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Cumulative Effects of Forgotten Weather Events

We have been seeing the effects of previous forgotten weather events. Think back to the scorching temperatures over 110 degrees back in August and again in September in many growing regions, including Salinas Valley and Bakersfield.  At any one time in vegetable row crop production there are multiple succession plantings in the ground. It is not only the plantings harvested during the heat wave that suffer, but also plantings harvested 60-90 days down the road, think October to December.

The final veg plantings in the Bakersfield and Central Coast regions, before the annual Fall transition down to the desert, were all hit hard by record heat. Those plants were in the field but small at that time and were adversely affected. Some fields were completely lost, while others suffered damage leading to lower yields. Growers also saw widespread disease issues like pin rot showing up on broccoli. These areas have ended early or have reduced volumes.  

The aim each Fall is to have the northern regions winding down as the desert and Mexico regions are ramping up with some overlap.  This did not happen this year because of the lasting effects of the heat wave and the desert regions and Mexico experiencing unseasonably cool weather leading to slower growth. Last year at this time Tutti Frutti was still going strong on Heirloom tomatoes and now they are already coming to an end.  Dwelley’s final zucchini plantings were wrecked from the heat, ending their season abruptly.  Covill green beans from Mexico are harvested each year in time for Thanksgiving but this year the cold weather slowed production down dramatically.  Now add Covid-19 into the equation. Growers are having labor issues and harvesting in the fields that does happen is going slower because of social distancing requirement in the fields and in the production facilities.

What can you expect?
Quality and availability issues along with price increases on many veg items including green beans, baby bok choy, broccoli, baby sweet broccoli, broccoli crowns, brussels sprouts carrots, lettuce, colored bell peppers, heirloom tomatoes and cluster tomatoes.

The good news is that in the next few weeks we will see increasing availability of product from the California and Arizona desert growing regions relieving some of our pain. Stay tuned for updates in our weekly Buyer’s Notes.

 

If you missed our blogs on the August and September heat waves you can read them here:
Labor Day Heat Wave Affects Quality and Supply
https://bit.ly/labordayheatwaveupdate

Update on Crops Affected by Extreme Heat Wave
https://bit.ly/updatecropsaffectedextremeheat

Extreme Heat Wave and Rain Storms Sweep Through California
https://bit.ly/californiaextremeheatwaveandrainstorm

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes November 15, 2020

New apples this week include the intense and honeyed Rubinette. The Rubinette has superb flavor with hints of pear, simultaneously sweet and sharp. The Swiss Gourmet (also known as the Arlet in Europe) is pleasant and juicy, reasonably well balanced between sharp and sweet, but essentially mild. It is great for baking! The Juici apple has a  wonderful balance of sweet and tart flavors, with a texture similar to Honeycrisp and a long shelf life. Read on to learn the parentage of some of your favorite apples. Download this weeks organic fruit and veg updates here.

Roasting Chestnuts

Tips on roasting chestnuts: Cut an “X” shape into the flat side of each chestnut. Use a sharp knife to do this. This will make the chestnuts roast faster, allowing the steam to escape from the chestnuts. Place them on a baking sheet with the cut side up. Roast 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn. Let them cool slightly before easily removing the shell. We enjoy added them to Japanese rice for a fall favorite. https://www.justonecookbook.com/chestnut-rice-kurigohan/

 

Hiring PM Warehouse Support

Earl’s Organic Produce, Inc., a leading distributor of organic produce throughout Northern California, seeks a skilled and safe Outbound PM Warehouse Support for our San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market headquarters.

Under the direction of the Outbound Operations Manager, the Product Selector fills customers’ orders from stored merchandise in accordance with specifications on sales slips or order forms. Duties include completing order receipts, keeping records of out-going orders, requisitioning additional materials, supplies, cleaning work area and equipment.

Responsibilities will include:
• Read orders to ascertain quantities of merchandise
• Obtain merchandise from bins, shelves, and coolers
• Check order receipts
• Examine products to verify quality standards
• Count finished products to determine if product orders are complete
• Keep records of out-going orders
• Place merchandise on conveyors leading to wrapping areas
• Wrap the palletized merchandise
• Mark or tag identification on palletized merchandise
• Operate machinery used in the process, or assist machine operators
• Observe equipment operations so that malfunctions can be detected, and notify Management as necessary

Position requirements include:
• Forklift, End-Rider pallet jack, and electric pallet jack experience is required
• Ability to read and understand information presented in writing
• Ability to arrange things in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules
• Ability to lift a minimum of 50 lbs. on a regular basis
• Requires being reliable, responsible, dependable, and fulfilling obligations
• Requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks
• Requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-nature
• Requires supporting other team members and provide service to others
• Requires knowledge of conducting inspections of products

Compensation: $20.00 for pm shifts.

