Friday, June 26, 2009

Organic Farming is a Growth Industry

If you're unemployed, searching for a job, or some way to make a living during these touch economic times, consider this:

From: WIRED - January 2007

The Coming Organic Crisis
The US consumes far more pesticide-free food than it produces.

Americans are gaga for organic grub - but the nation's farmers can't meet burgeoning demand. The US already imports more than 10 percent of the organic food we eat according to the Department of Agriculture, and as corporations like Wal-Mart bring organics to the masses, rising demand will continue to put pressure on supply. That means those premium prices on chemical-free foods are unlikely to plummet any time soon. Until more producers alter their practices, get used to shelling out $3 for a dozen organic eggs. 


Organic: 0.2%
Traditional: 99.8%

Organic: 2.5%
Traditional: 97.5%

Share consumed by the rest of the world: 58%
Share consumed by the U.S.: 42%

1997: $3.60
2005: $13.00

IMPORTS: $1.38
EXPORTS: $0.28

DAIRY: $2.18

Figures are most current available. Sources: Nutrition Business Journal, Organic Monitor, Organic Trade Association. Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, US Department of Agriculture

U.S. organic food sales surge 16% in 2008, despite economic slowdown

Despite predictions of a slump in organic demand due to economic distress in the consumer sector, sales of organic food in the U.S. grew by 15.8 percent in 2008.

“Organic products represent value to consumers, who have shown continued resilience in seeking out these products. This marks another milestone for the organic food market,” according to Christine Bushway, executive director of the Organic Trade Association.

US organics buck recessionary trend
US sales of organic food have surged despite dire predictions for its resilience as consumers look for ways to cut spending, according to a new survey on American organics. During 2008, sales were up 15.8 percent on the year before, according to a survey carried out by the Lieberman Research Group on behalf of the Organic Trade Association (OTA). Predictions for organic product sales have been gloomy, with market researchers foreseeing a slump in more pricy goods, including organic food. But this has not been the case, the OTA said. OTA’s executive director Christine Bushway said: “Organic products represent value to consumers, who have shown continued resilience in seeking out these products. This marks another milestone for the organic food market.”

This view echoes a host of other studies carried out recently by market researchers looking into the importance of consumers’ perception of value, suggesting that the concept encompasses quality as well as price.
This latest survey found that organic food accounted for about 3.5 percent of US food sales last year, with a total value of $22.9bn. Additionally, organic food sales grew at a much faster rate than general US food sales, which grew by 4.9 percent during the year – or about a third as much as organics.
Global contrast
The findings stand in contrast to global organic market reports, which have pointed to a freeze on growth in the organic food sector. Mintel, for example, has predicted “slowing but steady growth” in the years ahead, while the UK organic sector experienced a sober 1.7 percent growth rate during 2008 as British consumers switched to cheaper organics, according to a report from UK organic organization The Soil Association. It said it was cheered by even this rate of growth, however, as it suggested that consumers would still prefer to buy organics, rather than conventionally produced products.

Organic sales breakdown
In the US, fruit and vegetables still represent the biggest sub-sector of organic food sales at 37 percent, followed by beverage and dairy at 14 percent each. Areas of fastest growth include the organic beverage sector, which grew by 40 percent in 2008, and organic breads and grains, which achieved 35 percent growth over the year.
The OTA research comes just weeks after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it would be conducting its own survey of the organic sector from a farming perspective, the first large-scale national survey of its kind. USDA’s results are due to be published in the coming winter.

MAY 6, 2009
U.S. Organic Food/Bev Sales Up by 17.1%
U.S. sales of organic food and non-food products reached $24.6 billion in 2008, growing 17.1 percent over 2007 sales, despite tough economic times, according to a new study by the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
The 2009 Organic Industry Survey, conducted by Lieberman Research Group on behalf of OTA, measured the growth of U.S. sales of organic foods and beverages, and non-food products such as organic fibers, personal care products and pet foods in 2008.
Key findings show that organic food sales grew in 2008 by 15.8 percent to reach $22.9 billion, while organic non-food sales grew by 39.4 percent to reach $1.648 billion. These growth rates indicate that organic sales are growing faster than the rate of growth for conventional food products. Although still a small percentage of all food sales, organic sales account for approximately 3.5 percent of all food product sales in the United States, according to the study.
This is in contrast to two earlier studies. Market research firm NPD Group reported that the number of people buying organic products fell 4 percent in August 2008, compared with 2007. A survey conducted by Information Resources in late 2008 revealed that nearly half of respondents said they were purchasing fewer organic products because they were too expensive.
The OTA study also finds that the fruit and vegetable category accounts for the largest portion of organic food sales, representing 37 percent of total organic food sales in 2008. The second largest categories are beverage and dairy, representing just over 14 percent each. The strongest growth in 2008 is in the categories of breads and grains (35 percent over 2007) and beverages (40 percent).
The full report is available for purchase.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Local markets compared

This is not a Transition Town post, just a personal view on an often-debated matter, usually discussed with no facts, so I just want to set the record straight.

The Express companion-shopped at several Bay area popular markets, and found that the Berkeley Bowl is the winner in both price and quality, and that several other popular markets are as high-priced as a chain store.

Buying Online: Fish and Seafood

I'm getting ready to try these out. I like the idea of having fresh seafood delivered to my door by the postal service - no need to drive to a market (I am car-less at the moment).

I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried them out.

