Soil & Sea: reports from our producers

This article was originally published in December 2011

banana worker

PCC’s source of organic, fair-labor bananas was hard-hit in Mexico by an October hurricane. We’re working with our vendor to source comparable organic, fair-labor bananas from Ecuador until the farms and farmworkers in Mexico can rebuild and recover.

California’s walnut harvest suffered from two October storms. The first storm quickened “hull split,” which usually is a good thing, but the second washed many nuts off the trees and onto the muddy orchard floor. Cracked nuts on the ground may mold. About 99 percent of the nation’s walnuts, and 78 percent of the world’s, are grown in California.

Organic navel oranges hit full stride this month. The size of the crop is projected to be average to light.

Organic Satsumas, Daisy, and Florida Sunburst tangerines are expected to be in high volumes this winter, with large, juicy fruit.

Winegrape yields are down across California due to late freeze and early rains, but quality is predicted to be exceptional thanks to a mild summer and no drastic temperature spikes that cause sugar levels to rise too quickly. There may not be as much “leftover” wine used to make lower-priced bottles.

White shrimp season in the Gulf of Mexico began in late August, and it may be the worst in history. Some fishermen have reported their catches are off by 80 percent or more. Scientists are unsure why but some evidence points to certain compounds in oil from the BP oil spill, which may have stunted the shrimp’s growth rate, preventing them from going out in the Gulf to spawn.

Farm real estate values nationwide continue to rise — an average of 6.8 percent in 2010. Washington’s farm values were up 2 percent.

Also in this issue

PCC Board of Trustees report, December 2011

2011 Fall Member Meeting, PCC founding member passes away

Sparkling wines for all seasons (and reasons!)

Tiny bubbles. A rain of stars. Champagne wishes ... Nothing is more evocative of living well, celebration and refined hedonism than sparkling wine and the mesmerizing ascent of lacy effervescence in a glass.

Year-end donations for safer food

We’re often asked what organizations PCC relies upon as sources for research on food and agriculture — from genetic engineering and sustainable seafood to the advantages of organics. Most are nonprofit organizations and many of them operate on shoestring budgets.