tv Democracy Now LINKTV February 28, 2012 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
>> coming up on "california cotry"...meet the boy on the label that is now the man in charge. and wait until you see what they're growing at one farm. trust me, you'll want to stay tuned for that. plus, we're getting giddy for goats. and our grocery store guru is back with some inside tips on picking potatoes. it's all ahead, and it starts now. [captioning made possible by california farm bureat federation]
>> welcame to "california country." i'm your host, tracy sellers. our first stary today involves a family that has taken the lessons of the past to ensure success today and in the future as well. take a walk through your average produce aisle these days and there are more choices than ever, but one farm has a very eye-catching marketing strategy to entice you. and it all has to do with the bright picture of a lile boy named andy. but have you ever stopped to woer, who is this andy boy guy anyway? >> andy boy's my father, andy d'arrigo, he's the face on the label and a lot of people ask, is there an andy boy and i say, yes, there is. >> who is this? >> yep. it's me. >> oh. ha ha. you see, when folks around here say andy d'arrigo is the face of ay boy produce, they mean it, literally. now 86 years young, he, along with his daughter margaret and son john, run one of the most
successful farms in the salinas valley. it all started back in the early 1900s, when andy's dad and uncle emigrated from sicily and went through ellis island. they were both teenagers and spoke barely any english, but they had a dream for something better. >> this is the american dream where people see opportunity. i don't know how my grandfather was living there, could scrape up enougmoney to put 2 kids on a boat to the united states and probably inowing they'd never see them again. but they knew there was no opportunity there where they lived. and i think that's what the united states is all about. >> the 2 brothers started their operation in new york, but then moved out west to beain growing fruits and vegetables. and in 1927, steven trademarked the name "andy boy" in honor of his son. the company became the first ever brand of fresh vegetables
in the united states and has been recognized for more than 80 years now as a leading brand in the business. today, the farm is feeding the nation by harvesting more than 30,000 acres of fresh vegetables all packed unr the andy boy brand. and while they farm a wide variety of produce, some of their biggest sellers as of late are romaine hearts, broccoli rob, and a big hit among culinary professionals, fennel. >> this is the field of fennel. and you'll notice it's got a nice white bulb and a beautiful fern. and, really, all the plant's useable in cooking. >> cooking with it is one thing, but just getting people to try it is the first thing farmers like the d'arrigos hope to do. recently, they teamed up with local chef todd fisher and together the farming team and the cooking whiz whipped up new recipes for some old favorites. and in the end, they came up with a whole new way to get people to eat their veggies. >> to see the realization on people's face when you prepare it properly and they go, wow,
this is something that i--wow, i really like this now, as opposed to this astringent, bitter vegetable. so, i like working with it because it's a challenge for me as a chef, but it's also so gratifying to see a guest enjoy something th they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to try. well, this is our--the rapi-deparini, so, it's got the rapini and the caramelized febnel in there done in that low-fat yogurt, so it's really nice and light an vibrant, kind of a twist on a classic french onion dip. >> their success means the family has also given back to their community. they've donated more than $1 million to breast cancer research over the last 10 years, all in an effort to keep folks eating and feeling healthy. and despite the hands of time passing on the clock, one thing that hasn't passed this farming family by is the appreciation of staying true to their patriarch's core beliefs. >> and i think probably the neatest thing is that we still, um, the company today still has the same values that it had when it was founded. the quality, consistency, and value, those are the things
that we always talk about and our company still really uses those as our cornerstone today. so, i think that's pretty amazing. >> well, there's 2 things, first of all, you got to get a family that gets along. >> ha ha ha. >> and the second thing is that we have just been dicated to producing a quality product. and we love our work, as they say. i should be retired, but i'd probably be divorced because i'd be too much timet home. >> for "california country," i'm tracy sellers. by the way, if you like those recipes that chef todd whipped up, they're actually on our website, so checthem out. coming up next, you know, there are a lot of farms in california, but none quite like this next one. stay tuned for it after the break.
