By Guest Blogger Lorraine LoBianco
Back in the late 1970s when the Saddleback Valley still had foothills that weren’t clogged with housing tracts, my mom used to take us down the road to a local orange orchard where we could get a grocery bag (paper, not plastic) full of oranges fresh off the tree for $1.00. And it was based on the honor system. You left a buck in a coffee can.
Halcyon days, indeed.
Now the Saddleback Valley is a congested shadow of its former self. The orchards with their heady perfume of blossoms that would fill your car as you drove past on a warm spring night, have been replaced with a baseball field, houses and the smell of exhaust.
But there still are places in Southern California where it’s possible to see farms and to buy produce. Just north of Valencia lies Highway 126 (also known as E. Telegraph Road). The road, which stretches from Valencia to Ventura, winds through farmland and the kind of small town America that is quickly disappearing. Along the highway are several fruit stands, including my personal favorite, Francisco’s Fruits, just east of the town of Fillmore. It’s not just a fruit stand – it’s been a family-owned farm for over 20 years.
Walking through the stands of Francisco’s is like being in a Technicolor film from the 1950s – the colors are bright and endless. Deep red tomatoes still on the vines, bright yellow lemons, rich orange grapefruit, tangerines and oranges, dark green limes, and dazzlingly white corn nestled in crisp green husks. You can also find an entire wall of dried fruit (the mangoes are excellent) and nuts. The different flavored pistachios alone are worth the trip: Hickory Smoked, Classic Roasted and Salted, Lemon Zing, Crushed Garlic, Onion & Garlic, Hot Onion & Garlic, Red Hot Habenero, Chili-Lemon, No Salt Roasted, Jalapeno, and Taquila (Salt & Lime). There are also flavored olives, homemade macaroons, and a Mexican delicacy made of condensed milk that it so rich and sweet you think your teeth are going to melt.
At harvest time there is an array of pumpkins in all shapes and colors from ghost pumpkin (white) to enormous green and orange monstrosities that resemble nothing so much as a sea monster. There are also tiny pumpkins, and yes, the traditional orange.
According to Francisca, who helps operate Francisco’s, they grow their own oranges, grapefruit, and avocados as well as other fruit. 80-90% of the produce at the stand comes from local farms. All of the tomatoes are pesticide and wax free and they do offer certified organic lettuce, squash, turnips, cilantro, and other vegetables.
Francisco’s Fruits has a nursery where you can buy “roses, cannas, and geranium; [as well as] avocado trees, orange and lemon trees, and herbs, such as sage, parsley, and various chilies and peppers.” There are also Mexican ceramics for sale. As their website advertises, “we have pots, bowls, plaques, plates, and very large ceramic animals such as donkeys, pigs, giraffes and alligators!”
Francisco’s Fruits is located on Hwy 126 at 1782 E. Telegraph Rd., Fillmore, CA 93015. (805) 524-4616. Look for the orange and white striped tents on the south side of the road just outside of Fillmore. They’re open seven days a week and on Sundays between 3-7pm, Francisco himself plays live music, including his own original compositions, which are available on CD.
Francisco’s Fruits takes debit and major credit cards.
For those unable to make the trek out to Fillmore, Francisco’s Fruits also has a mail-order business on their website at http://www.franciscosfruits.com
Lorraine LoBianco has spent most of her life in Southern California where she has worked in the television industry as Director of Programming at Fox Movie Channel and more recently in Florida as Director of Program Planning and Acquisitions at ION Television. Currently, she is a monthly contributing writer to Turner Classic Movies Interactive and is interested in moving to Northern California for writing, editing and/or television jobs. http://www.linkedin.com/in/lml2008
Have you ever heard about a Technology Conference that will only serve sustainable food and organic wine? The Conference will also plant a TREE for each early-bird registrant via MokuGift, a United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Partner, and the organic wine is sponsored by Holme Grown Brand.
Attend the Green Software Unconference Silicon Valley August 19, 2009 at the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California to see for yourself and/or let your friends know about this innovative event!
