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Posts Tagged: Lorrene Ritchie

February 2019 news clips

Above average rainfall in February benefits strawberry crops in the Central Valley

(ABC 30) Reuben Contreras, Feb. 28

…Above average rainfall in February will help this year's harvest last through October. 
"It looks like it is in full bloom right now and it looks like it is going to rain. So we need the water as much as we can right now," said Michael Yang, University of California Cooperative Extension. 
He works with small farms and specialty crops in the Hmong community, including a strawberry field in Northeast Fresno near Willow and Behymer. 
Yang said the rain will add to the groundwater supply most farmers use to grow their crops plus it will help make the strawberries sweeter. 

https://abc30.com/society/above-average-rainfall-in-february-benefits-strawberry-crops-in-the-central-valley/5161437/

Ventura County Helps Keep Farming Alive in Southern California

(KCET) Teresa O'Connor, Feb. 27

…Connecting the community to the food system is vitally important for the health of individuals and the survival of local farms, according to Rose Hayden-Smith, Ph.D., who is the editor of the UCFoodObserver.com, an online publication for the University of California (UC). A long-term county resident, Hayden-Smith was previously sustainable food systems initiative leader for UC's Ag and Natural Resources division.

“Everyone eats: everyone is a stakeholder,” says Hayden-Smith. “I would like people to be engaged with the food system, and to advocate for positive change. Think about where your food comes from and ask critical questions about the supply chain. Meet people who are involved in producing, processing, distributing and preparing the food you eat. Honor them with questions about and interest in their work.”

https://www.kcet.org/shows/la-foodways/ventura-county-helps-keep-farming-alive-in-southern-california

Gene-edited animal creators look beyond US market

(Nature) Heidi Ledford, Feb. 20

…It isn't always easy to pick up a research project and move it to a different country. About ten years ago, difficulties finding funding for his research drove animal geneticist James Murray to move his transgenic goat project from the University of California in Davis to Brazil. The goats were engineered to produce milk that contained lysozyme, an enzyme with antibiotic properties. Murray hoped that the milk could help to protect children from diarrhoea.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-00600-4

Newly discovered nematode threatens key crops

Peach root-knot nematode-infected almond tree in a two-year-old orchard. Photo by Andreas Westphal

(Farm Press) Logan Hawkes, Feb. 20

“The arrival of this nematode (Meloidogyne floridensis) in California is a little surprising — it has the potential to infect many of California's economically important crops,” says UCCE Kern County Advisor Mohammad Yaghmour. “Root samples had been collected from an almond orchard in Merced County last year, and confirmed at the California Department of Food and Agriculture's (CDFA) Nematology Lab as M. floridensis.”

Yaghmour facilitated the second discovery of the nematode in a Kern County orchard a month after the first was uncovered in an almond orchard in Merced County.

https://www.farmprogress.com/tree-nuts/newly-discovered-nematode-threatens-key-crops

Ag Innovations Conference and Trade Show returning to Santa Maria for third event

(Santa Ynez Valley News) Mike Hodgson, Feb. 19

The Ag Innovations Conference and Trade Show will return to Santa Maria for its third event, this time focusing on biologicals, on March 5. The deadline for discounted early registration is next week.

… Considering the growing interest in biologicals and the demand for sustainably produced food, organizers selected topics on biocontrol agents, biostimulants and botanical and microbial pesticides and fungicides for the third conference, said organizer Surendra Dara, UC Cooperative Extension adviser for entomology and biologicals.

“The use of biocontrol agents, biopesticides, biostimulants and other such tools is gradually increasing in our efforts to produce with sustainable practices,” Dara said.

https://syvnews.com/business/agriculture/ag-innovations-conference-and-trade-show-returning-to-santa-maria/article_a8b9804e-46de-5938-a664-f646d51fa0c1.html

Almond Update: Orchard Recycling Research Showing Strong Results

(AgNet West) Taylor Hillman, Feb. 14

Orchard recycling research has been going on for over 10 years. UC Cooperative Extension Advisor Brent Holtz has been leading the project and said they continue to see positive results. There is an expense that comes with the practice but Holtz said their longest trial is making that cost back in added production.

http://agnetwest.com/almond-update-orchard-recycling-research

NASA tech helps agriculture

(Hanford Sentinel) Julissa Zavala, Feb 13,

…In keeping with the expo's theme, “Harvesting Technology,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine visited the International Agri-Center in Tulare and spoke about how technology originally developed for space exploration is now being repurposed and used to improve numerous aspects of agriculture around the world.

