Archive for the ‘Uncle Matt’s in the Press’ Category

Growing a Healthy Generation! 50 Students Help Expand Local Organic Community Garden

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

CLERMONT, FL — Fifty students from four area Lake County middle and high schools spent their Monday morning pulling weeds, spreading compost, and building and prepping 26 grow boxes during an expansion of South Lake Hospital’s organic community garden, located on the hospital campus in Clermont, Florida.

As a co-sponsor of the garden, Uncle Matt’s Organic has been an integral part of the community project since its launch in early 2013. Uncle Matt’s provides education to members of the community who want to learn about organic gardening.

This year, area schools became involved in the project, sending their agriculture students and FFA (Future Farmers of America] members to participate by preparing the gardens for fall vegetable season. Participating schools included all three area high schools: East Ridge, Lake Minneola, and South Lake as well Clermont Middle School.

“The organic community garden is a great community service project for the students to get involved in and apply the skills they are learning in the classroom,” says Chris Eck, agri-science educator and FFA advisor at East Ridge High School. “It’s neat that this garden is organic because our school garden is not. By planting the boxes here, it shows the students a whole different side of vegetable gardening. It’s an easy transition into the classroom to educate them on what organic is and why it’s important.”

Sarah Eck, agriculture teacher at South Lake agrees. “Right now, my students are learning what makes food organic or not,” she says. “We’re excited about working in the organic garden because it provides an opportunity to learn that there are certain things that we can and cannot do to keep it organic.”

East Ridge students have already started fall vegetable seedlings in the classroom, including squash, zucchini, cucumber and okra, to plant at the community garden and farm it organically. The school’s agriculture department plans on sending students over twice a week to check their garden grow box for weeds and plant health.

Besides Uncle Matt’s, who provided organic juices for the students as they worked, other area businesses also donated supplies and materials, including West Orange Lumber, Home Depot, Simon Seed, Austin Outdoors and Papa Lynn’s Organic Farm. These companies provided everything from lumber to seeds and gardening gloves for the students to use.

“Part of the mission of both South Lake Hospital and Uncle Matt’s Organic is teaching people how to stay healthy and well,” says Susan McLean, board member of both Uncle Matt’s Organic and South Lake Hospital. “One way to stay well includes eating food that is locally grown, organic and nutrient dense.  Through this project, not only do we accomplish all three, but we’re teaching the next generation the value of organic and importance of sustainability.”

The garden’s fall planting kickoff will be held this Thursday, September 26, at 5:30 p.m. at the garden located on the hospital campus.

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Uncle Matt’s Pours on the Love During Annual Teacher Appreciation Breakfast

Monday, August 26th, 2013


Uncle Matt’s Organic, along with the South Lake Chamber of Commerce and Pig on the Pond, helped honor almost 900 public school teachers and administrators on August 15 for the annual Teacher Appreciation Breakfast.

Held at the Wesley Center at the First United Methodist Church in Clermont, Florida, organizers provided the 890 teachers with a healthy breakfast that included 12 oz. selections of Uncle Matt’s premium organic apple and orange juices.

In addition to breakfast, teachers were presented with awards and prizes, as well as supplies and gifts that totaled $130,000 in giveaways.  Among the door prizes were two Uncle Matt’s gift baskets with t-shirts, cooler bags, a $50 gift certificate for fresh organic citrus and free juice coupons, alongside other back-to-school goodies.

The event honored the “Teachers of the Year” and  “Rookies of the Year” from each area school with prize packages that included cash and rolling carts full of school supplies. Also during the event, teacher faculties competed for “Most School Spirit” through a cheering contest.

“Uncle Matt’s is a proud supporter of our hardworking South Lake County teachers that are making a difference in our youth everyday,” says Susan McLean, Human Resources Director at Uncle Matt’s Organic. “We hope to continue to participate in this worthwhile event that recognizes these classroom heroes. And we love helping keep them healthy with our organic juices!”

Lake County, Florida, kicked off the 2013-2014 school year Monday, August 19.

DurhamontheCheap blog reviews Uncle Matt’s!

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Through the Green Moms Meet program from Kiwi Magazine, DurhamontheCheap blog reviewed Uncle Matt’s products. Read her review here!

Woman of Many Roles blog reviews Uncle Matt’s!

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The Woman of Many Roles blog just reviewed Uncle Matt’s and loved it. Read her review here. Thanks, Woman of Many Roles!

Live, Laugh, Love Blog loves Uncle Matt’s!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

An excerpt from the blog review:

I was sent a “free coupon” to try one of Uncle Matt’s Organic‘s [products and] I choose Orange Juice. We are a big fan of OJ in our household. My son and I love it although my husband loves lots of pulp in his, but me nope I don’t like it that way. I love the vitamin d & calcium.

