WEEKLY SPECIALS | SEASONAL CALENDAR | GROWER MAP

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Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes August 11, 2019

NEW- Maywood Figs from Corning! The second and sweeter crop of Black Mission, Brown Turkey and Kadota are here.  Take a peak into their orchards and packing house. RVO Magenta Dragonfruit just landed. What a wonder luminescent purple and refreshing lightly sweet flavor. Gravenstein Apples from Solano Gold in Sebastopol. Did you know the Gravenstein is on the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste?

California Season Continues with Traceland Avocados

Lucky for us the California season goes on a little longer. Earl’s just received delicious California avocados from Traceland in Morro Bay. Traceland is located in Cayucos near the ocean on the central coast and about 20 miles northwest of San Luis Obispo where the unique geography and climate allows year round growing conditions without high heat or killing frosts.  Cayucos sits in a small area of coastal land defined by the Santa Lucia mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The ocean cools the hot summers and warms the cold winters.  The land is bisected at various places along its length by wild creeks that flow unimpeded from the coast range to the ocean providing the copious amounts of water avocado trees need to fruit.       

Ron Trace-In the middle, Jesse Trace-On the right

Ron, Gail and their twin sons moved to Cayucos in 1998 from Chicago.  In 2005 they planted their 6 acre avocado orchard with a goal to grow organic avocados as sustainably as possible.  The avocado trees are planted on natural slopes and not man made terraces, which affects the drainage.  He also puts down composted manures, organic minerals and wood chip mulches to fertilize the trees.  Cover crops of native grasses are used to produce natural nitrogen, honey bees are used for fruit production and predator insects for biological disease control.  Weeds are pulled by hand and they even trap gophers by hand.

Traceland is also unique because they hand pick all of the avocados and deliver them to Earl’s within 24 hours of picking! The flavor is very creamy and rich in oil content. We feel it is the best eating avocado of the season.

Jesse from Traceland Avocados

Remember that a California avocado will be very mature, high in oil and needs to be eaten firm. Mexican avocados are now starting to show up in your grocery store. Buyer beware! Mexican avocados are the first of the season and will eat differently. They will not be as flavorful as a California avocado and can ripen unevenly.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes August 4, 2019

Now featuring Traceland avocados grown in Morro Bay along the Central Coast. We feel it is the best eating experience of the season. Freshly dug russet potatoes 90ct in the HOUSE! 80ct are limited and 60ct and 70ct return this week! New crop California Galas are here! Excellent color and flavor right from the beginning of the season. New Zealand Pacific Rose is a cross between a Gala and Spendour. Refreshing, sweet and crisp, the pretty pink hue comes from the Splendour parent. Beautiful high color and delicious high sugar flavor make this apple a very special treat. Read the full update here.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes July 28, 2019

California avocados from Southern California continue their slow decline to no supply.  Fruit is sizing large with 70 & 84 ct all but nonexistent.  Our long-time grower-partner Traceland predicts a first pick in the next week or so. Traceland is located near the ocean on the central coast and about 20 miles northwest of San Luis Obispo where the unique geography and climate allows year round growing conditions without high heat or killing frosts.

California Melon Season

Fragrant melons remind me of summer picnics and bbq’s.  Golden orange Cantaloupes, aromatic Galia melons, crisp super-sweet Canary melons, fruity Goddess Melons, sweet Honeydew, fragrant Tuscan and juicy red and yellow seeded and seedless Watermelon are all currently at Earl’s Organic. 

Historically the California melon harvest starts up in May in Brawley and El Centro in the southern end of the Imperial Valley in the desert, less than an hour to the border of Mexico and about half hour south of Palm Springs. As the weather continues to get warmer we begin to see melon production move north to the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley in the Bakersfield/ Lamont area and 2 hours further north in Coalinga. This lasts until about July 15th when we move to the northern end of the San Joaquin Valley where melons come out of Firebaugh and Los Banos.  Mid-July into August melons move up through the San Joaquin Valley into Yolo County near Sacramento. This year below normal temperatures and rain have pushed the start date of many California growing regions.

Picking a ripe melon is very difficult and is not an exact science. Melons ripen on the vine and do not get any sweeter once picked although texture and flavor can improve.  Netted varieties such as muskmelons, Galia and Charenteis will “slip” off the vine when ripe.  There will be a slight cracking in the area around the stem and the melons will separate from the vine naturally.  The skin under the netting will slightly change to yellow.  Other melons with hard smooth skin such as the Honeydew melon or Casaba will change color and have a waxy feel when ripe. The best way to tell if they are ripe is to cut one open and taste it.

Fully Belly Melons from Yolo County
http://fullbellyfarm.com/recipes-for/melon/

There are no hard and fast rules but you can use these suggestions as guidelines when shopping.  Tuscan melons reach peak flavor when the green stripes fade to a cream color. Melons covered in netting such as a Cantaloupe, Galia, or Haogen will be very fragrant when ripe. Make sure to smell the stem end before buying.  You can check the ripeness of most melons by gently pressing on the blossom end of the melon, the end opposite of the stem.  A melon should be ready to eat when it gently yields to pressure.  If your finger breaks the skin of the melon it is over ripe and past its time to eat.  As mentioned above melons with hard smooth skins are harder to tell when ripe. The Honeydew  melon for example will become waxy and almost sticky when ripe. Your best bet is to cut them open and taste them.