…The measurement, also taken with LIDAR, can be used to calculate precise irrigation needs of plants and crops. Bridenstine said this pilot program, in partnership with the University of California Cooperative Extension and other agencies, is only being used in California.

https://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/nasa-tech-helps-agriculture/article_def7a974-938d-55cb-966f-f3e603dc942a.html

UC Davis, wine industry cultivate relationship

(Fruit Growers News) Robin Derieux, Feb. 13

Under the hot summer sun of the San Joaquin Valley, just south of Merced, Miguel Guerrero of The Wine Group is trying a new high-wire act. In collaboration with University of California-Davis Cooperative Extension, Roduner Ranch vineyard manager Guerrero is experimenting with Cabernet Sauvignon vines and other varieties elevated by a single wire at 66 inches – plantings that are 2-3 feet higher than the traditional winegrape canopy.

…“The beauty of the high-wire system is that the fruit zone is really defined – a solid wall of grape clusters – and the pruning machine can just zip right alongside the vines,” said Kaan Kurtural, a UC Davis Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist. “We can carry more crop, and with mechanical leaf removal, we get that sun-dappled exposure that feeds the fruit. Less leaf cover means the vines require less water, and the grape quality is much better.”

https://fruitgrowersnews.com/article/uc-davis-wine-industry-cultivate-relationship

There's Still So Much We Need To Learn About Weed—And Fast

(Wired) Matt Simon, Feb. 11

… But late last month, UC Berkeley opened the Cannabis Research Center to start tackling some of these social and environmental unknowns. With its proximity to the legendary growing regions of Northern California, the center can start to quantify this historically secretive industry, measuring its toll on the environment and looking at how existing rules affect the growers themselves. The goal is to create a body of data to inform future policies, making cannabis safer for all.

… So for the past few years Van Butsic, codirector of the Cannabis Research Center, and his colleagues have been sifting through satellite images to pinpoint those unaccounted-for farms. “We have an army of undergraduates who look at high-resolution imagery and digitize how big the farms are, how many plants we can see,” Butsic says. Because cannabis plants love light, growers usually keep them out in the open. The researchers still miss many trespass growers, however, who tend to hide their plants in the brush to avoid detection.

https://www.wired.com/story/theres-still-so-much-we-need-to-learn-about-weed

Cultured meat: Good or bad, promise or peril?

 (Agweek) By Jonathan Knutson, Feb. 11

…To Alison Van Eenennaam, University of California-Davis Extension specialist in animal biotechnology and genomics, proponents of cell-based meat are "overhyping the environmental benefits" and providing an incomplete, misleading case for it.

https://www.agweek.com/business/agriculture/4568613-cultured-meat-good-or-bad-promise-or-peril

Broomrape Weed Spreads Quickly

(AgNet West) Taylor Hillman, Feb. 8

By the time you see broomrape weed in your fields, it may be too late. There has been a resurgence of broomrape reports over the last decade in California. Retired UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Gene Miyao said although the parasitic weed is far from widespread, it could become so quickly. “The seeds are very small, the growth is primarily underground until it starts sending up shoots and then it very quickly starts setting seed,” he said. “A single seed attached to a tomato plant may send up half-a-dozen shoots, and each shoot might have 1,000 seeds or more.”

http://agnetwest.com/broomrape-weed-spreads-quickly/

New CA Bill Aims to Help Prepare Farmers for Extreme Weather, Changing Climate

(YubaNet) CalCAN, Feb. 7

The state and University of California have made significant investments in research to better understand agriculture's unique vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies to a changing climate, including in the state's recently released Fourth Climate Change Assessment. But not enough has been done to translate climate risks to the farm level and assist farmers in adapting to climate change.

