Food: A Documentary Pt. 4

grocery delivery in philadelphiaA natural, well, just about all the foods you buy is natural unless something artificial has been injected.  Fresh, never have been frozen, the legal definition according to the USDA of fresh chicken means that the internal temperature has never been below 26˚F.

 

Free-range, it doesn’t mean that your chicken was raised like this.  It means that the chicken had access to the outdoors.  But land to roam, time to grow and feed like this organic food comes with a price.  Womach’s chickens cost about $20 each compared to $7 or $8 for a grocery store chicken.

 

CURTIS WOMACH

 

I think a lot of chickens are waste.  If you are paying $.60 a pound of chicken, why does it matter if you’re not making stock from the bones?  There is an American culture where it is like we deserve all the meat we want every day.

 

HOST

 

Americans drink more orange juice than any other fruit juice.  As KPBS reporter Amita Sharma tells us, orange groves had been a part of our history for the past 100 years.

 

AMITA SHARMA

 

San Diego county groves produce 95,000 tons of oranges each year.  Local growers are sending these oranges to India, China, Japan and all countries willing to pay premium rates for San Diego oranges, viewed as some of the tastiest in the world.

 

JONH DEMSHKY – Pres.  & C.E.O., Corona College Packing House

 

The color and the taste of San Diego fruit is quite popular overseas.  Most of our San Diego fruit, we actually send to foreign countries.

 

 

HOST

 

Since we export most of our oranges thousands of miles away as far as Japan, where do the oranges we eat come from?  It turns out that depending on the season, the fruit we consume here is shipped from thousands of miles away, from countries like Australia, South Africa and Peru.  It is we, the consumer, who determined that our oranges trot the globe.  American shoppers like their oranges to be seedless and easy to peel, but San Diego oranges have seeds and they’re thinner skin is tougher to remove.  We also like our oranges to be orange.

 

JOHN DEMSHKY

 

Consumers buy with their eyes.  You can’t buy an orange that is unpeeled, but ultimately, that bright orange color is really a factor of the climate and the temperatures that they were grown in.   But clearly, your San Diego fruit might have had a little bit of green on the top of it, something that we call “regreening” in the industry.  That’s really just a cosmetic issue and it is not an indication of the flavor of the orange at all.

 

HOST

 

In fact, says 79-year old Ben Hillebrecht, “They’re sweet and juicy and they’re just an excellent orange.”

 

Hillebrecht’s family has grown oranges for generations in Escondido.

 

BEN HILLEBRECHT

 

All my life, I have been right here.  If I live to up to December 9th, I’ll be 80-years old.

 

HOST

 

Hillebrecht would prefer to sell his fruit to San Diegans.

 

BEN HILLEBRECHT

 

You can’t make people eat just because they’re grown here.  They can buy a little bit cheaper from someplace else.  Food in America is cheap and you always spend $.10 out of your dollar, $.11 is an average American.

 

But escalating water prices are making it difficult for orange farmers like Hillebrecht to keep on growing, especially with oranges coming from Australia or Brazil.  In fact, the Hillebrecht are turning off the tap on some of their orange trees because keeping them alive is no longer profitable.

 

ERIC LARSON – Executive Director, San Diego Co. Farm Bureau

 

Here in San Diego County, it is tough for farmers to compete.  The land is expensive, labor is expensive and water is very expensive because we import the water from a great distance.  So it makes it very, very difficult to compete.

 

AMITA SHARMA

 

The Hillebrechts family has diversified what it grows and its fallback crop is San Diego’s top food crop, last year the county produced 59,000 tons of this fruit.

 

40% of the avocado sold in the United States come from San Diego county groves like this one in Escondido.  When avocadoes aren’t in season here, chances are the ones you are buying in store came from Mexico or Chile.

 

MIKE HILLEBRECHT – Escondido Avocado Grower

 

But in some ways, that’s beneficial because the consumer can buy avocadoes year round.

 

AMITA SHARMA

 

But Ben’s son, Mike Hillebrecht says that there are downsides to importing avocadoes for San Diego growers.  Again, because of labor costs, local growers pay $8 an hour.  In Mexico, workers earn $4 a day.

Food: A Documentary Pt. 4 is brought to you by Affordable Grocery, the leading grocery delivery Philadelphia company for Southeastern PA.

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