Locally Grown


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I know how fortunate I am to live in San Diego.  Not just because of the beautiful blue skies, sunshine, and palm trees…

palm trees and blue sky

…or the flowers that grow year-round here…

pink flowerSaw this rose on a run the other day and went back with my camera.

…but it’s a blessing that fruits and vegetables of all kinds, including avocados, are grown locally here.

Including the four, locally grown avocados that I received from California Avocados Direct.

four avocados from california avocados direct

The California Avocados Direct farm is a family-owned and operated farm of the Holtz family.  It has been in operation for decades, spanning three generations, and it’s located about a half hour north of where I live.

The farm in 1973

The farm in 1973

The farm in 2010

The farm in 2010Photo Source

Do you know what’s amazing about these avocados?   And I’m not just talking about their taste…


…but these avocados were only touched by Ben Holtz and no one else!

Here is a photo of him hand-picking my avocados from the orchard last week with this caption: “Today is a rather mild cool day on the ranch.  I am hoping for more warmer weather so the bee’s are excited to get out and pollinate the avocado blossoms.”

Does that just blow your mind that I can literally see where my food came from just up the road from me?  It does mine, in a wonderful way!

In this era of food flown in from California (if you don’t live here), Mexico, South America, or all over the world, and touched by dozens or hundreds of people in the food supply chain from field to grocery store, the fact that no one else touched these avocados besides Ben, and Mother Nature, until I opened the box, is amazing to me.

It makes me want to do more to support local agriculture and local farmers and because I do live in San Diego, I can do that with great ease.

For example, here are some pictures I took last summer from the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market.  Every Sunday, year round, this amazing market is open offering locally grown and organic or pesticide-free food.

pineapples and squash on green table
fruits on farmer's market table
Baby gourmet squash and Japanese turnips on tableLots more photos here of the local produce bounty in my area.

But back to my avocados.   What should I make with my avocados?

They are still ripening so I have time to decide.


I could make guacamole.  Or my “Cheater’s” Guacamole with them.

Mrs Dash on avocado
guacamole on crackersBut these avocados seem too special to “cheat” with and I may need to make more traditional guac with these gems.


They would probably make wonderful Raw Vegan Chocolate Mousse

avocados in blenderavocados in blender
Agave nectar, chocolate, and avocados

No one ever suspects that avocados are the staple ingredient in the mousseNo one.

Vegan Chocolate mousseVegan Chocolate mousse

I bring it to parties and fool everyone who thinks the mousse is full of eggs and butter or that it took a long time to make.  Wrong!  Four ingredients, five minutes, vegan.


Vegan Chocolate mousse

Avocados are a source of healthy fats and do a body good.

The Rich Taste of Healthy Living Avocados and Your Health Eye Health: Avocados contain more carotenoid lutein than many common fruits, which defend against macular degeneration and cataracts and slow age-related eye diseases. Heart Health: One cup of avocado contains 23% of your daily value of folate. Studies have shown that people with diets rich in folate have a lower risk of heart disease. Avocados have other heart-healthy ingredients including vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and glutathione. Lower Cholesterol: Avocados are rich in beta-sitosterol, which helps lower cholesterol levels. Studies have shown an average drop in cholesterol of 17% after consuming avocados for only one week. Aging & Cancer Defense: Avocados are an outstanding source of glutathione, a significant antioxidant for slowing aging and preventing can cer. Superior Nutrient Absorption: Eat your fruit and vegetables alongside avocados. Eating a salad with avocados, allows you to absorb five times the amount of carotenoids than a salad without avocados. Nutrients in other fruits and vegetables are enhanced when eaten with avocado. Weight Loss: Avocados give your body a great deal of nutrition from eating a small quantity of food. This hearty fruit helps your body feel full longer and keeps your blood sugar levels from spiking. www.CaliforniaAvocadosDirect.com

Nutrition Facts Serving Size 1/5 medium or 30grams or one ounce Amount Per Serving Calories 50 Calories from Fat 35 Total Fat 4.5grams Saturated Fat 0.5g Trans Fat Og Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5g Monounsaturated Fat 39 Cholesterol Omg Sodium Omg Potassium 140mg Total Carbohydrate 3g Dietary Fiber 19 Sugars Og Protein 1g Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 4% Calcium 0% Iron 2% Vitamin E 4% Thiamin 2% Riboflavin 4% Niacin 4% Vitamin B6 4% Folate 8% Pantothenic Acid 4% Phosphorus 2% Magnesium 2% Zinc 2% Copper 2% Manganese 2%

If you’re interested in buying avocados and supporting the Holtz family farm and California Avocados Direct, please see their website and they can ship them to you.

