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My trip – I recently had the chance to travel to Barrow, Alaska this past week as a part of my duties as an active duty Coast Guardsman.  I was sent there to test a satellite-based broadband internet solution to see if it would work that far north. That particular device had never been tested so far north before. This, of course, is mostly irrelevant to this blog post. Mostly since I am writing as the owner and founder of Golden Gate Organics and not as a Coast Guardsmen, although I must say that each job has its perks. Not the least of which is free organic produce and traveling to the land of the midnight sun, but I digress.

After spending about a week just north of the Arctic Circle, I could not help but notice both the price and quality of food available in  this small town of 4,200 residents. For instance, I had breakfast at a quaint little restaurant called Pepe’s, three times. On Monday I had; two eggs, hash browns, three pieces of bacon, a slice of orange, two pieces of toast (with margarine not butter), and a pancake. To wash it down, I had two cups of coffee and a glass of orange juice.  The cup of coffee was  $2 since I had it with a meal, $3 originally.  My glass of orange juice was the typical size with a clear red color that you would find at any greasy-spoon restaurant, and cost $5. The whole meal (with tip) cost me close to $30. Now I understand that connecting a small town on the edge of the Arctic Ocean with no roads from the outside and having to have all sustenance either flown in or shipped in during the great summer sea lift that prices may be a bit high there. What disappointed me most about the food is that there was almost not fruit or produce with any meal. Even the First Lady Michelle Obama has done a public service announcement  about eating a half plate full of veggies or fruit for each meal. The USDA has rewritten the food pyramid to reflect this too.

But word travels slow to the Arctic Circle and understandably so. I mean they have broadband Internet and 150 cable channels, but no fresh produce. It makes sense to me. Of course those are bits and bytes and produce is more tangible. With six months of darkness followed by six months of sunlight, it can be difficult to grow your own garden there, let alone a full farm – especially when summertime lows dip into the 30’s through much of the summer and lows of 18 below throughout the rest of the year are normal.

As I write this from the airport in Fairbanks, AK it’s close to midnight and daylight is still coming in through the sound-insulated windows. I have a thought – I wonder if a giant green house could be erected in Barrow? Nothing fancy, just a greenhouse to provide fruits and veggies year round for a small town on the edge of the world. Would the heating and electricity demands of such a green house be to much of a demand on their local utilities? Would a facility like that even be possible that far north in such an inhospitable climate? I don’t know but it would be worth the health of the residents to investigate it.

Some Background on Barrow, AK – Barrow, AK is the municipal capitol of the North Slope of Alaska. The entire North Slope covers something like 9000 Acres of the northwestern and northern tundra of Alaska. I was fortunate enough to tour the Inupiat Heritage Center while I was there. The heritage center is a museum chronicling the history of the native people for the last couple hundred years. I went into Alaska, and especially the Arctic Tundra, with my own visions and ideas of Eskimos, igloos and dog sledding, courtesy of elementary and grade school teachers many years ago. My visit to the heritage center was enlightening. When I first arrived in Barrow, I noticed that the roads were all dirt. It looked like a dirty, dusty, poor place. Of which it is. What I didn’t know was that the locals hunt caribou, wolf, and foxes in the summer. They do this for food and furs. The latter of which is for sale for prices between $25 and $600 at the Fur Shop in Barrow (which is the same place I bought my wife, Tiffany, and I a couple of sweatshirts; I did my duties as a tourist and contributed to the local economy of which my hotel, rental car, and meals were of no doubt also a vital part).  The winter brings the activity of which it is most critical to the native residents: whaling.

My Hotel
For hundreds, and no doubt, thousands of years the residents of the North Slope have hunted whales from the edge of the Arctic Ocean, and they still do! As I was sitting in the lobby of King Eider’s Inn surfing Twitter on my iPad, I overheard a Paleontologist talking about his “best interview yet!” with a 13-year-old boy in town. The boy had apparently killed his first Caribou at age 6 and was now teaching younger residents how to hunt. I saw many pictures in the heritage center of children participating in the great whale hunt and subsequent butchering, sharing, and celebratory feast of the hunt. It was not brutal or savage as presented, but a vital part of survival on the North Slope. The whale hunt was a part of the people. It kept them sustained throughout the winter. They used every part of the whale from the meat for food to the intestines to make into bags and as waterproof shoe linings. It was amazing to see how they used the entire whale. They also had much respect for the whales they hunted. I learned that they do not speak during the hunt and kill of the great swimming mammal. Only after the whale is caught, killed, and a prayer is said do the hunters celebrate their catch and begin the community involved harvesting of the giant carcass.

With as big a part of the local heritage and survival that the heritage center presented the whale hunts, I never did see any whale food on any local menus. I did see steaks, hamburgers, tacos, Korean food, Chinese food, sushi, and even lobster in just about every restaurant. Keep in mind there is no more than about five restaurants to eat at in Barrow. Even now I am trying to think back to remember if I ever saw a salad on a menu. It may have been at one of the restaurants. The quality of food in Barrow was mediocre at best. The only thing I could rave about would be East Coast Pizza. I had a calzone from there and it was great! I was happy that it had onions and the sauce had pieces of tomatoes. I wouldn’t imagine anything offered during my trip was organic.

