Meet Earl Herrick of Earl’s Organic Produce
We spoke to Earl Herrick, owner of Earl’s Organic Produce, about his experience in the organic industry for over 30 years. He’s had quite the journey from selling produce out of the back of his truck near Golden Gate Park, to becoming the leading regional distributor of organic produce in San Francisco.
The growing organic food movement
When Earl first started out, the concept of organic farming wasn’t very well-known yet, but it was the people and the product that really drew him in. Earl would visit growers to walk their land and learn their harvest. They were genuine, authentic, like-minded, and very much aligned in their purpose, and that was a beautiful thing to experience. He knew it was a community he wanted to be a part of. Additionally, the quality and variety of produce available in California was all very new and exciting to him given that he’s an Ohio native. He told us the most rewarding thing for him was the ability to meet people that thought they didn’t like a certain fruit or vegetable and convert them because the quality of what he was selling was so delicious.
Why grow organic produce?
Earl said it simply made the most sense to him to be a 100% organic business. He always had a certain awareness about food after experimenting with fasting, eating in season, vegetarianism, etc., so it was a short bridge to going organic.
“I wasn’t trying to be righteous. [Organic farming] just made sense to me. It seemed to be the right livelihood.”
Throughout his many years in the organic industry, Earl has been extremely grateful for the ability to serve people, to provide them with the best food, and to awaken them to the different aspects of appreciation for organic produce. “It’s not a glorification, but it is an appreciation of what you do.”
Whether you believe in organic for the health and quality of the food, the climate and environmental impact, or the ability to start your own garden, it’s been incredible for him to witness such willingness to support organic farming.
Partnering with Conscious Kitchen
As a father of three who fed his kids all organic growing up, it was a no-brainer for him to support Conscious Kitchen when we called him well over eight years ago to supply organic produce to West Contra Costa Unified School District. He was very enthusiastic and in alignment with our mission. Earl believes that outside emotional nourishment from parents, organic food is a crucial part of the development of children. For him, “It was obvious the power and responsibility we had with food, and what an opportunity we have to do it in the best way we can”. It was a good thing he believed in this work much because in October of 2020, we asked him to deliver 13,000 lbs of organic produce with only five days’ notice! Luckily Earl has millions of dollars of produce in his warehouse everyday, so this was no problem for him and his team to pull off seamlessly.
We are endlessly grateful for Earl and Earl’s Organic produce. When asked if he thinks there’s enough organic produce to support districts in The Bay area moving to organic, he said he has no doubt. Describing the organic industry as “flexible and fluid,” he has complete certainty that it is feasible. He hopes that more districts do follow in West Contra Costa Unified School District’s footsteps because it’s so important for the development of strong, healthy children. Earl believes that it’s important for us to get in alignment with nature and our highest values, and that “produce is right in there with that pool that makes us our best selves.”