. Second place prize will be two tickets to the Farm to Fork Dinner presented by CAFF at the Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill. Third prizes include “Carrot Cash” (which is good at any farmers’ market that PCFMA operates) and a reusable bag filled with fresh seasonal produce.
We are completing work on another planting area around the south corner of the office. Matt Sylvester, market manager and head PCFMA gardener extraordinaire, and other staff members, have planted various tasty summer veggies like zucchini and other summer squash, tomatoes, fresh herbs, sunflowers, and peppers for our culinary enjoyment. We await the first tomatoes and watch as squash blossoms slowly grow into zucchini. How cool is it to walk out the office door and pick something fresh for our lunch!? So go ahead – start your own small garden! It’s well worth it!
We began composting as well! The inspiration for the bin arose partly from necessity. We don’t have green bins in Contra Costa County and at the office we have a lot of food scraps. We also wanted compost we could use on our kitchen garden. PCFMA is a certified green business and the staff here cares about being more eco-friendly, so Sara Haston, Market Chef and Creative Specialist for Cookin’ The Market, thoughtfully wrote up a proposal and was quickly approved to purchase one. After she chose the best one for PCFMA, she found a space for it, and discussed with the staff about how to use it.
Thus far there has been a tremendous interest in it. Sara’s role is to manage the contents to make sure there is a proper ratio of nitrogen elements (think food scraps) to carbon (think leaves, hay and dry plant matter): 1/3 to 2/3. Once it is almost full she will let it sit for a few weeks without adding anymore materials, turn it once a week to aerate it, wait for it to breakdown into usable compost, and then shovel it out into our garden. This Sara’s first time using a bin, as her experience has been with pile composting, so we excited about what we will all learn along the way.
On April 8, 2014 the FDA set new draft guidelines for what can be called pure honey. In the past some of the honey on store shelves, either US-made or imported, did not have to have labeling that indicated anything other than that honey was in their product. Now honey would be labeled as having added sweeteners such as sugar, corn syrup, or other additions if these ingredients are used. It must also say that it is a “honey blend” and not pure honey. The Food and Drug Administration also says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. However, the FDA isn’t checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.
The proposal’s aim is “to advise the regulated food industry on the proper labeling of honey and honey products to help ensure that honey and honey products are not adulterated or mis-branded,” the FDA wrote.
It is estimated that the U.S. imports the majority of the 400 million pounds of honey we consume each year. To meet this demand there were concerns that cheap substitutes are being manufactured. Only 149 million pounds of honey were produced in this country last year, so the difference had to be made up somewhere.
The FDA decided to look at the question of adulterated honey after a petition from the American Beekeeping Federation and other groups asked for a standard definition of honey to promote fair trade. The agency did not agree on the fair trade issue, but decided to review labeling.
Honey makers now have 60 days to comment on the proposal before the final rules are issued. And even then, the guidelines aren’t mandatory. It only allows for the FDA to make an official statement on the matter.
If you are concerned about what you’re getting in your honey and want to avoid corn syrup and other sweeteners, look no further than local honey producers who offer pure sweet honey from local sources. Visit your farmers’ market and talk with your local beekeepers to find out how they produce their honey.
Read details on the FDA’s new honey regulationshere.
Click hereto find out more about filtered and adulterated honey and find out what you’re really buying at the grocery store.
The potential implications of a sustained drought on our state’s farmers and our state’s economy are very worrisome. At the end of February, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story headlined “California Almond Farmers Face Tough Choices,” which addressed the impact of the drought on just one sector of the farming community – almond farmers. The article profiled farmers who are choosing to remove mature, productive almond trees because they don’t have enough water to maintain them. To get additional perspective on this issue, we turned to Les Portello, a founding member of the PCFMA Board of Directors who, after retiring from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, had a successful career as an almond farmer.
