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Citrus juices may help fight cancer-causing substances

Orange and other citrus juices contain compounds that may help the body fight off cancer-causing substances, Agricultural Research Service scientists report.

The citrus compounds, called bioflavonoids, not only give citrus juice its flavor and color but are potent antioxidants, according to ARS scientists Hamed Doostdar and Richard Mayer. They're with the U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory in Ft. Pierce, Fla.

The scientists have identified several bioflavonoids from citrus that inhibit certain cytochrome P450 enzymes. Thwarting these enzymes is important, because some of them can turn cigarette smoke, pesticides and other substances into carcinogens. Cigarette smoke and pesticides are called procarcinogens - meaning they may not cause cancer in their original form but could become carcinogenic later inside the body.

One P450 enzyme, known as P450 1B1, turns procarcinogens into carcinogens. It is also present at high levels in breast and prostate cancer cells, and can even modify the female hormone estradiol into a possible carcinogen.

The ARS scientists have found that hesperetin, the most abundant bioflavonoid in orange juice, inhibits the P450 1B1 enzyme from metabolizing procarcinogens, reducing the chances that the body could turn these substances into carcinogens.

Hesperetin's effect on enzyme P450 1B1 might lead to the development of alternatives to traditional cancer chemotherapy treatments that affect healthy as well as diseased cells. Only cells containing the enzyme P450 1B1, which are largely cancer cells, would be affected by hesperetin.

Times may have changed, but pests still bug us. At the turn of the century, whale oil, arsenic or kerosene was used to get rid of them. Today, sophisticated integrated pest management (IPM) often uses flowering plants and sticky barriers, along with beneficial insects such as ladybugs.

Who was the "Jack" in Monterey Jack Cheese? Before lettuce was a major Monterey/Salinas crop the area had a booming dairy industry built up by immigrant farmers from Spain, Switzerland and the Azores. Each family made a similar soft, white cheese from surplus milk called El Queso del Pais, or country cheese. In 1882 an entrepreneur sent a sample of this cheese to market, but the San Francisco merchants couldn't pronounce "El Queso del Pais," so they called it "Jack's Monterey Cheese" after David Jacks. And now you know the rest of the story.

We grow money! U.S. paper currency is made of 75 percent cotton, much of it grown in California, and 25 percent linen. One bale of cotton can make $294,000 in one-dollar bills.

Each year more than 10 million California residents of all ages and from all backgrounds get together to celebrate agriculture at 79 state-supported fairs. This first-hand look at agriculture is a first-time experience for some. Some come to show animals, others compete for prizes and some exhibit their handiwork. Everyone comes for the food and the fun that contributes approximately $1.6 billion to the economy.

Margaret Thatcher once said, "It may be the cock that crows, but it is the hen that lays eggs." Laying an egg is something to crow about. A hen must eat 4 pounds of feed to make a dozen eggs. According to Farm Bureau sources, the largest single chicken egg ever laid weighed a pound with a double yolk and double shell

"Make hay while the sun shines." California farmers did. Of all field crops last year, hay was valued the highest at $802 million.

The University of California Cooperative Extension has launched a new Web site that gives California farmers access to certain UC agricultural meetings anytime on demand over the Internet. The Web site, found at, features audio recordings of UC advisors and specialists synchronized with the photos, graphs and tables they use in their presentations.

If you think there's no farming in San Francisco, you should know that at last report, nursery production in the "city by the bay" was valued at $1.9 million dollars.

Now that we've been fruitful and multiplied, how can we feed and clothe the 12 billion people that will populate the earth in 40 years? No problem. All we need is 93 million farmers who can each produce enough food and fiber to feed 129 people for a year ... just like a California farmer.

The first trans-Atlantic voyage of the airship Graf Zeppelin in 1928 brought seven species of insects and two plant diseases in the bouquets of flowers on board. This called attention to the need for quarantines and the fact that people are not the only living things that travel on international fights.

Agriculture does more than put food on your table. In California, it contributed more than $80 billion to the economy.

In this country, we eat about 2,175 pounds of food per person each year and about 900 calories more every day than the worldwide average of 2,700, say Farm Bureau sources.

There are 1.8 acres per person of arable land in agricultural production to feed the current U.S. population. By 2050, that figure is expected to decline to 0.6 acres. This will result in higher food prices, imported goods and less diversity in our diet. Farmers look to advances in science, biotechnology, animal nutrition, technology and water delivery systems to help them stay productive and competitive.

What did one ear of corn say to the other? "Quit stalking me!"

What is the most commonly eaten food in the world? Rice. What food is grown on every continent except Antarctica? Rice. What food does the United States export more of than it consumes? Rice.

What do you call cattle with a sense of humor? Laughing stock.

Natural? Or organic? If you're talking about the method used to produce some foods-from growing to processing, they're not necessarily the same. "Natural" has no legal definition or regulations to guide production and processing and offers no guarantees that no pesticides were used. "Organic" includes a fully audited management system, guaranteed by a third-party inspection and certification.

Americans may not be getting sweeter, but their diet definitely is. Sugar consumption is up 28 percent since 1982. Farm Bureau sources say that equals about 68.5 pounds of sugar per person each year.

American beef consumption has been on the increase since 1993 and now equals that of poultry, pork and seafood combined.

Nematodes - a threat to dozens of California crops - are nearly invisible. Ten times finer than an eyelash, these microscopic worms with voracious appetites invade the roots of plants, suck out their juices and leave them vulnerable to attack by deadly fungi and bacteria. That's the bad news. Here's the good news: Genetic researchers found a rare strain of sugar beet that resists a half-dozen nematodes and are working to insert its disease-resistant genes into peaches, tomatoes, beans, carrots and potatoes.

Proud hunters who bag their limit usually haul the meat home to feed the family. To get the maximum enjoyment from your wild game, Farm Bureau suggests that you follow food safety procedures when dressing, storing and cooking the meat. Why? Of the cases of human trichinosis reported to the Centers for Disease Control, many were the result of eating bear and other game meats.

The most recent statistics indicate that California exports of milk and cream to Mexico increased $46 million to a total of $65 million annually.

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