Food Processing and Manufacture

California has long reigned as the undisputed leader in agricultural production, preservation, and distribution. The collections in this category focus specifically on the development of technologies and structures allowing the vast acreage of produce grown in the state to reach the tables of consumers worldwide.

In 1957, fruit and vegetable growers seeking greater control over the processing and marketing of their crops formed California Canners & Growers–an organization destined to become the largest grower-owned cooperative of its type in the world. The archives of this cooperative comprise over 2500 linear feet and contain extensive financial and administrative records from the cooperative’s inception in 1957 to its demise in 1983. The archives of another agricultural cooperative, the California League of Food Processors, contain financial records, marketing studies, sales analyses, correspondence, board of directors minutes and monthly managers letters. A small group of materials from the Tri/Valley Growers represents marketing cooperatives at the local level.

Food preservation studies can be found in three collections, the most prominent of these being the papers of Emil M. Mrak, Chair of the Food Science and Technology Department on the Davis campus, and Chancellor from 1959-1969. Mrak, an authority on yeasts and on food preservation by drying, applied a full spectrum approach to the technological as well as scientific methods of food processing, including health and safety issues. Canning and preserving methods were also studied and reported on by William Cruess, whose collection of papers contains manuscripts, notes, and correspondence relating to Cruess’ many publications in the area of fruit and vegetable preservation and enology. Finally, the papers of Leonard Born, owner of a food processing company, contain early notes, reports, articles, and research materials relating to other forms of food preservation, among them irradiation and cold sterilization.

A small group of collections explores various facets of the sugar industry in the first half of the 20th century. The papers of Oscar Nelson, an employee of the California and Hawaiian Sugar Refining Company, contain drawings relating to the exploration of refining methods and equipment. The Spreckles Sugar Company collection contains early annual reports on the beet sugar industry. The papers of Walter Ziegler, manager of the Alvarado Sugar Beet Factory, contain photographs and company histories.

Two collections focus on food preparation and preservation methods. In 1993, Gardner Pond donated over 400 Chinese cookbooks to the University Library, many of them extremely rare. In addition to his collection of books, Mr. Pond also donated a collection of ephemera relating to Chinese cuisine. A collection of cookbooks donated by Peter Hertzman also complements the Department’s holdings in ethnic food processing methods.

Collections comprise over 2800 linear feet and focus on food processing in California, although commercial enterprises outside of California are not excluded. Most of the materials are in the English language and cover the 19th and 20th centuries. Related materials can be found under the headings of Agriculture, Plant Science, and Viticulture and Enology.