Sadly, almost none of the fish and other seafood for sale in Bay area markets is caught locally anymore, so what you can buy is shipped in from just as far away as these.

Ah, here is a page of online seafood links:
I wish they had some first-hand reviews, and it would be nice to know exactly where the fish is coming from.

Enjoy it now. The fish catch is declining all around the world. Much of what is in the markets is farmed.

Bay Area Farmer's Markets - a list of links

I'm not going to post a list of Farmer's Markets. It would soon be out-of-date. 

We have at least fifty now, and we keep getting new ones - there are now several markets every day of the week!

But here is a list of links to sites that keep an updated listing of markets:

This site has a searchable map:

And here is a print-out card (pdf)

Sites for some individual markets:


Grand Lake (Oakland):

Temescal (North Oakland):

San Francisco Ferry Plaza:

Contra Costa County:

Walnut Creek:

Marin County:

Have fun shopping!

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Wealth of CSAs - Community Supported Agriculture

The San Francisco Bay Area is extremely rich in CSAs!
Here's a list from my initial research, arranged by delivery area.
This will be updated as I learn more, so please check that this data  is up-to-date.


Terra Firma Farms - Winters - 530-756-2800;
Distributes to San Francisco, Davis/Sacramento, Fairfield
Year-round. Choose between small, medium, and large boxes with a 2/3 vegetables and 1/3 fruit mix most weeks.

Eating with the Seasons - San Francisco, Peninsula, South Bay

Purisima Greens (Half Moon Bay) - (415) 824-4272 - ?no website?
Distributes to San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, Moss Beach, Montara

Good Humus Produce - Capay (Yolo) - San Francisco, Sacramento, Yolo
530-787-3187 -

Two Small Farms = High Ground Organics + Mariquita (Watsonville and Hollister)
831-761-3226; - strawberries
Distributes to Palo Alto, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, San Jose, Mountain
View, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Santa Cruz/Monterey
(Silicon Valley, the Peninsula) and San Francisco


Eatwell Farms (Dixon) - BG BEST - weekly or bi-weekly
Distributes to San Francisco, El Cerrito, Vallejo, Alameda, Emeryville, Oakland, Berkeley, San Rafael, Mill Valley, Vacaville, Lafayette, San Leandro, and Castro Valley, Davis/Sacramento

Planet Organic - - BG BEST Runner up

The Fruit Guys - BG BEST Runner up - 1-877-FRUIT-ME
Offfice deliveries nationwide - free in California

Winter Creek Gardens (Rumsey)
530-796-2243; - NOT
About 50 acres on three separate parcels located on Cache Creek in a Capay Valley hamlet called Rumsey. Celso and his uncle, Sergio bought the farm three years ago. Celso had worked for the previous owner for several years and had apprenticed previously at Full Belly Farms.
All produce is certified organic and over the course of a year includes a mind-boggling array of vegetables. In the ground currently are over 20 different varieties including four different types of chard. At the Market in January, their offerings included beets, kale, bok choy, salad mixes, leeks oranges, butternut squash and broccoli rabe 
Sells at only two Farmers Markets, the Grand Lake on Saturday and Marin on Sunday. The balance of the week is spent on deliveries to restaurants including Chez Panisse. In addition, they drop off weekly food boxes for subscribers at different locations including one in Oakland and one on Grand Avenue just over the Piedmont line.
Distributes to San Francisco, San Rafael, Mill Valley, Oakland, Davis, Sacramento
Raves about their recipe archive:

Full Belly Farm - about an hour NW of Sacramento in the Capay Valley. (Guinda) 530-787-3187;
Distributes to Berkeley, Oakland, San Jose, Palo Alto, Davis/Sacramento
+ San Rafael
Choose between weekly and bi-weekly pick-ups.

Farm Fresh To You - Capay (Yolo) but drop off here - BIG
Distributes to San Francisco, East Bay, Marin, South Bay

Riverdog Farm - Guinda (Yolo)
Distributes to Berkeley, Oakland, Vallejo, El Sobtrante, Richmond, Napa, St. Helen, Yountville, Calistoga and Vacaville

Live Power Community Farm - Covelo (Mendocino) 
Distributes San Francisco, Marin, East Bay, Mendocino County


Eat Outside the Box - Walnut Creek (from Frog Hollow, Knoll Farms)
Distributes to Contra Costa County

Happy Farms - Clayton - - 925-672-4464
pickup locations: Concord, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill, San Ramon, Walnut Creek
we have had to suspend operations while we search for a new location.


Tierra Vegetables - Santa Rosa

Shea's Organics - Santa Rosa (Sonoma county only)

Draper Farms - San Anselmo - - pickup at farm

Canvas Ranch - Petaluma (Marin, Sonoma)

Gospel Flat Farm - Bolinas (just for Bolinas)

Laguna Farm - Sebastopol - waiting list (Sonoma)

Three Ox Farm - Sebastopol

Orchard Farms - Sebastopol (Sonoma)

Sol Food Farm - Sebastopol (Sonoma)

Grandpa Jack's Farm - Napa


Hidden Villa Farm - Los Altos

Blue House Farm - Pescadero

Green Oaks Creek Farm - Pescadero (local only?)

Live Earth Community Farm (Watsonville)
Distributes to Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz/Monterey Area


Silveira Farms - Merced 

[Morris Grassfed Beef]

[Highland Hills - Vacaville (Yolo) - beef > Eatwell or direct]