CA Cling Peaches - Buy CA!
A couple of years ago I wrote an article about how interesting it is that when most reflect upon California, being a leader in agriculture is generally the last thing that they think about. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, beautiful beaches and Hollywood are the leading images. But before there were 49ers mining for gold or Hollywood starlets vying to leave their handprints in front of Mann’s Chinese Theatre, California’s real gift to the world was and is its agriculture. California’s agricultural bounty – the true California Gold Rush – is a $34.8 billion dollar industry.
California is the top producer of agricultural products in the nation and has been the number one food and agricultural producer in the United States for more than 60 consecutive years. California farmers raise more than 400 different commodities. In fact, California ranks first in production over all other states in almonds, avocados, broccoli, celery, greenhouse/nursery, hay, lemons, lettuce, onions, peaches, pistachio nuts, plums, strawberries, tomatoes and walnuts. California agriculture employs 1.1 million people and for every $1 billion in farm sales, there are 18,000 jobs created in the state – 11,000 in the farm sector and another 7,000 other industries.
The goal of California farmers is to provide high-quality, safe and affordable food to consumers while providing a safe, productive work environment for employees and effectuating environmental stewardship. California grown products are safe and a bargain. The average American earns enough income in about five weeks to pay for their family’s food supply for an entire year – the most affordable source of food in the world. Even in these challenging economic times, the USDA reports that American families and individuals spend, on average, just under 10% percent of their disposable personal income for food. As a farmer’s “office” is the land, California agriculture is instrumental in nature’s eco-system and protects the environment. Farmers care about sustaining their land, keeping it strong and healthy, and preserving it for future generations.
Agriculture is more than food, fiber and flowers. Agriculture touches everyone. Products we use in our everyday lives come from plant and animal by-products produced by US farmers and ranchers. How fortunate we are that California’s true Gold Rush – California agriculture – continues to grow today.
Unfortunately, some domestically grown (CA and USA) produce is being squeezed out and being replaced by Chinese imports just like housewares, clothes, and furniture have become the norm. The continuance of California’s agriculture is slowly being chipped away one commodity at a time. The one that hits home for my family is cling peaches. California farming families grow 80% of the U.S.-grown cling peaches – the peaches that you find frozen, canned, or bottled.
Chinese-grown peaches making a big dent and are now account for 68% of the canned-peach imports on U.S. shelves. National retailers are increasing using Chinese peaches for their private label products. I’m know there are others, but companies that I generally enjoy supporting such as Target (Market Pantry label) and CVS Pharmacy Drug Store (CVS Gold Emblem label) have decided that importing peaches from China instead of using domestically-grown cling peaches. I guess it shows the American public their support to communities relying upon agriculture and helps to support their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint. I hope my sarcasm is evident.
As I often share with anyone who will listen, we take a lot of pride in growing a quality piece of fruit. Because our peaches are grown and canned in California, I know the fruit and the canning facilities are held to world’s highest and unparalleled food quality and safety standards. Sadly, I am relatively certain that China’s food safety standards, environmental regulations and labor standards are dramatically different or even absent in Chinese processing and canning facilities.
If stores like Target and CVS are genuinely concerned with offering the best combination of quality and price, as well as helping the communities in which they are located and reducing their carbon footprint, then they should really take a look at where they are sourcing their food products. I am very concerned with the influx of Chinese canned peaches making their way into my children’s school lunches and onto my, rather your, dinner plate.
As a consumer who loves to shop, I know that I am making a concerted effort to buy domestically-produced products and produce when given the choice. I am also hoping that you might do the same. I urge you to check out where your canned peaches or any canned, frozen or bottled fruits and veggies are coming from the next time you visit your favorite market…and buy California, and if not California, then U.S.A. product. Make your voice known. Make your shopping dollars count. Show your support for a domestic food supply!
Located in the Central San Joaquin Valley and passionate about a domestic food supply, Karri Hammerstrom is an agricultural advocate, educator and a small farmer with her husband of stone fruit, alfalfa and children.