Monday, July 30, 2012

Doctors Writing Prescriptions for Fruits and Vegetable

Link to full article:

 Gary Clary, CNN

Bad cholesterol, depression, high blood pressure; these are all conditions that often prompt a trip to the pharmacy. But now, physicians are administering a different treatment entirely: produce. Doctors at select clinics across the country are writing some obese patients "prescriptions" for fruits and vegetables.

The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program provides daily $1 subsidies to buy produce at local farmers markets. FVRx, as it is also known, is funded through Wholesome Wave, a non-profit organization which operates from private donations. Each member of a family gets the $1 prescription so, for example, a family of five would end up getting $35 per week to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables.

To read the entire article go here.

Consumer spending on fruits, vegetables stagnates, study says

Tom Karst
The Packer

While buying more sweets and processed foods, Americans are spending virtually the same percentage of their budget on fruits and vegetables in 2012 as they did 30 years ago.

A study by Planet Money/National Public Radio released this summer shows consumers spend an average of 14.6% of their grocery budget on fruits and vegetables, compared with 14.5% in 1982.

Processed foods and sweets showed the most dramatic gains over the past 30 years, rising from 11.6% of the grocery budget in 1982 to 22.9% in 2012.  Reflecting the efficiencies gained in larger scale animal facilities, the percent of the grocery budget spent on meats dropped from 31.3% in 1982 to just 21.5% in 2012.

The data, compiled from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that the percent of groceries spent on dairy products dropped from 13.3% to 11.1%, while the amount spent on grains and baked goods rose from 13.2% to 14.4%.

Comparing 1982 and 2012, the study found inflation-adjusted prices of selected fruits and vegetables (measured in 2012 dollars) showed mixed trends.

The 2012 prices of apples, bananas, lettuce and tomatoes were cheaper than 1982, while grapefruit and pepper prices were higher compared with 30 years ago.

U.S. Grocery expenditures

                                           2012                                     1982

Meats                                  21.5%                                    31.3%

Fruits and vegetables              14.6%                                    14.5%

Grains and baked goods           14.4%                                    13.2%

Beverages                             11.1%                                    11%

Dairy products                       10.6%                                    13.2%

Other foods                           5.1%                                      5.3%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics Planet Money/NPR

Original link:

Friday, July 27, 2012


The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Scholarship program is designed to give new and beginning farmers and ranchers a low-cost opportunity to participate in the Carolina Farm StewardshipAssociation's (CFSA) Sustainable Agriculture Conference Oct 26-28, 2012 in Greenville, SC.  

The Sustainable Agriculture Conference is an unparalleled opportunity for beginning farmers to learn how to be successful in their sustainable farming enterprises.  The conference has special programming for beginning farmers on basic farm planning, marketing, how to avoid common startup pitfalls, and applying for grants and loans for farmers.  Other conference workshops cover cutting edge issues in sustainable agriculture, including organic weed and pest control, plant diseases, soil fertility, heritage livestock, food safety and processing, and direct marketing.  All of it is essential information for new farms to thrive.  

Scholarship recipients will be eligible to attend all regular conference activities, beginning with the dinner and evening program on Friday, Oct. 26, and including all workshops, plenary sessions, meals and networking sessions taking place on Saturday, Oct. 26 and Sunday, Oct. 27. The scholarship does not cover the pre-conference workshops and tours held on Friday, Oct. 26, or travel & lodging costs.  The value of this scholarship totals $300.
Scholarship Eligibility: Up to 40 scholarships are available.  For purposes of this scholarship program, a new or beginning farmer or rancher is defined as an individual who:

* Has not operated a farm or ranch, or who has operated a farm or ranch for not more than 10 consecutive years, and

* Will provide substantial day-to-day labor and management of the farm or ranch.

* CFSA encourages minority farmers to take advantage of this scholarship.  A portion of the 40 scholarships are reserved for minority farmers.

Scholarship Requirements: Recipients will be required to attend one of the two Basic Farm Planning workshops and cover the cost of their own lodging and travel expenses.  

Scholarship Application Deadline:
The deadline to apply for this scholarship is Aug. 15, 2012 Scholarship recipients will be notified of award decisions by Sept. 5, 2012.  Those applicants who do not receive the scholarship will be eligible to register for the Conference at the low early bird rate for students and apprentices.  

