GroundTruth Blog

My love affair with strawberry jam

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by Kathryn Gilje

I don't use the phrase love affair much, but there's no other way to describe my devotion to Swanton Berry Farm and their just-plain-yummy jam. Swanton grows strawberries organically — no methyl iodide or other cancer-causing pesticides. They were the first organic farm to sign a union contract with the United Farm Workers (UFW) — proof in the pudding that they value fairness and transparency.

PAN has a long history of working alongside Swanton Berry for food democracy, and fairness — and I'm honored by very few things more than Jim Cochran's support of PAN.

"Every hour of the day, we are focused on bringing you the best tasting berries and vegetables on the planet. We strive to do it in the most conscientious way possible, using organic farming methods and 100% Union labor."  -the good folks at Swanton Berry Farm

Rachel Carson & Cesar Chavez, together, spawn a dream

Scientist Rachel Carson sparked the beginning of our movement, and for her courage to face pesticide industry attack, I'm forever grateful. Across the country on the west coast, her colleagues Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, leaders of the UFW, stopped dangerous pesticide use on our fruits and vegetables well before the U.S. government took action.

As the UFW Foundation reports, the first union contracts, starting in 1966:

. . . required protective clothing against pesticide exposure, banned pesticide spraying while workers are in the fields, outlawed DDT and other dangerous pesticides, lengthened pesticide re-entry periods beyond state and federal standards, and required the testing of farm workers on a regular basis to monitor for pesticide exposure.

Swanton Berry credits both Carson and Chavez with seeding the dream to start their farm and do things right. They've grown over the years, and now lease farmland that comprise five different ranches along the beautiful California coast.

Jim Cochran, a farmer who stands up for us all

The hard work of Jim Cochran, General Manager, doesn't stop at the farm gate. He's actively involved, local to global, in efforts to push for food democracy.

Just one example: if you're concerned about the recent approval of cancer-causing methyl iodide in California, you owe a debt to Jim Cochran. We've stopped the wide uptake of this dangerous chemical thus far, and Mr. Cochran was key to that success. He drove time after time to Sacramento to testify that strawberries indeed can be grown another way, offering his own story as living proof against pesticide industry propaganda.

Right now, we have the opportunity to support Swanton Berry and PAN, both. Jim is offering a discount on jam to anyone who donates $35 or more to PAN. Anyone in my family has received this jam before — it's a regular for birthdays, when you're sad, or when you come to visit. It's delicious. We also frequent the u-pick farms on the coast, and love the General Store.

Though I'm already a PAN supporter, I'll certainly be chipping in this time, too. Join me in taking part in this sweet vote of confidence for Jim's farm and our work together.

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