Califonia Bountiful

Pesto pioneers

Farmers provide year-round access to basil for pesto—and more.

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It's easy being green for these food innovators

For more than 30 years, visitors from all over the country have made Massimo's restaurant a popular destination in the South Bay. Here they offer classic Italian dishes combined with modern favorites and a plethora of farm-fresh choices that make even long-time customers wonder what the chefs will whip up next. At first it may look like just the classic Italian fare, but look closer and you'll see Italian flair at its best, thanks to the special ingredient—pesto.

Supplying the legendary restaurant with all of that versatile greenery is Bay Area legend Armanino Foods. In business since the 1920s when the family supplied fresh vegetables and herbs to the growing Italian community in San Francisco, they are now the leader in fresh-from-the-farm pesto.

The Armanino family says the first year they sold only a thousand or so cases. Now, however, they are shipping upwards of a million cases annually, all to eager customers who are seeing pesto in a new light—as a farm-fresh product that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

"It's amazing to think that just about everything you eat—whether it's a cupcake or a hamburger or bread—everything starts on the farm," said Bill Armanino.

Everything we eat does, indeed, start on the farm—including basil as the main ingredient in pesto, which brings us to SupHerb Farms in the San Joaquin Valley.

Harvesting at the first sign of daylight is just part of life here as the fresh basil is plucked from the ground and shipped to the nearby processing facility, where during the busy season nearly 100 tons of basil are trucked in daily. The basil is cleaned and flash frozen at 40 degrees below zero, then the stems are removed and sold to local dairies for feed.

Every step is taken to ensure the best product gets from the field to your fork. No matter what form the basil may come in—a pesto pasta, a pizza or maybe even in a pot pie—these farmers are ensuring you can enjoy fresh basil all year long.

For more information about SupHerb Farms, visit

For more information about Armanino Foods, visit

For more information about Massimo's restaurant, visit

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