Last weekend's Farm-to-Fork didn't play too well with the vegan-friendly crowd. Why was only one-third of the tickets available to local Sacramentans, but mostly out-of-towners shelling out that $175 per ticket to eat food that emphasized meaty ranch-wracked grub instead of vegetarian-friendly pickings? See, "Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Festival - Farm To Fork Capital of America." There was a free event, though, besides the dinner.
The inaugural Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Festival ran from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, on Capitol Mall between Third and Seventh streets. That daylight hours part of the event known as "The free festival – the largest zero-waste event in the country," did feature a selection of everything Sacramento has to offer in farm-to-fork eating. From local chefs, farmers and other food producers to food trucks, animal displays, a kids’ zone and live music, festivalgoers could expect to learn about food from its source to the plate.
And there were food demonstrations, live music, a beer garden and a wine pavilion with free samples. But was it really vegan-friendly? And how would a neighborhood budget Sacramento vegetarian-friendly or even vegan family view the campaign of farm-to-fork? More like a ranch to slaughterhouse to carnivore's delight? Or more like an "eat your organic local vegetables" approach focusing on the health benefits of specific food pairing?
The food had a friendly focus, but the spotlight shone on meat and heat not raw and awe
First you had the Monday morning cattle-drive downtown where state workers could gawk out of their windows at 10:00 a.m. to catch cows and cowboy hats on rancher-types walking the cattle through the downtown area and across one of Sacramento's bridges. The whole thrust of the campaign reeked of meat and other animal protein products.
If you went down to the arena area, food served by vendors showcased the usual chicken and pulled pork seasoned to taste. Fish eaters could buy seafood from the farmed-fish vendors. No emphasis on wild-caught fish, for example or even canned wild-caught fish from the overrun. The locus of the focus spotlighted farmed or rather ranched, blanched, and stanched. From slaughterhouse to fork, maybe the slogan should ganch?
You could almost imagine the beef hanging on meat hooks. But then again, numerous Sacramentans still long for a vegan-friendly spread that's affordable such as spiced and herbed quinoa with green onions, roasted cauliflower and cherry tomatoes, shredded raw beets in vinaigrette or lime juice, garlic-smacked hummus with real brown sesame seeds pureed and without the addition of cheap canola oil added in some commercial versions to increase the fat content, raw vegetables for dipping or sipping, snow pea salads, assortments of nuts, melon balls, beans, and onions, being careful not to include fava beans with the others, (for those who get fava bean fever and similar adverse reactions to fava beans).
Where were the vegan-friendly pureed legumes with spices, garlic, and roasted red peppers in a tangy sauce?
How about serving such a vegan-friendly meal to those who want a vegan organic produce spread instead of a meat-centric campaign of from ranch to slaughterhouse to ladle, or fish farm pickings to fork and cork as you talk and hawk?
Want more vegan-friendly ideas? Check out some of those vegan ingredients that were served at a meal with past President Clinton with reporter Joe Conason as explained in an exclusive heart-healthy luncheon in the recent AARP magazine article, "My Lunch With Bill - AARP The Magazine - August/September 2013l." See the sites, "Bill Clinton Reveals How He Became a Vegan - AARP" and "Bill Clinton & His Vegan Diet Impress AARP's Joe Conason. Also check out, "The Bill Clinton Diet." See, "Bill Clinton Explains Why He Became a Vegan by Joe Conason." Also see, "Bill Clinton Reveals How He Became a Vegan - AARP." So isn't the fact that a president goes vegan reason enough to have a farm to fork campaign that's vegan friendly in Sacramento? And that's affordable, available, and accessible to most average Sacramentans who can shell out up to $10 for a good organic vegan meal?
No, what you had was a $175 dinner that wasn't so vegan-friendly or had a special appeal to average locals. You had people traveling from other cities for the dinner on the bridge where just a few weeks before was encrusted with pigeon droppings that had to be scrubbed off for the 600-person sit-down dinner. What more can you say? Give Sacramentans more vegan-friendly and affordable meals once in a while.
Local scientists at UC Davis are researching how to prevent citrus greening disease from coming here
The devastating disease Huonglongbing, or citrus greening, looms darkly over the United States, threatening to wipe out the nation's citrus industry, whose fresh fruit alone was valued at more than $3.4 billion in 2012. The findings indicate the bacterial disease interferes with starch and sugar metabolism in young and matures leaves and fruit, says the September 25, 2013 University of California, Davis news release, "New study offers hope for halting incurable citrus disease."