I like how it says not from concentrate I always look for OJ that says that on the carton. I love organic even though it can be pricey we try to budget our money with getting organic sometimes I like that it’s healthier for you. I went to my local Shoprite they have an organic section now, and I only saw OJ & Grapefruit. I really wanted to try the Lemonade thought that might taste good too, but they were out of it. I also got a cooler bag too along with my review. I love it!

Read the full review here.

The Review Cottage loves Uncle Matt’s!

Monday, February 4th, 2013

The Review Cottage posted a positive review of Uncle Matt’s Pulp Free Orange Juice. To read the whole review, click here. Thanks, Mary!

Uncle Matt’s featured in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

In season: grapefruit

By C. W. Cameron (to read the full original article online, click here.)

Benny McLean of Uncle Matt’s Organic in Clermont, Florida, just west of Orlando, looks out over 100 acres of certified organic grapefruit trees. That’s enough trees to produce somewhere between 45,000 and 50,000 85-pound boxes of grapefruit. Along about now, he’s ready to start enjoying some of that fruit.

“We never start eating our grapefruit until after Christmas. That’s when they develop the sugar levels we like,” said McLean.

Uncle Matt’s Organic is the brainchild of his youngest son, Matt, uncle to nine nieces and nephews. The McLean family has been citrus farming for four generations and these days they harvest fruit from about 1,200 acres.

A grapefruit tree takes four years from planting to produce enough fruit for a commercial harvest. Before the freezes of the 1980s, there were 100-year-old citrus groves producing fruit. “In today’s world, we consider the life of a tree to be about 40 years,” said McLean.

They grow varieties that include red or dark red Rio Red, Ruby Red, Flame Star Ruby, Pink, and a white variety, the Marsh, McLean said. The red and dark red varieties are mostly for the fresh market while the Marsh is a juice crop.

Their grapefruit is picked on order meaning it stays on the tree until it’s sold. They can generally supply fresh grapefruit from December into May.

Keeping the fruit in good condition for that six-month window is a challenge. McLean rides through the fields every two weeks or so checking for damage. “We go ‘bug checking.’ looking for grasshoppers and other insects that might damage the fruit on the trees,” said McLean. They also sample the fruit, looking to harvest it at its peak sugar level.

When asked for advice on how to pick a grapefruit, McLean says, “We like to say that the flatter the grapefruit is the better it will taste. Experienced growers can tell by the shape if the grapefruit is ripe.”

Fresh grapefruit stored on your counter at typical room temperature will keep for a week, maybe two. For longer storage, refrigerate where it will keep for up to two months.

Wrecking Bar’s In the Park
Hands on: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
Serves: 1

You can use prepared juice for this recipe, but while grapefruit is in season, why not juice your own? A 12-ounce grapefruit will yield about 2/3 cup juice.

1/2 lemon, cut into quarters

2 tablespoons light agave nectar, more if needed

6 fresh basil leaves, divided

3/8 cup fresh grapefruit juice

1/4 cup gin


In the jar of a shaker, combine lemon, agave and 5 basil leaves and muddle. Add grapefruit juice and gin and fill shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Taste and add more agave if needed. If adding more agave, shake vigorously again. Fill a highball glass with fresh ice and strain drink into glass. Garnish with reserved basil leaf and serve.

Per serving: 205 calories (percent of calories from fat, 2), 1 gram protein, 16 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 5 milligrams sodium.

Uncle Matt’s featured in WholeFoods Magazine’s beverages feature

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Fungicide Found in Mainstream Orange Juice
Juice drinkers were soured at the thought of carbendazim in their OJ. Coca-Cola found traces of the dangerous fungicide in its Minute Maid orange juice, while PepsiCo also detected low levels of it in Tropicana.

Juice Market Analysis. According to Matt McLean, CEO of Uncle Matt’s, Clermont, FL, this news had a positive effect on organic juice manufacturers, like his company. “We abide by organic regulations. We don’t use any synthetic fungicides like carbendazim. You won’t find it in an organic product like Uncle Matt’s,” says McLean.

He reports that his company saw a spike in awareness about organic juices, and in “the understanding that you can have an option without synthetic fertilizers.” McLean noted an uptick in interest from parents who wanted to be sure their children’s juices are free of chemicals and synthetic fertilizers.

An organic farmer has USDA approved materials that can be used in lieu of fungicides. “One thing we use is compost, which creates good bacteria that fights the bad and out-competes the fungus. We have a variety of methods that we use,” says McLean.

McLean also confirms that there was a bump in sales for his company’s organic juices.

Other natural companies benefitted, too. GoodBelly, has grown its line of natural probiotic juices. Alan Murray, CEO of GoodBelly, Boulder, CO, says one hot new launch was a GoodBelly 10 Ounce Probiotic Coconut Water. Coconut water has been popular as an electrolyte and hydration enhancer, and the probiotics add digestive health benefits.