>> welcome back to "california country." you know, the great thing about living in california is it seems like just about anything can grow here. don't believe me? well, check out this next story as proof. so i've been working on this show for about 8 years now, and i am still amazed at all of the things that can grow here in california. including this guy. what the heck is this? any guesses? ok, here's a hint for you. it's crucial to jennifer bjorklund's job here at the dolphin bay resort in pismo beach. >> yes, people definitely comment on them. they like them. the fact that they're green, 'cause they're grown locally in nipomo, about 20 minutes away from here. >> so if you haven't guessed by now, we're talking about the luffa spge. believe it or not, but folks have been growing them for more than 10,000 years
now. and today you can find a fresh batch of them ready for harvest at deanne coon's unique farm in nipomo. >> right now currently we have the 2 greenhouses going. and they're like raising little children, so you never know what you're going to get. one greenhouse may average anywhere from 4,000 to 7,000. the other one 3,000 to 5,000. there's no rhyme or reason. they're like raising kids. they can be 2 inches, 6 inches, 24 inches. you never know what the luffa's gonna actually end up being at the pickable stage. >> the luffa sponge is actually a member of the gourd family and kind of looks like a small zucchini before it's harvested. deanne says they tend to like the nice warm greenhouses she has and the nice warm growing season she has along the central coast. but even that doesn't guarantee a good harvest because, as she calls them, they are plants with an attitude. >> if it likes you, it'll grow
very, very well. we've discovered that you can give a handful of people in the room a full handful of seeds. out of 5 or 10 of them, only a few of them will actually get a vineage. out of that vineage, only a few will actually be able to have a pickable luffa. it's a plant that if it likes you, it'll do very, very well. if it doesn't like you, we say please just don't take it perscnal. since they have an attitude, if they're hanging by somebody they don't prefer, one of the two of them will just shrivel up. so we try to keep them separated a little bit like arguing children. >> the luffa plant is made up of a robust vine with big, bold, yellow flowers and curling tendrils that need a sturdy frame to cling to. the growing cycle is totally unpredictable. some days they might not grow at all, and other days they might grow rapidly, from half an inch to a whole inch in just one day. and then whenever the gourd reaches its maximum weight for the vine, it will cut off nutrients, and then
the gourd will begin to dry out. >> so whether it's 5 inches, 26 inches, there's no rhyme or reason, just like raising kids, the day that they wake up and say, that's it, i'm too heavy, they go through an automatic different life cycle where it'll actually begin sucking everything out. it'll redistribute to each and every other luffa that's growing on this guy's mother vine. and as it does that, it'll go from this big, big heavy heavy green to some of the lighter yellow ones that you do see hanging. and at that point, they'll actually even get a different color. they'll go from the light light yellow all the way to the solid browns. when they're completely solid brown, the weight difference is just enormous. but you can tell they're featherweight at this point. you can actually hear the seeds on them. at this point you can simply peel and discover your luffa that's hiding on the inside. >> well, they clearly like deanne, because she is growing about 3,000-4,000 luffas here a year. and what started out as a part-time hobby has turned into a full-time job, thanks in part to the continued interest
leveof visitors who, like me, were aloof to luffas before meeting deanne. >> wow. not a question. most of their expression is, "wow, i never knew." when they find out, number one, that we're not going to the ocean. number 2, they're not growing in big water baths. most people when you say the word "sponge," mainly because of spongebob being around on tv, most people you say the word "sponge," they automatically go the ocean. >> the girls at the spa said you don't even have to put any lotion or anything on that. >> no. no. >> just a little water. >> thdy soften right up. and whether you're using it for cleaning or bathing, they're just ultimately soft. >> that's good. >> very viting and enjoyable. >> you are the luffa whisperer. >> ah. there we go. >> oh, you are. you're the luffa whisperer. i've heard that somewhere before. and deanne has even expanded the operation in recent years to include a small retail store where visitors can now buy the luffas and soaps and lotions she makes at the farm. >> it was just simply a pipe dream. a build it and, you know, they'll come. watch out what you wish bor, it might just happen.
there was no way to write any kind of a plan. all i can tell you is that every time you mention the word "luffa" and you start talking about our luffas at least, most people are just simply so amazed and surprised, especially when they touch one of our luffas. so much different. there's no way of writing a game plan for this one. >> deanne says drop by the luffa farm anytime. you don't even need an appointment. and for groups of 8 or more, she'll even bake you cookies. but massages, those might cost you extra. but you can ask. for "california country," i'm tracy sellers. so deanne's growing luffas year-round now, and she is a great tour guide, let me tell you. so if you get a chance, go visit her on the central coast. she's great. coming up next, we meet a farmer and a chef that have built a special farm friendship. see what brought them together coming up after the break.
