Fresh News

The Cal­i­for­nia cit­rus har­vest is here! This bil­lion dol­lar seg­ment of the state’s econ­omy has a rich his­tory and her­itage.

‘Tis the sea­son to explore the numer­ous vari­eties of oranges, man­darins, lemons, and grape­fruits.

Long awaited navel oranges began har­vest­ing in Novem­ber. Named for the small, navel-​like for­ma­tion on their blos­som end, they are refresh­ingly sweet and juicy. Their slightly thick skin peels eas­ily, reveal­ing a bright orange, seed­less inte­rior.

Navels sig­nal the end of the Valen­cia (juice orange) run in Cal­i­for­nia. Often called the sum­mer orange, Valen­cias are avail­able from Feb­ru­ary through early Novem­ber. This makes for an easy tran­si­tion into the favored navels.

Cara Cara and Blood oranges will hit mar­kets by Decem­ber. Cara Cara oranges are known for being extremely sweet with slightly lower acid­ity than reg­u­lar Navels. They may look like Navel oranges on the out­side, but the seed­less inte­rior has a rich pink hue due to the nat­ural pres­ence of lycopene.

Read more: Think­ing Orange →

San­skrit is an old (around 3,500 years) and clas­si­cal lan­guage of India. It is also the sacra­men­tal lan­guage of some reli­gions– Hin­duism, Bud­dhism, and Jain­ism.

This lan­guage is one that allows us to trans­form how we think about day to day con­cepts. Some of life’s guid­ing prin­ci­ples can be best under­stood with the use of San­skrit words.

Those among us who embrace the prac­tice of yoga are famil­iar with the San­skrit vocab­u­lary. Find­ing our way past “Namaste” brings an added dimen­sion to self-​awareness. These days, San­skrit is rarely used in spo­ken form out­side of prayers and rit­u­als.

As the hol­i­day sea­son approaches, many fac­tors, both inter­nal and exter­nal, dis­turb the nat­ural life bal­ance. Emo­tional and phys­i­cal stresses include one’s emo­tional state, diet and food choices, the sea­son, the weather, phys­i­cal pain or trauma, work and fam­ily rela­tion­ships.

Add in the mul­ti­ple COVID pan­demic forces to the hol­i­day equa­tion and there is an enor­mous chance to lose con­trol over Thanks­giv­ing Day cel­e­bra­tions.

Think­ing through hol­i­day meal prepa­ra­tion pri­or­i­tizes guest invi­ta­tions, shop­ping lists and kitchen orga­ni­za­tion. We should treat per­sonal well-​being with as much attention.

Read more: Santosha →

Pro­cure­ment of fresh pro­duce is a noble pro­fes­sion. one that buy­ers are very hon­ored to be asso­ci­ated. They take their roles seri­ously with an inor­di­nate amount of ded­i­ca­tion and atten­tion to details.

Through all sea­sons, they source prod­ucts of all kinds for every cus­tomer seg­ment. The num­ber of com­modi­ties and items that a pro­duce buyer takes respon­si­bil­ity for is mind-​boggling.

It’s rel­a­tively easy to be a buyer in flush mar­kets. When there is plenty of broc­coli, straw­ber­ries and romaine let­tuce to be had, a buyer will give the “green light” sig­nal to “sell with con­fi­dence”. This means prod­uct is ample, qual­ity is excel­lent and prices are aggres­sive and rea­son­able.

Weather events never allow a buyer to get too com­fort­able. Nei­ther does cur­rent sup­ply chain chal­lenges. Throw in the nor­mal sea­sonal tran­si­tion to fall/​winter grow­ing regions and we have our­selves one big migraine for any­one watch­ing and procur­ing fresh pro­duce.

The “don’t kill the mes­sen­ger” mantra applies to indi­vid­u­als hear­ing daily mar­ket updates. As a sales per­son, chef or retail pro­duce clerk, we are oblig­ated to know what pre­vail­ing mar­ket con­di­tions dic­tate. Menus and pro­mo­tions rely on solid news.

Read more: Bad News Bears →

Sweet pota­toes and yams get a lot of atten­tion around the hol­i­days. They remain a hum­ble ser­vant for year-​round sweet side dishes. Who doesn’t love a savory sweet potato fry, right?

The best choice between sweet pota­toes or yams will ulti­mately depend on the type of dish being made and desired fla­vor and pre­ferred tex­ture.

