California Fruit Growers Exchange Recipes Culinary & Toilet
California Fruit Growers Exchange of Los Angeles
Los Angeles, 1915 (?)
The Southern California Fruit Exchange was founded in 1893 as a co-operative of citrus farmers in Claremont, California. By 1905 the exchange represented 45% of the California citrus industry and became known as the California Fruit Growers Exchange. Cookbooks like this one were used to promote citrus not just to customers in LA but around the country. In the 1880s, special train cars made it possible to successfully transport the fruit eastward from Los Angeles.
While this isn’t a traditional community cookbook, I’ve included books from the Fruit Growers Exchange (and similar LA-based cooperatives for produces such as Avocados and Walnuts), because they do stem from a collective group, and they illustrate an important tie between cookbooks and Los Angeles agriculture. They also underscore how early cookbooks were used to market Los Angeles as land of sunshine and bounty.
This book is particularly interesting as it promotes lemons for food recipes and also as a beauty tool - predating many similar suggestions, such as using lemon as an astringent, that are presented as “natural beauty secrets” today.
LA’s citrus groves began their story with the Spanish missions of the 18th Century. From Fruit Growers Supply;
“The Fruit Growers Supply Company traces its origin to the late 1700s when Spain’s Franciscan fathers began establishing missions in California. In 1804, the fathers at Mission San Gabriel, near present-day Pasadena, planted a small grove of orange trees. In 1831, fur trapper William Wolfskill came to California from Taos, New Mexico, in search of beaver. When his trapping venture failed, he settled near the center of today’s Los Angeles and planted a few orange trees using seed from the mission…
By 1857, Wolfskill was California’s largest commercial grower of oranges. In 1877, his son, Joseph, sent the first rail shipment of oranges to the east. With eastern markets opened by transcontinental rail and the introduction of improved varieties of oranges, the state’s citrus industry burgeoned. Between 1880 and 1893, the area planted to citrus grew from 3,000 to more than 40,000 acres.
A faulty distribution and marketing system, however, brought the growers to near ruin. Agents controlled the process of picking, packing, and shipping. Some markets became glutted with fruit while others had none. When the agents began shipping on a consignment basis, the growers had no guarantee of a sale when their fruit left the orchard.”
To address these issues, the Southern California Fruit Exchange was born. In 1952 The California Fruit Growers Exchange officially changed its name to one that may be more familiar to contemporary readers: Sunkist Growers.
Sunkist Growers is a co-operative of citrust growers and not a farm workers union. At times, the group has come up against unions and activists.
In 1985, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Union, Local 78-A lead a protest at the Sunkist headquarters in Sherman Oaks, denouncing what they called unfair labor practices and unequal pay of women at two lemon packing plants. The protest was backed by The California National Organization for Women (NOW).
For more on farm workers unions, see my post about the Friends of The United Farm Workers Union Cookbook