Record rainfall: How it’s affecting California farmers and our food supply…


By now you’ve probably heard the term “atmospheric river” referring to  January’s record breaking storms. Meteorologists describe this phenomenon as a river 1,000 miles long and over 100 miles wide – the size of the Amazon River – flowing high overhead and dumping massive amounts of water on California. Great news for the drought, but not so great for farmers trying to harvest and plan for next season.

We checked in with Susan Simitz of Earl’s Organic Produce to get a national distributor’s perspective on how the farmers are keeping California – and the entire United States – fed during weather like this (via

“Heavy rain in California (during the atmospheric river storm) completely shut down all [northern California] growing regions, tightening the supply of many fruits and vegetables. The rain not only makes it difficult for workers and tractors to get out on the muddy ground to harvest, but it can delay the planting of the next crop. We could see a shortage of some items down the road when they would have been ready to harvest.

The most recent storm has halted most of the citrus harvesting in the three main growing regions except for in small sporadic amounts.  There may be some small pockets that are dry enough to pick and pack but for the most part we don’t expect volume to be back to normal until the end of next week. Any fruit being picked is a tedious process because of the difficulty of bringing a ladder into a muddy orchard.

Once it rains, the fruit needs a few days to dry before they can begin picking again. If they are picked and packed before they are dry they will have a higher incidence of developing the post-harvest disease called clear rot. Although this rain will be very beneficial in the long term it is disrupting supply in the short term. The citrus varieties affected include navels, all mandarins, blood oranges, lemons, cara cara’s, minneola’s and grapefruits.”


Films on food: What we’re excited about at the 2017 Wild & Scenic Film Festival


Many of us joined a Co-op because we’re passionate about re-envisioning our food system. Lucky for us, not only do we have an amazing health-conscious/eco-conscious community at BriarPatch, but we also live in a town that has one of the best environmental film festivals in the WORLD.

Below we’ve highlighted five feature films playing at this year’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival. Each of these documentaries dive deep into some of the most important food issues of our time.

Click here for the film screening schedule. We hope you can make it out!

Film descriptions from

An Acquired Taste

As the food movement grows across America, a young generation of mindful meat-eaters reject factory farms and turn to hunting for the ultimate protein. Animal lovers, Nick, Alex and Ashlie leave behind their modern lives and embark on a journey that is foreign to their parents – partly to eat dinner, and partly to carve out their identities. (USA, 2016, 70min)

An Acquired Taste, Documentary Film Trailer from Vanessa LEMAIRE on Vimeo.


Farm founder Mookie Moss and fellow farmers Dana and Zac work relentlessly, sunrise to sundown in order to sustain the fragile balance needed to support the land and animals they care deeply for. Mookie and his crew strive to continue their lifestyle of sustainability and self-reliance, but their passionate dedication is hindered by strict government laws. (USA, 2016, 75min)

BOONE trailer from Christopher LaMarca & Kat Taylor on Vimeo.

Can You Dig This?

South Los Angeles. What comes to mind is gangs, drugs, liquor stores, abandoned buildings and vacant lots. The last thing that you would expect to find is a beautiful garden sprouting up through the concrete, coloring the urban landscape. As part of an urban gardening movement taking root in South LA, people are planting to transform their neighborhoods and are changing their own lives in the process. Calling for people to put down their guns and pick up their shovels, these “gangster gardeners” are creating an oasis in the middle of one of the most notoriously dangerous places in America. Can You Dig This? follows the inspirational journeys of four unlikely gardeners, discovering what happens when they put their hands in the soil. This is not a story of science and economics. This is a story of the human spirit, inspiring people everywhere to pick up their shovels and plant. (USA, 2015, 85min)

CAN YOU DIG THIS – Trailer from Delirio Films on Vimeo.

Island Earth

Examining issues brought on by the rise of GMO companies operating in Hawaii, Island Earth follows the lives of a handful of Hawaiians seeking to use the wisdom of the past to make Hawaii a beacon of hope for an uncertain future. (USA, 2016, 61min)

Island Earth Trailer from on Vimeo.

Seed: The Untold Story

Few things on Earth are as miraculous and vital as seeds. Worshipped and treasured since the dawn of humankind, passionate seed keepers protect our 12,000 year-old food legacy. In the last century, 94% of our seed varieties have disappeared. As biotech chemical companies control the majority of our seeds, farmers, scientists, lawyers, and indigenous seed keepers fight a David and Goliath battle to defend the future of our food. In a harrowing and heartening story, these reluctant heroes rekindle a lost connection to our most treasured resource and revive a culture connected to seeds. (USA, 2016, 94min)

SEED: The Untold Story (Official Theatrical Trailer) from Collective Eye Films on Vimeo.



Green pastures ahead for Jim Gates and Nevada County Free Range Beef


We recently visited with Jim Gates of Nevada County Free Range Beef to give you an inside look at the sixth generation farmer’s prized herd of grass fed, grass finished, antibiotic and hormone free cattle.

Jim started selling to BriarPatch in 2004, after he was presented with an opportunity to cook for Paul Harton, the General Manager of BriarPatch at the time, who was a dyed in the wool vegan. “He didn’t eat any beef that night, but he had to listen to everyone screaming about how good it was!”

The rest, as they say, is history. It started with 10 lbs of hamburger that sold out in less than an hour. Fast forward to present day and we have – in Jim’s words – “a perfect symbiotic relationship” that features Jim’s locally coveted beef – steaks, roasts, hamburger – as the centerpiece of a sustainable, humanely raised fresh meat section at BriarPatch.

Our interview with Jim below:


 BP: What’s your dog’s name?
 JG: “Milo. I couldn’t do this without him.”

 BP: What’s does it mean to be grass fed and grass finished?
 JG: “It means they eat what God intended them to eat. Period. In winter time, we feed hay and alfalfa, grass that was harvested in the summer. The rest of the year they graze in these irrigated pastures. None of this bucket of grain stuff to fatten them up.”

 BP: How is grass fed beef different from conventional beef?
 JG:”A whole lot different.To start, there’s a lot less fat and a different kind of fat. It’s chemically constituted differently than the corn fed stuff you buy in the store. It ain’t bad for your ticker here, see” (points to his heart)

 BP: What’s your favorite way to prepare beef?
 JG: “I like a good roast as good as any, especially in the winter. Listen, I eat a lot of steak. It’s quick and it’s good food. I prefer, if I have time, to put it on the grill. It’s always better if it’s cooked over a flame, especially over wood.”


 BP: How has BriarPatch helped your business?
 JG: “Before BriarPatch, I was raising cattle and hauling ’em to the auction to sell ’em. When BriarPatch started carrying my meat in 2004, it opened up a whole new market. We went from selling a few pounds of hamburger a week to over 60lbs a day.”

 BP: Who do you sell your product to?
 JG: ” Summer Thyme, Diego’s, Peterson’s Corner. 100% is sold locally. The local people made me who I am. I won’t ship my product. Loyalty still counts for something in America”

 BP: How do you keep up with the growing demand for local, grass fed beef?
 JG: “You just can’t let the grass grow under your feet…you’ve got to keep moving.”