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Archive for May, 2012

Just Label It Campaign

Consumers have a right to know what’s in the food we eat and feed our children, including whether food is genetically engineered. We all should be able to make informed choices, and have the ability to choose whether to buy genetically engineered food or not.  In November this will be California’s first-ever ballot initiative to require labeling of genetically engineered foods.  Over 40 countries including all of Europe, Japan and China already label GMO’s.

You can sign the petition and tell the FDA to label GMO’s here.

Currently there are more than five-hundred partner organizations including Earl’s Organic Produce representing food and farming organizations, farmers, the healthcare community, consumer advocates, concerned parents, environmentalists, businesses, the faith-based community, and many more concerned with protecting the consumer’s right to know have joined together on this issue.

Whats more is that numerous polls have shown that up to 95% of Americans want genetically engineered foods to have a mandatory label. Read more about these polls on this list compiled by the True Food Network.

Genetically engineered (GE) foods, also referred to as genetically modified, or GMOs, are those that are altered at the molecular level in ways that could not happen naturally. This means plants and animals have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs. These techniques use DNA molecules from different sources, sometimes different species, and combine them into one molecule to create a new set of genes (e.g. mixing of flounder genes into tomatoes so they can grow larger and more quickly.) Learn more about how this is done here.

Today the majority of corn has been genetically engineered to produce toxins to kill pests, where as soy, canola, sugar beets and cotton have been genetically modified to withstand large applications of chemicals and are classified as “herbicide tolerant.” Genetically engineered crops have been credited with an increase of 383 million pounds of herbicide use in the U.S. over the first 13 years of commercial use (1996- 2008).

Genetically engineered foods are harder to avoid than you may think. A recent estimate is that about 75 percent of processed foods contain one or more genetically modified ingredients. The majority of food containing  GMOs are from staple crops such as corn or soy, which are then processed into ingredients and food additives. The following additives contain corn or soy: soy protein, soy lecithin, corn flour, corn starch, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, ascorbic acid, citric acid, dextrose, glucose, lactic acid, monosodium glutamate (MSG), xantham gum, and many more. It is estimated that 80 percent of all processed foods contained derivatives from soy and corn (Non-GMO Project). These derivatives are found in countless processed foods such as cereals, baby foods, breads, chips, high fructose corn syrup, frozen meals and many other products. The USDA’s Economic Research Service, in 2009, found that 93 percent of soy, 93 percent of cotton, and 86 percent of corn grown in the United States were genetically modified (ERS, 2010). These percentages continue to grow.

The terrifying truth is that American consumers have been consuming foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients for the past ten years while remaining largely in the dark. The best options if you are looking to avoid genetically engineered foods are to buy USDA certified organic as the USDA organic standards prohibit the use of GMOs; to look for verified Non-GMO products ; and to buy unprocessed foods such as fruits, vegetables as few whole foods are genetically engineered (but beware, conventionally grown Hawaiian papaya, zucchini, and yellow crookneck squash can be genetically engineered!)

As more and more proposals for new genetically engineered crops reach the USDA, EPA, and FDA for testing and approval (such as salmon, and a number of fruits and vegetables) avoiding these foods without a labeling system will become increasingly difficult if not near impossible.

Check out the full list of 8 Things You Can Do if You’re Concerned about GEs/GMOs and Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods. You can also download the “True Food” app for your phone to check the list while you are grocery shopping.

Don’t forget to sign the petition and tell the FDA you want your food labeled!




Tomatero Farm

Earl’s Organic recently started buying from Tomatero Farm, located in Watsonville, CA, just south of Santa Cruz and 5 miles from the California coast.   Tomatero Farm has been certified organic since the beginning when Adriana and Chris, then 21 and 25 years old, started farming in 2004.  They wanted to grow produce that was affordable for everyone, especially their friends and family.

Watsonville, in the Pajaro Valley, has extremely fertile soil and a unique coastal environment with temperate conditions where it is never too hot or too cold.  The weather is perfect to grow Tomatero’s wide array of produce including tomatoes, kale, lettuce, fennel, carrots, red leaf butter lettuce, chard, leeks and strawberries.  Adriana said she “feels very lucky to be growing here”.

Adriana and Chris embrace the diversity of their organic crops and “rotate them like crazy” and let the soil rest a healthful amount of time before planting again.  “Good soil grows good vegetables”.

Strawberry season can start as early as March and can last up to December.

When Adriana is not busy farming she is also on the boards for the Monterey Farmers Market Association and the Agriculture Institute of Marin.

We are proud to offer products from this outstanding family farm.

Sugar Snap Peas

A sugar snap pea has an edible shell that is less fibrous. A snap pea pod is not waxy like an English pea’s, however the membranous string running along the top of the pod should be removed before eating, in a process called “stringing.”

Tutti Frutti Farms Sugar Snap Peas

They are best when the pod begins to thicken a little, but before the peas grow large. When sugar snap peas are ready to be picked, the pods will snap much like a bean.

Sugar snap peas, however, are eaten whole, with the peas still inside the pod. They also can be blanched or eaten straight off the vine. They are often found in stir-fry recipes as well as salad and pasta dishes.

Try a simple stir fry with radishes and sugar snap peas

Transplants Versus Direct Seeding

When planting large quantities of field crops growers go back and forth as to whether direct seeding or transplants are best. Though direct seeding will result in a stronger and more resilient plant, there is a lot that can go wrong in the early stages that could ruin an entire field.  Extreme weather, birds, squirrels and insects are serious dangers for freshly planted seeds as well as a myriad of fungal and antibacterial attacks.  Many of these dangers can be mitigated with the use of transplants.


Greenheart Farms certified organic transplant facility

This process involves ordering a large quantity of seed to be planted and grown in large greenhouses at Greenheart Farms, a certified organic transplant facility.  The plant is grown until it is a few inches tall, and then conditioned so that it is hardy enough to be transplanted in the fields.

What’s growing at Tutti Frutti Farm?

One of the techniques Chris employs in growing zucchini involves covering the soil with black plastic.  This plastic deters pests, helps to control weeds, provides protection around a young plant, and encourages its growth by trapping in heat and slowing the evaporation of water in the soil.  Look at the difference between these two sections of zucchini that were planted at the same time, one with plastic and one without.

Zucchini without plastic

On a different part of the farm, the tomatoes are beginning to ripen.  Here’s a preview of what’s going to come.  Below we have the Striped German and Cherokee Purple varieties.

Cherokee Purple

Striped German

These tomatoes will hit the markets soon, try eating them together in a salad to get acquainted with their unique flavor profiles. 


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