Archive for February, 2016
In the last few years we have seen more California farmers growing blueberries. One reason is that blueberries can be grown in hoop houses which can help protect against the bad weather. On warm days the hoop house covers can be rolled back to let in the heat. Blueberries are very weather dependent and love the heat. With this great 80 degree weather we have been experiencing in Southern California over the last few weeks, we can expect to see more California blueberries immediately!
Springtime in the Salinas Valley means that Coastal View Produce out of Gonzales, CA has begun to ship the first organic asparagus of the season. Brian and Kurt of the Violini family are leading the way for this third generation grower, packer and shipper.
Gonzales is known as one of the most fertile asparagus growing areas in California and the Violini family have grown their organic asparagus in this area for the past 40 years. Protected from direct coastal influence by the Salinas Coastal Range, Gonzales enjoys milder shifts in climate and protects the asparagus from getting too hot or too cold. The end result is a fresh, tender and sweet tasting product that rings in springtime.
California asparagus is mainly grown where the great San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers converge, in the rich peat lands of the delta, an hour south of Sacramento and in the Salinas Valley, about 2 hours south of San Francisco. The height of the California season goes from March to June but the mild climate of the Salinas Valley means that CVP asparagus can be enjoyed through July 4th.
Members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors joined the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), Earl’s Organic Produce and the San Francisco Produce Market on Tuesday, February 17th to celebrate the official launch of CleanPowerSF, a program that enables San Francisco businesses and residences to purchase 100% renewable energy from the grid. We are proud to announce Earl’s Organic Produce is the FIRST business to sign up for SuperGreen, CleanPowerSF’s 100% California certified renewable energy program! Watch the video here.
Beginning in May, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), through its CleanPowerSF program, will become the electricity provider for small and medium commercial electric accounts in the southeast and central part of the City. Additional enrollment phases will follow until every electricity customer has been offered CleanPowerSF, making the SFPUC the default electricity supplier for the City and County of San Francisco.
“With cleaner energy that will cost less at its launch, CleanPowerSF is an historic step that will help us further reduce our City’s greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “CleanPowerSF also provides added opportunity to invest in green infrastructure and create local jobs that will help shape a cleaner future for our City and our residents.”
Kat Vining, Director of Sustainability & Compliance, and the Earl’s team were instrumental in signing up Earl’s Organic as the first customer of CleanPowerSF. How did this all come about? Below is Kat’s speech to the press and the SF Board of Supervisors.
“We’ve been organic company for over 27 years and values and integrity have always been central to our business model. But two years ago we went through an extensive visioning process to look at where we stood, where we wanted to be, and identify what we needed to be doing in order to bridge those gaps. At this time we set some BHAGS- big hairy audacious goals. So we set our sights high on becoming a zero waste facility that was 100% renewably powered and carbon neutral. These goals were really a no-brainer- organic produce and clean energy fit hand in hand.
We’ve made huge strides towards our goal of zero waste in the last few years- we are now up at about a 97% diversion rate. And with a number of retrofit projects to our cooler doors, our refrigeration fan motors, and our warehouse and office lighting, we’ve reduced our energy consumption by over 40%. (I’d like to give a shout out to PG&E and SF Energy Watch for making this possible). We’re looking eventually towards on-sight renewable power generation to reduce our consumption from the grid even further, but we operate a 33,000 square foot refrigerated warehouse running 24 hours a day, so there will likely always be to an amount of energy that we cannot offset ourselves. This is why we are so pleased to have Clean Power SF available to us. We still have a long way to go towards carbon neutrality. But this program will be a huge component for us reaching our Big Hairy Audacious Goal of being 100% renewably powered. What’s even better is how little effort it required on our part to sign up and participate in the program. It is for this reason that I am proud to announce Earl’s will be one of the very first commercial clients to sign up for SuperGreen! In just a short while our facility will be 100% renewably powered!
Now, we’re not the only ones with a goal of 100% renewable energy- the city of San Francisco has set its sights on 100% renewable energy by 2025. With the adoption of services from CleanPowerSF by local businesses like Earl’s and city residents, I have no doubt this will be possible. I am enormously proud of the PUC for making this option available to San Francisco residents and businesses and I’m so excited to see what this program can do.”
Look for updates from Kat on CleanPowerSF and Earl’s Organic after the program launch in May.
Schellenberg Farms in Reedley, California has been watching and waiting for their Murcott Mandarins to have the best flavor before they begin harvesting. The fruit is brixing at good sugar levels but the Schellenberg family has high standards and they feel the fruit isn’t quite ready for market.
The crop this year is expected to be smaller in volume than last year, which was a bumper crop, but a higher percentage of the fruit will be a bigger size with even better flavor and color than last year. We anticipate that Schellenberg will start picking in about a week. Stay tuned for updates.
As we head into Super Bowl weekend guacamole is top of the list for party food. Over 120 million pounds of avocados will be consumed this coming weekend. Imagine a football field filled from one end to the other and piled over 46 feet high! Over 95% of all avocados sold in the United States are the Hass variety. At this time of year Hass avocados are coming from both Mexico and California. The Mexican season is ending and the California season is just starting up out of the San Diego area.
Mexican avocados are a more mature piece of fruit. Just one bite reveals a rich and creamy flesh that is higher in oil content that its California counterpart. A good indicator of a high oil content is the color of the flesh, ranging from a deep green to mustard yellow and surrounded by dark green ring. Early in the season California avocados are immature with a low oil content and lower flavor profile, indicated by the light green colored flesh.
Avocados do not ripen on the tree. Super Bowl is only a few days away and you need to think about the time it takes to ripen your avocados before game day. Mexican avocados can take up to 4 days to ripen if they are very green. California avocados could take 1-2 weeks to ripen because of how early it is in the season. For the best flavor for your guacamole we recommend buying Mexican avos until the California fruit develops a higher oil content. It is time to get out there and go avocado shopping!
Ripen your avocados on your counter and keep them above 55 degrees but below 68 degrees. Do not store them in the refrigerator. The cold can cause chill damage, turning your avocado grey or black and the heat can cause irregular ripening and decay. If you need to speed along the ripening process you can put your avocados in a paper bag with a few apples. The natural ethylene from the apples will ripen them quicker. A ripe Hass will turn a darker color. Be gentle! Do not squeeze your avocados or they will bruise. If your avo gives slightly when applying gentle pressure it is ready to eat!