Download Scholarship Application -

For More Information: Email info@carolinafarmstewards.or with "Scholarship" in the subject line.

This scholarship program is made possible by a grant from National Institute for Food and Agriculture and the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and we are grateful for this support.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pesticide Disposal Day August 1

Henderson County Cooperative Extension and the NC Department of Agriculture are hosting a Pesticide Disposal Day!

Who: Farmers, Gardeners and Homeowners

What: Any pesticide (insecticide, herbicides, fungicides, etc.)  NO PAINT

When: Wednesday August 1, 2012

Where: Jackson Park Field 8-9 Parking Lot.  Hendersonville, NC

Contact:  Henderson County Cooperative Extension, 828-697-4891

Provisions: Register with Cooperative Extension.  No unlabeled products will be accepted.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Latest Edition of Small Fruits News Now Available

The Southern Region Small Fruits Consortium's latest newsletter is now available.

Small Fruits News July 2012 (pdf)
  1.  'Osage' a new blackberry for shipping and local markets
  2. Blackberry and raspberry season checklist
  3. Strawberry seasonal checklist

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cucurbit Downy Mildew in Western NC

Cucurbit downy mildew has been identified on cucumbers in Buncombe and Haywood Counties.  Growers are urged to scout their fields and begin preventive management.

Review control measures and previous posts on this major disease issue - Cucurbit downy mildew

Water soaked lesions, caused by Pseudoperonospora cubensis (causal agent of cucurbit downy mildew), visible on the underside of cucumber leaf.
Also, please visit the Cucurbit Downy Mildew Forecasting site to see more pictures of the disease, review control measures, report disease outbreaks in your area and more.

Late Blight Identified in Western NC

Late blight has been positively identified in Henderson County.  Please review the NC Alternative Crops and Organics for a synopsis from Dr. Jeanine Davis and control recommendations and descriptions of the disease from Dr. Kelly Ivors - Late Blight Confirmed in Western NC.

Growers are urged to start scouting fields and taking proper preventive measures- it is very hard to play catch up with late blight, prevention is key.

To review previous posts on late blight, click here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

This Thursday: Research Hop Yard “Open House”

Event:  Research Hop Yard “Open House”
Date of Event:  July 5, 2012
Time of Event:  5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Location of Event:  Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station, 74 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759.
Contact:  Dr. Jeanine Davis, 828-684-3562,

Last year we established a high-trellis research hop yard to help the new hop industry developing in western North Carolina.  There are ten popular varieties planted in a replicated trial. The trellis system demonstrates two methods for lowering the top wire so the use of ladders or cherry pickers for stringing, maintenance, and harvest is not necessary.  There is a drip-irrigation system and a landscape fabric mulch weed control system.  This is not a full-fledged field day this year with speakers and a set agenda.  This is a casual “drop-in” event and an opportunity for hop growers and potential hop growers to view the ten varieties before we start harvesting and talk with the researchers, Jeanine Davis and Kelly Gaskill.  The differences between the varieties are pretty dramatic this year. We have experienced Downy Mildew, spider mites, and now Japanese beetles and we will tell you what steps we have taken to control them.  We’d love for you to share your experiences, too.

From Interstate 26, take Exit #40 (the Asheville Regional Airport exit). At the top of the exit ramp take NC Hwy 280 South (go towards the airport). Drive past the airport and take the first road on the right, Old Fanning Bridge Road (just after the big curve to the right and marked by a green and white sign for the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center. After about one mile you will cross the French Broad river. The research station is on the right but directly across the street from the entrance to the research station there will be signs directing you left onto Butler Farm Road. Follow the signs out to the hop yard.
This project is funded by a USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant administered through the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  The project is in the NC Alternative Crops and Organics Program of Dr. Jeanine Davis, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Horticultural Science, NC State University, Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, 455 Research Drive, Mills River, NC 28759.  More information on her program and the companion Hops Field Day being held in Raleigh can be found at

Monday, July 2, 2012

Flavor Is Price Of Scarlet Hue Of Tomatoes, Study Finds

The New York Times
Published: June 28, 2012
Original link:

A gene mutation that makes a tomato uniformly red also stifles genes that contribute to its taste, researchers say.

