Hello, and welcome to my first issue as editor of "Oregon's Agricultural Progress." For the past 17 years I've contributed photos and feature articles to the magazine, but for this issue, I'm interim editor while the regular editor, Andy Duncan, is on a sabbatical leave. I hope you enjoy what my colleagues and I have put together here.
In The Breed's in the Seed, Ron Lovell tells how the Molluscan Broodstock Program is breeding better oysters for the U.S. oyster industry. In Melonville, USA, Theresa Novak describes the cooperation between OSU Agricultural Experiment Station researchers and farmers that helped build the Hermiston area's booming agricultural economy.
Tom Gentle explains in Wonderwall how a protein called nisin may be useful as an anti-bacterial coating on food processing machinery and life support equipment used in hospitals.
Ready, Set, Grow is the story of how fast-growing hybrid poplars are catching on with Oregon farmers as an alternative crop. Lastly, Novak gives an overview of fruit pigment research at OSU and how it might benefit Oregon's fruit production industry in Primary Colors.
Now, to another matter. In the Winter 2000 issue of the magazine, the article "pH, I Love You" included a sidebar with the heading "Of Saliva and Seawater." The sidebar included a list of the pH levels of common substances and described vegetables as "strongly acid, with carrots at 5.0, asparagus at 5.5 and potatoes at 5.6."
I received an e-mail from Carolyn Raab, OSU Extension foods and nutrition specialist, taking issue with the classification of vegetables as "strongly acid." Raab expressed concern that this may lead home canners to process vegetables improperly.
She wrote, "For canning purposes, a pH of 4.6 separates 'low acid' foods (pH greater than 4.6) and 'high acid foods' (pH less than 4.6). This is a critical concept because low acid foods must be processed in a pressure canner to destroy the bacteria that cause deadly botulism food poisoning. The rule of thumb is that vegetables (with the exception of tomatoes), meats, fish, and poultry are all classified as low acid."
Raab added that more information on this topic is available from the OSU Extension Service Food Preservation/Safety hotline, which operates weekdays from July 17 to October 13 (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). The telephone number is 1-800-354-7319.