The above is only a basic description of the position and it does not, nor is it intended to, outline all of the specifics of the responsibilities expected to be performed.

Earl’s Organic Produce provides a highly competitive compensation package, including medical, dental, vision, LTD and voluntary life, plus a company-sponsored retirement program. Earl’s Organic Produce is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We work to embrace diversity in all its forms and strive to be an inclusive community that fosters an open, enlightened and productive environment. Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.

Interested candidates are encouraged to submit a cover letter, resume, and three references via email or come directly to:

Earls Organic Produce
2101 Jerrold Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94124

HR@earlsorganic.com

Hiring Delivery Drivers

Earl’s Organic Produce, Inc., a leading distributor of organic produce throughout Northern California, seeks a skilled and safe Class A, B, and C Delivery Driver for our San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market headquarters.

Under the direction of the Transportation Supervisor, the selected candidate will deliver palletized orders to our diverse customer base in a timely and attentive manner.

Responsibilities will include:
– Conducting thorough pre-trip safety checks
– Maintaining accurate trips logs and related reports
– Securing loads to ensure product integrity upon delivery
– Efficiently navigating assigned delivery routes
– Unloading and appropriately handling pallets and packages, per customers’ specific needs
– Providing excellent customer service at every opportunity
– Informing his/her supervisor of route delays and outstanding delivery situations
– Obtaining necessary delivery receipts
– Organizing and securing all route related paperwork
– Participating in efficient route planning
– Pick-up dispatched backhauls in a timely manner
– Cultivating respectful working relationships with all customer personnel
– Contributing ideas for individual and team improvement
– Actively supporting other team members in a direct and respectful fashion
– Participating in related team projects and activities

Position requirements include:
– Valid driver’s license and clean driving record
– Class A, B, or C California driver’s license required
– Able to operate an electric Pallet Jack
– Able to operate a hand truck
– 2-3 years delivery driving experience, preferably with a fresh produce company but not necessary
– Familiarity with Bay Area traffic patterns
– Ability to read directions and use a street map to plot delivery route
– Ability to maintain logs and records
– Strong communication skills
– Excellent customer service ability
– Ability to respond to feedback from others
– Ability to present oneself professionally in customer-facing situations
– Ability to maintain respect and composure in stressful situations
– Attention to detail
– Desire to support other team members
– High energy!
– Desire to grow individually and to learn how to best support other team members
– Ability to lift a minimum of 50 lbs. on a regular basis
– Ability to read, write and understand English
– Basic Warehouse experience

The above is only a basic description of the position and it does not, nor is it intended to, outline all of the specifics of the responsibilities expected to be performed.

Earl’s Organic Produce provides a highly competitive compensation package, including medical, dental, vision, LTD and voluntary life, plus a company-sponsored retirement program and paid meal breaks.  Earl’s Organic Produce is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We work to embrace diversity in all its forms and strive to be an inclusive community that fosters an open, enlightened and productive environment. Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.

Wage range:
Class A Drivers: $24.00 – $30.00 DOE

Class B Drivers: $18.50 – $22.50 DOE

Class C Drivers: Depending on Experience

Interested candidates are encouraged to submit a cover letter, resume, and three references via email or come directly to:

Earls Organic Produce
2101 Jerrold Ave., Suite 100
San Francisco, CA 94124

Earl’s Organic Produce is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance Ordinance. We will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes November 8, 2020

Daylight Savings time means it is now getting  darker earlier in the day. The amount of daylight will shorten each day until the winter solstice on December 21st.  The main reason is to make better use of daylight during the spring and summer months, so there is an extra hour of sunlight in the evening instead of the morning.  Shorter days mean less sunlight hours for plants to grow and harvest time in the fields. This is also the time of the year when many growers transition their operation from the Salinas Valley down to the desert. More on the Fall transition in the coming buyer’s notes! We have a wonderful new lineup of Mt. Hood Biodynamic apples this week.-Ashmead Kernel, Honeycrisp, Red Jonagold, Rubinette and Swiss Gourmet. New from Starr Ranch is the Juici apple, offering a wonderful balance of sweet and tart flavors, with a texture similar to Honeycrisp and a long shelf life. Don’t miss a beet! Download the full weekly update here!