Les explained that almond trees must either be provided with sufficient water to remain healthy, or be removed. Trees that are not provided with enough water develop pests that can spread even to healthy, irrigated trees in the orchard. The decision to remove trees is serious as it creates long term financial implications for the farm. Once the drought has ended and an almond farmer decides to replant trees, it will be many years before the harvests from the new trees are equal to that of the mature trees that were removed. Les said that advances in soil and plant science allow new trees to begin producing two to three years after being planted, where it used to take five years to collect a harvest from a new tree. However, even with these scientific advances, it will take seven to eight years for these new trees to fully develop. That means these farmers, even if the drought were to end next winter, will be feeling the economic impacts past the year 2020.
Les also mentioned that the issue for farmers is not just the amount of water that is available, but the quality of the water. Some farms are able to use wells to extract water from underground aquifers, but the high salt content of the water that is pumped up is harmful to salt-sensitive crops like almonds. The water delivery systems that have been built to move water throughout our state’s agricultural regions are important not just for the quantity of the water that they deliver, but also for the water’s quality.
The family farmers that sell in PCFMA’s farmers’ markets are facing these kinds of decisions about their future every day, basing their decisions on factors of water and weather that they cannot control or predict. As someone who enjoys the fruits of their labor, it is important to me that they have the water they need to grow the crops which help feed our families and our communities. And it is important that Bay Area communities have sufficient water to be able to remain economically vibrant so its residents can continue to purchase locally grown fruits, vegetables and nuts.
There are no easy answers to the state’s water issues, but until the drought breaks, I hope we can all do our part to share this precious resource.
Food fraud is an ever-growing problem in the US. And olive oil is at the top of the list. A 2011 study of extra virgin olive oil by the Olive Center at the University of California at Davis found that 73% of the five best-selling imported brands failed to meet the standards of taste and smell established for that grade of olive oil set by European regulators.* Some olive oil that claims to be from Italy or Spain is actually brought from other countries and re-exported from there. Olive oil may be diluted with other oils like soybean or vegetable oil, or fabricated entirely from a cheaper oil doctored to look like olive oil. The “extra virgin” label does not pass the test, either. Over 69% of bottles labeled “extra virgin olive oil” were not extra virgin.
So you’re not getting what you pay for! You’re not getting the quality OR the heart-healthy benefits associated with extra virgin olive oil!
On October 25, 2011 the United States adopted new olive oil standards, a revision of those that have been in place since 1948, which affect importers and domestic growers and producers by ensuring conformity. In the California certification program, California producers submit their olive oil to the California Olive Oil Council (COOC) for sensory evaluation, where a panel of certified tasters conducts a blind tasting, and chemical analysis, rigorous lab testing to confirm acidity levels and other aspects of the oil are on target. If the oil passes certification the producers earn the right to display the COOC seal. Purchasing olive oil with the COOC means you are buying fresh, California grown, 100% extra virgin olive oil.
The olive oil sold at your local farmers’ market can be counted on to give you the highest quality and the best flavor of locally-made California olive oil. If you choose to try Italian or Spanish oils – or any other country’s olive oil – make sure you read the fine print on the label carefully!
The rise of farmers’ markets and the local food movement has created a dramatic shift in American tastes. Consumers increasingly are seeking out the seasonal fresh foods grown on local farms rather than those trucked to supermarkets from a thousand miles away. And these are just ordinary people who have become informed about their food choices and care about small farmers. Local food integrates production, processing, distribution and consumption on a small scale, creating sustainable local economies and a strong connection between farm and table.
The result of all this local eating has gradually increased the number of small farms, which were declining for more than a century! Once, the average age of a farmer was 60 years old! Children did not want to take over the farm from parents, but now small farms have increased by 20% over the last 15 to 20 years!
Heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables have been rediscovered and are very popular at farmers’ markets and specialty stores because of their amazing flavor. Grass-fed beef and pork and free-range chickens have steadily risen in importance for health reasons and for humane treatment of animals.
The Eat Local Food Movement will have a tendency to go mainstream with large supermarkets claiming to have local produce, and that’s fine as long as the claim is true. Be sure to shop your farmers’ market for real local food and other local products. Visit Slow Food USA for more information.