Tobacco is a crop from the new world, in addition to corn, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and chocolate.

In 1545, the first person to take tobacco to Europe from America was Luís Góis, a Portuguese man.

Tobacco was sent to France by Jean Nicot, French ambassador to the Portuguese Court in Lisbon, and the word “nicotine” comes from the ambassador’s name. The French queen at the time, Catherine de Medici, is said to have been strongly addicted to tobacco.

Food History: Pigs

Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig by Mark Essig – review

Why the pig is so loved and so shunned … this is a witty history of western civilisation told through our four-legged pork producer. 

Jeffreys, Henry. Book Review. The Guardian. May 28, 2015.

Windshield View: May 20, 2015

It was so blustery today. The wind was hammered  straight down the Salinas Valley from the Monterey Bay. If I had had a sail, I could have driven home from Salinas on wind-power alone!
I now sit in my living room and look to the West with a range of hills between Paso Robles and the 30 miles to the Pacific. I can see the air-borne sea-salt in the air.

Windshield View: May 14, 2013

The Central Coast crops look great!
The first lettuce crop has been picked. However, because of heavy December storms, planting was all done at once so that early planting time was compressed.  A lot of produce was cut at the same time and the prices are horrible.
As we slide into the peak of the vegetable season after the “Turn”, the second plantings are starting to increase. Each day, a few more are added, and the planting week with the most plantings will be in late July.
It is a “buggy year” in vegetables with Corn ear worm, Aphids, and Army worm. The broccoli/cauliflower growers are struggling with Cabbage maggot, which is an interesting insect. It is attracted to sulfur compounds in the Cole crops. The adult lays its eggs at the soil surface and the hatching maggot feeds upon the young, tender roots of transplants. You can see how the certain flights hit certain plantings. Grapes are in bloom. It is not 100%, yet. Hot spots of bugs, such as Orange tortrix, have occurred in the wine grapes, too. So far, Powdery mildew pressure is light.
And we are seeing early Stone fruit: the vibrant colors and scents of Cherries, Apricots, Peaches, and Nectarines at the Farmer’s Markets. Cobblers, crisps and pies! Yum-ola!

Windshield View: Jul 31, 2015

Rain? Maybe.
Towering Gulf-of-Mexico-Style cumulous clouds are popping over the Santa Lucia Mountains from the ocean. Santa Barbara is supposed to get wet. Wouldn’t that be something if we did, too?
It’s a tough time of the year for the grape growers, as they are in full veraison (the grapes are turning color and the sugars are increasing). These are perfect conditions for the Grey mold or Botrytis, often called the Noble Rot. This is not something a grape grower wants right before harvest. 

Windshield View: July 29, 205

Wow! The grapes are ripe early. In the San Joaquin Valley, they have harvested and white grapes are drying for raisins. On the Central Coast,  the brix (the unit for the amount of sugar in grapes and sugar beets) is climbing in the wine grapes. I bet some people might start picking their wine grapes early. 

Food Systems: Organic

In 2015, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the organic industry continued to show remarkable growth domestically and globally, with 19,474 certified organic operations in the United States and a total of 27,814 certified organic operations around the world.

According to data released by the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP), the number of domestic certified organic operations increased by more than 5 percent over the last year. Since the count [of farms] began in 2002, the number of domestic organic operations has increased by over 250 percent.

An ongoing list of USDA certified organic operations and reports on the number of certified operations can be found at https://organic.ams.usda.gov/integrity/

Food History: Cumin

The History of Cumin

“Once [cumin] has been introduced into a new land and culture, cumin has a way of insinuating itself deeply into the local cuisine, which is why it has become one of the most commonly used spices in the world,” writes Gary Nabhan, author and social science researcher at the University of Arizona Southwest Center, in his recent book, Cumin, Camels, and Caravans.”

Nabham’s book is about spices and global trade and the effect that has had on history and culture. Cumin was found in the world’s oldest recipe collection in Mesopotamia in 1750 B.C. It has been prevalent in the Middle East since then. Cumin spread with the Roman Empire; and then, spread again by European colonists.

Mascevich, Adam. From Ancient Sumeria to Chipotle Tacos, Cumin Has Spiced Up the World. NPR. March 11, 2015. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/03/11/392317352/is-cumin-the-most-globalized-spice-in-the-world


2012 National Locally-Grown Food Statistics

The Local Food Movement Is Growing Up: 

  • 163,600 farms were engaged in local food sector across the country
  • $6.1 billion in locally grown food was sold
  • 2006-2014 – the number of farmers markets jumped from 180% to 8,260 markets
  • > 4,300 school districts spent > $385 million on local food thru farm-to-school programs
  • > 135 operational food hubs now move local food from farmers to meet wholesale, retail and institutional customers

Harden, Krysta. The Local Food Movement Is Growing Up. Modesto Bee. March 4, 2015. http://www.modbee.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/article11961647.html

Reposted from March 07, 2015 8:05am Facebook Post