Thursday, September 9, 2010

From Here to Your Kitchen

San Benito County, California

Have you ever wondered where the produce you see in your grocery store came from?   Well, if you are in the US, Canada, Japan, and Europe, it is likely that you will find something that has been grown in California.  The Mediterranean climate of California which stretches along the Pacific Ocean provides the perfect growing conditions for many crops.   Travel north or south along I-5 or Hwy-101 along the length of the state, keep your eyes open and the landscape will speak about the productivity of the land.  Last month when we went on a college tour for my older daughter I took some pictures of the fields along the way.

My family used to live in Hollister where every freeway that leads us out of the city goes through farms of some sort.  Depending on the road that you take you are submerged into a different smell.  Gilroy definitely will surround you with a garlic smell for miles as processing plants push out aromatic steam into the atmosphere.  Then you come to a place where most of the vegetables are processed and you feel like you're near a pizza factory. 

Eighty percent of the fresh and frozen strawberries that reach the market today come from California.  Watsonville, nicknamed The Strawberry Capital of the World, is a small town with strawberry farms that seem to go on forever.  
Watsonville, California:  Strawberry capital of the world.

California is semi-arid - water is an important resource.

Portable toilets for the farm workers.

The recent news regarding the alleged presence of E. coli on fresh produce (spinach and lettuce) have scared most consumers.  Nonetheless, something good comes out of incidents like these.  We are scared of the effects of the contaminants on our health but the farmers are even more concerned because their family livelihood is at stake.  The whole family and estate is jeopardized when their produce are contaminated.  They don't sit pretty and watch us all die.  In fact while we scramble to choose which brand is cleanest, they probably work hard and brain storm for ways to deliver the best for the consumers. 

For what it's worth - I noted one observation during a trip last month that would make any grocery shopper feel comfortable.   There were remarkably more portable toilets installed throughout the farms where people were working than I can remember seeing.  I believe that this is one of the measures that farmers have considered to reduce contamination of the produce before they reach the market place.  I would not be surprised if the laborers are required to participate in a special training regarding sanitary practices in the fields.   Indeed, California

If the veggies you ate today did not come from your garden, where did it come from?

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