<h2>Farm to Fridge?</h2> <p>This year, I have been focusing quite a bit of my time educating about and working on the distributionproblem for Western Canadian Organic products. Basically, we have lots of people who want to or are already growing organic food, and lots of people who want to buy local organic food. Connecting them is the challenge for us. This has meant a few projects with Alberta Agriculture, some speaking engagements and lots and lots of communication materials.</p> <p>In the local food industry, often there is a lack of appreciation amongst consumers for the complexity and challenges of the food chain between the farm where the primary products are grown, and your kitchen fridge where ultimately they end up before you eat them. We face many challenges related to scale (none of our local organic growers arevery big), storage (organic food is more susceptible to breakdown because by definition it has no preservatives or coatings), transport (western Canada is very big and the farms are far apart and far from the cities), weather (we have lots of weather events here all year round that cause unique challenges for quality and transportation), and selection (the box this week is potatoes, carrots and sprouts, welcome to February in Alberta).</p> <p>It is not as simple as a farmer picking his crop and driving itto our warehouse, where we then put it in a box and ship it to you. I thoughtit might be interesting to trace all the steps starting from the raw harvested crop on the farm and ending withyourboxbeing loaded on the van for delivery. It turns out there are many people and many steps in between, which when I stand back and take a look, I&apos;m amazed that you manage to get what you ordered over 98% of the time with The Organic Box!</p> <p>As an example, I&apos;ll use Miranda and my own fruit farm in BC - and walk through how we get our fruit to your home. Its called &apos;<a title=&quot;Just A Mere Organic Farm&quot; href=&quot;/featured-producer-profile.aspx?id=534&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot;>Just A Mere Organic Farm</a>&apos; and its located in Creston, BC.</p> <p></p> <table> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan=&quot;2&quot;><h3><p>STEP 1: Raw Harvest</p> </h3> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><p align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;201302Swamping&quot; alt=&quot;201302Swamping&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/swamping.JPG&quot; /></p> </td> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;left&quot;><p>After the crop is picked into totes by our picking team,a guy called the &quot;swamper&quot;drives around the farm withour tractor and collects all the totes and brings them to the barnto be sorted. This isSteven last summer at our farm.</p> <p>Before the swamper picks up the harvested produce a massive amount of work has already gone into prepping, seeding, weeding, thinning, managing pests, watering, and worrying that crop to the point of harvest. However, its what happens next that we often take for granted.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan=&quot;2&quot;><h3><p>STEP 2: Sorting and Packing</p> </h3> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><p align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;201302PackingShed&quot; alt=&quot;201302PackingShed&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/packing_shed.JPG&quot; /></p> </td> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;left&quot;><p>The team in the barn then takes the totes and sorts them - looking for &apos;culls&apos;, checking size and quality, and packing them into standard CFIA-approved packaging for transport to the farm. Here our team is sorting cherries and weighing each box on a certified scale there on the left.</p> <p>Not everything that comes in from the fields or the orchards is good enough to go into the box. We do lots and lots of culling right at the farm to reduce the amount of spoilage we see in our warehouse. Sometimes over half a crop can be sorted out right at the farm. Don&apos;t worry, it goes into the compost system and becomes food for next years crop. We also send culled produce awayto be turned into juices or other processed items.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan=&quot;2&quot;><h3><p>STEP 3: Interprovincial Transportation</p> </h3> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><p align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;201302NightTruck&quot; alt=&quot;201302NightTruck&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/night_truck.JPG&quot; /></p> </td> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;left&quot;><p>Once we have a truckload ready to go, we load it into our five-ton refrigerated truck and away it goes to Edmonton. Produce trucks always drive overnight in the summer to ensure that the product isn&apos;t impacted by beating heat. If you&apos;ve ever driven the Trans-Canada highway eastbound at night you&apos;ll know what I mean - miles and miles of trucks heading eastward packed with fresh products. Here is our truck last summer and a picture of me driving it. I was tired. We made over a dozen trips last summer.