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Workers pack a truckload of freshly harvested escarole at Coke Farm in San Juan Bautista, California on July 16, 2020.

Workers pack a truckload of freshly harvested escarole at Coke Farm in San Juan Bautista, California on July 16, 2020.

Photographer: Ian Bates for Bloomberg Green

Green
Climate Adaptation

Fixing the Covid Food Disaster Can Slash Climate Emissions

A San Francisco startup is matching farmers to distributors to get food to hungry people and reduce greenhouse gases

By the end of April, Olivier Griss knew he had a problem. Coke Farm, the San Juan Bautista, Calif. business his stepfather started in 1981 where Griss now works as sales manager, was awash in a leafy salad ingredient: chicory. Specifically, treviso and castelfranco varieties that end up on plates in high-end restaurants. But high-end restaurants were largely closed, due to the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the world.

“We held onto it for as long as we could,” Griss says, trying to find a buyer. When it was no longer fit for market, workers tilled it into the ground, along with tiny artichokes also popular with discerning chefs. “It hurt.”