We love our producers, suppliers and vendors and we think most of them have some pretty interesting stories behind their products too. We’re sharing some of our favorites here in an ongoing series.
Coming from a fourth-generation citrus family, Matt McLean knows just what it takes to get the most flavor out of fruit. He also knows what it doesn’t take: synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
"My family started growing citrus long before modern pesticides came along,” Matt explains. “Now we are proud to be converting more Florida farms to organic every year."
In the 1990s, Matt started his own juice company to bring the family business back to its organic roots.
The father of two kids and real-life uncle to 10 nieces and nephews started talking with family members who were growing conventionally, asking if they thought they could grow organically instead.
His grandfather, Pappy, who had been in the Florida citrus industry for decades, resolutely replied, “What do you mean, can we grow it? That’s how we used to grow it. That’s how we should grow it!”
Matt launched the company by converting three acres of citrus to organic in his dad’s backyard and partnering with established organic growers. Production has since grown at a steady pace as they have expanded their own groves and transitioned dozens of other growers to organic.
“We have growers calling every month looking to convert their crops to organic,” says Matt, who is also the current board president for the Organic Trade Association. “We believe organic is a better way to farm, and we’ve worked with over 25 family growers to help them transition.”
In addition to 20 varieties of organic citrus, including oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and pummelos, Uncle Matt’s is branching out to grow organic avocados, blueberries and peaches.
Matt’s orange juice is anything but ordinary, made with a unique blend of early-season Hamlin (Pappy’s favorite) and late-season Valencia (Matt’s favorite) oranges to achieve a specific flavor profile with a smooth, sweet taste.
Matt is also joined in business by his father, mother, brother, sister-in-law, wife and two uncles.
"Growing organic citrus is feel-good work,” Matt says. “I'm able to do better for the planet and continue a tradition that's been in my family for four generations.”
Have you tried Uncle Matt’s organic juices? Why do you choose to drink organic juice?