We are ending the California Cherry Bing season with a bang! California Cherries are finishing up this week and we will be starting with the Pacific Northwest crop. Dark sweets like Chelans and Sequoias will be some of the first varieties we will see out of the PNW. Bings and Rainiers will start up around the middle of June and the season will continue into the first few weeks of August.
Every cherry tree produces about 7,000 cherries or, if you prefer to think about it in real terms, about thirty pies’ worth.
Earl’s Organic was born out of a desire to promote a lifestyle founded on respect for both the people who produce our food and the land from which it is grown. We have always operated on the principals of conscientiousness and accountability in both the relationships that we maintain with our customers and vendors, as well as the way we organize our day to day operations.
In recent years, however, the immediate need for action around the environmental impact of our operations has become more apparent. Our commitment to environmentalism extends far beyond simply composting and recycling; Short sighted environmentalism like this is just the tip of the iceberg. Further action is needed to examine the true environmental cost of our operations- the emissions from our trucks, the energy required to power our coolers, and not just where we put our waste at the end of its life, but how much we are producing and consuming. Ultimately, we must find a way to eliminate the use of nonrenewable resources required to power our operations.
It is not just about respecting our land and respecting our communities, it is about sustaining an environment that can produce the same bounty of produce tomorrow as it can today. The agricultural industry today is in peril. Climate change is posing a dire threat to our food supply- rising temperatures, more extreme weather patterns, and severe droughts are causing devastating effects on crop yields and food production. This is by no means a new phenomenon. The awareness around the devastating environmental effects of intensive agriculture practices that rely on agrochemicals and monocrops has been a topic of conversation for decades. But today the impact of the changing climate on the enduring prosperity and capacity of our food systems is more apparent than it has ever been. Consequently, our action today on sustainability is essential for the preservation of our industry, our food system, and the continued sustenance of all humans.
In 2013, Earl’s Organic announced the launch of its formal sustainability program with the intent of developing a more comprehensive understanding of the social and environmental impact of our operations and more actively using our long standing awareness to make positive changes towards reducing our waste to landfill, our dependence on fossil fuels and nonrenewable resources, and the general environmental impact of our business operations. We began the roll-out with a visioning process. The sustainability visioning committee, a group consisting of 14 passionate and intuitive individuals from various departments created a revised mission statement for Earl’s that encompasses our commitment to sustainability, our values, and our long term vision for the company (see below). As part of this visioning process we determined a set of short, mid, and long term goals that we would like to pursue. This sustainability vision illustrates a clear picture of a future state that everyone at Earl’s feels committed towards working to achieve and will ultimately guide our action and act as a roadmap for redesigning our operations to be better aligned with our sustainability objectives.
However, because we can’t manage what we don’t measure, we’ve created a comprehensive baseline assessment of all of our environmental impact areas- fuel, energy, waste, greenhouse gas emissions, water and packaging- to serve as a benchmark from which to measure the progress towards our short, mid, and long term goals. Using this data, the Sustainability Action Committee will meet monthly and is responsible for determining areas for improvement, performing research, creating action plans, and measuring progress towards meeting our goals. Under the guidance of the Sustainability Manager, The Committee will provide initial and ongoing leadership, supervision, and coordination to Earl’s sustainability effort.
At this juncture Earl’s celebrates the successful roll-out of its sustainability program with the publishing of its revised mission and vision, the release of its short, mid and long term goals, and the convening of its sustainability action committee. The sustainability program has already had major success (see the dramatic reduction in waste to landfill with the roll-out of Earl’s new waste system) and looks forward to many more.
Earl’s Organic Produce promotes organic agriculture and a sustainable food trade while cultivating enduring partnerships with growers and customers. We operate on the principles of innovation, education, and superior customer service to distribute premium certified organic fruits and vegetables to our diverse customer base.
Earl’s Organic Produce aspires to connect those who produce and consume organic food by creating mutually beneficial, meaningful, and committed relationships across the food chain. We seek to educate, excite, and evoke passion for the organic culture and continually evolve our business practices to both promote and meet the needs of the ever expanding organic industry. Furthermore, we are committed to discovering and implementing innovative business solutions in order to improve the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of our operations.
There are two seasons for figs in California. The first crop starts up around the end of May and lasts only for a few weeks. We will see a gap for about a month until the second and much more flavorful crop is harvested in late July or at the beginning of August. Figs love warm days and night time warmth. California figs are usually grown in the central valley around the Fresno/Reedly area to up north of Sacramento in Corning.
Buyer beware! The first crop will not have developed the flavor you have come to expect from figs. Your patience will be rewarded when the second crop arrives and the first bite reveals a honey sweetness that is perfect all on its own.
