The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) hosted its fifth Safe Fruits and Veggies Farm Tour for registered dietitians, health and nutrition writers and influencers on September 12, 13 and 14 featuring crops in the San Joaquin Valley of California.
Tour participants visited peach, plum, nectarine and citrus farms and grape vineyards as well as packing and cooling facilities in this agricultural-rich area of the country.
“This tour allows our guests to experience a day in the life of farming and how farmers and farm workers work to provide safe and healthy fruits and vegetables every day,” says Kate Tynan, AFF Board Chair and Senior Vice President of the Northwest Horticultural Council. “These influencer tours enhance AFF efforts to share our fact-based information with media and consumers about the care and commitment of produce farmers to grow these nutrient-dense foods.”
“We heard the word ‘amazing’ quite a bit over the last few days from our tour guests,” says Teresa Thorne, AFF Executive Director. “They were not only impressed by the farmers’ passion for what they do but their resilience, their ingenuity and pride in providing fruits and vegetables to our nation’s consumers.”
The AFF’s list of 2022 tour guests included: Julie Andrews, Deanna Belleny Lewis, Mandy Enright, Maya Feller, Lauren Harris-Pincus, Sally Kuzemchak, Heather Mangieri, Vandana Sheth and Manuel Villacorta.
These guests are contributors to NBC News, ABC News, Self, Food Network, U.S. News and World Report, Cooking Light, Today’s Dietitian, Parents, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Health Magazine, Univision, Fox News Latino and Prevention, among others.
On the first day, AFF guests toured Porterville Citrus packing facility in Terra Bella, HMC Farms in Kingsburg where they saw peach orchards and packing followed by a varietal fruit tasting at Family Tree Farms in Reedley.
On day two, Jasmine Vineyards in Delano hosted the AFF guests where they observed grape harvest, toured packinghouse and cooling facilities and enjoyed a traditional Croatian barbecue lunch. The tour concluded with a tour of McKellar Family Farms in Ivanhoe followed by a dinner in their orange grove.
“We can’t thank these farms and facilities enough for all of their work to share what they do with the AFF guests,” says Ian LeMay, AFF Vice-Chair and President of California Fresh Fruit Association “This is such a busy time of year for them and they generously opened their farms and facilities and provided the guests with invaluable information about growing, harvesting and packing these healthy fruits.”
The sponsors who made the 2021 tour possible included California Citrus Mutual, California Fresh Fruit Association, California Table Grape Commission, International Fresh Produce Association, Pear Bureau Northwest and Western Growers Association.
The AFF also includes scientists on the tour to provide technical expertise. This year, Dr. Trevor Suslow, Extension Research Specialist Emeritus, University of California, Davis, Department of Plant Sciences and Principal of T & K Suslow Consulting LLC joined the tour.
“We have seen the benefits of engagement and sharing of AFF’s fact-based information by these influencers over the last few years,” Tynan says. “Their efforts in mainstream and social media have helped the AFF’s Safe Fruits and Veggies campaign to consistently reach more consumers to combat disparaging and misleading rhetoric used by activist groups about produce safety.”
The AFF’s goal is to provide science-based safety information about organic and conventional produce so consumers can make the best shopping choices for themselves and their families. The cornerstone of the AFF’s outreach efforts is the safefruitsandveggies.com website, which includes information about farming, nutrition, health, toxicology and risk analysis for consumers, media and nutritionists and dietitians.
In addition to the real-time social media posts during the tour, the influencers will be providing more in-depth content about their experiences and what they learned. The AFF will share and distribute this new content to industry, media and nutrition communicators.
“Our sincere thanks to all of our guests, sponsors, Dr. Suslow, the farmers and facility managers for making this tour such a special event,” Thorne says. “These tours are always so educational, dynamic and insightful for everyone involved. There is no better way to show the passion and commitment of farmers than by visiting their farms and meeting them in person. And these tours re-invigorate all of us who proudly represent farmers to keep working hard on their behalf.”
About the Alliance for Food and Farming
The Alliance for Food and Farming is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 which represents organic and conventional farmers and farms of all sizes. Alliance contributors are limited to farmers of fruits and vegetables, companies that sell, market or ship fruits and vegetables or organizations that represent produce farmers. Our mission is to deliver credible information about the safety of fruits and vegetables.