The Green Software Unconference attendees will include Entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalists, Businesspeople, and Sustainability Professionals who will collaborate and innovate on technologies and best practices that benefit both business and the planet.
Co-Founders and Entrepreneurs Mary Vincent and Merc Martinelli conceived of the idea. Mary Vincent runs Green Star Solution, a Strategic Business and Technology Consultancy and Media Firm and Gratitude Gourmet, a Sustainable Food Media Site featuring sustainable food innovators. Merc Martinelli is co-founder of Verdafero, a SaaS firm focused on sustainability implementation for business.
Bon Appétit Management Company created an online Food Carbon Diet Calculator , an innovative online application showing how our daily food choices affect carbon emissions.
Since the conference is all about helping the planet and business, it was important for the conference co-founders to also include food choices which have a low carbon and environmental footprint such as vegetarian food and organic wine.
In addition to the Green Software Unconference Registration Site, check out the other Green Software Sites: Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.
How does a Spread with wild blueberries and cranberries with morello cherries and red grapes sound, or how about rasperries and yumberries, maqui and passionfruit, or blackcurrents and pomegranate? If these sound delicious to you and if I tell you these Crofter's Superfruit Spreads are Organic, would you be willing to try them? I was lucky to try all 4 Spreads and I was easily won over. Do you want to win all 4 Spreads? Here is what you need to do. The First Person to answer this Question on this blog post will win all 4 Spreads. What is the traditional use of Yumberries?
Per the ADA site: According to a new study by the Chicago Health and Aging Project, older adults who consume at least three servings of vegetables a day — especially green, leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach — maintain their mental abilities 40 percent longer than those who eat less than one serving per day. The study of more than 3,700 men and women tracked mental function at three years and again at six years. You can see the full ADA article here.
Houweling’s Oxnard, Calif., greenhouse added a 1.2 megawatt solar array which runs the facility and also generates heat to let the greenhouse operate with greater efficiency during cooler weather. The greenhouse also has a water recirculation system, whereby rainwater, as well as runoff from plants inside, is purified and reused within the facility, which totals 120 acres of greenhouses. You can read the complete article here.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has determined that Genetic Engineering "has done little to increase overall crop yields". "This report is the first to evaluate in detail the overall or aggregate yield effect of Genetic Engineering after more than 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization in the United States." Their Presentation is here.
Chipotle is offering Free movie screenings of Food Inc around the country. Check here for details.
Have you heard about Salba? Salba is a little known grain grown exclusively in Peru and is the richest whole food source of Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber found in nature. It is high in antioxidants, protein, calcium and iron, and provides over 2,700 mg of Omega 3’s and over 4,100 mg of dietary fiber per 12g serving. Gram for gram, Salba has six times more calcium than whole milk, three times more iron than spinach, and fifteen times more magnesium than broccoli.
The Salba Smart line includes All Natural Whole Wheat Tortillas, 100-calorie Bite Size Organic Tortilla Chips, Pretzels made with organic flour in Sticks and Thin Twisted, and USDA Organic Tortilla Chips in White Corn, Blue Corn and Yellow Corn flavors. Salba Smart also offers Organic Salsa in Mild, Medium and Hot flavors. All products contain 0g of trans fats, and are gluten free (except tortillas and pretzels) and Certified Non GMO.
I've tasted the tortilla chips, pretzels, and salsas and the flavors are excellent.
If you want to learn more about cooking and baking with Salba Smart’s Whole Grain and Ground Salba, you can visit www.salbasmart.com for recipes and more information. Salba Smart can be found at Whole Foods Market, Vitamin Cottage, Wegman’s and other natural foods stores. It can also be ordered online at efoodpantry.com or www.amazon.com.
Gratitude Gourmet is also giving away a Package of Salba Snacks which will include chips, pretzels, and salsa.
In order to be eligible to win, comment on this blog post with:
If you win a package of Salba snacks, how would you serve Salba at your next party?
This Grist interview with Food Inc. Director Robert Kenner is a must read. He also says: "Even if we change just one meal a day, we’re going to start to improve the system. We’re going to vote three times a day with breakfast lunch and dinner.."