There are many dif­fer­ent vari­eties, rang­ing from dry and starchy ones com­mon in trop­i­cal regions, some pale and oth­ers red or pur­ple with antho­cyanins, to the moist, sweet ver­sion, dark orange that is pop­u­lar in the United States. This one was con­fus­ingly named a “yam” in the 1930’s mar­ket­ing cam­paigns.

Sweet pota­toes (Ipo­moea batatas) and true yams (species of the Dioscorea fam­ily) are com­pletely dif­fer­ent plants. Both species are old; both are tubers; both come in var­i­ous tex­tures and col­ors.

Tech­ni­cally, most all of the yams found in the United States are truly sweet pota­toes. We guess that most Amer­i­cans have prob­a­bly never actu­ally eaten a true yam. Those are more likely encoun­tered in inter­na­tional or spe­cialty mar­kets and in African and South Amer­i­can cuisines.

Sweet pota­toes can be baked, steamed, boiled, roasted, microwaved, dried, juiced, made into soups, added to casseroles, baked into breads, muffins, cakes, cook­ies, and pies, added to pan­cakes, and even eaten raw.

Read more: Sweet Possibilities →

More than a year and a half after the coro­n­avirus pan­demic upended daily life, the sup­ply of basic goods at Amer­i­can gro­cery stores and restau­rants is once again falling vic­tim to inter­mit­tent short­ages and delays.

Daily notices and alerts from ship­pers for price increases, prod­uct pro­rates or lack of goods being deliv­ered have become com­mon­place.

This unfor­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion is exas­per­at­ing for retail­ers, food­ser­vice oper­a­tors, dis­trib­u­tors and con­sumers alike. We’ve all heard the laun­dry list of sup­ply chain woes.

Lack of labor is at the top. There just isn’t enough labor to sat­isfy the needs of pro­cess­ing, ship­ping and trans­porta­tion.

Capac­ity to meet ris­ing demand in a recov­er­ing econ­omy starts and stalls within every cat­e­gory. Dairy, meat, eggs, juices, and paper goods have seen plenty of hic­cups.

Food pro­cess­ing plants phys­i­cally can­not keep up with grow­ing demand. Whether they need to wash, cut and trim car­rots or bone and trim a pork ten­der­loin, the work load sur­passes any avail­able work force.

West coast port con­ges­tions have reached a fever pitch. The U.S. Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary has stepped in to ask for round the clock oper­a­tions. This does noth­ing to address the lack of trucks, dri­vers and stor­age at the offload points.

Read more: Pantry Raid →

Once the weather turns cool, there is some­thing invit­ing about step­ping up those sip­ping recipes.

Cock­tails and bev­er­ages are part of the fall fes­tiv­i­ties. There is a hol­i­day around every cor­ner ready to be toasted.

Fresh pressed juices, cit­rus gar­nishes, teas, ciders and kom­buchas take a turn at liven­ing up the party.

Gin­ger and pear, apples and cin­na­mon or pome­gran­ate and cran­berry make great autumn drink part­ners. Jewel-​toned liq­uids make a splash in clear mugs, mar­tini, high­ball or stemmed glasses.

Alcohol-​free and adult bev­er­ages alike boast big fla­vors. Smokey Har­vest Apple Cider Mar­garita and Brown Sugar Fig Bub­bly exceed all expec­ta­tions for some­thing yummy about to be served.

Ingre­di­ents are as wild as we allow them be. Cloves, star anise, nut­meg and juniper berries spike a cold or hot drink like nobod­ies busi­ness. They infuse a dis­tinc­tive pres­ence that melds with the liq­uid pair­ings.

Sim­ple syrups make their mark with sugar and water or honey and cit­rus juice. Fresh herbs like rose­mary or basil lend them­selves to drink­ing occa­sions. Their appear­ance alone lends them to some­thing refresh­ing and brilliant.

Read more: Witches Brew →

Boomers grew up around a din­ner table daily fam­ily meals deter­mined sacred . Atten­dance was required and non-​negotiable for any­thing short of an emer­gency.

Gen­er­a­tions X, Y and Z have stepped away from manda­tory fam­ily meals. We under­stand why a case can be made for hav­ing grace around more man­age­able meal expec­ta­tions.

Ide­ally, gath­er­ing around the table with either fam­ily mem­bers or friends is mean­ing­ful. Break­ing bread allows for the human con­tact and exchange that comes with a more relaxed atmos­phere to share the day’s events and hap­pen­ings.

