Markon and Grower-Shipper Association Provide River Fire Produce Crop Alerts
- by Chandler James
SALINAS, CA - These are strange times we are living in. As such, it is integral that we band together for the greater good of our industry. Two fresh produce leaders working to keep the industry informed are Markon and the Grower-Shipper Association (GSA). This week, the two released separate updates based on the information they have acquired on the notorious River Fire thus far.
“The River Fire in Salinas, California, has burned 39,464 acres and is only nine percent contained as of August 21 at 3 p.m. PDT. Firefighters are working to prevent the River Fire from merging with a separate Carmel Fire that has burned 4,732 acres and is zero percent contained. Falling ash from both events is affecting all produce crops throughout the Salinas Valley,” Markon stated in an industry update.
According to Markon’s statement, here is how fresh produce is being impacted:
- Field-packed items that are not washed are the most affected since crews can’t easily remove all the particles
- Lightly processed items such as Markon’s Washed & Trimmed Green Leaf and Romaine Lettuce may require additional rinsing under cold, clean, running water to remove fine ash particles
- Further processed items such as Markon’s Ready-Set-Serve Chopped Romaine and Ready-Set-Serve Salad Mix will have virtually no ash particles due to a more thorough wash process
In addition to this information, Markon released videos to demonstrate the impact of fire ash on fresh produce crops, which can be accessed here. The company also filmed a video on August 19 to show how harvesting crews will not be able to remove the ash completely from commodity and value-added items such as broccoli, lettuce, strawberries, and other crops. To view this video, click here.
“While farmers and farming companies have worked diligently to protect employees and continue to supply fruits and vegetables to consumers during this pandemic, our region has been dealt another blow with wildfires which are now significantly impacting our area,” GSA said in its statement. “The challenges farmers face seem never greater than what we have seen in 2020.”
The association’s industry release went on to explain some of the precautions it is taking amidst these challenging times, noting that agricultural commissioners in the region have distributed thousands of N95 masks for use by farm workers over the last few days with requests for more supplies in the pipeline.
GSA also noted that workplace safety has remained at the forefront throughout the pandemic, but farmers and farming companies know they must also prioritize exposure mitigation measures in place to help protect employees from wildfire smoke. In terms of food safety, the association cited a study noting that these fires are not expected to present safety issues as they pertain to fresh produce consumption.
Do not go it alone, friends. We at ANUK and so many more industry champions are here to offer any support that we can.