Farmers Spotlight: Tamai Farms, Oxnard CA
Roland Tamai of Tamai Farms, is a third generation Japanese-American farmer from Oxnard, California. He harvests various types of produce including kale, cabbage, fresh herbs like cilantro and mint to tomatoes. I recently visited Roland at the Sunday farmers market next to the Marina, located in Long Beach, California. Like many local farmers, Roland is a produce expert, and is very knowledgeable, always giving excellent tips on how to pick, cook, and store produce.
How to Pick Tomatoes
It can be tricky selecting the best and most flavorful tomatoes. Roland recommends to take a close look at the shoulder of the tomato (the top portion). Select the tomatoes with different colored spots which contain more flavor. Physical coloring traits of a tomato reveal a lot about how it will taste. The uniform, single colored red tomatoes typically sold at grocery stores are aesthetically attractive but lack the flavor of their speckled-shouldered counterparts.
How to Store Tomatoes
I used to store tomatoes in the fridge immediately after I purchased them, until Roland informed me that wasn’t such a good idea. Roland advises, “Do not stick tomatoes in the fridge unless they are fully ripened and ready to cook. You should store tomatoes in area no less than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Storing it below this temperature will impact the ripening process, flavor, and texture of the tomato.”
More about Roland and Tamai Farms
There were a total of ten brothers in the Tamai family born in Japan. In 1912, a single brother stayed behind in Japan and nine of them came to America to make a fortune with the intention to bring it back to their home country. Only one of the brothers came into fortune and returned to Japan. The rest of the Tamai brothers, including Katsugoro Tamai (Roland’s paternal grandfather) began businesses in the farming industry. Many of the Tamai Farms around the country today are related.
In 1951, Roland’s father Jim Tadao Tamai started farming in Oxnard and Ventura. Roland, half Native American and half Japanese, began farming in the early 1990s and now operates the Oxnard farm, and his brother Steve, runs another farm in Ventura. Tamai Farms is a sustainable operation, harvesting crops all year round.
You can find Roland and the Oxnard Tamai Farms exhibiting at local farmers markets throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties–in Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Long Beach, and Huntington Beach. Tamai Farms also sells to specialty wholesalers supplying to restaurants.