March is National Nutrition Month. And while we understand that the purpose is to promote enhanced nutrition and improve diets, for the Grower Shipper Association (GSA) this month is about celebrating our food supply and the farmers and farm workers who grow, nurture and harvest the nation’s fruits and vegetables.
Farming is hard. There are many challenges. But farmers will tell you it is a rewarding profession and they love what they do. Farmers will also acknowledge that it takes many hands. It requires collaboration among farm workers, foreman, irrigators, pest control advisors, food safety experts, among others.
At GSA, we see our role as providing crucial support and finding solutions on a broader basis to benefit our farmers and farming companies to make their jobs a little easier. Our work with ag employers throughout the pandemic to access masks, rapid tests, quarantined housing for their employees as well as help vaccinate 90% of the farm workers in our region is one example.
GSA efforts to battle the pest/disease complex commonly referred to as INSV, which causes stunting, wilting and eventual death for leafy greens, is another solution-driving initiative. We created a task force to examine treatment strategies and develop treatment efficacy trials. Lettuce fields are infected by INSV via thrips migrating in from infected host plants in the early spring, which is why GSA is also working with local agencies and communities on weed suppression strategies. Our association remains committed to securing additional funding and resources as well to aid our search for solutions.
As we navigate uncertainties in our current world, the hard work of farmers and farm workers has provided a sustained and consistent supply of fruits and vegetables to consumers. We have watched with significant pride how our region’s farming community has risen to unforeseen challenges because they understand the importance of what they do.
So while many will mark National Nutrition Month in more traditional ways, GSA takes a different approach which is to reflect on how lucky we are to have such dedicated farmers and farm workers growing our food. We celebrate you and thank you for every meal.