Green avocado

Also, Matt Armendariz, photographer extraordinaire, with whom I did the food styling and photography workshop, also posted about a recent trip that he took to the California Avocados Direct farm.

And my friend Gaby of What’s Gaby Cooking, was with Matt on that trip to the farm and she also posted about it.  They both have great pictures of their day at the farm in their posts.

From my last post about Whirling Around, yes, it was a manic day, indeed.


1. Do you support local agriculture in any way?  Having a CSA share (community supported agriculture), shopping at your local farmer’s market, buying from local fruit or vegetable stands, or even growing your own produce?

If you’re interesting in CSA’s or joining one in your area, here’s a great link.

As I said, I do what I can do buy locally.  However, we all must do what we can given the constraints of our budgets.  For example, there are times when TJ’s sells blueberries at half the cost of what blueberries at the farmer’s market are, but that reinforces that sometimes it is more expensive to buy locally grown, pesticide-free food that isn’t flown in from 5000 miles away where the standards are much different on everything from paying the laborers living wages to crop spraying practices.

Also, I realize it’s not easy to eat local if you live in North Dakota in the winter.  It’s a good thought, but again, you have to do what you can and what works for you given your geographical area, needs, budget, and so forth.

I am not much of a gardener, and have tried container gardening, but so far, I have been bitten by the gardening bug.  The photography bug is more like it.

2. Do you like avocados?

Yes!  Silly question!

3. What’s your favorite way to use avocados or fave recipes?

I admit, other than guac, chocolate mousse, massaging them into greens as a salad dressing, or making other basic sauces/dressings with them, I just like to slice them and eat them plain on salads.  Simplicity is best for me.

Any great avo recipes or creative uses?

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  1. Locally Grown produce is a great way to go, and seems to becoming more and more popular. It is no wonder that people are looking for more sustainable ways to grow and consume food. Cheers.

  2. I used to have a CSA and I’m hoping to join again after we move in June… right now that extra cash is going towards saving for security deposits… fun stuff! :) I love me some avocado, just had half of one in my salad for lunch… creamy goodness!

  3. I love avocados, and I usually use them in a salad with tomatoes, garlic, salt and evoo.

  4. I belong to SoCal Avocados’ Avocado of the Month Club! It’s great—they mail me 20 avos every month and I’ve learned how to get them to ripen at different rates. It’s a small family ranch just like the one you are talking about. I would rather buy local, but there are no avos in NY…and the grocery store avos come from Mexico! So Cali is more local than Mexico—and the Fuerte avocados are unbelievable. I’ve only ever had Hass before…

  5. Just want to mention that Ben ships Avocado Gift Boxes all over the United States. They arrive in 2-3 days from our far from to your door. There are special gift boxes and also monthly subscriptions for everyone who loves avocados and wants them direct from the farm. We are not a CSA, but you can order avocados as often as you like from our website http://www.CaliforniaAvocadosDirect.com. Prices include the shipping cost. Ben picks them, and they are packed and shipped the same day. A ripening and storage guide is included in the box so you can enjoy the experience of farm fresh avocados. Thanks again, Averie, for the beautiful post!

    1. Thank you, Mimi, for the avocados and I am glad you liked the post. I mentioned in the post that yes, people can order them and that you guys ship, too! Right under the picture of the nutrition chart is where I had posted that info because yes, I wanted readers to know about it!

      Thanks again and please keep in touch :)

  6. It’s funny, because I like avocados if there are mixed with other stuff (I like guacamole, I like the raw vegan chocolate mousse, I like adding it to my smoothies) but I really don’t like it by itself. I can’t just add some to a salad, it tastes really weird and has a weird texture. But I think I’m the one that’s weird!

    I can’t wait until the farmer’s market opens near me! Another two weeks I believe. I love buying locally and organically, but I also like picking out my own stuff which is why I haven’t jumped on the CSA bandwagon.

  7. So jealous that you can get locally grown and hand picked avocados. Wow!
    You could make Green Goddess Dressing with those avocados:

    I miss going to the Farmer’s Market. With the paintball field open and me working there on weekends, I can no longer get to the Farmer’s Market. We do get our produce from a local organic farmer though – that should start again in June. Hurray!

    Yes, LOVE avocados. Can’t get enough of them. They are so versatile.

