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Gourmet greens

Tanimura & Antle, one of California's most highly respected farms, has become a leader in lettuce.


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Did you know that in terms of production value, lettuce is the leading vegetable crop in the United States? And did you realize that each year more than 80 percent of the salad greens consumed in the United States are grown in the Salinas Valley?

While lettuce is consistently among California's top commodities, nobody has seen quite the success as Tanimura & Antle. One of California's largest and most highly respected farms, it has become a leader in quality and innovation when it comes to our favorite leafy green.

It all began with two families uniting over a common bond—farming.

"My grandfather came here originally in San Juan Bautista to grow hay," said farmer Gary Tanimura. "But then he heard about the lettuce industry in the 1920s. He moved my family to Castroville and started growing lettuce there, near the Antle family."

Picking up the story, Rick Antle added, "My family had a packing and marketing operation. In 1982 the two families came together and formed Tanimura & Antle, and we've been farming collectively together."

Today the Tanimura family and the Antle family farm more than 30,000 acres and assure excellence all the way from the seed to your salad. With selecting, picking and washing all done by hand, every step is taken to ensure food safety. As a result, Tanimura & Antle is now one of America's premier fresh produce farming operations, with more than 40 varieties of fresh vegetables available for customers. But nothing has them quite as excited these days as Artisan Lettuce, their newest product. Three varieties are highlighted: Red and Green Gem, Red and Green Petite Oak, and Red and Green Tango. All three were researched and developed to meet the company's standards of quality as well as the consumer's desire for great taste, color and texture.

The variety of lettuce in each package eliminates the need to buy a lot of different heads of lettuce and thus allows for customized blends. Also, the petite size and shape of each artisan lettuce head gives folks a quick and easy preparation as well as flexibility in sizes and cuts. In fact, the lettuce needs only two cuts, a quick rinse in the sink and a crisping in the fridge before plating.

But if you'd rather let a professional plate you up a salad of Tanimura & Antle's Artisan Lettuce, head on over to The Fish Hopper Restaurant on Cannery Row in Monterey. Executive Chef Mohammed Tabib said he feels fortunate to work in an area where so many different crops are grown.

"It's any chef's dream to have the abundance of agriculture we have here," he said.

And no matter how you slice it, cut it or chop it, these gourmet greens will be here as long as these pioneers are around to grow you the ingredients for a perfect meal.

For more information about Tanimura & Antle and Artisan Lettuce, visit www.taproduce.com.
For more information about The Fish Hopper Restaurant, visit www.fishhopper.com.


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