October 18, 2009 0 Comments


“Food democracy has become the rallying cry of an emerging grassroots movement.  Eating local is part of it. At the most basic level, though, food democracy requires a transformation of the food industry, so that workers and consumers can exercise control over what they produce and eat. As the Small Planet Institute defines it, Food democracy means the right of all to an essential of life–safe, nutritious food. It also suggests fair access to land to grow food and a fair return for those who labor to produce it. Food democracy concerns itself with the future as well: It implies economic rules that encourage communities to safeguard the soil, water, and wildlife on which all our lives and futures depend.”

-Editorial Excerpt from the September 21, 2009 issue of THE NATION

Food democracy is also reliant upon the economic and environmental sustainability of food production.  Small farming is actually more efficient than monocultural farming, yet it has its economic disadvantages. The reality though, as credible studies have proven, an acre of diversified, regional-specific farming for any vegetable is just as productive as an intensive monoculture.  The best-flavored food comes from dynamic and diversified farmland that has made the most sustainable use of the soil.  We are blessed to be doing business with such farmers that practice sustainable methods and grow more than one crop.  Supporting these farms gives them the economic viability they need to compete with industrialized farms. Valuing food based on cost and convenience is not a sustainable model.  Food production and morality are vastly becoming a part of the conversation about how our nation’s democracy functions.  Thanks to chefs, farmers, growers and the people eating their food.



Penryn Orchard is a 100% sustainable boutique-sized 4 acre orchard that is growing amazing tree fruits: from rare heirloom Asian pears to eight different varieties of persimmons and the elusive and sensitive celestial figs, there is a plethora of unique and delicious fruit to “pick” from and their season(s) have just begun!!!

Tsuru-No-Ko (Stork Egg)

Chocolate Persimmons –  A Japanese variety that is two and one-half by three and one-half inches, oblong, pointed with a bright red-orange colored skin, sometimes with black at its apex. The flesh is red and brown, sweet, spicy, rich and delicate when ripe.

Fuyu Persimmons –
Fuyu persimmons are non astringent, meaning that you can eat them when still firm. Very sweet with a smooth, silky texture
Maru Persimmons (Cinnamon) –
Pretty rounded shape with reddish orange skin and cinnamon colored flesh. Pollination-variant non astringent type. Eat when texture approximates a ripe plum. Lighter and crisper texture than the tsurunoko. Juicy, with a spicy flavor that hints of coffee and cinnamon. Rare.
Gosho (Giant Fuyu) –
Non astringent. Handsome fruit, with pretty rounded shape and very glossy reddish skin. Softer, juicier texture than Fuyu.
Hachiya –
Large, heart-shaped persimmon. Astringent type must be eaten when fully soft. Incredibly sweet, rich, complex flavor. Rich, sweet flesh is reddish orange, sometimes with “Goma” – dark streaks thought cross-pollination. This is the variety used for making hoshigaki
Hyakume –
Pollination-variant non-astringent variety persimmon can be eaten firm when “goma” – dark inside. Must be softened or alcohol-treated when not goma. Sweet brown sugar to yellow flesh, very juicy and full bodied. Rare.
Tanenashi –
Astringent type must be eaten when fully soft. Hybrid of hachiya was supposed to be seedless, but still has seeds. Rich, sweet orange flesh.

Beck Grove:

Beck Grove, Fallbrook is home to a 100% certified biodynamic and organic orchard/farm.  Biodynamic farming stimulates and supports soil fertility through the use of farm-produced manures and composts.  Beck Grove has a singular cow that meets all of their manure needs.  I was there and the scent was in the air.  Their orchard was converted from an abandoned avocado farm to the 33 acre orchard where over 15 different fruit crops, most of which are unique to the produce landscape, yet perfect for a chef’s palate.  There grove spirals east to west and north to south with rows upon rows of fuyu persimmons, pomegranetes, kumquats, kaffir limes, blood oranges, satsuma tangerines, meyer lemons, bearrs limes, passion fruit and minneolas.  All of their fruits are on the trees and getting ready for their season.  Kaffir limes are ready and persimmons are just around the corner.  The other citruses will be ripening come winter.  Having seen the furits with my own eyes, I can tell you it is going to be a prolific harvest at Beck Grove this year!  As with many growers, due to water restrictions the orchard faces serious consequential decisions of having to let some of the land go wild as they will not be afforded the water resources to feed all of their crops.
Available now:  kaffir limes – indulgent, fragrant, sexy, sweet, zesty are just a few words that come to mind when thinking about this exotic citrus that is finally finding its way to a more “global” stage.