    Favourite avo recipes: Green Goddess Dressing, mouse, pudding, frosting, guac, and right off the spoon :)

  8. 1. I try to buy as local and seasonal as possible, but the options are limited around here. That also means no tomatoes in winter, unless you buy imported ones from Africa, which I don’t. I missed my tomatoes, but now they’re back! I make an exception for bananas though, I just love them too much. I’m growing strawberries on my balcony this year. Let’s see how they turn out.
    2. I used to shy away from avocados because of the high fat content. But now I know that it’s good fat, and I love them for they awesome taste and creamy texture. Yum!
    3. I don’t want to ‘mask’ the avocado taste, so I usually have them either plain and cubed as a topping on salads or veggie chilli, or I turn them into a mild guacamole.

    Ok, now I’m hungry. I need to buy some avocados ASAP!

  9. Its just amazing to see the compilation you bring with each blog post of yours and equally well reflects the amount of hard work and research you put in to bring out these amazing posts. Also, it is this quality and labor of yours that has always kept readers binded to the spell of your magic.

  10. I’m equally obsessed with locally grown avocados! I even bring them as gifts to friends in other states when I visit. I swear that California grown avocados are so much more flavorful than any other variety. Love you blog btw!

  11. That’s great to know that they are there as I live in San Diego (well right now San Luis Obispo). I went to their website and found out that Ben went to Cal Poly, awesome! I love going to Farmer’s Markets especially up here in SLO and down in San Diego in Encinitas.

  12. LOVE avocados. They’re so damn expensive around here though.

    So my sister just got back from San Diego over the weekend. She said it is soooooo amazing, like seriously she wants to move. She is making me go visit it next time. We’ll have to meet up! :)

  13. I have an avocado that is yet to ripen. It is kind of fun to think of how I’ll use it. I think avocados could be a form of currency. They are that yummy and healthy!

  14. Wow! That is so awesome that only one person touched your food before it came to you! That is truly amazing. I am loving all of your pretty pictures!

  15. I love avocados but I always forget we have them in the house. I try to support local produce as much as possible, but it’s very very expensive here… so I’m not able to do it as much as possible. My favorite way to enjoy avocado is mashed up with seasonings and made into a fancy dressing!

  16. I am a huge fan of local produce. Good, fresh guacamole is always my favorite way to have avocados. That or with a great omelet.

  17. Avocados are amazing! I seriously love them so much. I can’t remember a time in my life when I Haven’t like them! I have been craving them lately too!

  18. SO awesome Averie!!! I love it when the Farmer’s Market starts in the summer… it’s so great to meet the people who grow the crops and know exactly where it’s coming from. There are so many advantages to buying locally, and it always tastes so delicious on TOP of that!

  19. This is awesome! I wish I still lived in CA :) I really, really want to join a CSA and start supporting local farmers/growers. I’m checking a few out near me and am ready to make the plunge!

  20. I saw those other posts about avocados direct and entered the giveaways….I would love to live in a climate with avocados. i dated a guy who lived in Santa Cruz with an avo tree in his backyard. Jealous.

    I may have to start ordering from them next year. I’ve been spoiled living here for the last 6 years. I don’t think there will be too many avocados in Dec in northern WI.

    1. I used to have an avo tree in the backyard of one of the houses i lived in here. an an orange, lemon, meyer lemon, herbs, basil, etc trees and plants.

      yeah, winters in the midwest, eating locally and seasonally would mean eating snow!

  21. Words cannot explain how jealous I am that you have access to locally grown avocados!!! I LOOOVVEEE avocados. I like them on tacos and on toasted avocado/tomato sandwiches.

  22. I feel the same way about this area, so many wonderful fresh ingredients grown locally. Very cool on the avocados, I used to get bags of them from a friend’s tree while living in Florida and actually started a few trees in my yard from the pits. But we sold the house before the trees produced. :-)

    1. Yes, I get a farm box and hit farmer’s markets a lot, just picked up a $20 bag of local walnuts from one today.
    2. Yes! I go through quite a few each week.
    3. Avocado dressings, guac, dips and just straight up.

  23. oh I adore avocados!! their subtle taste and buttery flavor is delicious! I love them in a wrap or sandwich but ill also take guacamole anyday!!!

    I have been seeing so many people use avo’s in shakes and it looks so good!!! I must try that soon! I am sure they add to the creaminess of it for sure!

    I would love to be a part of a local CSA here in boston! i know there are a bunch, I just need to get myself over there to find out how to be a part of it!

  24. I’m so jealous that you can get local avocadoes! I try to buy mostly local in the summers but avocadoes are an exception because we definitely can’t grow them here in Ontario. :P

    I love them on salads and sandwiches, but I’ve also tried baking with them too. Allie @ Live Laugh Eat has a great Avocado Banana Bread recipe!

