If you are like me you are enjoying overindulging during the holiday season. January 1st comes way too fast and then thoughts of being healthier are on everyone’s minds. Juicing is a great way to take a break from all the rich foods. Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting items that look great, are good for your body and great for juicing.
Burdock root, ginger and galangal are all rhizomes, underground stems of a plant that produces roots from which a variety of plants can grow. Burdock root from Winter Green Farm is grown just west of Eugene, Oregon. We are seeing nice clean roots free of dirt. Burdock is also known as gobo and has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It is a good blood cleanser and detoxifier. The roots are harvested in the first year and the second year it goes to seed and produces burrs. These burrs were the inspiration for Velcro! The season runs from October to January.
Nicely cured ginger from Peru has clean big hands. Ginger is good for fighting inflammation, improving circulation, digestion and immunity and works great to help an upset stomach and nausea. The Hawaiian season is right around the corner and we will see ample supplies on the market.
Just in from Hawaii is sharp looking galangal from Kauai Organic. Galangal helps remove toxins from the body, reduces cramps, aids in healing bruising and swelling and helps reduce gassiness. As a relative of ginger it also helps with upset stomachs and nausea. It is much thicker and harder than ginger and almost replaces ginger entirely in Thai cooking. It has a pungent mustard flavor and is much spicier than ginger. Be careful when juicing, you only need to use a small piece.
Heavy sustained rains north of Sacramento and not enough wind between rains to dry out the fruit has led our northern growers to call an early end to the Satsuma Mandarins season. Mature fruit still on the tree is susceptible to damage from the beating of the rain and absorption of water. Side Hill Citrus in Lincoln and Capay Satsuma in Orland will continue to sell at their local farmers markets, but we all agree that fruit not purchased for immediate consumption is prone to break down faster and will have a shorter shelf life.
On the positive side, we have a good inventory of N. California fruit that was picked before the rain and expected to last into next week. We will also continue to see Satsuma Mandarins coming out of Southern California into January.
The Heger Green Swiss Chard is looking great today! Cool nights out of Brawley in the California desert, make the color pop on these healthy greens. Dense cell structure really shows in beautifully bunched crisp greens. Nice large bunches are the perfect retail size. Growers grow different varieties for different reasons and this variety is just stellar!
What is Romanesco and where does it come from? Don’t look at it too long or it might hypnotize you. Grown by Capay Organics in Capay Valley, northwest of Sacramento in Yolo County, Romanesco’s conical spiral shapes look like they come from another world. This sweet and nutty cauliflower is not to be missed!
Cilantro from Lakeside is coming out of Holtville, near El Centro at the southern end of the Imperial Valley. Vibrant plant structure gives us full bunches of herbs. Cilantro doesn’t get any cleaner or more beautiful than this.
Cal-O Bunched Spinach is coming out of the Coachella desert, just north of the Salton Sea. We are seeing beautiful, large and unblemished leaves free of bug pressure. High in iron, Popeye would be proud to eat this spinach!
Even through navels are available as early as Thanksgiving, historically we feel they reach acceptable color and flavor around the first of the year. This year we feel the Twin Girls navels out of the Central San Joaquin Valley have already reached promotable flavor. Think high sugar and good color. The cold nights over the past month brought out the color in the fruit and slowed down the growing process, allowing the tree to pump a higher density of sugar into the fruit. We are finally feeling winter in California! The result is a very sweet orange.
Nacho Sanchez and his wife Cassie bought their first piece of land in 1989 and named their farm after their two twin girls, Christyna and Serena. More than 25 years later they are growing over 50 varieties of organic fruit on 400 plus acres in Fresno and Tulare Counties, about 200 miles South of San Francisco. Mouthwatering Twin Girls navels now available at Earl’s Organic!
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.
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 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!
For questions regarding Earl’s sustainability program please contact Kat Vining at firstname.lastname@example.org
Side Hill Satsuma Mandarin season started a few weeks early for the second year in a row. Production has been stable with demand continuing to outreach supply. In fact they are being sold even before the shipment lands at our warehouse! You may have noticed the Side Hill prices have been high and we believe this has everything to do with the quality of the fruit. We feel it is important to get the best return for our growers and to herald the times when the grower reaps the rewards of his label. We are witnessing an opportunity for the grower to realize the value of his fruit; that doesn’t happen often enough. Rich Ferreira from Side Hill Citrus has been living and working on the farm for over 25 years to bring you the best tasting piece of fruit. We want to thank you for your support year after year. You can look forward to prices starting to go down after the Thanksgiving holiday.
California blueberries are extremely scarce and production out of the Nipomo and Lompoc areas in Southern California can be expected to improve in December. On the import side Chilean blueberry season has just barely begun. We are seeing production starting out of the main growing regions of Maule and BioBio where the Mediterranean climate is perfect for growing blueberries. By the end of December and into early January there will be better supply to start off the new year. As the season progresses production continues to move south to the Northern end of the Patagonia region. We should see blueberries from Chile through March and perhaps part of April.
Every year Earl’s employees and customers eagerly await the arrival of Side Hill Citrus Satsuma Mandarins. The sweet flavor with the perfect balance of acidity is unrivaled.
Fourth generation farmer Rich Ferreira is growing over 2,000 organic Satsuma Mandarin trees in Lincoln, CA, about 35 minutes Northeast of Sacramento. The combination of a higher elevation of 600 feet, nutrient filled organic clay soil, warm summer days and cool nights bring out the delicious flavor in Rich’s Satsumas. Easy to peel with no sticky mess and virtually no seeds, add one to your children’s lunchbox and don’t forget to give yourself a few to snack on during the day. Citrus is a good source of vitamin C but did you know that eating four or five Satsumas a day delivers six to seven times as much synephrine, a natural decongestant, as other citrus? The short season has been known to last until the beginning of January but as with all produce, it is weather dependent.
On November 20-22, the Satsuma Mandarin growers in the Sacramento Foothills celebrate this delicious fruit with the ever popular Mountain Mandarin Festival in Auburn, CA. Enjoy cooking demonstrations, food and local entertainment at this fun event for the whole family.
I’ll leave you with a few of our favorite Satsuma beverages. Feeling under the weather? Try a Satsuma Ginger Tea, a favorite of Earl’s sales associate, Brian Gordon. If you are looking for a few fun cocktails for your holiday party look no further. Click here for a few of our employee favorites.