Fallbrook Mushroom Farm

A field trip to Fallbrook Mushroom Farm on Monday was an educated journey into a virtual Chinese forest where mushrooms were dominating the landscape.  Long and narrow, screened barns are home to thousands upon thousands of oyster “spawns” and shitake logs.  The mushrooms are cultivated on agro-waste (which is essentially recycled agricultural food sources) in spawns filled with rice, grains, cotton, straw, wheat, millet and maize that serve as the mushrooms’ food and protein source.  The spawned bags (see picture above) are stored in low-lit raised shelving as they begin colonizing.  They are watered from a sprinkling system above daily to retain the appropriate levels of moisture for the mushrooms to grow prolifically.  Harvests occur approximately every 60 days and are picked before the mushrooms begin to spore.  The most effective way to harvest the mushrooms is to remove the entire colony from the spawn’s stem so that a new crop can grow all at once.  One spawn bag can cultivate about 3-5 harvests.

Also being harvest now are peewee shitakes – 100% edible!!! Tiny, thin and tender stalks and a meaty cap make for an amazing mushroom experience!  The mushrooms are harvested the SAME day they arrive in your kitchen.  And their local!!!

What is unique about Fallbrook Mushroom Farms besides the information that I shared with you?  Well, considering that 85% of the world’s oyster mushroom production comes from China and the fact that the oyster mushroom is the third largest cultivated mushroom, having an oyster mushroom farm in our own back yard is simply a privilege.  Fallbrook Mushroom Farm is a pristinely run organic family farm.  They harvest their mushrooms the same day we have them delivered and they are harvesting the mushrooms smaller so that they are more tender and the mushrooms themselves are higher yielding.  The mushroom caps range in sizes from button to half-dollar versus SAND dollar, making them the only oyster mushrooms known to be picked at that size.  You can do so much more with these mushrooms than adding them to “Hot Pot”.  They are the newest addition to the farmers market program and they will be available by the pound or by the five pound flat.

The loose list of what to expect this fall at the Santa Monica Farmers Market and from our Southern California farmers: while some of these crops may be available year-round they are at their finest and in their peak in the fall months of the year:

Apples, Arugula, Reed Avocados, Beans – Snap, Pole, Bush, Shelled and Dried, Bay Leaves, Beets, Sprouting Broccoli, Broccoli Rabe, Brussel Sprouts, Celery Root, Citrus – Buddha’s Hand, Kaffir limes and Sweet Limes, Corn, Crosnes, New Harvest Dates, New Harvest Dried Fruits, Eggplants, Autumn Royale, Kiwi Fruit, Mangoes, Mushrooms – Chanterelles, Criminis,  Oysters, Porcinis, Mustard Greens, New Harvest Nuts, Okra, Olives, Pears, Snap Peas, Peppers, Persimmons, Pomegranates, Quinces, Treviso, Rapini, Rutabagas, Bloomsdale Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatillos, Late Harvest Tromboncini Squash, Winter Squashes

Allow this to be your navigational guide to menu-making and spontaneous cravings, getting what’s in season locally and just one chapter of living, breathing sustainability.


NO MORE  BLUEBERRIES, PLUMS, YASUTOMI MINERS LETTUCE IS GAPPING BUT THEIR BUTTER LETTUCE IS AMAZING! SHELLING BEANS ARE EXTREMELY POPULAR AND WILL BE AROUND FOR AT LEAST THIS MONTH.  Heavy rains have caused a lot of farming uncertainty.  That means what one predicts on a Friday can be reversed on the following Monday.  Updates will come as frequently as needed**
More Gapping News: Bloomsdale Spinach, Red Thumb Potatoes, French Heirloom Potatoes from Weiser Family Farms and several radish varieties from Jaime Farms – each week check back as they farmers check their progress daily. One day they are in the ground and the next day..they could be out!


Available this week: Persian Beans, Mauve Runners, White Caps, Cranberry and Flageolets.

Persian Beans – from McGrath Farms

Red Italian Shelling Beans – These little rose-colored beans contain anthocyanin, a plant pigment that produces this bean’s attractive color. The rose hue surrounds a little black and white “eye” on each bean.  The flavor is wonderfully smooth and nutty.

Flageolet Beans– McGrath Family Farms – Creamy and firm in texture, these beans, unlike other shelling beans do not typically require soaking.


Mauve Runner


Baby Bear Pumpkins – Rutiz Farms

Pomegranates – Rancho Del Sol

Green & Orange Kabocha Squash – McGrath Family Farms and Rutiz Farms

Sugar Pie Pumpkins – Rutiz Farms

Coastal Organics Mixed Baby lettuces!!!