Let’s face it, who now has a real­is­tic sched­ule that can sus­tain a din­ner hour where every­one is avail­able at any given time? Rather, we see soc­cer, band and gym­nas­tic prac­tices tak­ing par­ents and kids in mul­ti­ple direc­tions. Din­ner may be the last thought as we close out com­mit­ments for the day.

The pres­sure to per­form, shop, cook and deliver a fam­ily meal is aban­doned for less stress and less sham­ing.

Let’s cut some slack for the jug­gling that hap­pens each week. Fam­i­lies look and func­tion dif­fer­ently from the 1950’s. Sin­gle par­ent house­holds, extended fam­ily house­holds and shared fam­ily house­holds yield to guilt-​free excep­tions to a one size fits all for how we eat.

Pro­vid­ing healthy meals and mod­el­ing good eat­ing habits should be enjoy­able. So too should meal shar­ing. Pos­i­tive mem­o­ries around the table are built on con­ver­sa­tion, shar­ing ideas, talk­ing about the food before us and laugh­ter.

Absent those attrib­utes, din­ner or other meals may be with­out merit.

Read more: Wide Table →

Most every­one chases a snack demon of sorts. Typ­i­cally, this Achilles heel falls into one of two cat­e­gories. Sweet or savory salty crav­ings cover the range of lit­tle nib­bles that sat­isfy our inner food desires.

Per­sonal pref­er­ences, along with daily habits dic­tate what we find at home and work to graze. Store bought choices line the shelves with nuts, crack­ers, cook­ies and candy.

Chips of all sorts extend past one side of any gro­cery aisle. Potato chips used to dom­i­nate the space. Plain salted chips have made room for fla­vors of lime, onion, chipo­tle and vine­gar. Per­verse at it may sound, dill pickle and spicy habanero have found an audi­ence among chip lovers.

Potato chips now share the lime­light with chips made from all types of other ingre­di­ents. Chick peas, lentils, quinoa and rice are just a few. With so many man­u­fac­tured snacks foods out there, why not elect a health­ier way to snack?

We’ve talked fall and sea­sonal root veg­eta­bles. Think of them as ideal can­di­dates for a com­bined salty/​savory/​sweet delight. Plant based, these likely guilty plea­sures, with­out all the sin, can pro­duce some amaz­ing home made crunchy snacks.

Sweet pota­toes, yams, car­rots, parsnips and beets have inher­ently sweet prop­er­ties. When baked or fried, they take on the qual­ity that devout snack­ers seek. The tex­ture of a chip is as impor­tant as the taste.

Baked or fried, oiled and sea­soned, veg­etable chips offer a per­fect crunch for movie night, tail­gates and all of those cool fall night gath­er­ings. They perk up a bor­ing lunch box for office or school.

A range of sea­son­ings and spice blends get to the heart of what so often is con­strued as taboo. Plea­sure is only a shake away.

Cin­na­mon, oregano, basil, rose­mary and thyme are just a few savory chip sug­ges­tions. All things are pos­si­ble to tar­get the exact taste bud crav­ing.

Fresh herbs, rather than dried, always add that spe­cial aro­matic some­thing to any­thing wor­thy in the kitchen. Don’t skip try­ing out which ones work best with new veg­gie selec­tions. Cel­ery root might hitch­hike along with Ital­ian pars­ley and garlic.

Read more: Salty & Sweet →

Last year Amer­i­cans ate over 4.5 bil­lion tacos! There is no sign of that trend let­ting up this year. A National hol­i­day or weekly Taco Tues­days are unnec­es­sary reminders of our taco obses­sion.

A recent Face­book post­ing asked fol­low­ers what three foods could they NOT live with­out. Tacos were right up there with choco­late, cof­fee (not really a food), and pizza.

Likely, the orig­i­nal taco was no more than a tor­tilla and beans. Some­thing sim­ply to sus­tain work­ing minors and easy to carry into the sil­ver mines.

The clas­sic taco com­bi­na­tion is a hard tor­tilla shell with a per­sonal com­bi­na­tion of beans, meat, cheese, let­tuce and salsa.

Amer­i­cans have man­aged to trans­form this hum­ble street food into numer­ous ver­sions to please every palette. From seafood to veg­e­tar­ian fill­ings, soft-​shelled, dou­ble shelled or salad shells, the taco has made its mark.

Culi­nary mas­ters, home cooks and food trucks all lean in on ways to improve an already pop­u­lar attrac­tion. Korean tacos, by exam­ple, amplify the heat on pork with kim­chi and gochu­jang.

