Fresh Facts Week 16: The Purpose of Seasonal Eating & Price Changes

By December 13, 2016Fresh Facts, Newsletter

And then, big wind and bamo; beautiful fall orchards became resting bare winter orchards in a few days. Don’t let those stark bare branches fool you though, there’s a whole lot goin on underground; but that’s a newsletter for another day.

Oranges are the surprise in this week’s basket. Long awaited, every time I peel an orange or mandarin in winter, I feel like the tree worked all summer gathering sunshine and happiness and packing it under the rind to be popped open on a cold gloomy winter day.

Who could be unhappy eating a good orange anyhow? ‘Oh yeah winter, I’ve got a secret weapon, it’s called an orange and I can open it whenever I want so just keep your gloominess to yourself or not only I, but a dozen of my friends will each eat a segment and do the Snoopy dance of happiness; Ha Ha!!’

I also think that oranges are the perfect illustration of why seasonal eating is so important. Our bodies need what’s being harvested seasonally during that season. Right now, our immune system’s fighting off cold and flu bugs and needs the support of citrus to work at maximum efficiency. You need a watermelon when its 110°, not when there’s frost on the ground. You also need some soup made with the hard squashes because they’re nutrient dense versus the lighter summer squash.

Your crew here has been packing organic citrus for about 6 weeks now and I must say, they’re very good this year. These are the Fukamoto variety of Navels. C’mon Uncle Vern, you mean there are different varieties of oranges too? Yep—not like the hundreds and hundreds of stonefruit varieties, but enough to keep boredom at bay.

Fukamotos are the early ones and normally we’d wait til after the New Year to start harvesting them for AHO, but like everything else, the oranges are early too. We still have some more Bartletts to send you, and apples well into next year, but welcome to winter happiness.

Okay, I know you’ve been expecting this, so no real surprise. We’ve kept the same prices for 2 ½ years and have to get current with the cost of your farm workers. As you all know, California wages took a big jump June of ’14. Frankly, we should have added a couple bucks back then, but everyone was struggling so we consciously decided to work free for a while. There’s another jump in a couple weeks. The ACA also tacked on some more.

Bottom line, the wages to your workers will have gone-up over 34% in these past 18 months. For me as a stone fruit farmer, 75% of my actual production costs go to my workers. For many of the vegetable farmers, it can be 85% so a third more is a huge deal.

You need to know a couple more things. In addition to the above:
** We pay 10-15% over industry standard.
** All of your employees and their families (not just management) receive dental and vision care.
** We do a matching 401k.
** This is year-round, not seasonal work.
These things are very rare in agriculture. Your workers aren’t getting rich, but a husband and wife working with us typically live a very median California life style. It makes me feel good as the check signor, and it should add to the satisfaction of enjoying this produce.
Quit beatin round the bush Uncle Vern; How much already! Three bucks on the small box, and $4 on the large starting next year. You will still be getting fresh organic for the price of not so fresh conventional, lots of recipes and you’re directly helping support small California Organic farmers.
Such a deal!

Author Uncle Vern

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