Soil & Sea: reports from our producers

This article was originally published in May 2014

Radish Farmer

Fresh food is the fastest growing department at the supermarket, according to Nielsen. With consumers continuing to lose their taste for frozen and canned goods in 2013, fresh food sales grew 5.4 percent from a year earlier, to $134 billion. They now represent about 30 percent of supermarket sales.

The European Union wants to ban the use of names such as Parmesan, feta, Gorgonzola, Asiago, fontina, grana, Muenster, Neufchatel and Romano on cheeses made in the United States. The EU says Parmesan only should come from Parma, Italy, for instance, and feta only should come from Greece. The EU says U.S. varieties cut into sales and recognition of European cheeses.

Vermont recently replaced its maple syrup grading system. The former system used names such as “Fancy,” “Grade A Dark Amber” and “Grade B.” The new labels give color — “Golden,” “Amber” or “Dark” — and a flavor description: “Delicate,” “Rich,” “Robust” or “Strong.”

The market for skipjack, the most common canned tuna, is in freefall after a record high last year, despite relatively decent catches in the western Pacific and Indian oceans. Unable to pass on the huge increase in raw material prices to consumers, tuna canners saw their sales slide and raw material inventories increase. So they began an effort to push prices to boats down. By February prices had plummeted to basically breakeven for most fleet owners.

Red snapper stocks in the Gulf of Mexico have been rebuilt and the fishery has received a sustainable rating from the Monterey Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.
California rivers will be too warm and shallow for salmon to make it from hatchery to sea for their seasonal spring migration, thanks to this winter’s epic drought, so as many as 30 million fish will be loaded up on tanker trucks and driven the three hours between hatcheries near Red Bluff to San Pablo Bay.

Also in this issue

Letters to the editor, May 2014

Thank you, PCC; Scent-free shampoos; Ethical animal protein; and more

PCC to open 10th store

We are delighted to announce that our 10th store will be opening in the Greenlake neighborhood of Seattle on June 4. A few delicious features include a salad bar, smoothie and espresso bars, and our trademark deli. There also will be a classroom so we can offer more PCC Cooks cooking classes.

Organic dairy farmers hit by California drought

San Joaquin Valley organic dairy farmer Tony Azevedo's business has dried up — literally.