This Week in Food and Agriculture Pictures – August 28, 2014

In case you missed it, last week I announced that “This Week in Pictures” will be a regular weekly feature of this site from now on. I hope you enjoy getting your global agricultural news in this way as much as I do. —Kay M.

Revellers throw tomatoes while participating the annual La Tomatina festival on August 27, 2014 in Bunol district of Valencia, Spain. Photo: Evrim Aydin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

A field of legal cannabis plants selected for their low content of THC grows on August 25, 2014 near Meaux, France. Cannabis is the source of hemp, which is used in a variety of applications including insulation, textiles, rope and paper. France is the second largest producer of industrial hemp in the world after China. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

Fruit pickers unload their apples into a collection crate during the summer harvest at the Sady Trzebnica z o.o. apple farm in Trzebnica, Poland, on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014. Polish corporate bonds are losing their haven appeal as Russia’s escalating stand-off with Europe and the U.S. undermines the country’s growth prospects. Photographer: Bartek Sadowski/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

A vendor sells meat products during the International Agro-industrial exhibition ‘Agrorus 2014′ in Saint Petersburg on August 27, 2014. Russia has banned most EU and US food products in response to Western sanctions, which officials said means the farm sector will need nearly $18 billion in additional investment to produce more of the country’s food. Photo: OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images.

A worker takes a picture of bottles of olive oil and vinegar that were thrown from the shelves of an olive oil store following a reported 6.0 earthquake on August 24, 2014 in Napa, California. A 6.0 earthquake rocked the San Francisco Bay Area shortly after 3:00 am on Sunday morning causing damage to buildings and sending at least 70 people to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Supporters offer beverage and refreshments during a peaceful rally in Ferguson, Missouri on August 23, 2014 as the community prepares to rebuild and heal after the days of unrest following the shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on August 9. Photo: Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images.

A protester throws an egg at the Midi-Pyrenees prefecture in Toulouse, on August 28, 2014, during a demonstration called by French farmers’ unions to protest the broadening of the zones affected by the European ‘Nitrates Directive’, which aims at protecting water quality against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources. French minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Segolene Royal in July announced some 3,800 extra municipalities would be classified as vulnerable to nitrates, adding to the 19000 already on the list. Photo: REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images.

A Palestinian man carry the food sacks as U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) distributes food aid to Palestinian families in Rafah, Gaza on August 28, 2014. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

Elephants feast on a buffet of fruits and vegetables as part of the annual King’s Cup elephant polo tournament in Samut Prakan province on August 28, 2014. The King’s Cup elephant polo tournament, which is held annually to promote elephant projects and conservation, takes place from August 28 to 31. Photo: PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images.

Dry cracked earth is visible on a cantaloupe farm on August 22, 2014 near Firebaugh, California. As the severe California drought continues for a third straight year, Central California farming communites are struggling to survive with an unemployment rate nearing 40 percent in the towns of Mendota and Firebaugh. With limited supplies of water available to water crops, farmers are leaving acres of farmland unplanted and are having to lay off or reduce the hours of laborers. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Westside Produce workers pick cantaloupes in a field on August 21, 2014 in Firebaugh, California. As the severe California drought continues for a third straight year, Central California farming communites are struggling to survive with an unemployment rate nearing 40 percent in the towns of Mendota and Firebaugh. With limited supplies of water available to water crops, farmers are leaving acres of farmland unplanted and are having to lay off or reduce the hours of laborers. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Supporters of Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan and populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri wait in line to receive food while gathered at an anti-government protest site in Islamabad on August 22, 2014. Pakistani opposition politician Imran Khan called August 21 off talks with the government aimed at ending protests seeking the fall of the prime minister, which have unnerved the nuclear-armed nation. Khan and populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri have led followers protesting outside parliament for the past two days demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quit. Photo: FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images.

Workers arrange nectarines in plastic containers before moving to a packing facility on a farm in Almenar, Spain, on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014. Spain’s greatest concern is the risk of food product price declines in the EU market, which represents 75% of Spain exports, due to surplus as Russia embargoes imports, Agriculture Minister Isabel Garcia Tejerina said in an interview with radio station Onda Cero. Photographer: David Ramos/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Indian women carry loads of fodder on their heads at Galand village in Ghaziabad on August 22, 2014. Agriculture plays a significant role in India although its contribution to the GDP is decreasing within the country’s total economic growth. Photo: PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images.