Stay Healthy This Winter with Side Hill Satsumas

From our frame of reference Side Hill Citrus Satsumas from Lincoln, in the Sacramento foothills have the perfect mix of sweetness, tartness and low acidity, with very little pulp and no seeds. Rich Ferreira is a 4th generation farmer who started with only 75 trees back in 1975.  Rich has been certified organic since 1991 and now has over 2000 trees. The combination of a higher elevation of 600 feet, nutrient filled organic clay soil, warm summer days and cool nights and using a Satsuma Owari rootstock from China all contribute to growing consistently delicious Satsuma Mandarins year after year.

Satsumas, also called Mikans, are a Japanese variety brought to the US in 1878. Most citrus fruits originated in China and then made their way west which is where the word mandarin comes from.  In the United States Satsumas are grown in places where you wouldn’t normally expect citrus to grow. They need hot summers and a certain amount of chill hours in the winter and can tolerate low temperatures down into the 20’s.  Satsumas are grown in California in the thermal belt which runs from the San Joaquin Valley up to north of Sacramento.  They also grow in some southern states like Texas, Louisiana and Alabama where there are mild winters.

Satsumas have a loose peel that slips off effortlessly like a glove, with no mess and no seeds to deal with.  Satsumas are a perfect snack size that you can eat anywhere without the difficult peeling and complication that comes with eating a valencia or navel orange.

Satsuma Mandarins

Health Benefits:

A 2008 U.S. Department of Agriculture study said Satsumas have six to seven times as much synephrine, a natural decongestant, as other citrus. Four or five Satsumas have enough synephrine to equal the effect of a Sudafed tablet, the study said. Satsumas are also naturally low in calories and a single fruit contains 34 percent of the USDA daily recommendation for vitamin C.

Buying Satsumas:

Look for fruit with an aromatic smell, firm tight peel, no dented spots and a heavier fruit means they are juicier. They can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator, but not for too long because prolonged storage can dry them out.

Sweet Potatoes Are Not Yams

Sweet potatoes are commonly seen labeled as yams, when in reality they are most likely sweet potatoes. Many years ago the U.S. government decided to label sweet potatoes by their color to make things easier. The creamy white flesh ones are labeled sweet potatoes and the orange fleshed ones are sometimes labeled yams.  The USDA requires that sweet potatoes labeled as yams also be labeled as sweet potatoes. Chances are likely that you are buying sweet potatoes regardless of what the label says. Are you still confused?

In reality sweet potatoes and yams are two totally different vegetables.  Yams are tubers and are usually found imported in ethnic markets in the United States. They are originally from Africa, where over 95% of the world’s crop is harvested, and Asia.  Yams are grown in tropical climates and are very popular in Latin America and the Caribbean.  A few varieties can grow up to 7 feet in length and weigh almost 200 pounds! The skin of a yam is rough and scaly and the taste is very starchy.  Yams are toxic when raw and must be cooked to get rid of the toxins. They are an extremely important part in the diet of the people in Nigeria and West Africa.  Yams supply more than 200 calories per person per day for more than 150 million people in West Africa while also providing a necessary income for local farmers.  Yams are high in vitamin C and B and potassium and low in saturated fat and sodium.  The flavor can sometimes be sweeter than a sweet potato depending on the variety.

Sweet Potatoes are thought to originate in either Central or South America at least 5,000 years ago.  In the U.S. they are grown in temperate climate zones.  North Carolina is the largest producer of sweet potatoes followed by California, Louisiana and Mississippi.  In California 80% of the sweet potatoes are grown in Merced County followed by Fresno and Stanislaus County. When you sit down for the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner you will be eating sweet potatoes regardless of their color.

There are 5 main types of sweet potatoes grown. The orange flesh varieties become moist when cooked and the white flesh varieties become dry when cooked with a crumbly texture similar to a baked white potato. The Garnet is the classic sweet potato that most people think of when making mashed sweet potatoes, pies, cakes and breads.

