Opinion: Giving Thanks To Fruit Growers

David Eddy

Thanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I like the other holidays, but on a purely superficial level, it’s the best. (Some of our most important holidays are based in religion, and I’m not about to get into that here.) I like Halloween OK, but I’m really not too enthusiastic about giving kids candy, knowing it’s not doing their health any good at all. And don’t say I should give away apples. A neighbor of ours did that when I was a kid, and the poor guy’s house got hammered with Red Delicious — or maybe it was MacIntosh, as I grew up in Connecticut — projectiles. I can still hear him shouting in some sort of European accent: “Don’t use apples as missiles.”

As for Christmas, the holiday itself is wonderful. It’s the shopping I loathe. In fact, I do it only three times a year: for Mother’s Day, my wife’s birthday, and Christmas. (And yes, I have done so on Dec. 24th. Hey, as we say in my business, the important thing is to make deadline.) You don’t have to shop for Thanksgiving. (I don’t count grocery shopping as shopping-shopping.) You eat. That’s something I can stand behind 100%. That, and you give thanks.

This being the season, I’d like to list a few things I’m thankful for regarding the tree fruit industry.

Giving Thanks

First and foremost, I’m thankful to you growers for welcoming me into your orchards, your vineyards, your homes, and your lives. You are a refreshing, independent breed. Not to mention tough. It’s not an easy business. In fact, I just saw the other day that Chiquita will be exiting the deciduous fruit business this year. It reminded me that another banana industry giant, Dole, made a foray into the Pacific Northwest years ago, and they too made an exit. Not everyone can be a fruit grower.

I’m thankful that you growers out here in the West had an especially good year. From apple growers up in Washington to the nut growers down here in California, just outstanding. In fact, it was recently announced that even though California grape growers had a banner year, almonds surpassed grapes as the Golden State’s second biggest agricultural commodity. (Dairy remained No. 1.)

I’m thankful to be associated with an industry that does so much good for so many people, and could do even more if people would only consume more fruit. Consider the recent report, published online in the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, which found an estimated 20,000 cancers could be prevented if half of all Americans simply increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables by a single serving.

I’m thankful to all the researchers, mainly the Extension people, who share their findings with me — and, in turn, with you. Because of that, I’m thankful for all the Specialty Crop Research Initiative grants contained in the last Farm Bill. And I will be even more thankful if we ever get another Farm Bill that actually recognizes fruit growers’ existence.

Lastly, I’m thankful to live in a time when there are so many means of communication at my disposal. Consider that just a decade ago, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Wikipedia didn’t even exist. Yes, I’m a little disturbed about the attendant loss of privacy, but would you want to give back your iPhones, iPads, Androids, apps, or Kindles? I can’t imagine what the next 10 years will bring us, but looking at that list of new technologies, you’d be wise to stay abreast of the business. So please keep reading, and Happy Thanksgiving.

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