What we observed
Our journey took us up to three California destinations. Here are some of our observations from the field...
On the farm
First, we visited the Faurot Ranch in Watsonville, the smallest producer among all California LGMA members. The land consists of 100 acres used for growing specific vegetables, such as the mini fennel. While on-site, Arthuro—the ranch’s second shareholder who landed his first job 30 years earlier—carefully explained the food security measures that were in place. We understood, then, the importance of a highly trained staff and facilities to ensure complete health and safety of our food. It was very informative and reassuring to see how many precautions are taken before our salad winds up in our plates!
In the big leagues
Then, we were guided over to the Braga Ranch in Soledad. A family-owned business since 1928, the ranch, for its part, operates 1,500 acres of land, producing for home-grown brands and engaged with nearly 20 shippers. The scene that awaited us upon our arrival? Farmhands that were harvesting romaine lettuce that, as quickly as it was picked up, was in the back of a slow-moving trailer. From there, each head of lettuce was cleaned and bagged, then placed in a box, ready for shipment. In two hours, a complete field of lettuce went from the ground and onto a refrigerated truck. And, within days, that lettuce will be in Canada. Now that’s fresh!
At the packaging zone
Finally, a few miles away, we headed over to Dole, as its special guests. The factory in Soledad prepares bags of pre-washed and cut lettuce, which simplifies the food prep process at home. On-site, 20 hours per day, six days per week, the equipment is running at full capacity. And, every day, four hours are reserved for sterilization of the equipment. The 17-minute transformation process includes, among others, a three-step cleansing. A rinse so effective, that Health Canada advises not to wash the lettuce again at home, for risk of cross-contamination.
Our sincere thanks to California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, for this guided tour of its farms and its plants.
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