Indian roadside vegetable sellers rest while waiting for customers in Amritsar on August 27, 2014. India’s wholesale price inflation hit a five-month low in July, data showed August 14, but steep retail price growth means the central bank is unlikely to cut benchmark interest rates soon. Photo: NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images.

Employees work on August 22, 2014, at Paris city’s horticultural production center, in Rungis, where trees and flowers are grown to be planted in Paris’ parks and gardens. Photo: PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images.

Sweet Potatoes are Gaining as Regular Potatoes are Losing Ground

U.S. sweet potato use per capita has increased significantly during the last decade and was estimated at nearly 7 pounds in 2012, up almost 50 percent over 2002 levels. People recognize the health benefits of fiber and many nutrients contained in sweet potatoes and, of course, sweet potato fries have become extremely popular.

According to the Univ. of Kentucky, “sweet potatoes gained some popularity as a ‘lower-carb potato’ in the early 2000’s, and high antioxidant levels in sweet potato skins and other health benefits contributed to consumption staying strong after the low-carb diet craze. Sweet potato consumption is highest among Americans over 60, and sweet potatoes may have special appeal to aging, health-conscious baby boomers.”

source: North Carolina Sweet Potatoes

U.S. Sweet Potato per capita consumption has been rising nicely:
4.2 pounds in 2000
5.2 pounds in 2009
6.3 pounds in 2010
7 pounds in 2012

As a comparison, American’s eat about 50 pounds per year of all types of potatoes, including processed and fresh baked.

Do you know where your sweet potatoes come from?

North Carolina has been the number one sweet producing state since 1971. According to NC Sweet Potatoes, “Its hot, moist climate and rich, fertile soil are ideal for cultivating sweet potatoes, averaging at nearly 50% of the U.S. supply. According to the USDA, North Carolina harvested nearly 50,000 acres of sweet potatoes in 2010, the same amount produced by California, Louisiana and Mississippi combined – also top producing states.”

Sweet potatoes were formerly thought of as a poor man’s food, but now are realized to be a nutrient lovers food. I like to put cubed sweet potatoes in Indian cooking dishes with other vegetables such as cauliflower over rice, or, in pasta.

One lady is even reported to have done a sweet potato diet. She claims to have lost 90 pounds while eating one sweet potato per day topped with cinnamon, along with other healthy foods.






Do you know the difference between Coconut Palms and Palm Oil Trees?

This seems like a reasonable question to ask, because there has been an explosion of coconut water for sale over the past few years. Do people know where the coconuts used to make their coconut water are coming from?

Thanks to, here are two definitions of oil palm vs. the coconut palm.

Oil palm
The oil palm is mass cultivated on large plantations. The largest production countries are Indonesia (6 million hectares) and Malaysia (4 million hectares). The only product obtained from the fruit of the tree (the palm stone) is palm oil, in a quantity worldwide of more than 48 million tons. The oil is used for, among other things, margarine, oil for frying, soap, biodiesel and to generate electricity.

Coconut palm
The coconut palm is mainly cultivated by local farmers in Indonesia (2.6 million hectares), the Philippines (2.3 million hectares) and India (1.9 million hectares). Due to the relatively small scale of cultivation and the involvement of the local population, this activity forms an intrinsic part of these societies. Numerous products are produced from the coconuts which grow on the trees – coconut milk, coconut oil (worldwide 3.3 million tons), coconut fibres (for rope, mats, brushes and mattresses) and cocopeat. Our coir pith is therefore essentially a by-product from the traditional fibre industry in Asia.

We all know about the huge land use destruction of rain forests for palm oil production which has been a problem in recent years. I hope that the growing use of coconuts from coconut trees has far less of an environmental impact. If small scale cultivation of coconut palms make up most of their sources, then, I am curious about the distribution and marketing operations and how that has been attained rather quickly of late. Anyone?

According to Michael Moss, of the NYTs, coconut water entered the American market 10 years ago and global sales now are $400 million a year. Customers believe that it contains numerous health benefits, but that claim is very doubtful.

As for me, I never drink canned or bottled beverages which contain sugar (and coconut water does), but I can’t help but notice all of the cans of coconut water in the stores and I am also noticing more recipes which call for coconut water and coconut milk as if it were a valuable and contributory ingredient. I’d call it a fad.