Event Date

Location
Manetti Shrem Museum, UC Davis

How the Invention of the Mechanical Tomato Harvester Transformed an Industry and Launched California's Food Movement

As part of the Imaging America Conference at UC Davis, this live performance of the Cal Ag Roots podcast, “There’s Nothing More Californian than Ketchup” will tell the story of the invention of the mechanical tomato harvester, achieved at UC Davis, which was an incredible feat of engineering that had tremendous impacts on the tomato industry. Today, the mechanical tomato harvester allows California’s Central Valley to play a critical role in ensuring that one of America’s favorite condiments—ketchup—remains in plentiful supply. On the surface, this cheap condiment might not seem to have anything to do with the type gourmet cuisine California is known for, but a backlash to the machine’s invention among activists sparked the early California food movement. When it was released, in 1964, the machine put tens of thousands of farmworkers and 95% of tomato farmers out of work and led to national debates about the role of land grant universities in developing industry-altering technologies that benefit a select few. a food movement. When it was released, in 1964, the machine put tens of thousands of farmworkers and 95% of tomato farmers out of work and led to national debates about the role of land grant universities in developing industry-altering technologies that benefit a select few.

We'll tell this historical story and hear from a panel of researchers, farmers, and advocates to discuss how the story is relevant today, how times have changed, and what we should think about as agricultural technologies move forward. 

This event is open to the public- registration at the Imagining America conference is not required. 

The Imagining America conference has 3 days to great events about publicly engaged scholarship.  We encourage you to explore the event and register: http://imaginingamerica.org/national-conference/ 

Presenters:
Ildi Carlisle-Cummins, Cal Ag Roots Project Director, California Institute for Rural Studies
Aubrey Thompson, Communications Director, Agricultural Sustainability Institute; UC Davis

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