Babé Farms' Matt Hilter Dishes on Seasonality, Food Safety, and Quality
- by Anne Allen
SANTA MARIA, CA - Seasonality, quality, and food safety: these words ring especially true for the folks over at Babé Farms, who work diligently with its partner growers in Baja, Mexico, to ensure specialty items like Watermelon Radishes, Tokyo Turnips, and Blooming Carrots make their way to the buy-side. I spoke with Matt Hiltner, Marketing Coordinator, to learn more.
“In California’s gorgeous Santa Maria Valley, we are blessed with an ideal Mediterranean growing climate,” he began. “However, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate 365 days a year; extreme weather patterns can lead to quality issues on some of our more sensitive crops. For this reason, Babe Farms opts to deal with our friends in Baja to grow for us when planting gaps are in the forecast. Some examples of items we pull from Mexico periodically include Romanesco, baby Brussels sprouts, beets, baby squash, and more. Working closely with our partner growers helps us give our customers a consistent supply of great-quality product.”
Those products we first touched upon, however, continued to intrigue me and I implored Matt to tell me more.
“The watermelon radish possesses a rather unassuming exterior; however, it’s glowing, bright pink inner flesh is a sight to behold!” Matt explained, detailing how this item has become a core product due to its stunning color and peppery crunch. “It’s been a trending item among consumers for the past few years, and we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon, which makes it imperative that we always have steady supplies coming in.”
Tokyo Turnips—a produce item I’d never heard of—are globular in shape and taste like a cross between a radish and a turnip. They can be enjoyed raw or cooked, on crudité platters or in miso soups, and are currently being grown out of Baja, Mexico, and the Santa Maria Valley.
Babé Farms’ brand new item that its working on is what it likes to call Blooming Carrots.
“Blooming Carrots are bunches of multi-colored baby-size carrots that provide variety and convenience to the end-user,” Matt said. “Each bunch includes 3 to 4 of the following colors: orange, purple, yellow, and white. Blooming carrots add a kaleidoscope of color to any plate and are excellent roasted, sautéed, or raw. We will soon make these carrots available in limited quantities!”
The last thing Matt impressed upon me was the company’s dedication to food safety and quality, and how Babé Farms and its growers ensure both for the end consumer.
“One thing we take pride in as an organization is the fact that Babé Farms and all its grower partners are in compliance with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Some growers can be lax when it comes to food safety," Matt said. "However, Babé Farms is fortunate enough to work with farms that have been early adopters of the proper farming practices in accordance with the FDA and have passed the Foreign Supplier Verification Program.”
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