By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau: By this weekend, we’ll have gathered up all our Halloween candy (and hopefully even some healthy treats) and it’ll be time to think about eating more Arizona vegetables especially since November marks the beginning of Arizona-grown lettuce shipments all over the country. In fact, Yuma, Arizona will have more than 1,000 semi-truckloads daily rolling out of the Yuma valley to supply the rest of the country with all sorts of leafy greens. The Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee and the state of Arizona celebrate the advent of Arizona’s lettuce harvest throughout the month of November, marked by a gubernatorial proclamation and messages about the impact that leafy greens vegetables have on our state’s economy.
But if you’re not convinced by the farmers and shippers of all our wonderful Arizona leafy greens, you might take a pointer from an Arizona Diamondback. “I live a plant-based lifestyle,” says President and CEO Derrick Hall of the Arizona Diamondbacks. “Arizona leafy greens are a positive part of my diet every day.”
So that means Hall is eating his vegetables even on Halloween day when we all must confess we’re probably having way too much candy.
As in previous years, Governor Jan Brewer has proclaimed the month of November Arizona Leafy Greens Month. The month celebrates the kickoff of Arizona’s leafy greens season, with abundant growth, harvest and shipments of Arizona-grown lettuce throughout the United States and Canada. The season generally commences around mid-November and goes through March. As the top producer of leafy greens during the winter months, Arizona’s leafy greens industry employs more than 20,000 and generates an estimated $1 billion in financial impacts to the state’s economy. Nearly 90 percent of the leafy greens lettuce consumed in the United States and Canada between the months of November through March is generated from Arizona.
Members of the Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee, a volunteer consortium comprised of 96 percent of Arizona’s shippers and growers, work collaboratively to ensure uniform safe food handling practices are employed throughout the industry. The group represents various leafy greens products grown in Arizona, demonstrating their commitment to maintain safety of lettuces grown in Arizona from field to fork.
The members of Arizona Leafy Greens agree to a rigorous set of standards and practices. Shippers and growers are subject to regular inspections by USDA certified auditors. The Arizona Leafy Greens Food Safety Committee can impose sanctions on those who are out of compliance. More information is available at www.arizonaleafygreens.org.