  25. we buy meat at the Farmer’s market and vegetables too! They don’t seem to grow much fruit in GA other than peaches, at least locally but I do buy what I can.

  26. My favorite local food grower to support: ME! I need to get my butt in gear and plant my veggies.

    I’m still waiting for the local avocados to drop below a buck apiece. I occasionally get a deal on the “over-ripe veggie bargain rack”, but not regularly. I want chocolate avocado mousse!

  27. How did you score those?! I love CA avocados. Mmmm. I worked the info booth at the Hillcrest Farmers Market last year and loveddd eating all that delicious, locally grown fruit and veggies every Sunday!

    1. no way?? well if you’re working there again, lmk…I live practically on top of the market….Im sure close! and last summer, was there practically every sunday!

  28. I am a HUGE locavore. From food to local businesses, I try to support the community as often as I can. I’m especially passionate about the animal products I eat being local, since it eliminates a lot of the issues I have with environmentalism and humanity (or lack thereof) in the meat and dairy industry. We have pretty great farmer’s markets in PA, but I am envious of the year-round Cali produce and the huge variety you have!

    And I’m allergic to avocados : (

    1. locavore. love it!

      sorry you’re allergic to avos…sigh. I know it’s actually a fairly common allergy in allergy circles/online groups Im a part of.

  29. I’m in the peach state and am pretty sure I haven’t seen a local peach ever. I could use a good avacado! I love guac

  30. The mousse gets my vote for your avocados :] Maybe because it’s the only way I like avos, but I digress ;) Either way – I can totally appreciate good farming, and that is so awesome that they came straight from Ben’s farm to you. As I type, I have strawberries sitting in my fridge from California. Given that I’m all the way across the continent, I’m not sure I want to think about how many hands they’ve passed through…but I just can’t wait until berry season is finally here!!

    I do what I can to buy locally, too. Nothing makes me feel better than not only supporting local farms but also knowing my food came from just a short distance away…but sometimes it’s just not affordable. I try to split it up about half-way; buy half my fruits and veggies from the farmer’s market, other half from the grocery store. Better than nothing :]

  31. I like to buy as much as I can local, and what I can’t buy local I buy in season, organic and sort of local (like, instead of buying the mangoes from Mexico I’ll buy the lettuce from Washington and the apples from BC, though sometimes I’ll buy the mangoes if they look good and are on sale. I’m not perfect but I do my best). I used to be involved with a CSA type thing but was just for a limited time. I really want to get back into it, though. It’s so much cheaper for me than to buy stuff in the store! Also I absolutely looove going to farmer’s markets.
    I’m not a huge fan of avocados, or at least I wasn’t until now. I had no idea that they were that good for you! I mean, I knew they were a good source of fat but they’re so much better than just that! Thanks, Averie! Also, I feel like banana mango soft serve would be really good. Maybe not. I don’t know. Something about creamy, frozen fats sounds delicious to me.
    I like avocado dressings (like ginger avocado dressing on a kale salad. Omg. Best thing ever) and guac. I’m not really into eating them whole unless they’re in rice paper wraps or something.

  32. Awesome–I miss living in CA for just this reason, and HI was even better in that regard: I barely bought food at all.

    Those avos: probably creamy but with good moisture content too, probably slightly less on the sweet side. Perfect for guac or just simple slices with tomato, like a carpaccio. But chocolate mousse is always a great idea too!

    I love that you’re making a connection with the individual farmer.
    I love to support farmers and grow as much of my own food as poss too.

    1. I knew you’d know the exact variety and what it was like..thank you for the info!

  33. I love avocados so much! My mom grew up in CA and had avocado trees in her back yard…she used to just climb on up and pick them! My very favorite way to eat avocado is just by itself.. maybe with a touch of salt and lime juice. so so so good!

  34. Those are some beautiful avocados! I once was able to visit an organic avocado farm and it was such an awesome experience. I got to see how the avocados grow from seedling to tree – and they were yummy!

    I try and support local agriculture by going to farmers markets. I also worked at an olive oil shop that sold 85% local products.

    I like to use avocado on toast or make an avocado milkshake.

  35. “Today is a rather mild cool day on the ranch. I am hoping for more warmer weather so the bee’s are excited to get out and pollinate the avocado blossoms.” – This brings a smile to my face ! I always try to support local farmers whenever possible.

  36. I just can’t eat them. I’ve tried and I just don’t like them. I do support local farmers and since we have been eating seasonally this year, it really has helped us learn more about the local/seasonal produce.