Plant geneticists say they have discovered an answer to a near-universal question: Why are tomatoes usually so tasteless?

Yes, they are often picked green and shipped long distances. Often they are refrigerated, which destroys their flavor and texture. But now researchers have discovered a genetic reason that diminishes a tomato’s flavor even if the fruit is picked ripe and coddled.

The unexpected culprit is a gene mutation that occurred by chance and that was discovered by tomato breeders. It was deliberately bred into almost all tomatoes because it conferred an advantage: It made them a uniform luscious scarlet when ripe.

Now, in a paper published in the journal Science, researchers report that the very gene that was inactivated by that mutation plays an important role in producing the sugar and aromas that are the essence of a fragrant, flavorful tomato. And these findings provide a road map for plant breeders to make better-tasting, evenly red tomatoes.

The discovery “is one piece of the puzzle about why the modern tomato stinks,” said Harry Klee, a tomato researcher at the University of Florida in Gainesville who was not involved in the research. “That mutation has been introduced into almost all modern tomatoes. Now we can say that in trying to make the fruit prettier, they reduced some of the important compounds that are linked to flavor.”

The mutation’s effect was a real surprise, said James J. Giovannoni of the United States Department of Agriculture Research Service, an author of the paper. He called the wide adoption of tomatoes that ripen uniformly “a story of unintended consequences.”

Breeders stumbled upon the variety about 70 years ago and saw commercial potential. Consumers like tomatoes that are red all over, but ripe tomatoes normally had a ring of green, yellow or white at the stem end. Producers of tomatoes used in tomato sauce or ketchup also benefited. Growers harvest this crop all at once, Dr. Giovannoni said, and “with the uniform ripening gene, it is easier to determine when the tomatoes are ripe.”

Then, about 10 years ago, Ann Powell, a plant biochemist at the University of California, Davis, happened on a puzzle that led to the new discovery.

Dr. Powell, a lead author of the Science paper, was studying weed genes. Her colleagues had put those genes into tomato plants, which are, she said, the lab rats of the plant world. To Dr. Powell’s surprise, tomatoes with the genes turned the dark green of a sweet pepper before they ripened, rather than the insipid pale green of most tomatoes today.

“That got me thinking,” Dr. Powell said. “Why do fruits bother being green in the first place?” The green is from chloroplasts, self-contained energy factories in plant cells, where photosynthesis takes place. The end result is sugar, which plants use for food. And, Dr. Powell said, the prevailing wisdom said sugar travels from a plant’s leaves to its fruit. So chloroplasts in tomato fruit seemed inconsequential.

Still, she said, the thought of dark green tomatoes “kind of bugged me.” Why weren’t the leaves dark green, too?

About a year ago, she and her colleagues, including Dr. Giovannoni, decided to investigate. The weed genes, they found, replaced a disabled gene in a tomato’s fruit but not in its leaves. With the weed genes, the tomatoes turned dark green.

The reason the tomatoes had been light green was that they had the uniform ripening mutation, which set up a sort of chain reaction. The mutation not only made tomatoes turn uniformly green and then red, but also disabled genes involved in ripening. Among them are genes that allow the fruit to make some of its own sugar instead of getting it only from leaves. Others increase the amount of carotenoids, which give tomatoes a full red color and, it is thought, are involved in flavor.

To test their discovery, the researchers used genetic engineering to turn on the disabled genes while leaving the uniform ripening trait alone. The fruit was evenly dark green and then red and had 20 percent more sugar and 20 to 30 percent more carotenoids when ripe.

But were the genetically engineered tomatoes more flavorful? Because Department of Agriculture regulations forbid the consumption of experimental produce, no one tasted them.

And, Dr. Giovannoni says, do not look for those genetically engineered tomatoes at the grocery store. Producers would not dare to make such a tomato for fear that consumers would reject it.

But, Dr. Powell said, there is a way around the issue. Heirloom tomatoes and many wild species do not have the uniform ripening mutation. “The idea is to get the vegetable seed industry interested,” Dr. Powell said.

A version of this article appeared in print on June 29, 2012, on page A12 of the New York
edition with the headline: Flavor Is Price Of Scarlet Hue Of Tomatoes, Study Finds.