Sprout About – Bringing Fresh Produce Right to your Doorstep
For most of the country, access to fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables is nearly unattainable. There are but a few areas that can boast the same favorite climate as here along the coast of California.
You might have heard that eating locally reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and that organic food is void of pesticides and herbicides and often tastes better. While you often have to pay a bit more for organic and locally grown produce, you can almost always tell the difference in the taste. Free of the preservatives and pesticides of store-bought fruit and vegetables, organic produce is usually healthier, too. But you might be asking yourself, what’s the most convenient way to eat organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables in Santa Barbara?
The answer to that may be local business Sprout About, founded by Frinee Warren. Sprout About delivers fruits and vegetables grown organically on farms from Buellton to Camarillo. Warren sends out a weekly email, with an order sheet offering 15 different options. A full basket contains nine different fruits and vegetables (with about a pound of each type), and a half basket contains four varieties. People can also order additions like eggs, bread, or cookie dough. Customers pick up their orders at a designated pick-up spot near their home.
“The focus is more on what’s tasty than what has a long shelf life. Strawberries are high in sugar, and they’re very tasty, but they deteriorate very quickly,” said Warren.
Warren, an El Salvador native, graduated from UCSB and used to cook meals for post-partum mothers until she had children herself. She now resides in Ventura.
Removing pesticides from the diet is an important reason Warren started Sprout About. She cited peaches, strawberries, and grapes as fruits that normally contain high amounts of pesticides, and stresses that these fruits are the most crucial items to buy organically. As a mother of two boys, Warren believes pesticides negatively affect the development of children and also impair the bodies of the elderly and people with compromising immune systems. To explain this she recounted a story about a local man who has to close up his entire house when another neighbor does laundry because of his chemical sensitivity to laundry detergent. “Once chemicals enter the environment, they are no longer under our control. It’s very prudent to be on the safer side, because we don’t know the effects of chemicals,” says Warren.
That is why Sprout About’s baskets contain only chemical-free fruits and vegetables that are in season. The produce is grown on small farms, and the farmers work closely with Warren, telling her which produce is grown organically. Warren said not all of the farms are certified organic because certification requires a lot of paperwork, and the farms simply do not have enough manpower.
There are marked differences between Santa Barbara County farms and Ventura County farms, according to Warren. Ventura County farms’ organic produce is often bought up and sold to chain stores like Whole Foods, whereas the produce market in Santa Barbara is more focused on feeding and providing to our community.
“Santa Barbara County has more of a niche where people can have family farms and sustain themselves,” said Warren.
Although produce that is shipped from foreign countries thousands of miles away costs less than locally grown food, Warren said that this is because the government subsidizes conventionally grown food. Warren said the better quality of organically grown, pesticide free food is worth the higher cost.
Eating locally grown food not only spares the thousands of tons of fuel used to ship food an average of 1500 miles and preserves better health, but Warren believes local produce can help foster a sense of community. Warren said that her business helps people, especially impressionable children, to the natural rhythms of life.
“For children, it’s really good to understand that there’s a cycle and that we’re a part of it,” explains Warren. “Awareness is healthy because once we realize we’re all connected at a very basic level, we can appreciate and take responsibility for caring for our environment and community.”
The sense of community translates more than just food. When Warren heard of a family losing their house and all of their worldly possessions to a fire, she informed her subscribers and they immediately took action to help the family rebuild their lives.
“After the family lost their apartment in a fire, my customers raised a few thousand dollars to help rebuild their normal family life,” said Warren. “People donated comforters and other household supplies. These people aren’t rich; they’re working families. It was striking to see people come together like that.”
Warren said the connection between health and the environment is clear and important.
“If we can each do our part and not contribute the environmental chaos, I believe we are doing something that is healthy. Don’t just do what’s convenient, do what’s healthy for yourself and the earth.”
Warren defines healthy as staying true to where she is in life.
“I obviously have things I have to do every day, but it’s important to also be flexible enough so that if my body needs some wind-down time, I can give it that,” Warren said. “As a mom and a wife, I am the emotional leader in the family. If my health is off, it affects the whole household. When recreation time isn’t maintained, everyone suffers.”
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- Sprout About – Bringing Fresh Produce Right to your Doorstep - October 30, 2008