We often take for granted where our food comes from and not stop for a second to think how or where and even more importantly, who produces our food. On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in May, we were guests of the California Avocado Commission to tour an avocado farm, packing facility, and meet the farmers.
Over 6,000 California avocado farmers produce 90% of the nations avocados and almost all of it is in San Diego County. We met two of them, a father and son-in-law team of Chris Ambuul and Mike Sanders and their wonderful family who lives on and runs the Rancho Santo Thomas grove. What really stood out to us was how much pride they had in the land, the grove, and everything they do to grow avocados. Chris’s little girls ran around playing in the groves as we toured, picking avocados straight from the trees. We couldn’t help but be envious about growing up on an avocado farm, but also thinking if it’s good for their little daughters and grand daugthers, it must be really good. It turns out many avocado growers don’t use pesticides, but instead, treat harmful bugs by introducing their natural predators.
Not only did they give us a tour of their groves, they opened their kitchen and magnificent yard for us to enjoy.
Along with Sara of Average Betty, Susan of Foodblogga, Jen of Domestic Divas, Darlene of My Burning Kitchen, Christie & Bryan of Pardon My Crumbs and a host of media members, our gang made three different types of avocado salads from Chef Trey Foshee. Thank goodness it wasn’t a cooking competition or else it would have gotten ugly.
The Rancho Santo Thomas grove had a gorgeous picnic area where we enjoyed our creations and finished our delicious lunch with an avocado twinkie and avocado cheese cake! The cheese cake is definitely on our to do list, especially for St. Patrick’s next year.
Look! An avocado just fell into Hong’s lap! Good thing it wasn’t his head. Thanks, Average Betty for the photos! We were taught how to pick avocados, which by the way, are all picked by hand. Even the ones on the very top of the trees with 30 ft ladders. We took some videos of our tour so that you can not only see it in pictures, but see the pride in what they do yourself and how the California avocado gets to your grocery store and onto your table.
The hand-eye coordination and speed of the packers are AMAZING. If you only have time to watch for 10 seconds, skip to 1:53 and see how fast the ladies pack the boxes. That’s real time folks, no high speed editing. Hope you enjoy! Here’s one of the great Avocado recipes we learned on our trip, a great way to serve summer time salad.
California Avocado with Chicken, Almonds, and Mango
1 1/2 cup chicken breast meat
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup whole almonds, toasted and lightly crushed
1/2 cup mango, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup radish, sliced thin
2 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh Mint, chopped
3 fresh, ripe California avocados, cut in half with pits removed
Salt, to taste
Fresh black pepper, to taste
In a medium sauce pot, place the chicken meat and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and poach the chicken until cooked, approximately 3-5 minutes. Reserve and chill.
In the bowl of a blender, combine the ginger, shallot, fish sauce and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and whisk in the olive oil.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine blend with remaining ingredients. Toss well and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to tast.
Fill each avocado half with even amounts of the mixture and serve.
Courtesy of Chef Trey Foshee