Harvesting organically grown green oak leaf lettuce for Earthbound Farms near Hollister CA.  They use a "baby greens" harvester that cuts the lettuce within an inch of the ground with a band saw like blade.  The harvester is preceded by a crew of four workers on foot to check for debris and scare away any pests that may be lurking in the plants.  The harvester has a blade that is automatically sterilized, and all greens are blown with air jets and pass over screens to remove soil or other contaminants before being put in a refrigerated truck for transfer to the packing facility.  Salad harvesting starts well before dawn and concludes before midday to keep the salad greens as fresh and crispy as possible.  This kind of harvester was developed about 15 years ago, and lets Earthbound harvest 10,000 lbs. of salad per hour with a crew of 12, which used to take an entire day with a crew of 40.

21st Century Agriculture

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Advances in technology and globalization of the food industry continue to revolutionize food production. The United States remains the world’s largest exporter of food, and at the cutting edge of new technologies to produce it. George spent a year photographing the strange grandeur of the largest food growers in the U.S. to create this portfolio for the New York Times Magazine.

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