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.
Earl’s has a variety of delicious mangos with different textures and flavors. Ataulfo mangos are easy to spot with their vibrant yellow golden color and small kidney shape. The fantastic flavor and absence of stringy fibers are what make this mango so delicious. The pit is very thin which means there is more flesh to eat. As the Ataulfo becomes ripe the skin turns a deep golden color and begins to wrinkle. Ataulfos are ready to eat when the fruit yields to slight pressure. They should be left at room temperature until they are ready to eat. Ataulfos are also known as Honey, Manila, Yellow, Baby and Champagne mangos. They are available from March to July and are grown in Mexico. May is the time for peak flavor!
Tommy Atkins are medium to large oval or oblong shaped with a beautiful red blush covering most of the green, orange and yellow background. It has a very sweet flavor with some fibrous strands. As with the Ataulfo they are ready to eat when the field yields to slight pressure. We will see Tommy Atkins in season from March to July and October to January. Currently we are sourcing from Mexico but they also are grown in Ecuador and Peru.
The Haden Mango looks and tastes very similar to the Tommy Atkins mango and has the most amazing fragrance when ripe. They have a smooth rich sweet taste with very little fibers. The color of the skin is right red over a yellow and green background with the distinguishing characteristic of small white dots. In addition to applying gentle pressure to determine ripeness the green background of the mango will turn yellow as it ripens. They are available in April and May and are sourced mostly from Mexico.
Leave mangos at room temperature until they are ready to eat. Do not store below 45 degrees because the cold can discolor the flesh. Therefore we do not recommend storing them in the refrigerator because the average temperature is around 38 degrees.
Follow these easy instructions for cutting a mango. Serve a mango salsa this Cinco de Mayo for a sweet and spicy treat.
California Cherry season is just around the corner and we anticipate our first land of cherries the week of May 12th. The cherry season is very short in California and typically lasts 4 to 6 weeks depending on the weather or variety. This year we are anticipating a lighter crop than usual. Some of the trees had uneven bloom at the end of March causing some fruit to come on later and eventually shrivel up and fall off the tree.
Cherries are a small and delicate fruit and need to be handled with extreme care. The fruit starting to size up on the tree can still be damaged if there is heavy rain or wind. Extreme weather can cause the cherries to split or crack and that part of the crop is lost. The cherries dangle together in groups of 2 to 6 pieces of fruit and the wind can cause them to bang up against each other, causing bruising on the shoulders of the fruit, the area near the stem.
Plump sweet red Bing cherries are the most popular variety grown in the Sacramento, Stockton and Lodi areas. Other varieties grown in California include Sequoia, Tulare, Brooks, Chelan, Lapin and Rainier although not all are found organically. California has a combination of nutrient-rich soil, abundant sunshine and mild temperatures, producing sweet fruit. Stay tuned for updates on the first cherry land and learn about the different California varieties as the season progresses.
In our last apple update we talked about how we had a shortage of domestic apples this year and that the season was starting to dwindle. A month later the domestic apple supply coming out of Controlled Atmosphere(CA) is very tight and supplies are limited. As the domestic season is finishing the first varieties of the import apples are starting up with Galas arriving now and Golden Delicious scheduled for the end of April. We can look forward to the Granny Smith, Braeburn and Red Delicious in the first half of May and the Fuji and Cripps Pink in the latter half of May. Imports will continue into late July/early August when the first California Gravensteins are harvested.
We are just around the corner from the beginning of the stone fruit season. Richard Burkart has most of his thinning complete and his crops are on schedule. We are anticipating that we will receive our first shipment of yellow peaches the week of May 5th. Stay tuned for updates.