In the Fields: California Giant Farms

Ashley | July 18, 2019

I’m going on my third year of being a California Giant Berry Ambassador and I have loved getting to know more about this special brand over the years, and of course sharing their story with YOU.

At the end of June I had the opportunity to visit some of the Cal Giant berry farms in conjunction with their 2nd annual Chef Invitational.

Read more about the Chef Invitational here!

Touring the farms, meeting the growers, learning even more about who California Giant is and their mission, has made me fall in love with this brand (and berries!) all over again.

THE FARMERS

  • California Giant Berry Farms is essentially made up of families of farmers, and everyone at California Giant is working towards the same mission – to deliver the best quality berries and give back to the communities.
  • Just 16 strawberry growers supply California Giant Berry Farms strawberries.
  • They also have a few blackberry and raspberry growers (one is locally in Watsonville-Salinas –the Navarro brothers ranch which we visited) and the others are regional, just like their blueberry grower partnerships. Learn more about one of their blueberry growers here.
  • California Giant is truly invested in their farmers! They maintain a close relationship with them, all working together to produce the best berries for us.

Having berry growers in various regions (including Oregon, Georgia, Florida, and Mexico, to name a few) allows California Giant Berry Farms to supply us with delicious, high quality berries year round.

I think we can all agree winter without berries (especially in the East and Midwest) would be pretty sad.

As with other farm tours I’ve been on (from beet farms to various dairy farms) farming is way of life, a passion.

It is a labor of love, but these berry farmers love what they do and love sharing their berries with us.

John NavarroGrowing raspberries and blackberries for California Giant for six years.
His family was the first hispanic strawberry farmers in the area.

Click HERE to learn about more CalGiant farmers!

GROWING PRACTICES

  • PEST MANAGEMENT: California Giant Berry Farms focuses on “integrated pest management” which means the farmers control pests with nature first, using predator mites and growing pest resistant varieties through improved breeding practices, pest monitoring to prevent infestation, cultural practices and other methods to minimize the need for pesticides.
  • The blackberries in particular are a very strong bush, and the California Giant growers take special care to only spray pesticides when absolutely necessary. John Navarro stated that on average, they actually only spray their blackberries about once per season.
  • Strawberries are more prone to pests, but the farmers still take care to use integrated pest management by also using predator bugs, along with a bug vacuum, which sucks up the predators and lessens the need for pesticides.
  • NO GMOs – California Giant Berry Farms does not use genetically modified organisms. If you see California Giant Berries in store (particularly the strawberries and blackberries) you may notice they are, in fact, GIANT. This is because the the growing conditions for the berries are perfect and produce high quality, beautiful berries.
  • Crop Rotation – the crops are rotated with vegetable growers in the off season, which keeps the soil healthier.

SUSTAINABILITY AT CALIFORNIA GIANT BERRY FARMS

Seeing that I’ve been on both conventional and organic farm tours in the past several months, I wanted to make a note to say it’s been a personal challenge navigating it all. We’re constantly fed information from both sides and it’s easy for the statements to be misconstrued.

Bottom line, it isn’t black and white. But in regards to California Giant berries and what I know, I feel 100% confident buying their conventional produce.

Here is an article that was shared with me, that will maybe allow you to see things in a different light as well.

---> "Don't Fear the Dirty Dozen"

“Over 90% of people in the U.S. don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables so we should not be doing anything to discourage folks from enjoying any type of produce they like to eat, whether it is conventional, organic, fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juice. They all count toward your daily recommended fruit and veggie intake, are nutrient-rich and make you look and feel good. So, relax and enjoy the taste and fun of filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables.”

fruitsandveggies.org

Side note: I’m continually learning about this topic and there is always new information coming out, from all sides. Your best bet is to do your research and make the decisions you deem best for you and your family. And always wash your produce, regardless of whether it’s conventional or organic. 

Still have questions? Check out California Giant FAQ’s and feel free to reach out on their page.

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Ashley

Ashley is the content creator, recipe developer and photographer behind the healthy food and lifestyle blog Fit Mitten Kitchen – where cooking from scratch and healthy baking is for everyone. Ashley didn't grow up with the best eating habits, so when she learned on her own how to create delicious healthy recipes, she became inspired to share those creations with others. A whole foods diet is for everyone, and with a little moderation and balance (yes, sweet treats!) there is room for it all.

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