Thank you to Earthbound Farm for sponsoring this post. I am happy for the opportunity to share brands that I believe in with my readers, especially when those brands are as passionate about what they do as the people at Earthbound Farm are. I hope you enjoy this inside peek at that incredible company.
Like so many things, the way we eat changes along with society. Trends come and go, and then come full circle again as we realize that the way people ate 100 years ago actually was the healthiest way to go.
Back then people grew much of what they ate (or knew the person grew it), veggies were dietary staples (and I don’t mean French fries), and there was no need to be concerned about organic anything because everything was organic. (According to The Organics Institute, all agriculture was generally organic until the 1920’s.)
Today, we’re going back to basics with what we want. We’re adding more vegetables back into our diets, we’re asking for wholesome foods that aren’t laced with chemicals to feed our families with, and we’re getting to know our farmers.
Speaking of getting to know our farmers, you’ve probably heard of Earthbound Farm; they’re the people who first successfully launched prewashed, packaged salad for retail sale back in the ‘80’s. Recently, I had the opportunity to head to California with a small group of incredibly talented bloggers (Carrie of Deliciously Organic, Jennifer of Skinny Chef, Tess of The Blender Girl, and Stacie of One Hungry Mama) to meet the people from Earthbound Farm and tour their farms. I’d like to give you a closer look at what they’re all about.
So, here’s the story in a nutshell…Earthbound Farm founders Drew and Myra Goodman were born and raised in Manhattan and moved to Carmel Valley, CA in 1984. They started farming on a 2 1/2-acre raspberry farm and Earthbound Farm has grown by leaps and bounds since then (with nearly 48,000 acres farmed organically, they’re now one of the largest growers of organic produce in the world!). Even though the Goodmans no longer own Earthbound Farm, they are still advisors and one thing has remained constant: their dedication to farming that pristine land organically, and growing food they’d eat themselves and be happy feeding their loved ones with.
I’m pleased to say, they are incredibly gracious hosts, which I found out when we had the opportunity to have dinner with Myra on the first evening of our trip. Not only is she a pleasure to talk to and a wealth of information, but she’s approachable. You can talk to her about anything and everything and she’ll make you feel comfortable. Her passion for good, honest food and treating the land in such a way that helps protect it for future generations truly shines through. (Side Note: Along those lines, did you know that Earthbound Farm makes their clamshell packaging from post-consumer recycled plastic water bottles and in doing so, uses less than half of the energy and creates half of the carbon emissions than using virgin plastic? Plus, they’ve planted more than 740,000 trees to offset those carbon emissions. Pretty amazing.)
The first night at Earthbound Farm, we had a mind-blowing meal at the Farm Stand in Carmel Valley, which was prepared by Earthbound Farm’s Executive Chef Sarah LaCasse. Her innovative, fresh approach to food is inspiring and she works some real magic with veggies. (I am dying to recreate her Indian-Spiced Cauliflower with Power Greens and French Lentils at home! BTW, Carrie shared her version of this dish here and Stacie shared her version of it here, and they both look pretty fantastic.) And Sarah’s Coconut, Almond, and Raspberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies? To die for. Those cookies were the stuff dreams are made of (luckily for all of us, the recipe is in the Straight From the Earth cookbook!).
I immediately fell in love with the Farm Stand; let me just show you how gorgeous it is…
The next day we braved the rain (which was a welcome blessing, actually, because California is in drought!) and toured the farms in the morning.
Before I show you more of the farms, let me first introduce you to Earthbound Farm Partner and Farmer Stan Pura. This guy is amazing; he knows his stuff and he loves what he does. Stan is an open book, ready and willing to answer questions.
First we went to a baby greens farm and got to see a baby spinach harvest. We were told that this was a bit unusual because a harvest like this would normally happen at night when temps are cooler to ensure that the product’s shelf life is as long as possible (the shelf life is about 15 to 18 days!). Just a little bit about spinach: it has a 28 day average growing season (as short as 21 days if it’s hotter than normal and up to 45 days if it’s colder), and after it’s harvested, it’s in the market in 2 days.
This is the machine (designed by Stan) that is used to harvest the baby lettuces…
And here it is in action…
Look at those pretty little leaves! Don’t you just want to reach and in grab a handful to munch on?
At the second farm we saw a broccolette harvest.
If you’ve never had broccolette or you’re wondering what it is, it’s a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale with a subtle sweetness and flavor similar to asparagus. (Yeah, it’s yummy.)
What really impressed me though, was how the product is harvested and packaged on a machine right in the field; after that it’s literally ready to be sent out…
We also stopped at a romaine farm and Stan kindly plucked a couple heads of romaine and let us sample the leaves. I didn’t snap a picture with my regular camera, but I did have time for a quick iPhone pic; to see the freshest, most delicious lettuce (like, ever) check out my pic on Instagram.
If you’re not big into salads (and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be, but hey, I’m not here to judge…we can still be friends), that lettuce would have changed your mind in a New York minute. I could not get over how sweet its flavor was! You know how when you’re parched, water tastes like the best thing in the whole entire world? Well, it’s like I was parched for lettuce my whole life (yeah, and had no idea), and then I tried that lettuce and was finally sated.
I know there is sometimes confusion about what organic actually means and why it’s actually better than non-organic.
From the Earthbound Farm website, here’s what organic actually means:
- No synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fumigants
- No fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge
- No genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- No irradiation
- No hormones, antibiotics, artificial ingredients or trans fats
And here’s why organic is better:
- It prevents us from ingesting the chemicals that can be found in non-organic produce
- It’s safer for the farmers who don’t have to be around those chemicals
- It’s better for the environment because organic farmers work with nature instead of against it; they use techniques that build healthy soil and incorporate environmentally friendly alternatives to the toxic synthetic chemicals used in conventional agriculture
- It tastes better (Full disclosure: That right there is my honest opinion – try it for yourself!)
We all know organic usually costs more; for the same amount of product, sometimes it’s the difference of just a couple cents, or sometimes it can be nearly double the cost. That’s because it costs more money to utilize farming practices that are better for us and our planet (remember, organic fertilizer alone costs twice as much as traditional fertilizer!). My goal is to help give you the information you need to make an educated decision; in the end, it’s a very personal choice that you’ll have to make for you and your family.
Personally, I’m grateful to companies like Earthbound Farm who give us great products with integrity.
Disclosure: Earthbound Farm sponsored this post and I traveled as their guest; they were an amazing, passionate bunch of people and I want to thank them for their hospitality. As always, opinions stated are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I believe in, which means that even though it doesn’t cost you anything extra, I will receive a small amount of money from the sale of these items, which helps me keep this site alive – thank you for helping to support An Edible Mosaic!