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Festival Foods

California Produce

Working in the produce world can be a little bit of a roller coaster. Everything can be going great and then all of a sudden Mother Nature will throw you a curve ball. At this point, you are reminded that produce grows outside, where all kinds of things can go wrong. I bring this up because, about the middle of October, California had a storm come through and drop about 4 inches of rain in only a couple days. There was standing water all over the fields. We saw immediate jumps in price on items like broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce and strawberries. The tougher items like broccoli and cauliflower ended up coming out of it OK. The only real issue was that the growers couldn’t get out and pick until the fields dried out a couple days later, which caused a lag in supply. Lettuce also came through alright, although we did experience some quality concerns for a week or so afterward. The item from the storm that took the biggest hit was strawberries; they don’t do as well with large amounts of rain. This is a normal time of year for California to be slowly finishing up the season, but we had quite a challenge for a week or so getting enough strawberries for our shelves. Since then the problem has worked itself out and there are strawberries coming from other areas in California that didn’t get the rain. Currently the strawberry season in California is still winding down so supplies will remain a little tighter until we start getting product from Florida in January. Who knows what might happen at that point? I’ve been told that the variety of strawberries grown in Florida can handle rain better, so at least we have that going for us.

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