  1. Red Skin/Orange Flesh (Varieties include Dianas, Reds & Garnets)
  2. Orange Skin/Orange Flesh (Varieties include the Beauregard, Covington & Jewel)
  3. White Skin/White Cream Flesh (Varieties include the O’Henry, Jersey Sweet, Hannahs or Hannah Golds)
  4. Red Skin/White Flesh (Japanese Sweet varieties include Murasaki and
    Kotobuki- most commonly referred to as “Orientals”. Also referred to as Satsumaimo in Japan)
  5. Red skin/Purple Flesh (Purple Stokes)

Storing Sweet Potatoes

  • Store sweet potatoes in a cool dark place.
  • Don’t store them in the refrigerator! Refrigeration will make the center of the sweet potato hard and it will cook unevenly.

Sweet potatoes are relatively low in calories and have no fat. They are rich in beta-carotene , having five times the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A in one sweet potato, as well as loaded with potassium. These nutrients help to protect against heart attack and stroke. Purple sweet potatoes are particularly rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins, also found in blueberries and pomegranates. This compound is best known for boosting immunity and thought to help fight cancer.  Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away.  Download Earl’s Sweet Potato Guide here.

Earl’s Organic Buyer’s Notes November 1, 2020

New this week! Feijoas have an intense intoxicating aroma. They taste like a mix of strawberry, guava and pineapple. To eat a feijoa, cut it in half and scoop out the inside creamy white flesh.  Feijoas are a good source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium.  Magic Mountain Clusters are Bigger than a Cherry Tomato and smaller than a slicer. It is the quintessential salad Tomato, perfectly round, bright red and wonderfully sweet.  Ecuadorian Tommy Atkin Mangos are here. Honey Keitt and Ataulfos from Mexico coming later this week. California Fukumoto Navels one of the most outstanding characteristics of this variety is the deep reddish rind color. Broccoli Ninos are the  side shoots harvested after the main crown on a broccoli plant has been harvested. These florets are tender, have a nice mild almost sweet flavor and are packed with nutrients! Download the buyer’s notes here.

Cranberries are America’s Original Superfruit

All fresh cranberries are dry harvested once a year between mid-September through early November.  Cranberries grow on vines planted in bogs with a mixture of moist acid peat soil and sand which allows them to thrive in harsh weather conditions. Unlike wet harvesting where the cranberry bogs are flooded so that the fruit can be harvested while floating, dry harvest vines must be completely dry.  The pickers drive self-propelled harvesters (think vibrating lawn mower with conveyor belt to burlap bag attachment) over the dry vines.  The fruit is then taken to the packing shed to be graded and screened based on color.  Lastly, the berries are bounce tested.  Good berries will bounce because of their air pockets and the soft berries that do not bounce are discarded.

Cranberries were introduced to the English settlers when arriving in Massachusetts in the early 1800’s. Over half of the United States crop is grown in Wisconsin. Massachusetts is the second largest producer followed by New Jersey, Oregon and Washington.  Canada is also a big player with more than 80% of the organic cranberries are grown in Quebec. Eastern Canada’s cooler weather is especially ideal for growing organic cranberries. Earl’s Organic Patience cranberries are grown in Quebec and the Greenbelle biodynamic organic cranberries are grown in Wisconsin.

Cranberries on the vine

Cranberries grow on vines planted in bogs

Fun Facts:

  • Cranberries will last for a year in the freezer and can be frozen in the package they come in.
  • Cranberries are one of the few fruits native to North America and many of the cultivars have been propagated directly from these ancient wild super-foods.
  • They were initially called ‘craneberries’ because the flower, stem and calyx resembled the neck, head and bill of a crane.
  • Cranberries boast many nutritional benefits including promoting urinary tract health, protecting beneficial gut microbial and providing a wide range of phytochemical and micro-nutrient for overall immunity and health. Learn more on the health benefits.
  • Organic cranberries are free and devoid of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilizers.

Recipe Ideas: 

*Toss a handful of fresh cranberries with pears or apples for a delicious sweet/tart salad
*Muddle fresh cranberries with your favorite vinegar and blend with olive oil for a tangy salad dressing.
* Make a holiday shrub with cranberries, sugar and vinegar. Perfect for cocktails at home and the perfect holiday gift. Add seltzer water to any shrub for a refreshing drink anytime.
*Add a few mandarin slices and fresh cranberries to this delicious Hot Spiced Cranberry Cider.
* Dip fresh cranberries in milk chocolate and freeze them for 5 minutes.

Cranberry shutterstock beverage photo

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