Gin­ger cur­ried tacos rep­re­sent their ver­sa­til­ity using cau­li­flower, jack­fruit or other meat sub­sti­tutes. Bland and bor­ing go out with the bath­wa­ter. Move over burg­ers and pasta. Tacos are wel­comed on the menu.

The beauty of tacos for lunch or din­ner, they are suited to be cus­tomized by taco fill­ings and top­pings. Set­ting up a taco bar makes the meal fes­tive in color and taste. The tough­est deci­sion is what to leave out. Ingre­di­ents on the build your own bar are end­less. From tra­di­tional to trendy, go wild on fresh pro­duce.

Avo­cado, cilantro, green onions, toma­toes, chili pep­pers, let­tuce, cab­bage and lime are on the start­ing bench.

Read more: Tacos Everyday →

Root veg­eta­bles are truly nat­ural, unadul­ter­ated sources of com­plex car­bo­hy­drates, antiox­i­dants and other impor­tant nutri­ents.

Unlike most fresh veg­eta­bles, they can stay fresh for longer peri­ods of time when stored in a cool, dark place such as a cel­lar.

Tech­ni­cally. not all root veg­eta­bles are tubers. Those are defined as geo­phytes, a botan­i­cal term for plants with their grow­ing point beneath the soil.

Other types of veg­gies that we clas­sify as root veg­eta­bles are actu­ally bulbs, corms and rhi­zomes. This includes pota­toes, sun­chokes and yams that grow under­ground.

Let’s not get hung up on tech­ni­cal­i­ties and stay focused on the good­ness of roots. A sta­ple food in many South Amer­i­can and Asian cul­tures for thou­sands of years, root veg­gies have played a key role in both global nutri­tion and folk med­i­cine.

Com­mon types of root veg­eta­bles as we iden­tify them include: pota­toes, beets, parsnips, car­rots, cele­riac, sweet pota­toes, fen­nel, Jerusalem arti­chokes, jicama, yams, radishes and turnips.

Turmeric, gar­lic and gin­ger are also root veg­eta­bles, though we asso­ciate them more as being spices.

Less com­mon to West­ern­ers, but heav­ily cul­ti­vated and cov­eted in other coun­tries: are batata, arrow­root, boni­ato, bur­dock, taro, daikon, water chest­nuts and cas­sava roots.

Car­rots, pota­toes and onions may be our favorite under­ground veg­gies for every­day use.

With a range of meth­ods to pre­pare them, Fall is a log­i­cal sea­son to resume our love affair with roots.

Read more: Roots →

The pro­duce indus­try is highly depen­dent upon an effi­cient trans­porta­tion sys­tem. From truck­ing, rail ser­vice and ocean ship­ping, to ports and bor­der con­trol facil­i­ties, putting food on the table relies on a dynamic machine.

While the United States has more than 300 com­mer­cial har­bors and more than 600 smaller har­bors, the top ten port com­plexes han­dle a major­ity of cargo vol­ume and inter­na­tional ves­sel calls.

Port con­ges­tion exac­er­bates first-​to-​last mile delays in freight move­ments. This dri­ves up the cost of goods in both the global mar­ket­place and pro­duce sup­ply chains in the United States.

Con­tainer ships with pre­cious cargo have been expe­ri­enc­ing long wait times, all year long, at ports to unload con­sumer goods, fresh pro­duce and mate­ri­als for most indus­tries.

A recent record was bro­ken with forty-​four con­tainer car­ri­ers anchored and await­ing a berth space out­side the twin ports of Los Ange­les and Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia. The aver­age wait time to dock rose to 7.6 days, up from 6.2 in mid-​August.

Ves­sels are lin­ing up with imports just as inland trans­porta­tion, truck­ing and rail­roads, con­tends with its own bot­tle­necks of ship­ping con­tain­ers that aren’t being moved fast enough into dis­tri­b­u­tion cen­ters and ware­houses.

Cal­i­for­nia port delays are just one of many fac­tors pil­ing onto a global supply-​chain crisis.

Read more: Ship Shape →

Some­times the health­i­est and tasti­est dishes are the sim­plest. Keep­ing meals sim­ple is ideal as these last hot days of sum­mer roll into fall.

Using only a hand­ful of ingre­di­ents, like five or less, makes sense for reluc­tant kitchen cooks.

September’s mash up of sea­sonal pro­duce is truly a schiz­o­phrenic best of both worlds.

