BERKELEY, Calif.— Cultured, a family business established in 1996 that specializes in sauerkraut, pickled vegetables and kombucha, strives to provide its unusual organically fermented products at the weekly North Berkeley Farmers’ Market to the diverse community that shops there every Thursday.
Cultured is one of the many companies that follow the policies set by the Ecology Center, which include sales of Certifiable Agricultural Products, no sales of styrofoam or ingredients that may have exposure to GMOs and much more.
Massa Organics uses environmentally conscious farming techniques, such as implementing a fertilizer that contains less arsenic and using cover crops, which help soil fertility and water conservation.
“Instead of going through and mowing the lawn, the sheep go through and kind of graze, so it’s very sustainable, very natural,” employee Caitlyn Melillo said.
These vendors say they are committed to creating products in the most organic and preservative manner achievable.
Miss Bee Haven Honey works on developing organic honey that contributes to people’s health and even the bees’ existence.
“Organic honey really contributes to health and allergy as well as saving the bees and keeping them from becoming extinct … really, they’re like a superpower. Bees create honey and pollen, which is a superfood for people; it’s everything that everybody could need,” employee Jenna Dragonetti said.
The community not only focuses on the organic process of production but also puts particular efforts in packaging. The Ecology Center’s Farmers’ Market was the first in the United States to set the trend on eliminating all plastic bags and packaging.
Part of the conservation movement could be seen at Cultured’s stand, where workers provide a 25 cents if their jars are cleaned and returned.
According to a price study conducted by ConsumerReports.org in 2015, organic foods cost an average of 47 percent more than nonorganic foods because of the extra time and effort needed to grow them. The Berkeley Ecology Center does accept food-assistance stamps and Electronic Benefit Transfers (EBT). This program helps promote an accepting community of various business partners, shoppers and friends.
“I have regulars that I see every week, and we are able to catch up and chat while they are getting their things,” Melillo said.
In order to produce homemade products, businesses such as Cultured, use the organic products from other stands, creating an interconnected community among vendors, who also develop partnerships through which they trade their products.
“We get all our produce from this market and every one here,” Cultured’s Seamus Hozven-Farley said.