Food and Farm News—Valentine’s Day means brisk business for California floral sector

Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Valentine’s Day means brisk business for California floral sector
This year’s midweek Valentine’s Day, allowing for more at-work floral deliveries, will be a boon to the business, say California flower growers and wholesalers. Demand for all flower varieties is up, with a rising interest in locally and sustainably grown blooms buoying requests for California-grown alternatives to the traditional, but mostly foreign-grown, rose. Recent wet weather throughout California may put a squeeze on supplies, however.  
Study suggests grapes may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease
A recent University of California, Los Angeles, study suggests regular consumption of grapes may help protect against early decline in cognition associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Participants ate the equivalent of 2 1/4 cups of grapes each day for six months and demonstrated beneficial changes in brain metabolism, cognition and working memory performance. The study adds to the growing evidence of the beneficial role grapes may play in cardiovascular and neurologic health. 
U.S. production of pulses on track for record-breaking year
Strong exports and an increase in domestic demand have encouraged U.S. farmers to plant more pulses–dried beans, lentils and peas–with production of lentils and chickpeas set to reach a record high for the 2016-17 marketing year. A growing interest in healthy snacks and gluten-free foods has increased American consumption of pulse products. Retail sales of chickpea-based hummus, for example, have exploded from less than $10 million in the 1990s to as much as $800 million in recent years. 
California cling peach growers seek to secure future of crop

California growers of cling peaches face a volatile future due to mounting challenges from increased labor costs and stiff price competition from China, Greece and Chile, according to the California Canning Peach Association. California grows nearly all the nation’s cling peaches, used mainly for canning and baby food. In a bid to secure the future of the crop, growers are turning increasingly to mechanized harvesting to lower labor costs, and are focusing on high quality and advocating for a “Buy American” provision for school-lunch program purchases to drive demand.