  37. how amazing to live in California – i’ve always wanted to live some place that can grow delicious healthy fruits and veggies all year round, you are truly blessed!

  38. That is awesome. I looove avocados. I think it’s awesome that they grow where you live. I shop locally a lot. I bought a ton(almost literally, haha) of local wheat, I buy eggs and meat that are 100% local. And in the spring/summer/fall I shop at the farmers market. Even if it is a little more expensive, it’s much fresher, much closer to organic that conventional produce at the grocery store and it’s from people I know. To me, it’s not just about getting good food it’s about building relationships with people in town. Obviously, I don’t go nuts and I only get what I can afford, and some people price they’re produce totally crazy, but it’s definitely something special to me. We also have our own garden that it actually pretty big. Can’t wait to get planting in about a month :D Actually I have an avocado tree in my house that I started a couple years ago. I’m sure I’ll never get anything from it, but I just like how it looks :D

  39. Oh that’s so cool! I wish I was home enough to take advantage of a CSA! I’ve started dragging Colin to farmers markets though!

  40. I love avocados and I love local San Diego farmers markets. It’s that time of year for the farmers markets and I am so excited. I just went on Sunday to the one downtown, I love talking to the growers and finding out what is to come and all the safe products they use on my produce. I am now a subscriber to your blog, I am excited to see what’s to come. Gotta support my local San Diego girls!

  41. Oh my — I’m so jealous of all the california goodies! Here in maine andrew and I are growing an avocado tree — it’s crazy that it takes 15 years for it to develop fruit! We doubt we’ll get any “local” avocados anytime soon, but joke that one day we’ll make all local maine guacamole and sell it for $100 a jar!

    1. that’s about right…the $100 jar. That’s what it would cost to make jam, jelly, guac, etc when the produce isn’t in season or not local. Beyond ridic$$

  42. These look so delicious I say just eat them on their own! Maybe with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of salt!

  43. I love avocados! I usually just mush ’em up in a bowl, season with a squirt of lemon juice and salt and spread on toast!

  44. Yum! Just awesome. Sounds like such a cool farm. I try to go to our local farmers market whenever I can and we also planted a garden this year!! Favorite use for avocado? I like it on top of a salad- so yummy :)

  45. No local agriculture here… there isn’t much of a growing season and it’s winter from Sept/Oct-May/June. So… no fresh avocados for me :(

  46. I still don’t get why avocados cost that much when it’s actually easy to be grown here. I love avocados and can eat them just plain or I make my own guac version (mash and squirt with fresh lemon juice). The cheapest avocado I’ve got so far is 50 cents each…haven’t seen any other places could beat that price :D

  47. If by locally grown you mean the few things I grow in my backyard, then yes. We just don’t have many farmer’s markets nearby, and the ones that are come at times when it’s impossible to do it solo with two young kids in tow. Wish I could buy more.

    Also, I’m never eating chocolate mousse again after that. I’m just not a fan of avocados or their texture.

  48. thanks for sharing that avacado story! love stories about independent owners/farmers/entrepreneurs doing well. and i love avacados – eat minimum one per day.
    i live in a real hotbed mecca for supporting local produce farmers – although no avacados are grown locally! but i do love going to the farmer’s market and buying direct from the grower. plus, prices are so good!
    love to see that san diego sunshine!

  49. I love avocados and I love your mousse recipe, so I’d make that for sure.

    On Saturday (forgot to post the pic on my blog) I had an Avocado Margarita — blended avocado + marg mix + tequila. It was delicious. Maybe you should try making that! :)

    The people in MN that I know who have tried CSAs here hated them. You and I know that MN has good tomatoes, potatoes and corn — not too much variety here!

    1. that margarita recipe sounds amazing!!! super caribbean inspired, too :) Makes me wanna be on beach!

      CSAs in northern climates..yes. Limiting would be an understatement which is why my parents in MN dont do one either.

  50. When our farmers’ markets are in season, I really do try to buy local. I also like to try to grow my own veggies too. I think it’s important to take advantage of the local farms and what they have to offer. As for avocados, I think you probably remember my feelings towards them ;-)

  51. I love supporting local, I get a csa bag from a farm year round but cant wait to do some shopping at the farmers market when it opens again there is something so amazing about connecting with the growers of your food!

  52. Oooo those look heavenly. I actually worked on an organic farm near home last summer and it was the best job ever. Hard, hard, work but SO rewarding. To have a job THAT in line with my values was almost too good to be true.

  53. LOVE avocados, I’ve been incorporating them into my lunches lately on sandwiches and in wraps!