Fushimi Pepper – Windrose Farms: sweet chili pepper from Japan widely used in Asian cooking at its green stage, especially in tempura. Full flavored, measures 6″ long, with thin deep green walls that will eventually turn glossy red.

Shishito Pepper – Coleman Family Farms:  an old Japanese variety, the shishito is a wrinkly thin skinned savory and mild flavored peppers that is about three inches long. This peppers should be harvested when its skin color is bright lime green. It is 100% edible, including the seeds.

Red Bok Choy from Coleman Farms! – Also known as Red Violet Tatsoi Hybrid, this is a unique bok choy vartiety The shiny leaves range in color from red-violet to dark purple, and they hold their color well even in the summer heat, although this variety also tolerates colder temperatures. Lightly textured, the spoon-shaped leaves have a mild mustard flavor.

Thai Basil – from Coleman Farms; “Siam Queen” has a delicious, spicy sweet flavor with a licorice basil aroma. It is

Duck Eggs – from Ramona Duck Farms!!

Walnuts – grown in the Santa Rita Hills at Rancho La Viña; these are addictive!!!

Black garlic is cultivated and harvested right here in California and it is waiting to allure you…

Fiesole (Baby Purple) Artichokes from Life’s A Choke

Semi-Savoy Spinach from Rutiz Farms

White Corn from Gloria Tamai Farms: tender pale white kernels so sweet you’ll forget another color of corn exists…

Baby Calabrese Broccoli – Rutiz Farms

Cherokee Heirloom Tomatoes- from Tutti Frutti Farms

Pirella Lettuce from Coleman Farms

Persian Watercress – Rutiz Farms, a hot peppery leaf that has been an equally hot seller at the market. Very unique shape and taste!

Japanese Tomatoes – I am still in love with this hefty. Great pre-heirloom season variety nicknamed the “Tough Boy” for its heat-resilient texture and succulence!


Beylik Family Farms – Fillmore, CA

Persian Cucumbers – petite and crunchy! No seeds=sweet!
Japanese Tomatoes – “Tough Boy” brings hefty flavor, succulence and meatiness.
Yellow Tomatoes – sweet, tangy and heartier than your average yellow tomato!
Pineapple Tomatoes – awesome through and through! Low-acid, beautifiul color variegation, hold up well for an heirloom!

Coastal Organics – Oxnard, CA

Cherry Tomato Mix

Cavalo Nero Kale

Also being harvested at Coastal:  sweet basil (sold by the pound), red and green chard

HUGE Collard greens

and their sweet mixed small lettuces (by the case)

Coleman Family Farm – Carpinteria, CA

Pirella Lettuce – My new favorite! Perfect for summer, mild-flavored limestone variety originally developed in Kentucky to withstand the heat!

Deer’s Tongue Lettuce – Triangular shaped leaves give this loose-leaf lettuce its distinct look and name. The leaves are tender, mild, succulent and have a melt-in-your-mouth flavor.

Red Butter (Piret) Lettuce – you won’t find this anywhere else! Award-winning for its taste and texture, Pirat is a butterhead variety that has tender and sweet red-tinged leaves with a snappy succulent blanched heart.

Freckles Lettuce – Freckles! Sweet leaves, crispy inside. Perfect lettuce carrier for salads!
Lollo Rossa Lettuce – great for mixed salads, beautiful deep purple-red.
Treviso – this is an amazing green! Gorgeous, green and red and a hearty crunchy leaf.  Has a tendency toward bitterness.  Soak the greens to remove unwanted astringencies.


Red Bok Choy! – Also known as Red Violet Tatsoi Hybrid, this is a unique bok choy vartiety The shiny leaves range in color from red-violet to dark purple, and they hold their color well even in the summer heat, although this variety also tolerates colder temperatures. Lightly textured, the spoon-shaped leaves have a mild mustard flavor.

Thai Basil – “Siam Queen” has a delicious, spicy sweet flavor with a licorice basil aroma. It is

Passion Fruit

Shunkyo Radishes

Garcia Organic Farm – Fallbrook, CA

Brown Figs – sweet and Delicious!
Mexican Cream Guava – Offering aromas of pineapple and passion fruit, these small to medium-small, roundish fruits have a pale yellow skin that is often just slightly blushed with red. Their flesh is memorably creamy white, thick and decadently sweet – excellent for dessert. They have a small seed cavity that holds a handful of soft seeds.