Figs are all hand-picked by workers wearing long sleeves because of the scratchy leaves and reactions some workers have due to the sap on the trees. The figs are packed into 3 gallon buckets and then cooled by fans in a warehouse which suck out the fruit’s internal heat from 100 to 44 degrees. This allows the fruit to stay fresh and delicious tasting during the farm to table journey. The figs are then packed into pints in an air conditioned warehouse and then loaded onto a refrigerated truck to a location near you.
How to eat fresh figs? Out of hand is the easiest but they are also delicious cut up and tossed in a salad or try putting goat cheese in the middle and then drizzling with a little honey. Please share your favorite ways to eat figs on our Facebook wall.
Pluots look very similar to a plum but they are actually a hybrid of about 75% plum and 25% apricot or it could be 60% plum and 40% apricot. It is difficult to discern the exact percentage because of all the complex crossbreeding between hybrids. One thing for sure is that the Pluot is more plum than apricot. Floyd Zaiger, the father of over 200 stone fruit varieties, developed the Pluot from the Plumcot, developed by Luther Burbank. To learn more about the genetic history of the Pluot click here.
Pluots have a sweet rich plum flavor married with the savory flavor and dense flesh of an apricot. Pluots are mostly grown in the San Joaquin Valley where the winter time temperatures are not too cold and the summer time is hot and dry. Pluots come in many colors from green, shades of purple, pink to red and can be solid, mottled, dappled or spotted. They often have a white or silvery colored “coating” on them. This is a natural, waxy, protective coating produced by the fruit.
The first variety of Pluot to land at Earl’s is the deep plum colored Flavorosa. A first bite into this early pluot is tangy followed a sweetness that floods your mouth. As the season continues other varieties will arrive including Flavor King, Flavor Queen, Flavor Supreme and the ever popular Dapple Dandy, also known as the “dinosaur egg”.
Always make sure to wash your fruit before eating it. Look for pluots that are smooth-skinned, plump and firm. They will ripen on your counter and you can refrigerate them for up to 3 days.
This Friday May 23rd the California Appropriations Committee will determine whether California Senate Bill 1381 (a cleaner and simpler version of Prop 37 which will require all food made with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such) will proceed to the Senate Floor for a vote or remain in suspense and eventually die.
California was the first US state to introduce legislation around GMO labeling. Although proposition 37 was narrowly defeated by a 3% margin in 2012, it paved the way for states across the country to introduce legislation of their own. Since the introduction of Prop 37, 20 different states have drafted legislation, three states currently have legislation on their ballots, and three states have actually passed mandatory GMO labeling laws.
Polls show that the majority of Californians do support GMO labeling and prop 37’s defeat was primarily due to the pervasiveness of anti GMO labeling advertisements (the companies supporting the NO on 37 campaign like Monsanto and Pepsi outspent the YES campaign by 5-to-1). Many respondents who voted no on Prop 37 say they support GMO labeling and did so because of the confusion caused by the anti-labeling propaganda.
The difference, however, between CA SB 1381 and California Proposition 37 is that SB 1381 will not be put to public vote like Prop 37. The Senate Bill will be put through the California legislative process and its verdict will be determined by California’s elected officials. This means that it is important as companies and as individuals to communicate with our state assembly members and our state senators the importance of GMO labeling and urge them to support the passing of SB 1381. For more information about getting in touch with your state legislators please visit http://www.labelgmos.org/.
GMO labeling is not about making judgments about the safety, value, or morality of genetically engineered foods. It is about giving consumers the right to know what they are ingesting. Earl’s supports GMO labeling for the same reason that we support organic labeling: transparency. We believe that people both need and are entitled to make informed decisions about the food they are consuming and deserve to know where their food comes from, how it is produced and what exactly they are putting in their bodies.
Over 60 countries in the world require GMO labeling and we too as Californians and as Americans deserve the right to know what is in our food. Visit http://www.labelgmos.org/ for more information about current GMO related legislation in California and across the country.
New Leaf Community Market Pleasanton threw a one year birthday party this past weekend. New Leaf has been offering some of the best local and organic food on the Central Coast since 1985 and recently has opened two new locations in Pleasanton and San Jose.
A huge crowd turned out to celebrate with a live band, wellness education booths, kids activities and samples from many beverage and food vendors. Earl’s Organic had a booth in the produce department and grilled up a bounty of delicious Coastal View Produce. Brian Violini is a 3rd generation farmer and his family has been growing organic asparagus in Gonzales, CA for the past 40 year. Click here for a video of Brian on the farm explaining how asparagus grows.