…The bill would also fund trainings for technical assistance providers and agricultural organizations. According to a 2017 survey of 144 University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources staff, 88% of respondents believe it is important to incorporate climate change information into farm extension programs, but only 43% actually do. Respondents cited a lack of access to climate information relevant to farmers and expressed interest in education on technical tools and information resources.

https://yubanet.com/california/new-ca-bill-aims-to-help-prepare-farmers-for-extreme-weather-changing-climate/

Top administrators from UC ANR visit Imperial Valley

Imperial Valley Press

They were also briefed about UCCE and DREC projects, accomplishments and barriers by the directors, county advisors and CES representatives.

https://www.ivpressonline.com/news/local/agriculture/top-administrators-from-uc-anr-visit-imperial-valley/article_27a72db4-2a80-11e9-ac25-03956b66b2b4.html

Drought concerns loom for California farmers, ranchers despite recent rain

(KSBY) Dustin Klemann, Feb. 6

Even with the onslaught of rainy weather, the U.S. Drought Monitor states San Luis Obispo County and Santa Barbara County remain in a moderate drought.

On Wednesday, the UC Cooperative Extension held a workshop in Solvang titled “Weather, Grass, and Drought: Planning for Uncertainty.”

“Leave it to a drought workshop to bring the rain,” Matthew Shapero joked. He is a livestock and range advisor for UCCE.

Shapero pointed out a call he received questioning the monitor's accuracy on a local level.

“He said ‘I really don't think the drought monitor accurately reflects what I am seeing on the ground.'”

… “We Californians are constantly accused of not having seasons. We do,” said Dr. Royce Larsen, an advisor of the UCCE. “We have fire, flood, mud, and drought. That's what we live with. And it's getting more and more so every year.”

https://ksby.com/news/local-news/2019/02/06/drought-concerns-loom-for-california-farmers-ranchers-despite-recent-rain

California legislators honor Summit's Steward Leader Award Winners

(California Economic Summit, Feb. 5

Monday, February 4 was a red-letter day for stewardship in California. Not only was the California Legislature celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year and “National Wear Red Day” as a symbol of support for women's heart health, but members of both houses also paused to recognize Glenda Humiston and Paul Granillo as recipients of the California Economic Summit's 2018 Steward Leader Awards.

http://caeconomy.org/reporting/entry/california-legislators-honor-summits-steward-leader-award-winners

Revealed: how big dairy pushed fattier milks into US schools

(Guardian) Jessica Glenza, Feb. 4

…A nutritionist for the University of California called the idea that chocolate milk could help athletes “preposterous”.

“Milk is a very healthy beverage, it's got protein, calcium, vitamin D – there's a reason we are mammals and grow up drinking milk,” said Lorrene Ritchie, the director of the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California. “There's nothing about adding chocolate to it that's going to help an athlete.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/feb/03/revealed-dairy-lobby-fat-milk-trump-sonny-perdue

California's water paradox

(Morning Ag Clips/The Conversation) Faith Kearns and Doug Parker, Feb. 4

These days, it seems everyone is looking for a silver bullet solution to California's drought. Some advocate increasing supply through more storage, desalination or water reuse. Others propose controlling demand through conservation or restriction of water use by urban and agricultural users.

https://www.morningagclips.com/californias-water-paradox

Camp Fire: When survival means shelter

(Mercury News) Lisa Krieger, Feb. 2

“We have to talk about it, as a community, to reduce vulnerability – especially for citizens who don't drive,” said Scott Stephens, co-director of UC-Berkeley's Center for Fire Research and Outreach. “In the Camp Fire, people didn't die because they wanted to stay. They had to stay. All of a sudden, the fire was at their front door step.”

For Australia's policy to work in California, residents must be physically and mental trained, said wildfire specialist Max A. Moritz with UC's Division of Agriculture & Natural Resources. In Australia, which conducts formal training,  “there is active participation from homeowners … so both homes and people are better prepared.”
https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/02/02/wildfires-when-survival-means-shelter/

 

Posted on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 6:25 PM

Healthy food and food insecurity

Farmers grow lettuce, spinach, broccoli and other vegetables in California's Imperial Valley, Central Valley, Salinas Valley and far northern counties. However, these nutritious foods are not readily available to local low income communities.

“Children often don't have access to healthy food options,” said Christopher Gomez Wong, UC Cooperative Extension nutrition educator in Imperial County. “I'm from the Imperial Valley and often the fruits and vegetables grown here are not sold in local markets.”

According to the non-profit organization Feeding America, almost 2.5 million young people in the United States do not have access to nutritious food.

