pro­duce consumption

  • “A“mazing

    Late sum­mer to early fall is a per­fect time to pick and high­light bell pep­pers. They tend to thrive in the hot Cal­i­for­nia sun, so the recent heat wave was not a deter­rent to these col­or­ful beau­ties.

    The 2020 Wash­ing­ton state apple har­vest is just under­way. This season’s crop looks to be stel­lar and close to last year’s size in vol­ume.

    Apple farm­ers keep grow­ing larger crop sizes and more vari­eties to please the world­wide con­sumer demand of this favorite fruit.

    For the sec­ond straight year, Gala apples will be the high­est vol­ume vari­ety pro­duced at 23 per­cent. Red Deli­cious is pro­jected at 17 per­cent, fol­lowed by Fuji apples at 14 per­cent. Granny Smith and Hon­ey­crisp are at 13 per­cent each of total pro­duc­tion.

    This year, new­com­ers Cos­mic Crisp is fore­casted to come in at 1.2 per­cent of the total crop and Cripps Pink at 5 per­cent. Pretty good for the new­bies.

    Organic apple pro­duc­tion is on track to be about 16 per­cent of the total, or 21 mil­lion boxes. This is up from 15 mil­lion boxes in the 2019 apple crop. By the way, not all organic pro­duc­tion is ulti­mately packed, sold and mar­keted as organ­i­cally grown.
  • “Jimmy Nardello” Sweet Pep­pers


    What are “Jimmy Nardello” sweet pep­pers and how are they used?


  • PHO“nomenenal

    The Viet­namese noo­dle soup that fea­tures a rich, aro­matic broth and rice noo­dles is a light, sat­is­fy­ing meal fit for sum­mer.

    Pho (sounds like “fuh) is tra­di­tion­ally made using whole spices, beef bones, and fish sauce. It’s easy enough to elim­i­nate the meat or fish com­po­nents and zero in on the fresh herb and veg­etable ele­ments.

    This suit­able for sum­mer vegan broth derives its depth and char­ac­ter from whole spices, aro­matic veg­eta­bles, chile pep­pers, and mush­rooms. Shi­take mush­rooms are first in line. Oys­ter or cri­m­ini are excel­lent sec­ond and third place drafts.

    Gar­nished with cilantro or basil, bean sprouts and a squeeze of lime, the essence of this sim­mer­ing bowl is fully present.

    Home cooks are find­ing ways to cre­ate their own ver­sions of this sooth­ing broth when take out or deliv­ery is unavail­able. Com­fort is a byprod­uct of in-​home prepa­ra­tion and as well as the slurp­ing.

    Build base fla­vors begin­ning with star anise, whole cloves, whole pep­per­corns, and cin­na­mon sticks. Fresh gin­ger root, gar­lic and onions get the soup pot going. Char the onions, gin­ger and gar­lic to max­i­mize their potency.

    Tamari, soy sauce and water sub­sti­tute the fish sauce. Steep the ingre­di­ents over low heat to release the aromatics.
  • “Vol­un­tary“

    In the realm of fresh food prod­ucts, either retail or food­ser­vice, prod­uct recalls are not par­tic­u­larly unusual.

    A recall is the action or method of remov­ing or cor­rect­ing prod­ucts that are in vio­la­tion of laws admin­is­tered by the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA).

    A food recall occurs when there is rea­son to believe that a food may cause con­sumers to become ill. A food pro­ducer ini­ti­ates the recall to take foods off the mar­ket. In some sit­u­a­tions, food recalls are requested by gov­ern­ment agen­cies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA) and the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (USDA). Obvi­ously, prod­uct can be recalled for many rea­sons. This can include (but not be lim­ited to), the dis­cov­ery of organ­isms such as bac­te­ria like Sal­mo­nella or for­eign objects like bro­ken glass or metal. It can be due to a major aller­gen (dairy or nuts) not being dis­closed on a label.

    Most prod­uct recalls are char­ac­ter­ized as being “vol­un­tary”. This term is some­what ambigu­ous and may lead indi­vid­u­als to believe that a vol­un­tary recall is optional. That is def­i­nitely not true.

    A vol­un­tary recall is an indi­ca­tion that the man­u­fac­turer, grower or ship­per of the poten­tially harm­ful pro­duce has been in com­mu­ni­ca­tion and coop­er­a­tion with the fed­eral agency.

  • A-​MAIZ-​ING!

    Two quin­tes­sen­tial foods that define sum­mer are water­melon and corn. By July fourth, both items are on house menus and in high demand.

    Water­melon takes a back seat to noth­ing in the pro­duce win col­umn. For now, set it aside for a bit of corn amaze­ment.

    On its own mer­its, a sin­gle but­tered ear of sweet corn is supremely sat­is­fy­ing. What we can do with these bright green husks and their sweet nuggets inside is noth­ing short of sur­pris­ing.

    Don’t believe there is any­thing more to dis­cover about sweet corn? Have you made or tried corn ice cream? How about a savory whipped corn dip to upstage hum­mus with dip­ping veg­eta­bles?

    Put on that corn apron and get busy with shrimp and corn chow­der or a lob­ster or crab boil with corn as a trusty side kick.

    Nancy Silverton’s L.A. restau­rant Pizze­ria Mozza cel­e­brates fresh Cal­i­for­nia pro­duce. She serves an upgraded grilled cheese sand­wich filled with a charred sweet corn-​studded blend of nutty English-​cheddar and sharp cacio­cav­allo.

    What­ever the cook­ing treat­ment, corn is like the unex­pected happy sur­prise to the main attrac­tion. Grilled corn plays so well with other fresh sum­mer items.