</p> <p><img style=&quot;WIDTH: 200px; HEIGHT: 150px&quot; title=&quot;201302Trucking&quot; alt=&quot;201302Trucking&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/danny_trucking.JPG&quot; width=&quot;200&quot; height=&quot;150&quot; /></p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan=&quot;2&quot;><h3><p>STEP 4: The Production Cooler</p> </h3> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><p align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;201303Cooler&quot; alt=&quot;201303Cooler&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/prod_cooler.JPG&quot; /></p> </td> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;left&quot;><p>Once the products arrive in Edmonton they are unloaded and staged in our production cooler. This is a 800 sq foot industrial cooler that is jammed with fresh product every week. You can imagine the amount of organization and dedication required by our team to keep track of every box of apples, every case of broccoli and every bag of mushrooms.</p> <p>Every week our production cooler can have up to100 different produce items(including 10 different apple varieties), so we have lots of receiving, checking and preppingbeforeit is readyto go into your box.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan=&quot;2&quot;><h3><p>STEP 5: Order Preparation</p> </h3> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><p align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;201302Boxes_to_pack&quot; alt=&quot;201302Boxes_to_pack&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/boxes_to_pack.jpg&quot; /></p> </td> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;left&quot;><p>Before orders are packed, we stage everything, clean boxes and print labels, set the correct quantities of fresh produce out on our packing line and prepare everything to go. This is a pallet of clean, prepped boxes pre-filled with grocery items and ready to head down our &apos;fruit line&apos; to have the fresh fruit added to each custom packed order.</p> <p>We start every order with our grocery items - these are the non-perishable packaged foods that can be packed into boxes in advance ofaddingcold, frozen and fresh items. We want to minimize the amount of time your food is handled and is outside the cooler so that means moving things along quickly on the production line.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan=&quot;2&quot;><h3><p>STEP 6: Box Production</p> </h3> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><p align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;201203Packing&quot; alt=&quot;201203Packing&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/packing.JPG&quot; /></p> </td> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;left&quot;>Here is our &apos;veg line&apos;. The boxes make their way down the line and produce is placed in the boxes. This is intensive, detailed work because every order is customized and we can often have multiple types of products - three different types of carrots, or five different potatoes. Running at full capacity we can pack about 65 orders an hour. That is more than one box every minute. All done by people, no machines here.</td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan=&quot;2&quot;><h3><p>STEP 7: On the Van</p> </h3> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><p align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;201302LoadingVan&quot; alt=&quot;201302LoadingVan&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/loading_van.JPG&quot; /></p> </td> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;left&quot;><p>Once the boxes are packed they are put on pallets according to the route assigned, in order of delivery. That large number printed on your label is your stop number. We work out all the routes and stops the day before to ensure that we have enough capacity to run the day and to make everything as smooth as possible. This is one of the reasons why we ask for lots of notice if you don&apos;t want your box.</p> <p>Our team runs between 10 and 14 routes every day - that is a lot of boxes, a lot of vans and a lot of chances to make a mistake. We have a delivery accuracy rate of 99%, so if you get the wrong box or it goes to the wrong house, you are in the minority and those are the problems we work to improve every week. All the vans are refrigerated and equipped with GPS devices preloaded with the stops in order and optimised for fuel efficiency and time.