Moral of the Story – All of us living in the Bay Area are extremely spoiled and do not even realize it. We have seemingly limitless options for healthy, natural and organic food. Barrow has zero. Too often, we get so caught up in our daily lives that we take for granted the abundance of services and options available to us. I know I did. A trip like that really reminds me about my humble beginnings and where I grew up. It puts into perspective the options available to me. I am a lucky person. I have everything I need and then some. But going to Barrow for a week really made me conscious of what I have available to me. Up there I said to a co-worker of mine, “If I lived up here I would gain 15 pounds in about a month just because of my diet.” And I still believe it.

I am happy to be going back home to Alameda. I am excited to get back to Tiffany, my friends, and my pets. Seeing the tundra was an awesome experience for me and one I will not soon forget. I hope that everyone reading this will take a second to reflect about their eating habits and think; “What is preventing me from eating better?” Is it cost? Is it time? Is it laziness? No matter what the answer, you can always make a conscious decision to start now. Eat more veggies and less meat. Eat organic and local. Purchase cage free eggs and meat that was raised without steroids or growth hormones. Your choice is your vote on health. We can make a difference in how we all live and eat. I honestly believe this or I wouldn’t be writing it. Please let me know your thoughts on this.

Posted by & filed under produce report.

Organic Box of Fruits and Veggies

Some delicious looking fruits and veggies!

Hello all! Everything looked amazing this morning!

Some of you may have noticed that your box contains more or less of certain items listed on your menu. There were less grapefruits than expected this morning so we  substituted apples, bananas, or peaches in some boxes.

golden gate organics - organic broccoliWe also gave everyone an extra Easy Girl tomato because they’re so good that we felt the need to share more. For those who ordered mushrooms, you will also be receiving more than listed – and they are looking delicious!

The bananas were a little on the greener side, but put them on top of your refrigerator and they’ll be ready to eat in just a few days.

Golden Gate Organics Raspberries

mmm.... organic raspberries!

We hope that everyone enjoys their delicious and nutritious organic goodies this week! As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop us a line on our contact page. You can also contact us at 510-982-3026.

Posted by & filed under organic produce delivery, weekly update.

April is on it’s way out and here comes May! We’re looking forward to the growing season really gaining it’s legs here, and more wonderful local produce is coming down the road.

Looking forward to some awesome eggplant this week, and the radishes have been popping with color so we’re finally getting some on our menu! Also some Fingerling Potatoes in some boxes to change it up from the normal potatoes we’ve had lately.

Your order is ready for you to log in and make subs. Just sign into your account and if you see something you want to sub out, all you have to do is click on it and choose a replacement.

If you have any requests for types of produce to be in your box next week, just let us know. We love hearing your ideas and will do our best to get anything you want.

Let your friends know about Golden Gate Organics, and if they sign up we’ll give you a $10 credit towards your next order. Just our way of saying thanks, and a good way for you to get some free produce.

Please remember to leave your box from your last delivery out on your delivery day so we can pick them up and reuse or recycle them. Same goes for the eco-bags we use (although we just recycle those).

If you have any questions, you can reply to this email or send us a note on our contact page.

Have a great week!!

Tiffany

Posted by & filed under organic produce delivery, weekly update.

Happy Friday! Your order is all ready for you to check out! We have some delicious navel oranges coming in this week from the J&J Ramos Family Farm out in Modesto, a short little drive East of here.

The California Strawberry season is in prime time now, the weather has been cooperating a bit more, and the rain hasn’t been flooding the berry’s. All that adds up to some amazing strawberry’s for our menu this week!

Your order is ready for you to log in and make subs. Just sign into your account and if you see something you want to sub out, all you have to do is click on it and choose a replacement.

If you have any requests for types of produce to be in your box next week, just let us know. We love hearing your ideas and will do our best to get anything you want.

Let your friends know about Golden Gate Organics, and if they sign up we’ll give you a $10 credit towards your next order. Just our way of saying thanks, and a good way for you to get some free produce.

Please remember to leave your box from your last delivery out on your delivery day so we can pick them up and reuse or recycle them. Same goes for the eco-bags we use (although we just recycle those). 

Have a great weekend everyone!

-Tiffany

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Well, our run with the alameda daily deals is done, and it was a really fun experience so far! We just got all the coupon codes, so if you purchased one and have been waiting to sign up, go for it! Your code will work now.

Alameda Oakland Daily Deals

Alameda Oakland Daily Deals

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Happy Friday! We have some awesome news.. remember how amazing the oranges were this week? I say remember because I ate all of mine in 2 days, well, we are getting them from the same farm this week!

The local green onions have been really great and I can’t resist the smell of them, so they are in a few different boxes again this week.

If you have any requests for types of produce to be in your box, just let us know. We love hearing your ideas and will do our best to get anything you want!

Let your friends know about Golden Gate Organics, and if they sign up we’ll give you a $10 credit towards your next order. Just our way of saying thanks.

Please remember to leave your box from your last delivery out on your delivery day so we can pick them up and reuse or recycle them. Same goes for the eco-bags we use (although we just recycle those).

