Al Medvitz to speak at Slow Food Festival

Posted 5/21/14 to the River News Herald

By Susan Whitesell

The 3rd Annual Slow Food Festival June 21st has a distinguished speaker, Al Medvits. His topic is, “Farming at the Center of the World.” According to Al, this area is hugely important to California and world agriculture. It is not just, “A small rural place out in the boonies. We are part of a system that doesn’t depend on national boundaries. What happens here has a big impact someplace else.”

“This area is hugely important to California and world agriculture. It is not just, ‘A small rural place out in the boonies.’”

For 25 years Al Medvitz and his wife, Jeannie McCormack, have farmed 3,700 acres on the banks of the Sacramento River. Al is a former assistant professor of physical sciences and of international education at Boston University. He is a visiting scholar on agriculture and community at the University of California, Davis and is co-editor with Al Sokolow of “Farmland Under Urban Pressure: Statewide and Regional Perspectives.”

Al Medvitz, with McCormack Ranch land in the background.

Al Medvitz, with McCormack Ranch land in the background.

Al emphasizes, “California produces about 50% of the fruits and vegetables for this country. California is the third or fourth agricultural entity in the world. In terms of total gross agricultural product, the state is sixth or seventh.” California’s top exports, among others, are walnuts, almonds, grapes, and (of course) wine. Worldwide demand has been increasing for walnuts and almonds. California walnuts account for more than 99% of the commercial U.S. supply and control roughly 75% of world production. The Solano County 2012 Crop and Livestock Report identifies walnuts as first in crop ranking accounting for almost 47 million in crop value and almonds as ninth in crop ranking accounting for almost 13 million in crop value and contributing to California’s 82% dominance of world almond production.

Our area also exports sheep, goat and cattle meat and hides internationally. Wool from sheep is also exported. For example, McCormick Ranch sells their wool to a storehouse in Roswell, New Mexico, who in turn auctions the wool to bidders representing mills worldwide.

Come hear more about the worldwide demand for items farmed in this area and enjoy lamb donated by Al Medvitz and Jeannie McCormack at this year’s Slow Food Festival on June 21st.

Tickets for the festival are $25.00 and are available from the Slow Food Rio Vista web site at http://www.slowfoodriovista.org, online at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/620291 or in town at Books Rio V, This N That, Pets 4 All, Galleria Bra Room and Brand You.

The Slow Food Festival is still in need of volunteers to help at the event. Contact Tom Surh at 374-5282 to volunteer or Janith Norman at 374-6118 for information to be a vendor or event sponsor.

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