I loves me the berries, so do many others, so a kid from Japan decides it’s lucrative to pick strawberries in Australia

Sorenne was quick to the fruit at the compact market in Melbourne tonight: 2 punnets of strawberries.

Strawberries ripening on vineShe gets it from her father, who got it from his mother, except the strawberry season in Australia is almost year round, while in Ontario, it’s five weeks.

I do love my berries.

I’m not alone: according to statistics published by the United States Department of Agriculture and cited in the New York Times, percent since 2000.

But if you compare apples and oranges, you’ll find we now eat 9 percent less of each, and 11 percent fewer bananas. The decline in those three mainstays, which still account for 49 percent of the fresh fruit we eat, has made room in our diets for more berries, pineapples (up 99 percent), mangoes (up 42 percent), papayas (up 41 percent), tangerines (up 40 percent), lemons (up 56 percent) and avocados (up 139 percent), which, yes, the agriculture department says are fruit.

per capita consumption of fresh raspberries grew 475 percent from 2000 to 2012, the most recent year for which data are available. Blueberry consumption is up 411 percent, and strawberries are up 60 percent.

Before you pat yourself on the back for your healthy eating habits, you should know you’re probably not eating a lot more fresh fruit in total: The latest reading is 48 pounds per person per year, up just 1

If people are eating more of some kind of fruit, it’s probably because farmers have figured out how to deliver more of it, at higher quality, throughout the year.

raspberryOf course, there is the “superfood” factor: Both raspberries and blueberries have been praised for their nutrient value. But Chris Romano, who leads global produce procurement for Whole Foods, attributes the boom in berries largely to taste and availability.

“Techniques in growing raspberries, blueberries and blackberries have gotten much better over the last 15 years,” he said. Growers are planting better breeds of berry, with higher sugar content; they’re using pruning and growing techniques that extend the season, including growing berries inside greenhouse-like structures called tunnels that retain heat; and most important, they’re growing berries in places they didn’t used to, where production is possible at different times of year.

sorenne.strawberry.13Historically, blueberries needed to be grown in regions that get cold weather for part of the year, because rising temperatures bring the plants out of dormancy. But newer “low-chill” blueberry varieties have helped make berries available all year by expanding production to formerly inappropriate areas like coastal California. That helps make more berries available in months like November.

While the U.S. imports many of its fresh fruits, Australia is its own island.

So much so that on my flight back from Japan the other day I was sitting beside a 21-year-old Japanese kid who was going to pick fresh strawberries in Bundaberg (north of Brisbane), because it was that lucrative (and they probably can’t get locals to do the work).

Food safety, and microbial transmission are increasingly international.

WHO says world prone to foodborne disease outbreaks

The world has become more vulnerable to outbreaks of disease caused by contaminated food because of growing global trade, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday.

Investigating these outbreaks has also become more difficult because food can contain ingredients from around the world and is transported through a complex global supply chain, top WHO officials said.

"Outbreaks of food-borne disease have become an especially large menace in a world bound together by huge volumes of international trade and travel," said WHO director-general Margaret Chan at a conference in Singapore on improving preparedness against global health threats.

"Problems nowadays can arise from any link or kink in a convoluted food chain," Chan said.

Trying to make food safety cool — International Food Safety Network year in review

We’re on a mission to make food safety a pop-culture phenomenon.

We is the International Food Safety Network — my lab (iFSN)  — and we provide research, commentary, policy evaluation and public information on food safety issues.
I edit three of the four daily listservs that are distributed to over 13,000 direct subscribers in some 70 countries (Ben Chapman has been editing AnimalNet since early in 2007). That information is redirected to millions around the world. The International Food Safety Network website was moved to foodsafety.ksu.edu ,in Jan. 2007 (a significant undertaking). A new website, donteatpoop.com, was created this year, as well as barfblog.com, with 550 posts since May 1, 2007, an average of almost 2 posts per day, and attracting over 100,000 visitors since May, 1.

In Feb. 2007, my previous institution, the University of Guelph, in Canada, decided — unilaterally — not to continue a partnership with Kansas State, and eliminated access to my staff and funds that I had established in Guelph (about $750,000). They even tried to shut down the web site, but I’d already moved it. Over the course of 2007, I have replaced five full-time research assistants and several part-timers paid out of Guelph with 12 part-time undergraduates at K-State and elsewhere, and one graduate student. You’ve heard from some of them in the past week; you’ll hear from the rest in future weeks. The quality and diversity of the students I have been able to attract has been invigorating to the entire iFSN operation. Let the hacks and posers fight over what is left; I’m moving forward.

iFSN had more media exposure than ever in 2007, with some 450 media hits, including the N.Y. Times, L.A. Times, Washington Post, USA Today, CBS Evening News, and repeatedly quoted in every major U.S., Canadian and Australian media outlet, as well as a few others. We were quoted on The Late Show with David Letterman and advised people to use their front porch as a cooler when the power goes out.

We gave talks all over the world, for various groups, including the National Restaurant Association, Walt Disney World, and dozens of public health groups and scientific societies.

Based on the primary activities listed in the chart below, I spend each and every day (including Sat., Sun. and holidays) editing 36 news items, posting 4 listservs, composing two blog posts, doing one or two media interviews, distributing a commentary once or twice a week, and giving a talk and editing an infosheet almost once a week. In my extra time I teach, apply for research grants, supervise research and graduate students, recruit undergraduate students, and write scientific papers.

We need your support to continue doing what we do. Give often, give a lot, at https://one.found.ksu.edu/ccon/new_gift.do?action=newGift&CCN_FUND_ID=3894&SCENARIO=SELECTFUND

Or contact me directly, dpowell@ksu.edu.

Have a great year

Doug Powell

500 barfblogs

Bryan Severns barfblogs; do you?

Bryan says that he uses "barfblog stuff all of the time in my Sani/Culinary classes as it takes the concepts and turns them into real life situations and issues."

That was the idea. We at the International Food Safety Network are always trying to figure out new ways to make food safety information meaningful.

If you barfblog, then tell me your best barfblog story and I’ll send you a barfblog T-shirt.

A culture of safe food needs barf stories.. And iFSN.

Give large. Give small. It’s all on-line at


Any problems, just e-mail me, dpowell@ksu.edu.

And if you benefit from our services, then we’re continuing with our payment model that alt.music darlings Radiohead stole from us: pay what you want.