Your order is ready for you to log in and make subs. Just sign into your account and if you see something you want to sub out, all you have to do is click on it and choose a replacement.

If you have any questions, you can reply to this email or send us a note on our contact page.

Have a great week!

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What is the future of genetically modified food? It’s obvious that right now, people aren’t buying into it. According to a CBS News/New York Times poll, 53 percent of Americans say they won’t buy food that has been genetically modified. What is it about this futuristic sounding agricultural trend that scares us?

Is it that we’re afraid of the way the phrase sounds? Almost as if it’s something out of a science fiction movie? For some, it triggers images of super-viruses ravaging the land and causing widespread famine. Many, including myself, are afraid of the unknown side effects.

Regardless of the reason for your fears, there are some known reasons why genetic engineering may not be as safe as it’s touted to be. A prime example of a situation where it could go awry has recently hit the news; Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack approved the use of RRA (Roundup Ready Alfalfa) in US crops. In this particular case, alfalfa is modified to withstand application of Roundup herbicide. It is supposed to allow for the herbicide to be freely spread, and result in a weed-free, wonderful alfalfa crop.

And here, the problem arises. As the Roundup Ready Alfalfa is grown, weeds will develop resistance. This is a high school biology concept, and it’s already been known to happen in other crops such as soybeans and cottons. Yes, we could develop more remedies to nullify the resistance, but that in turn would lead to the same situation over and over ad infinitum.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to avoid genetically engineered products. This is because although most packaged and processed and foods do contain processed foods, the FDA does not require “disclosure of genetic engineering techniques…on the label,” and consider GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) to be the equivalent of conventional crops. According to a CBS article, more than 90 percent of the United States soybean crop and three-quarters of the corn crop is genetically modified. In order to abstain from these products completely, you’d either need a solely organic diet (which, let’s admit, is a very hard thing to do) or do lengthy research on websites to see which products contains certain ingredients.

So let me ask you, if genetically modified food is as safe as it’s touted to be then why are large food companies choosing not to include them on their product’s label? GMO’s may have potential for certain applications, but only in the future when we have a better understanding of the consequences and how the process affects our environment. As for right now, the risk of unleashing highly resistant, genetically strengthened bacteria upon our crops is simply too high. Organic food remains both the safest and healthiest choice, and it’s likely to remain that way for quite a while.

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Even though it’s April fool’s, don’t worry there are no jokes from us, we promise!!

We hope you all had a beautiful sunny week! It was such a great week to get outside and get some Vitamin D… and the waves weren’t too bad either.

The sun seems to be helping out the produce and everything is finally drying out. Sometimes too much rain can be a bad thing for growing (especially strawberries). For those of you who asked, we will get some avocados soon, but right now the supply is still suffering from that crazy freeze we had and prices are way high!

Let your friends know about Golden Gate Organics, and if they sign up we’ll give you a $10 credit towards your next order. Just our way of saying thanks.

Please remember to leave your box from your last delivery out on your delivery day so we can pick them up and reuse or recycle them. Same goes for the eco-bags we use (although we just recycle those).

Your order is ready for you to log in and make subs. Just sign into your account and if you see something you want to sub out, all you have to do is click on it and choose a replacement.

If you have any questions, you can reply to this email or send us a note on our contact page.

Have a great week everyone, hope you make it to the beach this weekend!

Posted by & filed under weekly update.

It’s Friday!! What a rainy week it has been, but you know what they say. March Showers have to end sometime! Maybe that’s not quite the saying, but anyways, Spring is officially here and we have some really great menu’s this week.

The eggplant is looking fantastic, strawberries continue to be strong and delicious (hopefully the rain lets up and doesn’t drown them), and the green onions will be smelling especially fresh and delicious.

Lots of new friends joining us this week (don’t forget to tell yours about us!), so we want to remind you to save your boxes!! We re-use and recycle everything possible, so save your box! Then you can leave it out on your next delivery day and our drivers will pick them up.

Your order is ready for you to log in and make subs. Just sign into your account and if you see something you want to sub out, all you have to do is click on it and choose a replacement.

If you have any questions, you can reply to this email or send us a note on our contact page.

Have a great week everyone, and always bring an umbrella (and a towel!)

Posted by & filed under organic produce delivery, weekly update.

We have some really awesome Asparagus for this week, and the Strawberries have been absolutely amazing lately. This is a fun time of year for cooking as the season is changing (especially on cold rainy days like today), and we’ve put together a really great menu for you this week!

Please remember to leave out your box for your driver to pick up on your delivery day. We reuse and recycle everything possible.

We have a site of the week for you to visit: www.Kiva.org, it’s a site that enables you to help people in third world countries. Check it out, we’re big fans, and so is Oprah!

Orders are ready for you to log in and make subs. Just sign into your account and if you see something you want to sub out, all you have to do is click on it and choose a replacement. If you haven’t signed up yet, don’t worry! There is still time to sign up and get a delivery next week, just make sure you sign up before Monday.

If you have any questions,  send us a note on our contact page.

Have a great week everyone, enjoy your organic produce, and always bring an umbrella!