New Leaf also celebrated the beginning of stone fruit season with a stunning display of peaches, nectarines and apricots. Look for different varieties of white and yellow peaches and nectarines arriving from Earl’s each week.
With Memorial Day less than a week away, think about adding grilled asparagus and grilled stone fruit to your menu. Asparagus just needs a little olive oil, salt and pepper and then grill for 5-7 minutes. Grilled stone fruit goes great with in a salad with a honey goat cheese dressing.
Apriums look similar to an apricot but they are a hybrid of approximately 75% apricot and 25% plum. They have a very sweet flavor and are only available for a short time during the early stone fruit season. We expect apriums from Burkart Farms in Dinuba, CA, to continue for the next 2-3 weeks. Don’t miss out on this special fruit.
There is no hard and fast rule on how to know when stone fruit is ripe and ready to eat. This applies to all stone fruit whether it is a plum, apricot, peach or nectarine. The difference from one day to the next can be the difference between ripe and overripe. The best advice we at Earl’s can give is to try eating your fruit on different days and experiment by trial and error. Store the pieces of stone fruit you plan to eat within a few days on a natural cotton cloth to allow the air to circulate and to prevent bruising. In very warm weather the fruit will ripen more quickly so be sure to check your fruit each day. If you need to refrigerate your stone fruit let it reach room temperature first to get the fullest flavor.
Organic Rising is the first food movie to focus on organic as the solution to our food system crisis, and because while it lays out the problems we face, it offers a positive, solution-oriented educational experience with compelling storytellers from all parts of the organic sector. This documentary film takes an in-depth look at the rise of the organic movement and what the future holds. It examines the rise of America’s organic food movement, while envisioning a new and healthy American food system through the eyes of seasoned pioneers, up-and-coming farmers, food activists, top chefs and high-powered investors. Organic farmers from around the country, including many local people from Santa Cruz, are interviewed in depth about their organic practices and beliefs.
The film is directed by the highly awarded Pulitzer and Emmy winner Anthony Suau. As a TIME magazine contract photographer for twenty years his images have been published and exhibited worldwide.
Earl’s Organic is a proud supporter of this film. Please help us by sharing this link and by visiting the Indeigogo campaign page to help Organic Rising reach their goal of $50,000. While you are there you can submit YOUR music for the ORGANIC RISING soundtrack! If it is chosen for the film your name will appear in the film’s credits. Your covers are also welcome!
Peach and nectarine season has begun! The season generally starts around May 1st and can continue into November as the production areas move into Oregon and Washington. Burkart Orchards has some of the most flavorful stone fruit and is located only four hours south of San Francisco in Dinuba along the northern border of Tulare County. We can look forward to the many varieties changing about every 1 to 2 weeks.
The peaches we typically see early in the season are the sweet cling variety which means the fruit “clings” to the pit unlike a freestone peach where the fruit falls away easily from the pit. The bottom of the peach comes to a tapered point with a cling stone peach unlike a free stone peach that has a flat bottom.
The only difference between peaches and nectarines is that peaches are covered in a light fuzz.
Burkart Orchards had a little bit of rain earlier this week which may cause some nectarines to crack. Until Richard Burkart gets into the orchard to pick and pack, he won’t know the result of what the rain might have done to the fruit. Stay tuned for updates on the stone fruit crop and the many delicious, juicy and sweet varieties we can look forward to.
Summer is just around the corner and so is the first early heirloom tomato crop from Tutti Frutti out of Buellton, California. We anticipate that the first heirloom tomatoes will arrive at the beginning of June. Chris Cadwell has been growing some of the most flavorful heirloom tomatoes you will ever taste since 1988. By definition they must be grown from seeds that have originated before 1940 and been passed down from generation to generation. Heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated which means they are produced from the same seed of the same variety.
Heirloom tomatoes come in many varieties and beautiful colors. Some of the most popular varieties you will find are Cherokee Purple and Brandywine. Cherokee Purple has a sweet rich flavor with a deep dark purple skin. It originated from the Cherokee Indians around 1890. Brandywine is the most popular of the heirloom tomatoes and is a favorite among chefs. It has an incredibly rich tomato flavor with a pink reddish skin and light creamy flesh. It is an Amish variety from the 1880’s.
Don’t be afraid of the various shapes, colors and sizes of Heirloom tomatoes. All those colors mean they are full of antioxidants. Heirloom tomatoes also have many health benefits including potassium for your heart, vitamin K for healthy bones and they are loaded with vitamin C which is great for your immune system. Stay tuned for flavor profiles on the many different heirloom varieties as they arrive at Earl’s.