</p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td colspan=&quot;2&quot;><h3><p>STEP 8: Your Kitchen</p> </h3> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><p align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;vdayfood&quot; alt=&quot;vdayfood&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/valentinesfood.jpg&quot; /></p> </td> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;left&quot;><p>Finally - the order arrives at your house! As you unpack your box each week - think about the journey that each item took to get to your kitchen, especially after the farming is finished and the transport begins.</p> <p>Alberta is a big place. Add Saskatchewan and British Columbia into the mix and we are talking about the size of Western Europe. Food that has been grown with love on a small farm has quite a journey to make. Getting the right quantities and quality to our warehouse, then packed into your box, then put on your van and then finally delivered to your house is lots of work and involves lots of people. But we love the challenge and we believe in what we are doing! We&apos;re so glad to have you as part of our Food Family. Thank you.</p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p></p> <p></p> <p><strong>OUR WAITLIST IS GROWING</strong></p> <p>Miranada and I feel very strongly about ensuring that everyone gets a quality product from us every time they order. We call this our &apos;Fair Deal&apos; - fair for the growers, fair for us and fair for the member. Since the new year we have been experiencing substantial growth and so we must balance serving our existing members against bringing on new families. The best way to ensure this is to manage our rate of growth using a waitlist. Many of you who have been with us since 2011 will remember we had a similar challenge in the spring of that year too. Currently we have over 100 families on our waitlist.We have broken the weeks intosegments and if you look at our signup page you will see what week we are projecting your first delivery if you signup today. Our mission is to bring our food to everyone and anyone who wants it and we pledge to bring as many people on as possible.</p> <p>We have also been getting many, many requests from other, smaller communities around Edmonton to introduce service. These requests are also being treated as a waitlist. Once a community has reached enough people on the waitlist we will start the process of introducing service. At a minimum we must make our minimum delivery charge and volumes on each delivery route to cover our expenses and we know you will understand if there is a bit of a wait.</p> <p>At The Organic Box we are always growing, always looking for ways to get better, and always trying to find ways to get more of your shopping basket filled by Alberta and BC food producers. We can do it! You are helping!</p> <p>Havea Great Week!</p> <p>Danny.<br />Founder, The Organic Box.</p> <h2>FeaturedProducts</h2> <table cellspacing=&quot;15&quot; cellpadding=&quot;0&quot; bgcolor=&quot;#edf0e9&quot;> <tbody> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;Chocolatechipcookie&quot; alt=&quot;Chocolatechipcookie&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/ChocolateChipCookies.jpg&quot; /></td> <td><h2><p>Confetti Sweets Cookies</p> </h2> <p>You may recognize these amazing cookies from farmer&apos;s markets around the city, and now you can enjoy them in your Organic Box as well! The team at Confetti Sweets has reworked two of their most popular recipes to include local and organic flour and eggs, as well as organic vanilla and coconut. These cookies are the chewiest, most delicious treats and we are very excited to have them available for you. So try some Chocolate Chunk, or Coconut cookies today! </p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;eggplantfennel&quot; alt=&quot;eggplantfennel&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/eggplantfennel.jpg&quot; /></td> <td><h2><p>Eggplant and Fennel</p> </h2> <p>Two amazing veggies that we can seldom find are now available for order this week! So if you&apos;re bored of beets, carrots, and potatoes you need to try these on for size. There are some amazing recipes that use up both ingredients... such as Eggplant and Fennel salad, Veggie Parmesan Bake, or a Fennel and Eggplant stew! It&apos;s a great taste of the Mediterranean. </p> </td> </tr> <tr> <td valign=&quot;top&quot; align=&quot;center&quot;><img title=&quot;wildrice&quot; alt=&quot;wildrice&quot; src=&quot;/uploadedImages/009_-_This_Week/Wild-Rice.jpg&quot; /></td> <td><h2>Wild Rice</h2> <p>Wild rice is a North American heritage grain that was an incredibly important commodity to native tribes. Harvested via low impact techniques on a few lakes in Northern Saskatchewan, the wild rice that we have is of utmost quality, taste, and nutrition. </p> <p><strong>Forbidden Rice</strong> is an heirloom Chinese rice that is treasured for its roasted nutty taste, soft texture, and beautiful deep purple colour. A very high class rice that is loaded with flavenoid antioxidants and iron. Perfect for pilaf, stir-fry, salad, or pudding. </p> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table>