>> welcome back to "california country." you know, one of the fastest growing areas in the cheese market is the goat cheese section. and we met one farmer who just got into the business that thinks she has found the secret to success. here in northern california, one family is taking their farming roots and creating an international sensation. but they're also getting a little help from these girls, too. huh, buddy? these girls are just part of another day at the office for deneanashcraft and her husband mark. and their office is north valley farms in cottonwood, where it's not hard to see the herd in charge her
>> yes, they're all different and they're just very, very smart and very, um, socialized, and they enjoy people. so they're--they're very clever. they're very inventive and agile so they get into everything and, um, our joke around the farm is "one of the biggest jobs is being smarter than the goats are." [whistling] come on, goats. come on. [whistling] come on! hellc, robert. how you doing? hmm? hi, eddie. what are you doing? >> both deneane and rk come from farming families with roots in beef cow production. so they were no strangers to farm work, but the goats did provide some new adventures for the couple, including their latest one: stepping into the cheese-making profession. you see, the couple had been breeding and raising show quality goats for nearly 20 years before they decided to step into the ambitious world of making cheese for a living.
>> even as well-prepared as i thought i was, you know, coming from, you know, a beef and a dairy background and so forth, and doing this, you know, for 20 years with goats, um, i--i mean, i was really kind of ill prepared still to come in and run a parlor and deal with all the pumps and the motors and the, you know, the dairy end of it and still taking care of the goats and moving into the cheese room and learning how all th works and, um, the first 2 years were really, really challenging, but, um, it's--it's better now. >> their endeavor to strike a balance with their dual jobs on the farm as both dairy farmers and cheese makers is matched only by their devotion to their animals, and last year, they were recognized by the animal welfare approved program, which is dedicated to promoting family farms that raise their animals with the highest welfare standards. the seal of approval was important to this small family farm as it is a source of quality assurance for many of their customers who aren't able to make it out to the farm but are interested by the animals and enjoy a good bite of goat
cheese, like the ones they sample here at the farmer's market in sacramento. >> these are samples. >> ok. >> so if you have any questions, uh, you know, feel free to ask, questions about the farm or the animals. now, this is a chevre. this is a fresh cheese, so it's a fresh market type of a cheese, so it's a soft, creamier, crumb-- >> what do you put this on? >> you can use either one on salads, crackers. uh, it's a little firmer. >> mmm, good. >> what is this? >> that's feta. i like to do the markets. basically, it gives us a chance to meet our clientele, uh, ere they critique our product. we get good feedback from them as well on, uh, what they would like, uh, what types of cheeses they like, uh, how much they appreciate the product. and we get lots of good questions about the farm.
