Here are some things we practice and care deeply about at the Farm Cart
ORGANIC CERTIFIED ONLY
First, the Farm Cart is hardcore organic. We are deeply offended by the farmers selling produce at the Farmer’s markets, claiming they “do not spray,” when, they’re actually spraying chemicals on their food. The agriculture commissioner has told farmers that they can say they "do not spray" and they will not be prosecuted if they do spray. Some farmers also tell their customers they’re not certified organic because it is "too expensive." This is an absolute lie. Organic certification is cheap. There are yearly rebates that pay up to half of the cost. These deceitful practices make me angry because many farmers, (all the big-name ones, with large booths at the market), do something in their practices that is not organic. It’s disheartening that they are not willing to change their practices to meet the strict demands of organics.
NO MEXICAN IMPORTS
Secondly, we do not support Mexico Organics and you will never find them at the cart. Why? Because we believe in fair living wages and do not believe in the exploitation of workers. Mexican farms pay their workers less than $100 for 50 hours of work per week. This is not enough money to live and eat on and it’s crazy just how desperate the situation is for them. The truly offensive thing about it, is that the large agriculture companies, (like Driscoll), then ship their products to the U.S. and charge the highest prices that the market can bear. Right now, I hear that Driscoll is earning 70% of their profit from Mexican farming which accounts for 30% of their acreage. To make matters worse, some of our Mexican friends have said that many of the farming operations in Mexico are now controlled by the drug cartels.
LOCAL FARMERS WE ARE TIGHT WITH
With that said, most of the foods you find at the Farm Cart come from 6 local names that you will see each and every week. John Givens, Alex Frecker, Jose Alcantar, Tom Shepherd, and Steve Sprinkle. We know these guys deeply, and we know the commitments they have made to farming correctly. We visit their fields regularly, we call them for farming advice all the time, and most importantly we respect what they do. We trust them to provide produce to the Farm Cart, because their food is the best food. It is the most nutritious, it is the freshest, and it is grown right here in our backyard.
WEST COAST FARMERS
While the 6 guys above will grow nearly all the vegetables you find at the cart, they won't be able to provide us with the variety of fruits that we all want to eat. Purely because of our climate. While it is awesome for consistency in vegetables, it does not have the summer heat and winter frost that a wide variety of fruits appreciate. This is why we will sometimes have Bakersfield watermelons, Delano grapes, and Merced peaches. We know personally a few of these farmers and are getting to know more every year while we really figure out who is growing the best certified organic fruits.
This is a tough topic. Agriculture is rife with waste. By some accounts the waste is nearly 40% of all crops grown. We have waste. Things go bad at our produce stand and sometimes orders get delivered bad. We do everything we can to salvage the produce. However, if the food is too spoiled, it is stripped down, separated for trash, and taken in a load twice a week to feed our chickens. It's nice that our chickens eat well, but it's much better when we can all remember to do our part in reducing food waste.
PACKAGING AND PLASTIC WASTE
I love Trader Joes, but the amount of plastic used in their produce department blows my mind. Their produce is packaged so they can sell foods per piece. While I'm sure this cuts down on agriculture waste (above) and saves them a ton of money, it also adds to the insane amount of plastic trash sent to the landfill because of agriculture every year. To visualize the scale of this, drive to Oxnard tomorrow and notice the 1000 acres of new strawberries being planted into white plastic mulch. Then realize, that this is done 2-3 times per year, per field, and that all the drip tape and mulch is thrown away each time. Then imagine that being done all over the world throughout the year and you will understand why we hate plastic packaging.
We re-use everything, over and over again. Every wax box is given back to the farmers for re-use, every strawberry basket is re-used, and we strongly encourage our customers to bring re-usable shopping bags and containers. We love when you guys use the shopping baskets provided at the cart to do all your shopping and then load up into your own shopping bags. No plastic waste! That gets us psyched!