Gloria Tamai Farms, Oxnard, CA

White Corn – tender pale white kernels so sweet you’ll forget another color of corn exists…
Heirloom Cherry Tomato Mix

Wild Arugula (bunches)

Jaime Farm – Ontario, CA

Mixed Baby Bunch Carrots – GAPPING!! beautiful yellow, orange, red, and purple haze carrots with tops
Rainbow Chard – striking colors, hearty leaves. hit or miss availability this season.


Walnuts – grown in the Santa Rita Hills at Rancho La Viña; these are addictive!!!

Life’s A Choke – Lompoc, CA

Baby Anzio Artichokes – a cross between green and purple artichokes, and very meaty!
Baby Purple Artichokes a fruity flavor and a deep wine color that does not fade with cooking. Bred from the violetta de provence, a purple variety native to southern France.
Baby Green Zucchini with Flower – Life’s A Choke Farms inject water into each squash blossom’s stem to ensure their freshness and livelihood. A wonderful and glamorous spring and summer menu accoutrement!!
Lyon Artichoke with stem– large and in charge! This is a very jumbo, round, meaty variety from Southern France that yields a whole lot of heart!!

“California” Pencil Asparagus – Skinny, tender, tasty purple-tipped and LOCAL! So thin it cooks in a flash!

McGrath Family Farm – Camarillo, CA

Baby Bunch Candy BeetsRed BeetsGold Beets
Shelling Beans – Persians, Cranberry, Italian Red, Flageolets
Kabocha Squash

Rainbow Chard

Mike and Son Egg Ranch – Ontario, CA

Brown Eggs farm fresh eggs that are unequivocally delicious with gleaming yolks! Each egg is individually candled! (5 doz case only)

Polito Family Farm – Valley Center, CA

Oro Blanco Grapefuit – golden-flesh, sweet and juicy

Pudwill Farm – Nipomo, CA

Black Mission Figs

Golden Raspberries – If I were allowed to use the acronym, OMG, I would use it right here.

Raspberry Mix, Red Raspberries




Italian Sorrento Lemons


Duck Eggs – Larger in size than chicken eggs, the whites of duck eggs tend to be a bit thicker and the yolks are a striking yellow. Duck eggs typically have a stronger flavor compared to that of a chicken egg.

Rutiz Farm – Arroyo Grande, CA

Persian Watercress– a unique variety, with a wonderfully spicy-sweet kick
Baby Calabrese Broccoli – available sporadically until late fall..

Blue Lake Beans
Romano Beans – flat beany, crispy Italian green variety. Perfect summer bean for snap pea lovers.
Savoy Spinach – cut in small clusters of 3-4 leaves – beautiful!!

Tutti Frutti

Heirloom Cherokee Tomatoes

Marvel Striped Tomatoes

Tutti Frutti aslo has red and pink beets, late-season strawberries and other miscellaneous herbs and root vegetables.

Weiser Family Farm – Bakersfield, CA

Red Thumb Potatoes – GAPPING!! red skinned on the outside, and pretty in pink on the inside
Russian Banana Fingerlings – oh so creamy..

Ron’s Burgundy Fingerlings – variations of red through and through, tender skin, great attractive potato for multiple applications!

French Heirloom Fingerlings – Red-skinned, medium sized with creamy white-flesh, has a very silky texture ( I love these!!)

La Ratte Fingerlings – Nutty flavors, stand out fingerling, one of the best potatoes, ever!!

Bermuda Onions – the mother of all SWEET onions!

Baby Walla Walla Sweet Onions

Windrose Farms
Spicy Greens Mix -a perfect combination of loose leaf arugula, mizuna and chard! You’ll love it!
Rustic Arugula – loose leaf, frisee style and perfectly peppered!

Red Russian Kale

Kidds Red Apples

Other apple varieties are available week to week; harvesting has been more difficult to estimate this year with water shortages and pollination concerns.  Look for Melrose, Belle de Beskoop, Jonagold, Ashmead’s Kernel, Mutsu and White Pearmain

Yasutomi Farm – Pico Rivera, CA

Butter Lettuce!!!!!

Baby Bok Choy – amazingly tender, great flavor, good for braising and hey, even the grill…
Baby Celery – more leaves than stalk, hydroponically grown, slender and tasty stalks. The best baby celery available. Period.
Green Onion Chives – mild, sometimes sweet green onion and chive hydroponic hybrid. great shelf-life too!
Miners Lettuce – GAPPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s hydroponic!!! It’s an heirloom European seed. It’s perfect!

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