Best Organic Produce29 May 2012
Even though it’s nearly 100miles, round trip from West Palm Beach to Hollywood, Florida, the rewards make it well worth the drive. With proper planning and timing, you can make it into a very sweet day-long outing, since the market is located on the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk. Of course, you have the beautiful and scenic beach right there and it is packed with such a variety of watchable people that you could get whiplash just gazing this way and that. Some folks come to simply hang out at the juice bar socializing with old friends for hours, occasionally munching on some sort of superfood they have stashed away in their to-go bags.
In my opinion it is worth the drive just to watch Josh's interaction, not only with his customers and helpers, but also with the produce itself. He treats each herbaceous plant with the love and affection that one would shower upon a new puppy. He is as knowledgeable as they come about every nut, seed, sprout, leaf or stalk that he puts out on display. In this environment he is truly an amazing creature,
The environment here is a thing of beauty as well. Over the years Josh has transformed his small vegetable stand into a full fledged organic vegetarian oasis, complete with full service juice bar and forthcoming (although he won't say when) prepared foods kitchen.
It is not uncommon to come upon some strangely shaped or colored flora that you have to ask 'What is it' and 'What do I do with it?"
The phenomenal growth from one overworked clerk (himself) to six very busy cashiers is a testimony to the quality of the products as well as the commitment to try to keep everyone smiling, which seems to be working, as this is one pleasant crowd of shoppers - an unusual sight in South Florida.
There seems to be no end to the stream of people coming into the market and walking out joyfully carrying boxes overflowing with spectacular looking, marvelous smelling, and exquisite tasting veggies. The tendency for the newcomer is to buy way too much on the first couple of visits, because it all looks so good. Then when you get home and start to unpack the bags and boxes you wonder who's going to eat all of this. The good news is that because it is so fresh it will last much longer than anything you buy at other markets.
It has been my pleasure to get to know Josh as a friend. Having heard small bits and pieces of his wisdom during my Sunday visits, I became certain that we could all learn from hearing more of his story. Josh is so full of love and positive energy that I feel that an article about him could not do him justice. But he is also so full of knowledge that we would never be able to fit it all in if we just let him write it himself. So I simply talked to Josh about the most important elements of growing, buying, juicing and eating organic produce.
Can you explain why you are sometimes referred to as "'The Missing Link", organically speaking?
Well, let’s start at the beginning of my journey. I began farming in the spring of 1990 with some of the finest stewards of the land in this country. With them I was able to develop a quite diverse understanding of how it all works, from planting by hand or rototiller, to horses or tractors, from legumes to vegetables. Having this knowledge now helps me choose which to grow and which to buy from other farmers. Of course my goal is to grow, or have grown by my network of farmers, as dose to all of the produce sold at the market as possibly. In that way I can help people reconnect to the land on which their food is grown. I think it is best to actually be the person growing the food. The next best thing would be to know the person responsible for growing your food. Next best would be to know the person who is buying from the person who grew the food etc. I call it getting closer to the source, so you can be sure of where and how it was grown, the condition of the soil it was grown in and exactly when it was picked. It is in that capacity that I can graciously accept being called "The Missing Link".
Where did this seemingly obsessive interest with organic farming begin and why organic?
Organic farming is basically farming without synthetic materials. Butdon't be misled into thinking that all organic is the same, it isn't. I believe very strongly in a "Dust to Dust" philosophy when it comes to farming. If it comes from the earth then it should and will return to the earth. I don't think man is intelligent enough to determine which chemicals can safely be put into the earth without a price being paid. So conversely, if it doesn't come from the earth, we should not be putting it into the earth. Conventional farming is producing biological vegetation which should not be allowed to be put into the earth much less into our bodies.
However, when I started in 1990 conventional farming was occupying 99% of the farmland in America, Today organic farming has grown to 10%, so we are definitely headed in the right direction.
How did you become so knowledgeable about soil and the replenishing process of the earth?
This is an area that we are all fairly new to and I will gladly share more technical data at a later date. I have had the opportunity to see, use and test the soil 'in many regions and I can tell you this with much certainty; the health, frequency, vibrancy and even the color of a plant is most definitely dictated by the condition of the soil it is grown in. The richer the ground, the healthier the plant. This is why the produce here looks the way you described it earlier. A healthier plant is also less likely to become contaminated by disease or insects, as they are both drawn to weaker plants.
I have spent a lot of time and money learning how to replenish the soil, which sometimes requires that a perfectly good crop be turned back into the earth, to give back, rather than continually take - take - take. As a result, the plants themselves become more vibrant and powerful and are able to survive without the use of any chemical supplementation.
Why is it that produce from your market lasts twice as long in my fridge as the produce from others?
We've already covered part of this answer in the previous questions. The other part is that the network of growers that I have established over the last 17 years allows me to not only pick, transport and clean
the produce, but also deliver it to the end user, sometimes within hours of the harvest. So you really are seeing "fresh off the farm" produce here. Of course, seasonally, I do have to go outside of my network to fill in some blanks, but even in the summer months, when very little is grown in Florida, we are able to get close to 50% from our network.
Can you give us some tips on how to visually check for freshness of vegetables?
This is very difficult due to the level of technology now available to keep produce looking fresh longer. Again, the key is to know the person you are buying from, whether that be the farmer or the produce manager of your local market. Ask when they get their deliveries or how long something has been on the shelf because you really cannot tell simply by looking. You must be able to trust the person who is providing you with your food.
How about some input on proper storage to increase longevity of the produce.
This is also a tough one to answer because I am not a big proponent of storing produce. Although my market is open only on Sunday, I would still recommend that you buy your produce as close to daily as possible. It is a fact that the longer a vegetable has been away from it's source (harvested) the less nutrition and hydration it has to provide to your body.
If you must store these foods, it is wise to consider it's natural environment. If a vegetable is grown in a cool, wet climate, store it that way. The same is true with tropical fruits etc. Potatoes and onions, for example, grow well in cool, dark, dry places and therefore store well in the same. Greens absolutely must be kept cool and moist, but for the most part, just do not store well. Also remember that hydration is the key to all living things and as vegetables dehydrate, they wilt and begin to decompose and lose their nutrients.
What is the secret of the "Thank God Green Drink" and the success of your juicebar?
Every single ingredient is fresh pressed and certified organic. Our smoothies are all made from recently picked, vine ripened fruit. We never add ice or water. We use only juices that we make ourselves, for a base. The only exception being the Thai coconuts which are used for a couple of our drinks. Again, fresh, pure and organic equals a better tasting, more nutritious end product. So the success, I think, comes from my philosophy that I will not sell anything that I would not put in my own body, and believe me, I drink a lot of "Thank God Green Drinks" on Sundays.
The "Thank God" is made on a stainless steel press from an ever changing variety of ingredients. It is generally made up of 6 or 7 green vegetables. The determining factor being what is the freshest and most nutritious on that particular day. So this is truly the best of the best. I have watched a person's frequency change as they drink this special blend, they almost seem to glow. The name is of course a matter of giving credit where it is due.
Could you tell us a little bit about your plans for the next few years?
I don't expect Josh's Organic Garden to change too much. If it grows, it grows, as it has, but I will leave that up to the Creator. I also feel obliged to remain as a consultant for the company that bought my east coast distributorship, which keeps me feeling very connected to my roots. We have many children thatcome to the market and I would love to continue providing them with high frequency foods, for they are the future.
When I do what I do best, I feel inspired and timeless. So I intend to continue on with my mission of fulfilling the roll of "The Missing Link".
Vol 27 Issue 3 Page 28