Recently, the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club enjoyed a presentation by local small businessman Joe Johnson.  Johnson, owner of Joe’s Produce, has worked in the food industry for the past 50 years and got his start selling produce when he was just 16.  Johnson begins his day at 4:30 a.m. by traveling to local area farmers’ markets to select the best seasonal fruits and vegetables.  He explained that large retailers purchase their produce so far in advance that by the time It’s sold, it is already five to six weeks old.  Some items, like bulk pecans and even onions, are put into cold storage at the end of one season and sold the following year.  In contrast, what he sells has almost always just been picked.  He noted that the price of produce has risen nearly 50 percent just in the last two months, primarily because some growing regions have had too much rain while others are stricken by drought.  He predicted that this trend will continue.  He closed by saying that we should all be aware of where our produce comes from and how it is processed and stressed that while locally grown vegetables might not always look their best, they are always fresher and tastier.