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Back to Home> Lifestyles >

Food & Wine






Posted on Wed, May. 28, 2003
Organic farms are growing

Mercury News

Any doubt that organics are red-hot right now?

Just consider: A new nationwide survey of organic farmers showed that 44 percent say their markets continue to expand, while only 6 percent say their markets have shrunk. On average, organic farms encompass 277 acres each, up from 233 acres five years ago, according to the survey by the Organic Farming Research Foundation in Santa Cruz.

California remains the leader. The amount of California land farmed organically has risen nearly 60 percent in the past five years, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. About 163,000 acres of this state's farmland is certified organic, producing mostly fruits and vegetables, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.

Want to learn more about organics? Tune in Wednesday mornings, 10-11 a.m. on the Web at www.beyondorganic.com /radio. The weekly radio program features information on buying, growing, eating and cooking organically. The program, broadcast from a San Francisco studio, is a project by Straus Communications, which was started by Michael Straus, whose family owns the organic Straus Family Creamery in Marshall. This morning's show is all about organic wines and features Dave Koball, vineyard manager of Bonterra, the organic division of Fetzer Vineyards of Ukiah.

Speaking of Straus Family Creamery, the dairy was honored last month by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Straus creamery, the first organic dairy and processor in the country, sells its milk in recycled and reusable glass bottles. By doing that, Straus creamery estimates that more than 6.1 million pounds of waste have been prevented from going to landfills.

Petaluma Poultry, which sells antibiotic-free and organic chicken, also was honored with an EPA Achievement award. Although the company has increased its production 20 percent over the past year, it has decreased its use of natural gas by 4 percent. It has also reduced gas-fueled mowing by 60 percent.

And if you're looking for a gift for an organically conscious loved one, see www .farmtohomeonline.com. Based in Houston, the husband-and-wife company offers five organic baskets. They are $55 each plus $8.50 for shipping.

Among the selections is a ``Stock the Pantry'' basket with organic tea, organic sunflower oil, organic whole-grain lemon mustard, organic pasta and an herb keeper to keep herbs fresher longer. The ``Baby Bliss'' basket comes with a sampler of organic baby foods, an organic cotton bib and toy, an eye pillow and a copy of Mothering magazine. You can also order at (800) 323-6637.

COPIA CHEF'S TABLE: For an especially up-close-and-personal dining experience, reserve the new chef's table in Julia's Kitchen restaurant at Copia, the American Center for Food, Wine and the Arts, in Napa. Designed to seat up to eight, the chef's table offers an intimate dining experience. Guests sample special tasting menus and get to converse with chef Victor Scargle. The semi-circular table is in the dining room, right against the open cooking line. Known as the Soldinger/Cosentino Table One for the families that donated $150,000 to Copia, the table comes with a perk: Each group dining at that table receives a complimentary bottle of wine from Cosentino Winery in the Napa Valley. To reserve the table, call (707) 265-5700.

LEISURELY SUNDAY: Berkeley's Claremont Resort & Spa, 44 Tunnel Road, has started a program of ``Slow Food Sundays'' at its Paragon Bar & Cafe. Modeled after the worldwide Slow Food gastronomic organization, the Sunday dinners, 5:30-10 p.m., are designed to be savored, not gulped. The food is intended to evoke family memories and to bring people together. The three-course, $29.50-per-person dinner can include such dishes as fresh cranberry bean minestrone, slow braised lamb shanks with rosemary, and lemon angel food cake with strawberry sorbet and ginger-orange coulis. For more information, call (800) 551-7266 or go to www.claremontresort.com.

THE OTHER WHITE MEAT: If you've been left uninspired and unimpressed with most supermarket pork, try Du Breton Farms brand. This pork, from pigs raised by 45 small family farms in Quebec and the Maritime Provinces of Canada, is so juicy and flavorful that it doesn't need sauce or seasonings. The Breton family started the company in 1974, and it has become the largest natural pork producer in North America. The pigs eat only vegetable feed and are raised without antibiotics. In 2001, the company became the first North American pork producer to qualify for the American Humane Association's ``Free Farmed'' label. Various cuts are available at Whole Foods markets.

For more information, go to www.dubreton.com.


Contact Carolyn Jung at (408) 920-5451 or at cjung@mercurynews.com. Fax (408) 271-3786.
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