Despite the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables grown in California, some residents don't have access to nutritious food. (Photo: USDA)

“In California, one of every six children lives in a home where it's difficult to get the amount of nutritious food needed for their families,” said Lorrene Ritchie, director of the UC Nutrition Policy Institute. “We call this ‘food insecurity.'”

A study by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) found that food insecurity increases school absences and behavioral problems, and reduces children's concentration and academic achievement.

Ritchie, who leads a group of experts fighting obesity and food insecurity, said when family income is not sufficient, there is a tendency to buy cheaper foods, generally, junk food.

“If I'm hungry and I don't have much money, I'm going to a fast food restaurant where I can get more calories at a lower price,” Ritchie said. “Fast foods have more calories and cost less, but they typically also contain more sugar, salt and fat.”

For example, research presented at the UC ANR Statewide Conference on food insecurity included a graphic showing that for one dollar, consumers can purchase a bag of potato chips with 1,200 calories or a soda with 875 calories. In contrast, one dollar can buy just 250 calories of fresh vegetables or 170 calories of fresh fruit.

In everyday life, there are many examples of nutritious foods being displaced by junk foods

“We are studying children's eating habits,” Gomez Wong said. “Children aren't eating in the cafeteria and are eating lots of sweets. Five dollars more often buys them chips and a soda than a salad.”

Eating lunch at school helps students make better food choices. (Photo: USDA)

UC ANR works to combat food insecurity in many ways. It implements various ongoing community programs, conducts research and promotes government nutrition programs.

Urban gardens and orchards have a positive impact in low income communities, particularly where families do not have space for their own gardens and are interested in growing their own food. One example is the Community Settlement Association in Riverside. Other cities with similar programs are Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

UC Master Food Preserver Program teaches the public how to preserve food by canning, freezing and drying in order to take advantage lower prices for fruit and vegetables purchased in season.

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) offers free nutrition workshops in most California counties where people can learn how to purchase nutritious foods for less money and how to prepare them.

In addition, there are successful government programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, that provides nutritious foods free or at a reduced cost for children in public schools. The food is aligned with the national food guidelines that promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat milk.

“Every study we have done shows that school food contributes in an important way to children's nutrition,” Ritchie said. “For example, many children can meet half of their daily nutrition needs from school foods available absolutely free. I encourage all families to review school food programs to assure that their children arrive at school in time for the school breakfast and take advantage of the school lunch.”

MyPlate
In the fight against food insecurity, UC ANR has made important contributions, however, the challenges are enormous given that society continues to promote junk food of low nutritional quality.

“What we are trying to figure out is how to create an environment in which healthy options are the easiest options,” Ritchie said.

She said it would be ideal if supermarkets were designed under in concert with the healthy eating guidelines set forth in MyPlate. That is to say, to have stores where half the space is devoted to fruit and vegetables, a third is grains and whole grains, and another third are proteins, dairy foods and water (although water is not currently on MyPlate.)   

Link to the Spanish version of this story.

Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 at 8:03 AM
Focus Area Tags: Food

Nutrition Policy Institute study highlights benefits of school lunch

Lunches served in the National School Lunch Program have higher nutritional quality than lunches brought from home, according to the largest comparison study conducted to date.

Published in the November 2016 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the study, conducted by researchers at UC's Nutrition Policy Institute, involved nearly 4,000 elementary school students in Southern California.

“This rigorous study confirms what we have long known: The school lunch program, which has served the country's students since 1946, makes an invaluable contribution to their nutritional well-being, their health and their academic performance," said Lorrene Ritchie, Ph.D., director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and a senior author of this study. "And thanks to the recent, improved nutrition standards, it will only provide stronger, more essential support for our children's success.”

School lunch consumption was associated with higher overall diet quality. School lunch eaters also consumed diets that were higher in dairy-rich foods, lower in empty calories from solid fats and added sugars, and lower in refined grains than students who ate lunches from home.

Established in 1946, the National School Lunch Program is a federal nutrition assistance program that provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches in over 100,000 K-12 schools throughout the United States. School lunches are required to meet certain nutrition standards based on the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. New requirements increase the availability of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and reduce sodium and fat in school lunches. Guidelines on calorie limits are set to ensure age-appropriate sized meals for grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

During the 2014-15 school year, the program served lunches to about 30.5 million children each school day. More than 21.5 million of these students qualified for free or reduced-price service. Given the program's broad reach and its targeting of low-income children, the nutritional improvements shown in this study are of considerable benefit to needy students for whom school lunch may represent roughly one-third of their daily calories.