On the one hand, some of the prized toma­toes of the sea­son are just com­ing to mar­ket. Fresh herbs, peaches, zuc­chini, sweet and hot pep­pers, egg­plants and corn beg for the spot­light.

The other hand is deal­ing out new crop apples, pears, quince, figs, nuts and grapes. Hard squash, new pota­toes and onions, kale and beets paint a new plate palette.

Uncom­pli­cated and straight­for­ward, sal­ads, entrees and sides are assem­bled in short order with just a few sim­patico ingre­di­ents. Pantry sta­ples such as olive oil, salt and pep­per are exempt from the tally as those are always at hand.

Mid-​week time man­age­ment for hur­ried din­ners and hun­gry mouths let pro­duce shine bright. Zuc­chini rib­bons, nec­tarine and beet salad or lemon-​garlic spinach spruce up the plate. Given avail­abil­ity of pre-​cut veg­gies and fruits, the pain of slic­ing and chop­ping can be elim­i­nated.

A recent Cap­rese salad served on the week­end took advan­tage of already sliced moz­zarella cheese. How easy is that for a sexy quick starter? Fresh basil leaves, gar­den toma­toes and the per­fect thick­ness of soft moz­zarella. Bellissima!

Read more: Gimme Five →

Move to close out these last pre­cious days of sum­mer on a healthy note. Mod­ify the daily dietary reg­i­men to incor­po­rate a few health­ier choices. This will kick start a ter­rific fall lifestyle.

Plant-​based/​Plant-​forward eat­ing prac­tices have been widely adopted and quite pop­u­lar in recent years. An empha­sis on meals focused pri­mar­ily from plants can do a body good.

This includes not only fruits and veg­eta­bles, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. Eat­ing a plant-​based diet means get­ting most or all calo­ries from fresh, whole plant foods that are min­i­mally processed.

The Mediter­ranean diet is a way of eat­ing that’s based on the tra­di­tional cuisines of Greece, Italy and other coun­tries that bor­der the Mediter­ranean Sea. Plant-​based foods, herbs and spices are the foun­da­tion of this diet. Mod­el­ling this way of eat­ing could be the first step in over­haul­ing the diet by fall.

Olive oil is the main source of added fat. Fish, seafood, dairy and poul­try are included in mod­er­a­tion. Red meat and sweets are eaten only occa­sion­ally.

Start by build­ing meals around veg­eta­bles, beans and whole grains. Eat fish at least twice a week. Try using olive oil instead of but­ter in prepar­ing food.

Instead of calorie-​laden heavy desserts, serve fresh fruits after meals for a sweet treat. Grapes, mel­ons, oranges and fresh berries can be quite sat­is­fy­ing after din­ner.

Eval­u­ate daily sugar, cof­fee, and alco­hol con­sump­tion. Look for ways to adjust or reduce intake. Exam­in­ing these uncon­scious habits hon­estly may yield to the promise of reduced inflam­ma­tion, higher energy lev­els and bet­ter sleep.

Drop­ping a few extra pounds can incen­tivize going far­ther in a total fall reset. Putting exer­cise on the daily cal­en­dar makes it a pri­or­ity. If the work­day locks in seden­tary behav­ior, decide how to break the streak. Set an alarm for a sure fire way to get in those 10,000 steps. Sched­ule in a time slot for a phys­i­cal appointment.

Read more: Plant Ahead →

Chips and salsa are pretty stan­dard fare in most Mex­i­can restau­rants. At home, we rely on them for a go to snack or pre­cur­sor to an enchi­lada or chili rel­leno din­ner.

The combo is a good stand-​alone bite when hang­ing out with friends on the patio.

Salsa lit­er­ally trans­lates to sauce. Don’t get stuck think­ing that tor­tilla chips are the outer lim­its to what pairs per­fectly with salsa.

Purists might fol­low the pico de gallo or rojo route. That’s a ter­rific jump­ing off point for home­made salsa. Chili pep­pers, toma­toes, onions, fresh lime and cilantro get the job done. The fresher the bet­ter wins over salsa fans.

Step­ping away from this clas­sic, expand to other ingre­di­ents to pump up the salsa reper­toire. Explore unlikely sum­mer and trop­i­cal ingre­di­ents. Straw­ber­ries, man­gos, peaches, pineap­ples and even water­melon rise to meet salsa aspi­ra­tions.

