Last week I had a chance to tour ALBA Organics in Salinas and learn more about its distribution operations. I was surprised at the variety of locally grown, organic vegetables still available in December, including the tail end of heirloom tomatoes and strawberries. I would have loved to buy some of the sugar snap peas or sunchokes I saw in the cooler.
More than 95% of the product is harvested to order. When a customer request comes in, the produce is then picked by the grower and will transit the warehouse for delivery the same day. And, increasingly ALBA’s growers are custom farming, planning crops for timing and specifications defined by individual purchasers. I was told that most of what was being assembled in the cooler that day was destined for UC Santa Cruz food service. Lucky students!
A Moveable Feast of Carmel Valley catered our lunch spread. Here’s my plate after a first pass at the buffet. Yes, I did go back for more, it was really delicious.
My lunch plate -
The repast included some tiny, roasted waxy potatoes, baked chicken breast, shrimp and Petrale sole soup, wild rice and currant salad, haricot vert and shaved sweet red onion salad, heirloom tomatoes with basil and Hawaiian black salt, salad greens, and bread. Dessert was a chocolate loaf cake and strawberries. The tomatoes and strawberries, and perhaps other items were from ALBA farmers, and were so good especially considering the time of year. The strawberries from Sr. Mora were large and somewhat pale in color, but bursting with sweetness.
On my way out, I stopped to snap this photo of an ALBA field with newly transplanted strawberry starts that will be next summer’s crop.
Strawberry field in winter -
ALBA Agriculture & Land Based Training Association
1700 Old Stage Rd, Salinas, CA
A Moveable Feast
53 E Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel Valley, CA