Since the study was conducted, new and more rigorous nutritional standards have been implemented, thus increasing the likelihood that school lunches are contributing to healthy overall diets – and reversing the extremely worrisome obesity epidemic. Currently as many as one-third of U.S. youth are obese or overweight.

Posted on Monday, December 5, 2016 at 9:46 AM

Chinese newspaper shares UC food insecurity research

The Xinhua News Agency reported in its Chinese-language newspaper on the NPI survey of food security at UC campuses.
The findings of a UC Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) survey on food insecurity reverberated across the globe to China, where editors of the Xinhua News Agency were surprised to learn food insecurity is a real problem among university students in the United States, said reporter Dan Ma in an email to Lorrene Ritchie, NPI director and author of the report.

Xinhua News is the official press agency of the Peoples Republic of China. It has a news bureau in San Francisco. The story came after UC President Janet Napolitano approved $3.3 million in new funding over the next two years to help students regularly access nutritious food on campus and off. The allocation was prompted by the results of a 2015 UC survey designed to accurately gauge the food security of its students. Survey responses were evaluated by NPI, part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

According to the survey, 19 percent of UC students indicated they had "very low" food security. An additional 23 percent were characterized as having "low" food security.

"I think many people in China think about food security in a little different way," wrote Dan in her email to Ritchie. "They care more about if there's food to fill their stomach and are less likely to realize that the reduced size of meals, less nutritious food, diet lacking variety and irregular eating patterns may constitute food insecurity. Maybe that's why some editors just don't believe that food security could be a broad issue in American universities."

Ritchie told Dan that is also a common misperception among people in the U.S.

"Food insecurity should not be confused with severe forms of starvation. Food insecurity is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture," Ritchie said. 

According to USDA definitions, "very low" food security is experienced as reduced food intake at times during the past year due to limited resources, and "low" food security is reduced quality, variety or desirability of the diet, with little or no indication of reduced food intake.

Dan got further clarification when she asked about her own personal experience.

"I'm constantly under work pressure and deadline pressure and don't have time to prepare food. As a result, I often skip meals, have poor quality diet and irregular eating patterns. Do you think I have the problem of food insecurity?" Dan wrote.

Ritchie explained: "You, like many, may not eat optimally for a number of reasons. But to be classified as food insecure, your inability to eat a more nutritious diet and follow a more regular eating pattern has to be due to a lack of financial resources, rather than lack of time."

Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 1:03 PM
Tags: food insecurity (3), Lorrene Ritchie (18), NPI (3)

NPI applauds Smart Snacks for schoolchildren

Melon and plums are packaged for schools. New USDA rules call for snacks served at school to meet nutritional standards similar to those required of school meals.

With an eye on reducing childhood obesity and improving overall health for children, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the final rule for snacks at schools. The rule made final on July 21 includes requiring snacks served at school to meet nutritional standards similar to those required of school meals.

Lorrene Ritchie, director of UC ANR's Nutrition Policy Institute applauds the USDA for their recently final Smart Snacks in School rule, which complements the nutritional improvements made to school lunches and breakfasts through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Offering more healthful foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains in schools can benefit overall diet quality.

Creating school environments that offer more healthful foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains can also influence the way children eat at home and away from school.

“No single setting has the potential to influence the nutrition of more children than schools,” said Ritchie.

“Research – conducted by our Nutrition Policy Institute and others – has demonstrated that the healthy school foods and beverages consumed by children have a positive impact on their overall diet quality,” she said.

USDA also now requires any food or beverage that is marketed on school campuses during the school day to meet the Smart Snacks standards. Children are a target market for many foods and beverages that contain low nutritional quality and high calories that contribute to excess weight. To be advertised on a school campus, foods and beverages must meet the same Smart Snack standards for items sold or served by a school, according to the new Local School Wellness Policy rule.

“We are starting to see a leveling of child obesity rates in some places and changes to the school food environment are essential to furthering this progress,” said Ritchie.

Providing a consistent source of nutritious food at school will help the approximately 6.2 million California K-12 students develop healthy eating habits for life.

To read more about the federal changes to school food requirements, read the USDA news release at http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2016/07/0172.xml&contentidonly=true.

 

Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 at 9:52 AM

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