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Archive for December, 2015

Carrot Shortage

As we dive into December California is experiencing an extreme carrot shortage. Floods in the desert due to early rains at the end of September combined with unseasonably cool weather ultimately slowed carrot growth. Heavy holiday pulls in November led growers to start harvesting in fields where the carrots were growing smaller.  Picking the smaller carrots resulted in lower yields and using up more acreage. Demand hasn’t let up and heavy pulls continuing after the holidays and smaller yields have caused prices to continue going up.

At this point carrot growers are allocating supply to their customers, like us. Because of this strict allocation, we have a pretty good idea of our carrot inventory for the next few weeks. Earl’s philosophy is that all of our customers will be allocated some of the supply. Your Earl’s Sales Associate will work with you to get through this difficult time. On a more positive note we anticipate that supply will start to get better towards the end of January but possibly sooner.

Why Are Veg Prices Going Up?

This year saw Central and Northern California veg growing regions end production early.  As production transitioned down to the California desert the weather turned unusually cold, slowing down crop growth.  We are seeing frosts every morning, typical of what you would normally see in January. The workers need to wait until 10 or 11am for the frost to thaw before they can start harvesting. If the shorter harvest days and cold weather weren’t enough, the desert and Yuma regions also experienced floods from the early rains. This has led to short supply on items like carrots, lettuce, broccoli etc.

The important thing to remember is that most of the U.S. is pulling produce from the same area that we do at this point in the season. Demand is great – supply isn’t.  To see one of the last true examples of a supply and demand economic model look no further than the fruit and veg industry. There are no price supports, no subsidies and you can charge as little as you want or as much as you want. It either sells or it doesn’t so to speak.  Organics is a smaller industry so prices are even more reactive in a time like this. We can expect to see high prices for at least 2-3 more weeks on all cool season wet veg.

Price and quality do not track side by side. Often higher prices reflect difficult growing conditions and vegetables have more cosmetic challenges than we are used to. Most vegetables are comprised mainly of water and water expands when it freezes causing various types of defects. Epidermal peel occurs when the outer layer of the leaf freezes, partially dies and then begins to peel. The leaf will have a translucent look. Tip burn happens when the leaf cells break down from extreme temperature causing the outer edges of the leaves to turn black. Cracking can be seen along the stem or ribs and slight frost damage is noticeable on outside leaves.  Blistering causing the epidermis on the outside leaves to begin to fall apart.

We will continue to post updates as we start seeing supplies improve and prices stabilizing.

Earl’s Is Now a San Francisco Certified Green Business

Earl’s Organic Produce is the first wholesale produce distributor to become a San Francisco Certified Green Business. Becoming a Certified Green Business requires complying with over 65 stringent environmental standards and completing numerous government inspections.

Earl’s chose to become Green Business Certified as a way to push us to achieve even higher environmental standards and to demonstrate our commitment to operating a minimally impactful facility.

Earl’s began the process of green business certification in November, 2014 and became certified in November 2015. We are very proud to join a community of committed businesses in the City working collectively towards San Francisco’s long term environmental sustainability goals.

Some significant achievements that took place this year included: 

  • Eliminating the use of all non-essential toxic or hazardous materials from our facility- using only non-toxic cleaning chemicals that are SF approved or Green Seal Certified.
  • Purchasing 100% recycled non-printing related paper products such as toilet tissues and paper towels.
  • Retrofitting all office and warehouse lighting to LEDs and installing occupancy sensors to reduce energy consumption by 24%.
  • Replacing all our refrigeration fan units with energy efficient alternatives to reduce energy consumption by 18%.
  • Installing low flow faucet aerators to improve water use efficiency.
  • Establishing commuter benefits for our bicyclist employees.

 

Some of our other ongoing environmental sustainability projects and programs include:

  • Recycling non-traditional items such as batteries, pens, film plastic, temperature recorders, pallets, and nitrile gloves.
  • Using only reusable flatware and dishes.
  • Having a thorough waste management program, a 97% diversion rate, and a goal of zero waste by 2020.
  • Using route optimization software to reduce vehicle miles traveled.
  • Having an interdepartmental sustainability committee.
  • Using recycled printer paper.
  • Purchasing compostable and recycled/recyclable office supplies whenever possible.
  • Only purchasing organic accouterments for our kitchen.
  • Offering commuter benefits to our employees using public transportation.
  • And much more!

 

Some exciting things that we have in store for the next year include:

  • Greening our IT infrastructure
  • Purchasing 100% renewable energy
  • Developing our sustainability training program and internal employee engagement program
  • Expanding the breadth of our community engagement

 

We look forward to connecting with businesses and individuals over a shared passion for sustainability at EcoFarm in January!

SF Green Business logo

For questions regarding Earl’s sustainability program please contact Kat Vining at katherinev@earlsorganic.com

 

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