Earthbound Farm's Nathalie Fontanilla Discusses New Organic Baby Bok Choy and Artichokes
- by Robert Schaulis
SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, CA - Earthbound Farm has been farming organically as long as I’ve been alive. It’s an impressive accomplishment and one that’s seen the company tackle value-added salads, leafy greens, cukes, onion, sweet potatoes, and more, rising to prominence atop the pack in more than a dozen categories.
Is there anything new under the sun, then, for Earthbound Farm? Of course, Nathalie Fontanilla, VP Marketing and Innovation, let me know; the company is tackling a few new items to round out its arsenal of fresh organic veggies—baby bok choy and artichokes, as well as an assortment of whole head lettuces: red leaf, green leaf, butter, iceberg, escarole, and endive.
“Obviously Earthbound Farm is known for salads, and we’ve been doing broccoli, cauliflower, romaine hearts, celery, broccolette—you name it—for a long time. But we’re starting to expand our portfolio of organic commodity items to some cool stuff like our organic artichoke and organic baby bok choy,” Nathalie told me.
A veritable cruciferous crush appears to be sweeping lifestyle blogs and social media outlets, and very few Instagram feeds are immune from striking-looking specimens from the veggie family.
“Baby bok choy is all over the place. It’s a beautiful vegetable. It’s easy to use. Chefs and recipe developers have been using a lot of baby bok choy. I think it’s something that’s definitely gaining in popularity, and there’s growing demand for it,” Nathalie said. “The cruciferous family is really nutritious, delicious, and popular—all the brassicas—broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower. Bok choy is a type of cabbage, and I think very often the little baby forms seem to be easier to adopt, less intimidating for people.”
Additionally, the company is rising to the challenge of taking a stalwart conventional category further into the organic space.
“On the artichoke front, growing artichokes organically can be a challenge,” Nathalie noted, “but Mark Borchard—who is head of our agricultural operations—manages both our internal farming and our relationships with outside growers, and he comes from a family of artichoke growers,” Nathalie told me. “So he was bound and determined to figure it out, and the artichokes are just—truly—the best artichokes I’ve ever had—lots of meat and just nutty, creamy, and delicious.”
Both Earthbound Farm’s baby bok choy and artichokes are available in bulk (as well as all the new head lettuces), and allow customers to better flesh out their selection of organic offerings and appeal to a growing number of shoppers that are looking for novel flavors and organic bona fides.
“I don’t like to say ‘organic consumers’ because when you say ‘organic consumer’ people have a certain idea of who that person is, and people of all kinds are choosing organic,” Nathalie added. “When people are choosing organic options, it’s part of a constellation of things that they are looking for; they want better food, and that includes better flavors and more interesting flavors, so you want to bring items into the portfolio that make it more interesting. And, this being our 35th anniversary year, Earthbound Farm knows a thing or two about growing organic.”
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