One of the many things Californians have to be grateful for this Thanksgiving is that we live in a state that produces an abundance of fresh food that not only feeds but nourishes, our families. At a recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) seminar Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture talked about California farmers’ “sense of purpose to help feed people, and not just feed them calories, but to nourish them. . . the kinds of crops California grows are so foundational to the best nutrition. . . that’s what we do here and we do it better than anyone else.”
California’s food diversity
We’re also fortunate that the variety of foods grown throughout California reflects the diversity of the state itself. With more than 71,000 farms producing 400 different commodities, pretty much every region of the state hosts farming, making year-round access to the foods we love something we tend to take for granted. Let your imagination be your guide.
Most of us are aware that, in addition to turkeys, the Central Valley produces an abundance of fruits, nuts, vegetables, and dairy products. But California farming is much bigger than that and keeps healthy food within easy reach. From the Central Coast Californians can count on strawberries, artichokes, lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower; you can head south for avocados for your salad as well as flowers for your holiday table; or head north for milk, cheese and other dairy products; stop in the Bay Area for garlic; and if you’re a sushi lover, the rice may well have come from the Sacramento Valley. Looking for bok choy or other Asian vegetables to have on your table? They are grown abundantly from Salinas to Santa Maria. A variety of mushrooms sprout in Santa Clara and Monterey. Apples are grown north of Los Angeles, east of San Diego, in the Central Valley and the North Coast. And if you have wine with dinner, it now comes from many regions, including Napa and Sonoma, the San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast, and Sierra foothills.
California is the nation’s No. 1 farm state
As the nation’s largest agricultural producer, there aren’t many parts of the state that don’t host farms or farm-related businesses. Again, from Secretary Ross, California farms, “produce an astonishing array of products and achieve the highest standards in quality, food safety, and environmental stewardship.”
And California farming itself is a diverse business. It not only employs people growing and harvesting the food, but it also provides jobs throughout the state to people who transport, process and distribute the food in addition to companies that support farming by providing advanced irrigation, new technology, updated equipment, management services and more. According to a recent study put out by the University of California, agriculture employed more than 1 million people in 2018, paying them $68 billion in wages.
Safe and nutritious food for your family
So, when you survey your Thanksgiving table remember that a large part of the food your family will enjoy is likely California-grown, which is not only part of who we are, it’s healthy and safe, good for the economy and better for the environment because it doesn’t have to be shipped or trucked from another country. And that’s truly something to be grateful for.
See the original post on the California Farm Water Coalition site.