  • Appetite for New

    Cae­sar Salad is an ionic culi­nary favorite. There are plenty of riffs on this clas­sic fresh salad.

    Adding toma­toes, avo­ca­dos, hard-​boiled eggs and even grilled chicken or shrimp takes it to another whole-​meal prepa­ra­tion.

    Do you recall when you took your first bite of this reli­able and ele­gant salad? Per­haps it fixes a place in time rather than an age. Bet­ter yet, the per­son who may have made it for us. Think back.

    The few sim­ple, high qual­ity ingre­di­ents are com­bined into an exquis­itely per­fect salad. Romaine let­tuce, fresh gar­lic, fresh lemon juice, olive oil, parme­san cheese and rus­tic crou­tons seem too easy. They are a match made in heaven and prove to be sophis­ti­cated for any palette.

    Anchovy fil­lets are left up to debate. In or out, the salad stands on its own mer­its. No need to quib­ble. They can be served on the side for any­one who doesn’t like these tiny, briny fish. Sales were up eighty-​five per­cent on anchovies year over year.

    What’s life chang­ing is get­ting an impor­tant intro­duc­tion to any num­ber of ingre­di­ents, foods or prepa­ra­tions that stay with us for a life­time. Those new food expe­ri­ences serve us through­out our cook­ing reper­toire. We build on what we find to be the most tasty and enjoy­able foundation.
  • Apple Hill Apples


    David John explains the his­tory and cur­rent state of Apple Hill apples.


  • Arugula


    Selec­tion, usage and stor­age of arugula.
  • Asian Pears

    Hav­ing the crunch and a shape sim­i­lar to an apple, Asian pears make their debut start­ing in July and stick around until early fall.

    The grainy tex­ture and sweet, juicy inte­rior is a wel­comed mar­ket addi­tion as we tran­si­tion out of sum­mer stone fruits.

    A rel­a­tive of Euro­pean pear vari­eties like Bartlett and Anjou, Asian pears are native to Japan and China where they have been grown for over 3000 years.

    Their first appear­ance in the United States was recorded in 1820 when a Chi­nese sand pear was imported to New York. In the mid-1800’s Asian pears made their way to the west coast via Chi­nese and Japan­ese immi­grants relo­cat­ing to Cal­i­for­nia after the Gold Rush.

    Most com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion in the United States is in Cal­i­for­nia and Ore­gon. Wash­ing­ton state fol­lows behind and then Ken­tucky and Alabama.
  • Basil


    Dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing basil in appear­ance, fla­vor and usage.

  • Black Radish


    David John dis­cusses avail­abil­ity, prepa­ra­tion, usage, fla­vor and his favorite way to eat Black Radishes.
  • Blood Oranges


    Not much grows in the win­ter besides pota­toes and cit­rus fruits. From the won­der­ful king­dom of juicy, tart, and sweet cit­rus, Blood Oranges rule them all. This week, David John talks about these rich-​colored flesh fruits.
  • Blue Moon

    We are lucky enough this month to have a chance to expe­ri­ence a rare Hal­loween Blue Hunter’s Moon.

    This uncom­mon occur­rence is a for sure a rar­ity. Mark the cal­en­dar to wit­ness this sec­ond full moon of the month on a hol­i­day ideal for it’s spec­tac­u­lar show­ing.

    All Hallow’s Eve con­jures up images of were­wolves, gob­lins, zom­bies, and other scary crea­tures. They con­verge on Hal­loween to bring out play­ful and spooky enter­tain­ment.

    When­ever two full Moons appear in a sin­gle month (on aver­age every two and half to three years) the sec­ond full moon is chris­tened a Blue Moon.

    When we look at the full moon on Hal­loween night, it won’t actu­ally appear blue in color. Even so, it will be pretty unique. A full moon on Hal­loween occurs roughly only every 19 years, and in only some parts of the world.

    Typ­i­cally, a Hal­loween full moon is seen only once every 38 years. The last Hal­loween full moon in all United States time zones was way back in 194476 years ago.
  • Break­ing Down Bar­ri­ers for Local Food

    By Kath­leen Weaver

    Most con­sumers believe pro­duce comes shrouded in plas­tic; per­fectly selected apples pre­sented in a pris­tine pack­age ready to enjoy. And while any­one eat­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles excites me for all the obvi­ous rea­sons; health and com­merce related, there is one sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence between the eater of today and that of the past. Eighty years ago most folks knew how an apple was grown, which is no longer the case.

    Eighty years ago a sub­stan­tial chunk of the work­force was employed in agri­cul­ture; 22% of work­ers rep­re­sent­ing roughly 27 of 123 mil­lion peo­ple who called the US home at the time. They farmed on small farms in all regions of the US pro­duc­ing mostly for their own sub­sis­tence. How­ever, trends began to shift with elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, mech­a­niza­tion, and infra­struc­ture and trans­port improve­ments, allow­ing peo­ple to seek off-​farm work. This is where we see the most sub­stan­tial change in our food sys­tem that until recently remained unchallenged.

  • Cac­tus Pears


    David John III explains how to pick, clean, eat and use the cac­tus pear.


  • Cal­abaza & Red Kuri Squash


    David John talks about what to do with Cal­abaza and Red Kuri Squash. Try it!


  • Cal­i­for­nia Apples


    Dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing apples in appear­ance and flavor.

  • Cal­i­for­nia Apri­cots


    David John shares how to choose and store apri­cots for best flavor.


  • Cal­i­for­nia Blue­ber­ries


    David John offers ideas for enjoy­ing this year’s Cal­i­for­nia blue­berry crop.


  • Cen­tral Val­ley Grapes


    What’s new in Cal­i­for­nia grapes.