Posts Tagged: Carl Winter
"Everyone smells the petrochemicals in the irrigation water," said Blake Sanden, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension advisor in Kern County. "When I talk to growers, and they smell the oil field crap in that water, they assume the soil is taking care of this."
The farmers trust that organisms in the soil remove toxins or impurities in the water. However, the trust may be misplaced.
Microoganisms in soils can consume and process some impurities, Sanden said, but it's not clear whether oil field waste is making its way into the roots or leaves of irrigated plants, and then into the food chain.
It's unlikely that petrochemicals will show up in an almond, for example, he said, "But can they make it into the flesh of an orange or grape? It's possible. A lot of this stuff has not been studied in a field setting or for commercial food uptake."
The reporter also spoke to Carl Winter, a UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist based at UC Davis. He said some plants can absorb toxins without transferring them to the leaves or the flesh of their fruit.
Still, he said, "it's difficult to say anything for sure because we don't know what chemicals are in the water."
A visiting scholar at UC Berkeley who is a researcher analyzing hydraulic fracturing for the California legislature said the issue is "one of the things that keeps me up at night."
"You can't find what you don't look for," he said.
Nutritionally, preserved fruits and vegetables can be equivalent or superior to fresh, said Diane Barrett, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis.
By the time a stalk of broccoli makes it from the farm to the supermarket to your refrigerator, it has already lost some of its nutritional value. "Fruits and vegetables are frozen within hours of harvest, so that actually allows you to retain those nutrients," Barrett said.
Barrett's analyses show that vitamin C, fiber, potassium and zinc remain intact during the freezing process. Blanching before freezing may make vitamins A and E more digestible.
Mother Jones senior editor Kiera Butler turned to Carl Winter, also a UCCE specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, for information about pesticide residue in fresh and processed food.
Processed fruits and vegetables generally have less pesticide residue than fresh conventional produce, Winter said. This is because some fruits and vegetables are washed in a machine that jostles them around to remove dirt and debris before they are processed. Some are also blanched and peeled.