Pome­gran­ate arils are a sur­prise ele­ment that deliver on zing and crunch fac­tors. Dessert is unique with a ladle full of fruit salsa over vanilla ice cream, chur­ros or cin­na­mon tor­tilla chips. Bold is not bor­ing when it comes to new ways to inter­pret tra­di­tional appli­ca­tions of how we put salsa in motion

Con­sider serv­ing these level up con­coc­tions with tra­di­tional menus choices like Baja style tacos or faji­tas. When cook­ing chicken, fish or pork, those bright and fruity ver­sions con­vert ordi­nary din­ner to one of higher inter­est.

Tomatil­los can be added to nearly any­thing salsa. Tangy, more acidic, and less sweet, this green tomato-​looking thing is in the fruit family.

Read more: Salsa Crush →

Cal­i­for­ni­ans have been cul­ti­vat­ing grapes for more than two cen­turies.

Today, Ninety-​nine per­cent of table grapes in the United States are pro­duced in California’s warm, dry cli­mate that is ideal for grape grow­ing.

With eighty two grape vari­eties grown, Cal­i­for­nia grapes come in three col­ors — green, red, and black — and are in sea­son from May through Jan­u­ary.

Deter­min­ing when grapes are ripe is a real sci­ence . Both the U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Food and Agri­cul­ture are involved in set­ting and mon­i­tor­ing grape pro­duc­tion stan­dards. Sugar con­tent, color, bunch and berry size and uni­for­mity are all mea­sured before har­vest begins. Work­ers who decide which grapes to har­vest are trained pro­fes­sion­als with years of expe­ri­ence.

Once picked, fresh grapes are eas­ily dam­aged by rough han­dling, warm tem­per­a­tures, exces­sive mois­ture and decay-​causing organ­isms.

Grape bunches are care­fully inspected and then imme­di­ately packed by hand into ship­ping con­tain­ers – often right in the field.

Shortly after picking/​packing, the field heat is removed from the fruit in cold stor­age facil­i­ties. Grapes are stored at tem­per­a­tures between 30 F and 32 F. From this point, until they reach their des­ti­na­tion (mar­kets through­out the world), the grapes will be main­tained in a care­fully reg­u­lated envi­ron­ment to assure they arrive in just-​picked condition.

Read more: Good­ness Grapes →

The word “water­melon” con­jures up images of free-​spirted sum­mer­time fun. Fam­ily gath­er­ings, care-​free beach days, back­yard bar­be­cues, and out­door camp­ing events keep water­melon on the top of the sum­mer gro­cery list.

Over thirty states in the U.S. grow water­melon for the sum­mer sea­son. When domes­tic har­vests end, we move back to imported mel­ons from Mex­ico and Guatemala. This means there is a year-​round sup­ply of this fam­ily favorite.

Most peo­ple eat the red flesh of water­melon down to the rind. Once fin­ished, they toss out the rest of the water­melon. Gar­den­ers know to put the rinds in the com­post heap. Back­yard chicken farm­ers give their hens a tasty rind treat.

Those two good uses for the rind are not the only ben­e­fits of using the entire water­melon. The flesh, juice and rind are one hun­dred per­cent edi­ble.

A few sug­ges­tions for putting the rind to good use make water­melon a zero waste food.

Make Pick­les. Water­melon rind is pretty sim­i­lar to a cucum­ber. A quick boil and cool down of the cut up rinds allow them to absorb what­ever pick­ing spices and vine­gar pre­ferred. Sweet, sour, spicy or some­thing in between give water­melon pick­les a full range of options.

Read more: It’s a Rind →

No sweeter words res­onate more with par­ents today than “you’re going back to school”. Sweet words, yes, but maybe a bit con­fus­ing, as well.

The past eigh­teen months have not been a pic­nic for house­holds jug­gling work, home-​schooling, life sched­ules and fam­ily time.

The return to in-​person learn­ing will give a sem­blance of rou­tine and per­haps a promise to a more life-​balance for teach­ers, par­ents and stu­dents.

Dur­ing the pan­demic, Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol (CDC) direc­tives have helped influ­ence school safety deci­sions. Recent updates rec­om­mend remov­ing pre­ven­tion strate­gies one at a time. With vac­cines only avail­able for peo­ple ages 12 and older, a large pro­por­tion of school-​age chil­dren remain unpro­tected from COVID.

School dis­tricts are work­ing hard to flush out the details of what the school year will look like.

