Soil & Sea: reports from our producers

Sound Consumer October 2014

A Gallup poll finds 45 percent of Americans “actively try to include organic foods in their diets,” while 15 percent actively avoid organics. More than a third (38 percent) say they “don’t think either way” about organic foods. Including organic food is highest in the West
(54 percent) and lowest in the East (39 percent).

Fonio, an ancient West African cereal rich in amino acids, low in sugar, high in iron and gluten-free, is projected to become as popular as quinoa.

California could become unsuitable for growing a variety of fruits and nuts, according to new research that says warmer temperatures, and the associated reduced winter chilling period, could take a toll. Insufficient winter chill hours – defined as the cumulative number of hours below 45°F – can disrupt pollination, delay flowering, lower yield and reduce fruit quality. Fewer chill days will impact the yields of walnuts, pistachios, apples, pears, and stone fruits such as cherries, apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums.

California cherries reportedly are particularly vulnerable to warming winters, with yields expected to decrease 20 percent by 2050. The USDA reports that California’s cherry production was down 63 percent in 2014 compared to 2013 yields. USDA attributed California’s cherry crop failures primarily to lower winter chill.

Demand for sunflower oil and lecithin is booming as food manufacturers and restaurants look for non-genetically engineered alternatives to GE soy, canola oil and soy lecithin. Sunflower lecithin sales are growing 10 to 20 percent per year.

Fishing for Coho salmon started out well in the summer troll fishery off Southeast Alaska this summer, but trollers say the catches fell off sharply much earlier than usual. This year, daily troll catches plummeted at the end of August. Last summer, fishermen in the Southeast had a banner Coho season, landing 3.9 million Coho, the second-highest catch since Alaska’s statehood in 1959.

Related Reading

Climate change and northwest agriculture

Climate change seems certain to take a toll on Washington's $40 billion annual agriculture industry, but the Northwest may be able to adapt better than other regions.

PCC Board of Trustees report, October 2014

Board meeting report, Next board meeting, Board outreach event, and more

News bites, October 2014

Judge: Kauai GE law invalid, USFWS phases out GE, Butterflies and climate change, and more