Of late Pierino has been dividing his time on the ol' pie chart amidst trips to farmers markets and Surfas in Culver City. This makes for a busy but satisfying week: fresh produce from the markets and tools and prepared products from Surfas.
At the Friday Hermosa Beach market we stopped at Harry's Berries out of Oxnard and talked to Gabriel about strawberries.
The berries we purchased were small very sweet, and actually for all intents "organic" but for the fact that they are not certified as such. This is a very slippery slope for small growers and confusing as hell for the consumer. "Certified" is the operative word and there is an "economy of scale" trade off that confronts small farmers, particularly in terms of paperwork.
Pierino talked to Russ Parsons of the LA Times about this back when berries just beginning to show up in the markets. In an e-mail Russ wrote: "...until the advent of chemical pesticides, [strawberries] were a miniscule crop because they are so susceptible to soil-borne diseases that you couldn’t plant them in the same field more than two years in a row. Probably the worst pesticide that is used on strawberries is the same one that is used to fumigate houses for termite control. It’s applied to the soil before planting to knock down the virus load. It is very nasty and it is one of those that for me becomes a very difficult question of whether it’s worth it or not. On the other hand, there are few things more delicious than a great strawberry."
You can listen to Russ Parsons discuss this topic with Evan Kleiman on the podcast of Saturday's (8/15)"Good Food." KCRW.
So, when you can, patronize your farmers markets and talk to the growers. They are happy to answer your questions.
For Harry's Berries go to www.harrysberries.com
And if you don't live in Southern California you can shop Surfas at www.surfasonline.com