Every state, every county is pay­ing atten­tion to how new poli­cies for in-​person school or a hybrid pro­gram means will keep every­one safe from COVID. Some con­flicts between juris­dic­tions and local­i­ties are yet to be resolved.

Mean­while, kids still need to eat. Where they eat, how they eat and what they eat are the fine points indus­try enti­ties are inter­ested in know­ing. A con­gre­gate set­ting may not be avail­able for this school year. Likely, self-​serve salad bars are off the prover­bial table. “Grab and Go”, pre-​packaged break­fasts or lunches will be preferred.

Read more: Back to School →

Cal­i­for­nia grows one third of the veg­eta­bles pro­duced in the United States. It grows two-​thirds of the nation’s fruits and nuts.

Last winter’s La Nina weather pat­tern in the Pacific left Cal­i­for­nia with less rain­fall and mois­ture than nor­mal or needed.

Many farm­ers saw the impend­ing water short­age and drought con­di­tions as good rea­son to opt out of plant­ing for the this sea­son.

The cur­rent drought is on pace to be one of the worst ever on record. Cal­i­for­nia, home to about 70,000 farms and ranches, with a com­bined AG pro­duc­tion of about $50 bil­lion a year, is suf­fer­ing severe con­se­quences.

The dairy indus­try accounts for the largest chunk of the state’s agri­cul­tural rev­enue, fol­lowed by almonds and then grapes.

The State Depart­ment of Water Resources and the Fed­eral Bureau of Recla­ma­tion, declared that “the Water Year 2021 is cur­rently the dri­est on record since 1977”.

Drought con­di­tions inten­sify long-​standing water allo­ca­tion con­flicts among farm­ers, munic­i­pal­i­ties and envi­ron­men­tal advo­cates. Even in years when the state has had good rain­fall and snow­pack lev­els, Cal­i­for­nia has never had enough water to sat­isfy all demands.

Cli­mate change has shifted rain pat­terns and increased tem­per­a­tures across the planet. Record-​setting tem­per­a­tures in June were an early start to a very long, hot summer.

Read more: High & Dry →

Din­ing alone can be daunt­ing if not intim­i­dat­ing. Not every per­son feels com­fort­able sit­ting at a restau­rant table by them­selves for an entire meal ser­vice.

Road war­riors were used to fend­ing for them­selves when work duty called. Busi­ness travel has not fully rebounded from the pan­demic. Sales peo­ple and oth­ers will hit the road again when the COVID dust is clear.

Fly­ing solo is not exclu­sive to the mobile work­force. Think of those liv­ing alone by choice or by cir­cum­stance. Per­haps a life part­ner has gone away for a short leisure or work trip. There are many rea­sons for din­ing out alone and none should pre­clude enjoy­ing a great meal in your own com­pany.

Eat­ing out alone does not mean that a per­son is lonely, with­out friends or at all unhappy. The social stigma attached to a being a soli­tary diner is what might pre­vent more brave souls to ven­ture out.

To expe­ri­ence things in one’s own unique way is empow­er­ing. Give your­self per­mis­sion to try that new neigh­bor­hood café or bistro on your own.

The notion of shar­ing meals with oth­ers is well sup­ported for the culi­nary acu­men and social engage­ment aspects. Those two fac­tors are not exclu­sive to group set­tings. As a soloist, one can engage with wait staff to fully embrace the menu, prepa­ra­tions and any spe­cial ingre­di­ents and sourc­ing tid­bits.

Sig­na­ture dishes are wor­thy of a sin­gle plate.

Read more: Table for One →

Pulp Fic­tion, the 1994 cult clas­sic by Quentin Taran­tino, ref­er­ences many iconic foods in the film.

The Burger Royale puts a Euro­pean twist on an all Amer­i­can favorite. The five dol­lar shake at Jack Rab­bit Slim’s makes movie-​goers won­der what that extrav­a­gant drink might taste like.

The cur­rent food sup­ply chain puts an end to guess­ing about what an expen­sive shake or burger might taste like. Menu prices are going up fast.

Con­sumers are cer­tainly spend­ing more for food. Costs for “take out”, din­ing in and prepar­ing meals at home have all increased post-​pandemic.

Lots of fac­tors account for the ris­ing costs. Those increases, not unlike with other indus­tries, are being passed on to patrons.

Toi­let paper and pasta short­ages were evi­dent six­teen months ago. At the start of national COVID-​19 out­breaks, the run at retail gro­cery stores led to pantry hoard­ing.