>> thanks to their growing fab base, the north valley farm cheeses are gaining some much deserved recognition and awards. they have not only earned gold medal in the state fair competition, but also a gold medal in the u.s. cheese competition, beating out such heavyweights as kraft for their fresh goat cheese. such national attention hasn't gone unnoticed locally, either, as they are catching eyes of local chefs, including grange chef michael tuohy, who just stumbled upon the product by accident. >> i met him under the freeway. ha ha ha ha ha! down at the market. um, ha ha! i know. yeah, actually, i was at the market shopping, doing my sunday morning routine and i went by their booth, and i was looking for the right goat cheese to feature here at grange and basically to become our, you know, true local cheese. >> soon after we arrived, chef tuohy came in as a customer
and started to purchase our product, and he came for many weeks. probably 3 or 4 or 5 weeks. um, we didn't know who he was. he was just an individual, just another customer. and he was, uh, very complimentary, of course, on our product, and then he introduced himself, uh, who he was and that they were starting the new restaurant downtown. >> sourcing local ingredients has always been at the top of michael's list in terms of planning out his menus at grange, but getting to visit the farm, make his own cheese, and meet the goats behind all of it, well, that was way too much to ignore. and thus a farm friendship was born. >> and so these are the ones that, um, you ordered, that'll go back to the grange with you. so we'll go ahead and wrap these for you here shortly. >> i really, um, take a lot of pride in knowing where my food comes from, knowing the people that produce it, and really wanting to showcase what they do, uh, and treat it with
respect. i think, you know, it's one thing to buy things in boxes and packages and just have it show up. it's another thing to actually know where that is produced and where it's come from and how it's produced, and i think you treat it differently. you know, you're more careful with it in the kitchen. you're more, uh, protective of the product, which, you know, i think any chef--good chef would be, with anything that they do, but i think it even goes further when you--when you have some kind of personal connection to it. this is always like christmas, you know? when, uh, you come with your cheese. oh, wow. look. here is the logs. fantastic. that's a nice goat cheese salad. >> you know, we're really mindful of the fact that it takes mo effort on the chef's part to develop relationships that actually buy directly from a farm. um, you know, it's an
easier--it is an easier gig to just use a distributor and just go down a list of what you need and have it delivered and then write one check. um, so you know, we're mindful of--of the effort that he puts into working with producers. >> michael says that he now uses about 30 pounds of the product every week at the restaurant and continues to be inspired by the bounty of farmers, ranchers, and artisans like the ashcrafts who produce world-class food while still keepintrue to their small family farming roots. and this special union between foodies, farmers, and 4-legced friends continues to ingorate all as they gallop into the future. for "california country," i'm tracy sellers. year, north valley farms won second place for their feta cheese at the american cheese society awards, which are kind of like the oscars of the cheese business. so congratulations, mark and deneane. well, coming up next, we're hitting the produce aisle
and finding out how to pick the tastiest tubers. that's next. ok, sure, what's not to like about guacamole? i mean, we do eat a lot of it. ifact, more than 49 million pounds of avocados in the form of guacamole will be consumed on super bowl sunday alone. but at hawks restaurant in granite bay, they're exploring different ways to use the alligator pear, otherwise known as an avocado. >> we like using california avocados because they're grown as close as an avocado can be. these are from the simi valley. they're really versatile. they're rich. as you can see, we puree them. we serve them somewhat chunky. we can wrap things in them. they're just
real versatile. and they're tasty. >> but chefs like michael are just part of the equation of educating consumers on the many fabulous attributes of avocados. the real groundwork begins just there, on the ground of the 6,000 farmers across the state who now grow avocados. california farmers produce about 90% of the nation's total avocado crop, and that includes farmers like mark and linda bruce of simi valley in ventura country. not from a farming background and surrounded by a huge housing development, the couple really didn't know what to do with all of the lush land they had when they bought the property back in 2000. >> because we'd always talked about having a ranch, mark and i had talked about it, we did not know what that meant. but that was our--i guess it was a dream, but didn't have any idea how it was going to evolve. and then >> a friend of ours said, hey, this looks like good avocado property. and not knowing
anything about avocados other than that's what i put on my tacos, i said, oh, sure, let's avocados. >> so the couple learned as they went along, everything from soil science to irrigation techniqu. and before they knew it, they had developed a thriving avocado orchard along the way. they now have 8,500 avocado trees, trees that have come to mean more to the couple than they ever could have imagined. >> we like to think that we have 8,500 employees working for us here at the facility on our area. and we like to thinkf every tree as really an individual with its own personality. >> my husband calls them employees, but they're kind of like my babies. and anytime anything happens to them we feel horrible. and you see when a tree is stressed and you have to take care of it. and if any of them die, ycu feel bad. you
