Christopher Ranch’s California Garlic Blog

It’s no mystery that fresh garlic is one of the most popular, versatile ingredients ever. What remains relatively unknown, however, are the distinct flavor, quality and health differences associated with varying garlic varieties. Christopher Ranch, a family farm in Gilroy, Calif., grows a California heirloom garlic that is a leader in each category. All Garlic Is Not Created Equal. We’ll show you why.

America Is Hungry: This Holiday Season, Donate Food & Time

The holidays have a way of motivating people to help feed America’s hungry.

The feeling of giving – and knowing you’re truly enhancing someone’s life – is the greatest high you can experience.

And the need for help has never been so great, as the recession and tumultuous economic events of 2009 have greatly exacerbated the number of America’s hungry. Many experienced unfortunate financial events beyond their control, leading to the present situation.

According to the “Household Food Security in the U.S., 2008” study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 17-million households were considered “food insecure” in 2008 – an alarming number that witnessed an 11-percent jump from 2007. Read more in The Washington Post article, “America’s Economic Pain Brings Hunger Pangs”.

Food stamp use also is at an unprecedented level, with one in eight Americans, including one in four children, utilizing the stamps. Not to mention, food stamp aid is not restricted to big cities with high poverty rates – it’s affecting everyday Americans. Take Peoria, Ill., for instance, where nearly 40 percent of children are receiving assistance, according to the “Food Stamp Use Soars, And Stigma Fades” article in The New York Times.

While I’m well aware of the dire situation, its severity recently touched a more local, personal chord.

Last week, I attended a holiday luncheon for the Fresh Produce & Floral Council, which represents Southern California’s produce industry members. It’s an annual event whose purpose is to raise money and food donations for the Orange County Food Bank and Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. During the luncheon, a food bank representative stated the number of people seeking food assistance has spiked at least 90 percent above the same time last year, while donations have remained the same.

I was shocked – 90 percent is a very disturbing number.

While California does boast the highest population in the country, I would imagine the majority of food banks are in a similar situation.

Now, the federal government has pledged to assuage the widespread problem and has taken steps to do so, such as contributing $150 million to the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009.

While there are accounts of money from the act working, it’s not enough to accommodate the overwhelming hungry population in the U.S.

Therefore, it’s time for us to intervene.

You can make a significant difference by donating extra food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, to a bank in your area. Produce items that aren’t highly perishable – such as onions, potatoes, oranges, grapefruit, fresh garlic, squash and others – work great.

Or, donate your time. That is just as valuable, considering, one hour of volunteer time at a Seattle food bank is equivalent to $17, according to a recent post by food blogger Blue Kitchen.

Listed below are a few links to help you find a food bank in your area.

Feeding America

Food Pantries – A Directory of Food Banks & Soup Kitchens Across America

Hunger Task Force

Get out there, and make a difference. It’s the greatest gift you can give someone – and yourself – this holiday season.

Southern California’s produce industry donated a collective $29,355 to the Orange County Food Bank and Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. The feeling was unmatchable.

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