As I’ve cycled through Mexico I’ve managed to find a lot of interesting, locally-produced fruit (and the odd vegetable too). Easily available fruit that I’ve been enjoying – mangoes, guava, bananas, melon, oranges, grapefruit, tomatoes, pineapple, coconut…exotic stuff! Even though I have missed out on the summer Vancouver produce I feel I’m getting a pretty good deal here.
But those of us back in Vancouver, US and Europe have to go to a bit more trouble to sample these kinds of fruit. We’ve got used to seeing most of those on our shelves for at least a good part of the year and pretty much take it for granted nowadays.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to step back a bit and think about how this all gets to your local shop.
The other day I read a blog post from Discovery Organics, a Vancouver-based produce importer/distributor that promotes organic, Fair Trade and local produce through developing long-term relationships with small-scale farmers. It’s owned by Randy and Annie, two passionate advocates for good quality food and fair working conditions. They do a fantastic job bringing organic, and especially Fair Trade, produce to Vancouver and western Canada.
I read a blog piece by Randy about a visit he made to Peru just over a week ago. It really brought home to me how connected we are to the places our food comes from, even if we pay little attention to that fact.
You can read the piece below, and for more info about Discovery Organics, check them out on the link below.
Randy’s produce update: climate change and produce supply
I was in Peru last week, and was lucky enough to be involved in a rather impromptu get-together with produce importers from the U.S., England, France and Italy. Our conversation turned quickly to climate change, and the impact on agriculture. This was after I had been talking to our three different co-ops of mango producers, all wondering how they are going to survive. Pollination is down 80% in some areas, and one variety of mangos is ripening 2 weeks ahead of schedule, while the other, normally shipping in early November, won’t be ready until after Christmas, potentially overlapping with the Mexican crop, instead of falling in a perfect window. This year, Chile lost a huge amount of their avocado crop, with the coldest, most brutal winter on record – including snow and hard frost in areas that have never seen them.
Interestingly, the biggest impact the Europeans are seeing is the dramatically different quality in citrus, with rapid ripening, quick ‘re-greening’ and low juice content. Juice content in limes from parts of Mexico have lowered 10% over the last 2 years. Warming in certain areas is allowing tropical diseases to migrate farther and farther from the Equator, where growers have been caught off guard. The Veracruz area on the Bay of Campeche in South Central Mexico has lost 70,000 hectares of citrus production this year to a new disease. In New Zealand, kiwi growers took a hit with production expected to drop 20% next season.
As suppliers, we are going to have to watch, very closely, as many crops, including some vegetables are going to do weird things, both in the tree, as well as in storage and on the shelf, and adapt quickly to these changing times. Even wheat harvests, even in a good growing year like this one, have been reduced 20% because of the largest ozone hole ever recorded over the Arctic stretched across Russia, and scorching the plants with excessive UVB levels.
This past growing season locally may also be a warning sign of tough times ahead, and B.C. growers will also have to adapt to different planting times, and innovative strategies, to move forward profitably.
Not a great Thanksgiving message, as we celebrate the hard work of all farmers out there at the end of harvest-time.
Once we become part of this huge global food system, whether as a farmer or a retailer, we become enrolled in the love of feeding people – especially healthy, organic food. The entire Discovery team wishes you all a great Thanksgiving weekend, and eternal thanks for what you do!