feel really bad. so you want to take care of them as best you can. >> and those 8,500 employees continue to work hard for linda and mark who continue to dote on them. they hope to harvest about 15,000 pounds of fruit per acre this season alone. ea@h avocado is handpicked, making sure the stem is trimmed off so it doesn't scrape or bruise other avocados when it is packed. and then the fruit is driven here to mission produce in nearby oxnard. >> well, these were just harvested today.hey--they were brought by the growers right down the street here, so it's probably the first lot in today. it's one of probably 80, 75 or 80 lots that will come in. and a lot will be anywhere from, oh, 10 to 100 bins depending on the size of the grower. [man vocalizing] >> here they are processing upwards of 650,000 pounds of fruit a day and shipping it
across the country and the world as wl. in fact, these avocados st likely will end up in grocery stores, club stores, and restaurants near you perfectly ripe just a few days after harvest. >> what this is, this is what we call a riping room. it'll hold about 20 pallets, which is a truckload. and we'll put food in here that's at about 40 degrees. we'll raise the temperature to the low sixties. we'll add some heat. >> and steve says they've steadily seen an increase in avocado consumption. on average, each american now consumes about 3 avocados per year. but steve thinks that will increase to 5 or 6 avocados within the next couple of years. so whether you try avocados in guacamole at your next party or try them to support farmers like the bruces, the time is indeed ripe to try some california avocados today. for "california
country," i'm tracy sellers. >> brought to you by allied insurance, a member of the nationwide family of compani, which also includes nationwide insurance. on your side. >> today on food 101, we are talking about potatoes. and here to help us is greg corrigan, senior director of produce and floral here at raley's. all right, potato, pot-ah-to, whatever you call it. i don't know. >> you say potato, i say pot-ah-to. >> right. that's why we'll go to dinner tomorrow. but what do i need to know about picking out a good potato? >> well, there's--first of all, there's lots of choices when it cames to potatoes. >> ok. >> you got from sweet potatoes to yams to yukons to the new
fingerling type potatoes. you definitely want to look for not too much cutting or scarring or decaying or molding inside cracks. >> sprouting. >> or sprouting. >> sprouting would be bad. >> sprouting is another thing you want to try to avoid. and storage-wise, you want to keep them in a cool spot. ideally, you want to keep them about 45 degrees. but that's not easy to find sometimes. in the wintertime, it's good to put them in the refrigerator as long as you're not in a spot where it's freezing. and here in california, we don't have to worry about that too much. >> true, true. >> so in the garage in a nice cool spot in a paper bag is a great spot to store them. >> how long will they last? >> if they're kept cool, they can actually last 60 to 90 days. but you definitely want to use them quickly. >> probably a little quicker than that, yeah. >> buy thea up and use them up quick. >> so when i think about sweet potatoes, i think about, you know, my mom's sweet potato casserole, but you can eat them, you know, just bake them. is that--are these the kind you want? >> these actually--another fun fact here. even what we call here yams, those are technically a sweet potato. but these are your garnet yams, what we call
here in california. these are typically a more creamy, more traditional--like for your thanksgiving holidays, these are the typical potato that you're gonna get. a little bit creamier than the sweet potato. the lighter fleshed potato, which we call a sweet potato, bakes up a little bit flakier. so a lot of people like that sweet potato, that more flaky, bakey potato type flavor. but there's the difference. one' a little bit more creamy, one's a little more flakey. >> ok. super healthy for you. >> very good for you. a lot of people don't realize how much potassium and vitamin c is in a potato. >> vitamin c? >> huge amounts. lots of vitamin--in fact, 60 plus percent of a daily allowance on vitamin c in aotato. >> wow. ok. so if we want the more traditional potato, there's even varieties of that ck. >> the russet, you can see here, which is a very--you know, our most popular is absolutely the russet potato. nice white flesh in there. compared to some of the cool, you know, the yellow flesh like the yukons, which is a little more buttery, and you can see some of the difference in color there. little bit--little more creamy, buttery texture. >> i like that.
>> the russet's gonna cook up a little bit flakier than say a red or a yukon gold. and if you're doing salads--potato salads--definitely go for the red potato. a little creamier, holds together a little bit better in that salad. gre for the picnics and the holidays and the fourth of july and all that kind of stuff. >> ok. so lots of varieties here. so whatever you like, you've got something for everybody really. >> something for everybody. >> ok, fabulous. thank you. well, that is gonna do it for the show today. if you have questions about any of the stories that you've seen today, go to our website at californiacountry.org. and we'd love to hear what you think about the show. so if you get a second, go to facebook and become our friend. we've got some behind-the-scenes photos on there, too. and we will see you again next week on "california country." [captioning made possible by california farm bureau federation] [captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org--]
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