Recently, however, a research team led by a University of California, Davis, plant scientist used DNA sequencing technologies to paint a broad picture of how citrus greening impacts trees before they even show signs of infection, offering hope for developing diagnostic tests and treatments for the currently incurable disease.
"Florida is seemingly in the death grip of citrus greening, and many experts believe it is just a matter of time before the disease appears full force in California," said plant molecular biologist Abhaya Dandekar, lead author on the study, according to the news releases. The new findings indicate that the bacterial disease interferes with starch and sugar metabolism in young and mature leaves and fruit, while also wreaking havoc with hormonal networks that are key to the trees' ability to fend off infections. Study results were reported September 25, 2013 online issue of the journal PLOS ONE.
"Because the disease has a long latent phase during which there are no symptoms of infection and the bacteria are resistant to being grown in the laboratory, the only option for halting transmission of citrus greening has been to apply chemical pesticides to control the insect that spreads the bacteria," Dandekar said in the news release.
About citrus greening
HLB, or citrus greening, is the most destructive citrus disease worldwide. It is caused by three species of the Candidatus Liberibacter bacteria, including Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus, which is known by the abbreviation CaLas. These bacteria are carried from tree to tree by two species of the citrus psyllid, a winged insect that is about one-eighth of an inch long and attaches itself to the underside of the trees' leaves.
As the citrus psyllid feeds on a leaf, it can pick up the bacteria from a diseased tree and introduce the bacteria to a non-infected tree. These disease-causing bacteria reside in the tree's phloem — the vascular tissue that carries vital nutrients throughout the tree.
The disease affects most citrus species, causing yellowing of shoots, blotchy and mottled leaves, lopsided and poorly colored fruit and loss of viable seeds. The fruit of diseased trees is hard, misshapen and bitter, and the infected trees die within a few years.
Other than one infected backyard tree found in 2012 in the Southern California community of Hacienda Heights, the disease has not been detected in California. However the citrus psyllid that transmits the bacteria was first found in California in 2008 and has since been identified in San Diego, Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Kern and Tulare counties, resulting in quarantines and restricted areas.
The new study
In this new study, the researchers studied four categories of healthy and diseased citrus trees, with the goal of better understanding how HLB affects trees physiologically during the very early stages of infection.
"Earlier sequencing of the CaLas bacteria genome showed that there were no toxins or enzymes that would destroy plant cell walls, or specialized secretion systems associated with citrus HLB," Dandekar explained in the September 25, 2013 University of California, Davis news release, "New study offers hope for halting incurable citrus disease." "Because these factors, which normally accompany plant diseases, were not present, we suspected that the disease was causing metabolic imbalances or interfering with nutrient transport in the infected trees," he said.
The researchers used gene sequencing technology to study the "transcriptome," which is the collection of RNA found in the tree leaves and fruit
Their analysis confirmed that in infected trees, HLB disease caused starch to accumulate in the leaves, blocking nutrient transport through the phloem and decreasing photosynthesis. They also found that normal metabolism of sucrose, a sugar also key to photosynthesis, was disrupted.
Furthermore, the researchers discovered that HLB interfered with the regulation of hormones such as salicylic acid, jasmonic acid and ethylene, which are "the backbone" of the plant innate immune response. And they found that infected trees also had changes in the metabolism of important amino acids that serve as a reservoir for organic nitrogen in many plants. The nitrogen is required to stimulate the plant immune response.
Cause for hope
The researchers anticipate that these discoveries will lead the way to new tests for detecting the bacteria and thus the presence of HLB in orchard trees. They also suggest that it may be possible to develop several short-term treatments for infected trees. Such therapeutic procedures might rely on using hormones and other small molecules to restore the infected tree's normal metabolism or boosting the tree's innate immune response to effectively fight the infection.
Other researchers on this study were Federico Martinelli, Russell Reagan, Sandra Uratsu and My Phu, all of the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences; Ute Albrecht and Kim Bowman, both of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Fort Pierce, Fla.; and Weixian Zhao and Cristina Davis, both of the UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Funding for the study was provided by the Citrus Research and Development Foundation in Florida and the Citrus Research Board of California.