Watermelons are too thick to do the press test.  One way to try and determine the ripeness of a watermelon is to thump on the rind with your knuckles and listen for a dull thunking sound. The juiciest melons will be heavy for their size. Picking watermelons in a field by ripeness is an art and not a science.

Melons that have been well tended to will have a small area called a couche that has been flattened and is discolored from sitting on the ground. If the couche is too prominent or large it means the melons were not turned over or propped up during the growing season.

Read our weekly buyer’s notes for updates on new specialty varieties!

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes July 21, 2019

Muscat and Champagne grapes are now available but season is short so enjoy them while they are still around! La Granjita Organica or Little Organic Farm Watermelon Gherkins and Jalapenos are back!! Read about Victor Cortez and Veronica Ceja and the story of their farm here http://bit.ly/lagranjita California new crop Bartlett Pears expected to start by the week of July 29th. Get the latest organic fruit and veg updates each week.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes July 14, 2019

What are the differences between the Green and Gold Kiwifruit?

The green kiwi has a fuzzy brown skin and oval shape. Gold kiwifruit, in contrast, has smooth, hairless skin that’s a nice golden-brown color. Green kiwifruit has, as one would expect, a green flesh with black seeds. The flesh of our golden kiwifruit is a vibrant yellow color with a smaller core and fewer seeds. The green kiwifruit has a fresh, tangy-sweet taste. The SunGold kiwi has a tropically sweet taste. 

The gold kiwi is usually ripe and ready to eat when you buy it and gets sweeter as it softens. The green kiwi can be firmer when purchased, so it is important to let them ripen at room temperature. A ripe kiwi should give to slight pressure like a peach or an avocado. Once kiwifruit is ripe, it can be kept in the refrigerator – about a week for Green Kiwifruit and about 2 weeks for Gold Kiwifruit.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes July 7, 2019

A few weeks ago Fruit Buyer, Jonathan Kitchens and Food Safety Manager/Conditioning Specialist Spencer Bernardo traveled to Ecuador as part of Equal Exchange’s annual banana delegation.  The delegation consisted of Equal Exchange employees, sales members from Four Seasons Distribution and a smattering of produce managers and buyers of grocery co-ops from the Northeast states.  The delegation visited the AsoGuabo banana cooperative that supplies Equal Exchange’s banana program.  AsoGuabo is a cooperative of over 100 small (under 30 hectares) banana producers.  They also visited several growers including an agroforesty producer in the mountains.  They saw all operations from growing and cultivation though harvest and packing.  Read the full story in our latest buyer’s notes.

First U.S. Grown Fair Trade Certified Stone Fruit

Homegrown Organic Farms is proud to represent the first-ever, US-grown Fair Trade Certified stone fruit; grown by none other than Vernon Peterson. Vernon and his family have been farming for over 30 years in Kingsburg in the central San Joaquin Valley.  For Vern, being a part of the Fair Trade movement goes beyond price, beyond organic, and has become about people and the communities surrounding farms that grow the fruit consumers enjoy. Since the beginning, Vern’s view of family reaches far beyond those of immediate relation; his family extends to and includes over 100 year-round employees. Participating in the Fair Trade program is one more tangible way Vern can give even more back to his “extended family members;” to see them succeed while making a difference in their community. This program ensures that people working on his farm are being cared for over and above the industry standard by offering things like healthcare, retirement, longer breaks, and paid time off. The small premium that is collected on each box of fruit sold is returned directly to those workers on Vern’s farm. Those employees elect a committee and that committee is empowered to decide community priorities together, then as a cohort, invest those funds accordingly. With Vern’s Fair Trade journey just beginning, we are excited to see what projects these farm workers come up with to further sustain and better serve their valued, growing communities.

Vernon Peterson Homegrown Organics

Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit organization that develops and oversees standards that work to ensure safe working conditions in the field, benefits for farm workers, and environmental protections for the farm. Within this program, a small premium is collected on every box of Fair Trade produce sold. This premium is returned directly to a committee of farm workers from the farm the fruit originated from. This committee polls workers to learn what the priorities and needs of their community are, then oversees the execution of those projects. Farms all around the world have been able to create infrastructure, medical clinics, education programs, recreation facilities, and so much more because consumers choose to purchase Fair Trade products.

Other benefits of Fair Trade

– Funds community development projects that are chosen by workers

– Prohibits child labor and bans GMOs

– Requires the protection of soil and water biodiversity

– Reduces energy use and greenhouse gas emissions

Go behind the scenes with Vern as he talks about his farm workers and how they’ve become part of his family. https://youtu.be/aZ4DydkbPgw?t=189

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes June 30, 2019

Blenheim apricots are the most coveted of the apricot varieties and are fast disappearing. They were brought to California from England in the 1880’s and were grown mostly in the Sacramento and Santa Clara valleys. They have great apricot flavor but are not good travelers and are usually only found at farmers markets. Many growers have abandoned the Blenheim in favor of varieties that are grown for their long shelf life and ability to travel long distances.  There are only a few growers left in California and Earl’s is fortunate to be carrying Dwelley Blenheim apricots, a fourth generation farm, from Brentwood, California.

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