Soil & Sea: reports from our producers

This article was originally published in June 2017

avocados on tree

Will California someday grow avocados year round? Americans ate 2 billion pounds of avocados last year, two-thirds of them imported, mostly from Mexico, which has the climate to grow the green fruit year-round. Currently avocados only are grown commercially in southern California, but researchers now are seeking to find an avocado tree that can withstand the Central Valley’s frosty winters and hot summers. Ninety-five percent of all the avocados Americans eat are the Hass variety, which doesn’t grow well in the Central Valley. The researchers say three varieties are promising: GEM, Lunchbox and an unnamed variety.

Follow Your Heart’s manufacturing facility is now certified Zero Waste. The PCC vendor, best known for its vegan mayonnaise, says in 2016 the company diverted 97 percent of its waste from landfill to achieve Gold Level Zero Waste certification from Green Business Certification Incorporated. It’s the first plant-based food manufacturing facility in the United States to achieve Zero Waste certification.

The Washington blueberry season is running about three weeks later this year than it did last year, according to PCC’s organic producers. The rainiest winter and spring on record is to blame.

At least two companies are rushing to get robotic fruit picking machines to market. Members of the $7.5 billion annual Washington agriculture industry have long grappled with labor shortages and depend on workers coming up from Mexico each year to harvest many crops. A Washington State University cooperative extension agent said it will be years before existing orchards can be converted to accommodate fruit picking machines. Advocates for farm workers say replacing human workers with machines could lead to the loss of other jobs in local communities.

salmon on ice

Will GE salmon be produced in Canada? AquaBounty has submitted an application to the Prince Edward Island (PEI) government that reveals the company’s intention to raise GE salmon in PEI. If approved, it would be the world’s first GE fish factory. AquaBounty owns an aquaculture facility in Rollo Bay, PEI that it purchased in 2016. The company’s 2016 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) clearly stated that it would not produce GE fish at the site, but the current amended EIS seeks permission to construct large new buildings to produce 250 tons of GE Atlantic salmon each year.

President Trump’s proposed budget will zero out funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant programs, which provide education and technical assistance to aquaculture and other ocean-based industries.

Also in this issue

PCC Board of Trustees report, June 2017

2017 Board Election, 2017 Annual Members' Business Meeting, Board report, and more

Letters to the editor, June 2017

Aquaculture controversy, Palm oil-free hair care, Palm oil problems, and more

Do we need to double food production?

The United Nations projects that the global population will increase from 7.3 billion in 2015 to 9.7 billion in 2050. This growth will be concentrated in the world's poorest countries, where standards of living are set to rise rapidly, increasing demand for resource-intensive meat and dairy products. Together, these trends are heightening fears that the world's cupboards may run bare in the coming decades.