Thursday, March 27, 2014

Florida Chicken: Organic Pasture Raised Meat

Florida--It can be scary buying chicken for dinner. There has been a lot of controversy about how the birds are raised and processed. Should you go organic or cage-free or free-range or pasture-raised? And what do all these terms mean? The best way to get your answers is to buy the chicken from the farmer that raised it.
Tracy Lee Farm Florida raised organic pasture raised chicken, with Sem-chi Florida
grown Jasmine-style white rice and QV Farms grown yellow squash,
South Florida, 2014 Copyright by Helen A Lockey
But if you live in South Florida this can be hard because there are very few chicken ranches.

So the next best thing is to buy from someone who knows the farmers of the ranches raising healthy birds. One such person is Robert Farriss of Farriss Farm.

He and his wife Paula travel to Central Florida, where the chicken ranches are located, several times a week to get chicken from farmers they know personally. This means they can answer any chicken questions you may have.

I bought some Tracey Lee Farms LLC organic pasture-raised chicken from Farriss Farm last week at the Sunday morning Palm Beach Gardens Green Market.

I slow cooked it with some soy sauce and served it with boiled, Florida grown Sem-Chi, Jasmine style, white rice seasoned with home-grown rosemary.

I also sliced and steamed some QV Farms Florida grown yellow squash. The combo of all of these Florida grown foods was delicious.

You can buy Sem-Chi rice at any South Florida Winn Dixie Supermarket under their own Winn Dixie label.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Woodpecker Damages Crop, Wellington, Fla.

Wellington, Fla.--Robert Fong grows Asian vegetables and other produce. He uses organic growing methods on his farm. "A woodpecker attacked my Cuban pumpkin," says Fong holding up an 11 lb. pumpkin.

11 lb. Florida grown Cuban pumpkin with woodpecker damage, Fong Family
Farms, Wellington, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey

He does not sell many of this style of pumpkin in Wellington, "It is more popular down south in Miami," he says, but this does not stop him from growing it. Nor does the occasional pecking by woodpeckers.
One inch deep hole in Cuban pumpkin created by woodpecker,
Fong Family Farms, Wellington, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
You can buy Fong Family Farms vegetables at the seasonal Wellington Green Market on Saturday Mornings from 9 am to 1 pm.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Pine Jog Elementary School's Strawberry Festival 2014

West Palm Beach, Fla.—Pine Jog Elementary School’s Strawberry Festival raises money for their school and garden. The February held event pulls its inspiration from the 1500 hydroponically-grown strawberry plants growing in the 4000-plant school garden located at the back of the property. 
Pine Jog Elementary School's hydroponically grown strawberry treats,
Pine Jog Elementary Strawberry Festival, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
Soil Sisters—Mrs. Laurie Mecca (garden founder) and Mrs. Linda Petuch (science resource and lab teacher) run a booth selling strawberry smoothies, chocolate dipped strawberries, and strawberry topped brownies. All the berries used come from the garden. And all of the money earned goes back into that garden.

Steve Mecca's Green Market, Pine Jog Elementary School
Strawberry Festival, West Palm Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
Mrs. Mecca’s husband Steve also holds a Green Market every year. He puts it together with produce donated by local South Florida farmers. In 2013, the Green Market raised close to $2000 for the school garden.

The garden, started in 2008 and located at the back of the elementary school, is taken care of by all the classes through an after school gardening club called, Our World LEEDers team (OWL). 

Soil Sisters Mrs Petuch and Mrs Laurie Mecca at Pine Jog
Elementary School Strawberry Festival,
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
“We teach the children how our produce is better than any other from California,” said Mecca. “It’s fresh off the vine. We sell it in the office & put the money back into the garden.”

Pine Jog Elementary School has been shaping young people to become better stewards of the environment for many years.

“I was aware of the environment before coming here. But this school sparked a passion for the environment in me,” said Tiffany Canate, who was part of the first farm team back in 2008.

In middle school, Canate started a recycling program with the Junior National Honor Society.

She is now in tenth grade in a science and engineering program with ambitions to become a forensic anthropologist or surgeon. “No matter what I become I will always be aware of the environment and do something with it.”

To find out more about Pine Jog Elementary go to

Friday, March 14, 2014

Yahmon Salmon Inc., Miami, Fla: Hot Smoked & Spicy

Miami, Fla.—Smoked salmon is delicious and good for you. It is especially good if Yahmon Salmon has made it. “I’m feeding this to my child. There are no preservatives,” said Jamaican born Anna Sasso, owner of Yahmon Salmon Inc., at a recent interview during the 17th Annual Americas Food & Beverage Show in Miami Beach, Florida. 

Anna Sasso owner of Yahmon Salmon Inc, hot smoked spicy salmon,
17th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami, Fla.
Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
Her dedication to safe food goes further, “There is a cold smoke method but the fish never reaches 145 degrees so if there is bacteria they survive. I hot smoke mine. I bring it to 145 degrees Fahrenheit so everything is killed off,” said Sasso with a knowing smile.

She does not sell at farmers markets or green markets. “It’s got to stay cold,” and it can’t stay at the right temperature at an open-air market according to Sasso.

She also cares about the freshness of her ingredients. So she grows her own scotch bonnet peppers using organic growing methods. 

She has been in business for almost four years. Her products are so popular that they are being sold at Miami ABC liquor stores.

Her smoked salmon comes in three seasonings: original cracked pepper, spicy Caribbean jerk, and blackened Cajun. She also sells a selection of Kosher Parve salmon.

They are open from 8 am to 4 pm Mon to Thurs, and 8 am to 12 noon on Fridays.

You can call 305-252-9507 or email

Or you can go to their website

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Prova Inc., Sweet Brown Flavorings Specialist Including Organics

Prova Inc. is a specialist is sweet brown flavorings. The company, based in Montreuil, France, started selling vanilla 1946. Today they sell more items in France and the United States, which are all Non-GMO Project Verified Products according to William Graham, Vice President of Sales for North America. I interviewed him recently at the Institute of Food Technologist (IFT) Suppliers night in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

William Graham, Vice President Sales North America, at IFT suppliers' night,
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
“The best thing for us being French based company is that all our chocolates are GMO-free,” said Graham. Prova Inc.’s products are also kosher and allergen-free.

They are one of the largest producers of vanilla in the world. Prova sells organic EC certified and USDA National Organic Program (NOP) certified concentrated vanilla, cocoa and coffee extracts.

They have a sustainability project around their Madagascar vanilla purchasing, according to Graham.  Their program works with three villages. It has built a school and helped clean up the drinking water.

Prova believes so strongly in the sustainability message that in May several high up employees will be on a 100 km walk around France to raise awareness and money for sustainability, according to Graham.

They sell mainly to large companies, restaurants and hotels and do not do any retail sales. 

If you want to find out more about what they do you can go to

Or you can contact Graham directly at