The firm also confirms that customers are constantly looking for interesting, exciting flavors. “The most interesting flavor combinations available to consumers contain fresh and unique ingredients that also offer a variety of health benefits,” says Murray. GoodBelly has met this need with flavors like pomegranate blackberry and blueberry acai “because they are exotically delicious ingredients that also offer a number of health benefits,” Murray says. Taste and benefit are some of the most important factors in the functional beverage industry, he states. “Consumers today want the biggest bang for their buck, and that absolutely applies to ingredients and flavors.”

Read the full article here.

Obama Administration Commends Organic Industry

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Washington, D.C.—As America continues to face its worst economic situation since the Great Depression, the Obama Administration acknowledges that the organic agriculture and trade industry lends a generous hand in improving our nation.

The Council of Economic Advisers, the White House Rural Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a report June 11, 2012 commending the industry on its success. The report stressed the immense contributions of the organic industry within the U.S. agricultural economy and its part in expanding opportunities for agricultural production—two major points to highlight in the upcoming Farm Bill season, which is up for renewal next year.

“The organic sector is fueling jobs and rural livelihoods at an astounding rate,” said Matt McLean, Organic Trade Association (OTA) board president and, CEO and founder of Uncle Matt’s Organic. “Organic is also creating an important economic opportunity for rural Americans through new business opportunities generated from the recent organic equivalency trade arrangements with Canada and the European Union.”

McLean also noted that the U.S. organic food industry is a significant component of President Obama’s efforts to boost agricultural exports. For instance, the Administration successfully negotiated organic food equivalency agreements with Canada and the European Union.

Moreover, the organic industry has in fact created a plethora of opportunities for rural Americans. The report boasted that the industry grew by 9.5% overall in 2011 to reach $31.4 billion in sales and created more than 500,000 jobs in 2010, the latter according to an OTA report in April. In addition, the number certified organic operations grew 6% from 2009 to 2011.

According to crop values issued by the USDA’s National Agriculture Statistics Service, it takes sixth place for the value of production, right after wheat and cotton and directly before almonds, peanuts and rice. The report called organic farming the “fastest growing sector in organic.” Despite this prominence, some believe the American government should focus more on the growing agriculture sector.

“As the 2012 Farm Bill debate continues in the Senate this week, elected officials should remain cognizant of the fact that the organic industry has thrived—providing jobs, supporting rural livelihoods and advancing in entrepreneurial spirit—despite very modest investments in research, development and promotion compared to the support provided to other agriculture sectors,” said Christina Bushway, OTA’s CEO and executive director. “U.S. farm policy should level the playing field and provide the organic sector access to the same opportunities and benefits long afforded to others so that our industry can further contribute to moving the economy forward.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, August 2012 (online 6/13/12)

Uncle Matt’s blog review

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Thanks to Inspired by Savannah for this great review!

Uncle Matt’s Organic Juice — 100% Juice, with No Added Flavoring — Each Glass is Simply Delicious! (Review)

I ended up picking up a bottle of Uncle Matt’s Organic Apple Juice, as well as their Organic Orange Juice.  Now that Savannah is drinking whole milk and juices, I make a point to buy her juices that are made from 100% juice, and not from concentrate.  Most of my friends with young children spend top dollar on organic juices, but don’t check the labels to see if they contain 100% juice.  Just the other day at a playdate meetup, I opened up a juice box of one of my daughter’s friends, and noticed it only contained 10% juice.  When I asked my friend why she likes this brand, she said because it was “organic.”  Then, I showed her Savannah’s new organic apple juice from Uncle Matt’s Organic.  I let her and her son try a glass, and they both loved it.  My friend’s son even asked for some in his sippy cup, instead of the juice his mom brought.  Within 3 days, Savannah has finished this bottle of juice.  Each and every time I gave her a sippy cup full, she couldn’t stop smiling between sips, and continually said, “Yum!”

As for the orange juice, which my husband and I tried, it was so delicious.  I am not a huge fan of OJ due to the acid reflux it causes me, but after trying a glass, I didn’t have any issues with acid.  As we took sips of this juice, we couldn’t believe how fresh it tasted.  If you hadn’t seen me pour it from a bottle, you would have thought I spent the whole morning squeezing fresh oranges.

In addition to giving me acid reflux, other orange juice products also leave me thirsty afterwards — but, not Uncle Matt’s Organic.  After just one glass, I felt refreshed and was rearing to go.  With the warmer months around the corner, I can’t wait to try Uncle Matt’s Organic Lemonade.  I have heard from others that this juice is so tasty, and a great thirst quencher.  Overall, my experience with Uncle Matt’s Organic juices has been great.  I am so glad I finally found it at a local retailer, and will be making a point to pick up more of their organic apple juice for Savannah and her friends.

I guarantee that once you try a bottle of Uncle Matt’s Organic juice, you will not be going back to your old brands, which are usually from concentrate and watered down.