Big-business farming means more food, less variety

June 25, 1992|By McClatchy News Service

A story in Thursday's Accent section incorrectly reported the number of the Beef Industry Council hotline. The correct number is (800) 392-BEEF. The Evening Sun regrets the error.

What happens when farming becomes big business? For one thing, according to a report in Countryside magazine, we grow vast quantities of exactly the same thing.

For example, more than 6,000 known varieties of apples (86 percent of those ever recorded) have become extinct since 1900. Since 1900, 2,300 pear varieties have disappeared. Two varieties of peas account for 96 percent of the pickings.


Three varieties of oranges provide 90 percent of Florida's annual harvest. Seventy percent of the nation's dairy herd is Holstein. More than 90 percent of all chicken eggs sold are laid by one breed, the white leghorn.

At the same time that more and more farming is being done by big corporations, there are small farmers who have produce available for sale or for you to pick at their farms. To help you get to the growers, the University of California's Small Farm Center has published a Farmer-to-Consumer Directory.

Directory listings are organized by region and include information about location, season, operating hours and products available. The directory lists 21 organizations, which publish maps to local farms.

The directory is available at no charge from the UC Small Farm Center, University of California, Davis, Calif. 95616, or call (916) 757-8579.

According to the Barbecue Industry Association, 48 percent ogrill owners nationwide prepare meals on their grills throughout the year. (About 75 percent of U.S. households own a grill.) But summertime seems to turn up the heat of barbecue mania -- probably because, with the air conditioning on high, it seems silly to heat up your kitchen.

With all those folks out there grilling, there are bound to be a few questions. So, the Beef Industry Council offers a hotline. In addition, it will send you a copy of Great Grilled Beef, a brochure of recipes and barbecuing tips. The hotline is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (800) 329-BEEF through July 5.

Wolfgang Puck has closed his restaurant and brewery Eureka iLos Angeles, at least for now. "I want to restructure it so each one is a separate entity," Mr. Puck says in a Food Arts magazine report. "The restaurant makes a profit and the brewery loses money. I'm not a brewmaster."

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