(1) Although I often hear statements to the contrary, Ecuadoran Farming is almost entirely based on the use of chemicals. (Please understand this is not unique to Ecuador, it’s a world wide epidemic.) If you have any doubts to the validity of this statement, I suggest you go to any Agro store and look at the shelves upon shelves of petrochemicals that include chemicals to kill bugs (insecticides), chemicals to kill weeds (herbicides), chemicals to kill fungus (fungicides) and more, even some that have been banned in the U.S. There is also heavy dependence on petrochemical based fertilizers. (When we asked at the biggest Agro Store in Cuenca if they had any products that could help organic growers, we were told “No, nada.”)

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “The farmer I know says his farm is organic and doesn’t use chemicals.” Well, if I had a nickel for every farmer who told me that story, and it wasn’t true, I’d have many jars full of nickles. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve been on a farm in Ecuador when I’ve asked the question, “Do you use chemicals on your farm?” that I don’t hear an emphatic denial. But after my friend and I talk with the farmer for a while and discuss certain pests and/or fungus, the truth (kind of) comes out. It is usually in the form of, “Well, we don’t use the really bad chemicals like the guys down the road.” Yeah, right…What we learned is that Ecuadorans, like almost all farmers everywhere, regularly use chemicals. They are not willing to risk losing their crops. So, if something bad starts to happen, they use chemicals. Unfortunately, that’s called, “Organic when Convenient,” which is NOT organic at all.

Further, chemical use is only one aspect of organic farming. I would bet that there are very few farmers in Ecuador who even know (or care) about all of the parts of the organic directive that, for example, include rules pertaining to crop rotation. Have you noticed that you see the same crops (corn, rice, potatoes, cabbage, yuca, etc.) planted in the same location year after year after year? (This practice necessitates the use of MORE chemicals.) Do you really think you get good, healthy food this way? Or simply an empty nutrient, belly stuffer.

(2) Ecuadoran farmers use modern seed varieties that were developed since the 1950s. The farming world went through a big change during that time in its seed bank as the agriculture industry went from a local farming model to a warehouse/tractor-trailer global farming model that necessitated crops that could withstand the rigors of being shipped thousands of miles. The delicious fruit and vegetable varieties (now called heirlooms) were then replaced by durable varieties that were bland or tasteless. But man, they could survive a 3000 mile trip and look like they were picked yesterday. Don’t always believe what your eyes think they see.

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(3) That brings us to harvesting. In Ecuador, and in most developing nations, harvesting is often done, not by the grower, but by a contract harvester who brings in lots of laborers and agrees to pay a certain amount per pound to the grower for his crop. The usual story is that the harvester’s laborers harvest EVERYTHING, from stuff very green to stuff that is rotting. It’s all just thrown together, boxed up and sold into the wholesale market.

(4) Finally, in Ecuador, how old is the food from the time it was picked to when it finally gets to you? This is a difficult question to answer as there are a lot factors. There are often days from the time it was picked and boxed or bagged until it is put on a truck. There are days for the truck to take it to a transfer point. There are days that it takes for it to get to its destination warehouse. From there it can be purchased and then put on sale to the wholesale buyers. If the vendor who buys it has previous stock, it will be held until the old stock is sold. If you can get a vendor to sell you new stock, you will pay a premium. All in all, it seems unlikely that your “fresh fruits and vegetables” are less than a couple of weeks old and possibly a month or more. I’ve been told there are people and restaurants that can make “old food” taste good. That has not been my experience. But even so, what are you feeding your body?

In contrast, GRAN ROCA follows a rigorous four-step process in producing the mouthwatering-freshest, most delicious, GringoPost award-winning fruits and special varieties of vegetables not available anywhere else.20160815_105801_resized_2

(1) We use seeds from Heirloom Varieties for the Vegetables that we grow — the family favorites that have been passed down from generation to generation — producing the best textures and flavors for you and your family to enjoy.

(2) Everything we grow is Sustainably Grown. Our focus is on improving the soil as we farm. We add river silt and compost to our raised beds and employ crop rotation techniques that enhance the sustainability of our soil. And NO petrochemicals are used on our farm.

(3) Our fruits and vegetables are Harvested Ripe (not some crappy under-ripe/over-ripe mix) giving our customers the best, most flavorful, most consistent eating experience possible.

(4) Our Fruits and Vegetables are harvested Farm-to-Table fresh in the morning for our customers in the afternoon. What you put on your table is only a few hours old.

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It is a lot harder, more risky, and a lot more time consuming, to farm this way, but the results speak for themselves; YOU CAN TASTE THE DIFFERENCE, and it’s NOT all that close. Fresh, clean, healthy, delicious food at the peak of its flavor is our passion!

Below is a list of the crops grown at GRAN ROCA. To find out what crops are currently in season, please refer to our Weekly Newsletter. If you do not currently receive it, and would like to be added to the list, click Newsletter.

Table of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits
bananas Bananas – My favorite Banana in Ecuador! Big, Creamy and Sweet
Lemon Lemons - Real Yellow Lemons
Strawberries Strawberries – Best in Ecuador! Sweet, ripe, and flavorful
Vegetables
Beets Beets - varieties are Traditional Red, Golden (sweet and doesn't bleed), and Chioggia (red and white bulls-eye). Sold with greens attached.
Broccoli Broccoli Florets – Delicious Broccolini variety.
cabbage-large Green Cabbage – Old European Variety. Crisp with mild Flavor.
Picture coming soon... Red Cabbage – Red/Purple Variety. Crisp and decorative.
cauliflower Cauliflower – Beautiful variety. Delicious!
carrots Carrots – Nothing like the taste and smell of Fresh carrots raw or cooked!
20160922_113004_resized Green Beans – Flavor packed variety. Great just steamed.
green-onions Green Onions – Slim heirloom variety with strong aromatic flavor.
Onion Red Red Onions – Very nice aroma and flavor.
Picture Coming Soon White Onions – Also lots of aroma and flavor.
20160915_124630_resized_2 Tomato Heirloom – What tomatoes used to (and should) taste like.
20160915_124058_resized_4 Tomato Small Cherry – Sweet with delicious flavor like cherry Tomatoes should taste.
Field Crops
beans Fresh Beans – Variety of Beans grown including Butter and Black Beans. Fresh Beans are way better than dried, especially on your tummy.
peas Peas – Garden Peas, Sweet.
Potato Pan Potatoes – Papa Pan is our favorite. Also have Mixed Harvest Potatoes
Sweet Potato Sweet Potatoes – Japanese variety. Bake them until soft and creamy and they will be really sweet and delicious.
zahanoria-blanca Zanahoria Blanca – Popular, Native Ecuadoran Root Vegetable.
Greens
20160915_130548_resized_2 Lettuce – Multiple varieties not found in the Mercados
Picture coming soon Real Celery – Heirloom, flavorful variety.
Chard Chard – Rainbow colors, beautiful and delicious.
kale-curly Kale – Blue Curled Scotch and Dinosaur varieties.
spinach2 Spinach – Real Spinach, fresh and mild tasting.
Fresh Herbs (for the Chef in you)
HerbsOur herbs include Oregano, Lovage, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Garlic Chives, Sage, Thyme, Lavender, Fennel, Dill, Lemon Balm, Anise, Cilantro, Parsley, Basil, Thai Basil, Horseradish, Others...