Fresh Talker



NW Growing Season
Shifts Gears This Week

The Northwest growing season is well under way – some things are wrapping it up for the year, while some others are just getting started.

The berry season is all but done. We are at the tail end of Northwest blueberry season, although blackberries should continue for a couple more weeks. Washington apples are right around the corner as are Northwest pears – is it really that time already?

Our yellow and white flesh peaches and nectarines are now all Northwest grown and some of the best-eating varieties of the year are becoming available. This week, my favorite peach variety, “

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Northwest Farmers
Feeling (Too Much) Heat

I visited Sterino Farms’ raspberry field in the Puyallup Valley on the last Friday of June and the news isn’t good. Jake Sterino tells me, in fact, that this year is a bust with a crop at about 25 percent of normal. He suspects an early freeze last November is to blame, although he’s not absolutely certain.

We are using Hayton Farms in Skagit Valley and another grower to try to fill in our raspberry needs, but those farms also are experiencing crops on the short side. In normal years, the peak of Northwest red raspberry season would fall around July 10. But I think we’ll be co

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Still in the Berries
But Not for That Long

Our Northwest strawberries have been a huge hit this last week. They’re from Hayton farms near Mount Vernon, where they’ve worked hard all year to bring these berries to market for just a few short weeks each June. Sadly, we’ve reached the peak for Northwest strawberries and the supply will slowly wind down over the next week to 10 days. I hope to see some resurgence in August with the Albion variety that was planted at Hayton this spring. The bonus is these will be certified organic.

Speaking of organics and Hayton, Donny Hayton said he thinks we’ll get some organic Obsidian

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Blissfully Knee Deep
in NW Berries, Cherries

Northwest summer berries are coming fast and furious. Sweet, local strawberries already are in our markets and will be peaking over the next week to 10 days. We are working with a new local berry grower this season – Hayton Farms in Mount Vernon – and so far, this looks to be a winning relationship. We have an excellent supply in traditional June-bearing varieties. This particular grower planted several acres of certified organic strawberries in May and we could possibly see a few come this fall. Stay tuned!

Both organic and conventional Northwest-grown blueberries arrive this wee

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Chokes and Asparagus:
Supply Challenged
for These May Favorites

Here we are in May and we’re looking at the approach of desert artichokes, sweet red cherries and stone fruit while enjoying Washington asparagus and California sweet corn.

For the first time in my 38 years in the fresh produce business, we’re seeing a lack of abundance of Green Globe Artichokes from Castroville, Calif. There are still ‘chokes available but we never really got that great value in the giant artichokes that we’ve typically seen in the past. We hear the acreage growing this particular variety had to be cut way down, and that costs more than doubled over last year

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Check Out April’s Best:
Pristine Grapes, Mangos
and Wash. Asparagus

Pristine Grapes GreenPristine green seedless grapes arrived in our markets last week– undoubtedly one of the best green grape varieties of the Chilean grape season. They’re known for being extra-large in size, and for having a deliciously crunchy texture and sweet flavor.

These grapes command a premium because

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No Place Like Home
(or at Least Closer)
to Find Fresh Food

Not long after we last connected, the labor dispute that had brought ports on the West Coast to a virtual standstill was settled.  We had mentioned concerns about possible quality issues and our commitment to checking closely to be sure that if any occurred, we wouldn’t let them pass through to you.

I’m happy to report we don’t see any quality issues being a concern for a few reasons: The dock workers have made great progress in getting things moving, ports are slowly returning to normal and besides, winter is almost over and we get to move closer to home to find fresh food any

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Labor Issues, Weather
Change the Landscape
for Fresh Produce

Unusual weather and labor unrest are both affecting the food you see in our Markets, and on your table.

The contract dispute between West Coast dockworkers and a maritime association of companies continues to play a significant role in supply issues for several items that must be brought by vessel from South American during our winter. Between the apparent slowdown and weekend shutdowns of ports, we are seeing some disruption in bananas, grapes, blueberries, mangoes, pineapple, melons and selected stone fruits. Fortunately, we have a relationship with Family Tree Farms and they have b

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Stocked and Stoked
for Thanksgiving Meal

 

Thanksgiving is upon us and the markets will be ready with all the traditional holiday favorites like fresh cranberries, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, asparagus, fresh herbs, winter squashes, potatoes and onions. All of the

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Orchards Runneth Over
with NW Apples
and Other Fresh Facts

There is no shortage of apples.  In fact, you might want to change up that old saying: “An apple a day …” to: “Several apples a day … “

The Washington apple crop is estimated to be 30 percent bigger in many varieties o

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