Today’s price hikes are real. The cost of every­thing from lum­ber to food to air­fares is climb­ing. Com­pa­nies report short­ages of prod­ucts, mate­ri­als, and work­ers. As the pan­demic wanes, we are left to grap­ple with long-​term sup­ply chain issues.

We see first-​hand the robust return and re-​opening of food­ser­vice. That’s great and wel­comed news for every­one. One down side is how busi­nesses are choos­ing to cope with new oper­a­tional challenges.

Read more: Burger Royale →

After a year or more of going nowhere, Amer­i­cans are on the move. Vac­ci­nated indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies are get­ting back to their des­ti­na­tion “bucket” lists.

Encour­aged to “play it safe” and see the United States, theme parks, hotels, camp­grounds, state and national parks are bustling with sum­mer tourists.

Inter­na­tional travel ambi­tions are com­pli­mented by rel­a­tively rea­son­able air fares and afford­able accom­mo­da­tions. Nearly every­one we know had to can­cel 2020 vaca­tion plans.

Rec­om­men­da­tions to travel safely are well announced. Coun­tries to avoid are well-​supported. Much of Europe is still off-​limits to Amer­i­cans. Croa­tia and var­i­ous other Balkan coun­tries, includ­ing Alba­nia, North Mace­do­nia, Ser­bia and Mon­tene­gro, are open.

North­ern lights in Ice­land are tempt­ing. Bali may be open but still may require mul­ti­ple days of quar­an­tine upon arrival. Cana­dian bor­ders are not fully allow­ing Amer­i­cans to freely cross. Greece is open for leisure Amer­i­can vis­i­tors. Ahh Greece.

Rea­sons for travel to for­eign places are often times per­sonal. The cul­ture, the peo­ple, the his­tory and geog­ra­phy play a role. So does build­ing life­long mem­o­ries with com­pan­ion trav­el­ers. The food of every cul­ture and within each coun­try tells a story cen­tral to the travel expe­ri­ences.

Greek cui­sine has been greatly influ­enced by both East­ern and West­ern cul­tures. Any num­ber of authen­ti­cally pre­pared Greek dishes reminds one of why we need to travel.

Read more: Greek with Envy →

Eat­ing in the morn­ing sets the tone for the rest of the day.

It makes sense then that mak­ing it a bal­anced meal with fiber – rich grains (foods made with both whole grains and enriched grains), lean pro­tein, and some fruit or veg­gies will keep the wolves away.

Stay­ing sat­is­fied by a good break­fast keeps us on track and avoid­ing that mid-​morning crash or energy slump.

The whole morn­ing break­fast rit­ual has come under scrutiny by those look­ing to shed a few pounds. Sure, inter­mit­tent fast­ing or stick­ing to a “cof­fee only” start reduces daily calo­ries. Skip­ping break­fast robs us of the oppor­tu­nity to nour­ish the body with essen­tial micronu­tri­ents.

Once we rise, the energy stores are depleted by as much as eighty per­cent. With­out food, a body begins to con­serve energy and actu­ally burn fewer calo­ries — slow­ing down metab­o­lism. Stud­ies show that break­fast skip­pers were nearly five times more likely to be obese than peo­ple who eat break­fast.

A high-​fiber, high-​protein break­fast may be the most impor­tant invest­ment made for improv­ing mood, waist­line and sta­mina.

Morn­ing fuel pos­si­bil­i­ties are a blank can­vas. Paint it with broad brush strokes for on the go oat­meal jars to pro­tein smoothies.

Read more: Rise & Dine! →

On Fri­day, Octo­ber 11, 2019, our res­i­dent GP “Chefs” made 14 deli­cious dishes using any vari­ety of win­ter squash. Some devel­oped their own recipes while oth­ers cooked or adapted clas­sic recipes found in cook­books or inno­v­a­tive recipes found on food blogs. Win­ners won Tar­get gift cards of $25, $15 or $10.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to the win­ners & thank you to all of the par­tic­i­pants. We enjoyed a very tasty Fri­day and have a new appre­ci­a­tion for win­ter squash thanks to you!
Check out the dishes and click on the titles in green to see the recipes:

Cran­berry Chip Squash Bread
Romana Har­ris
First Place

Kuri Curry
Coconut Soup
Gina Back­ovich
Sec­ond Place

But­ter­nut Squash
San­dra Sanchez
Third Place

But­ter­nut Squash, Sausage
and Tortellini Soup
Traci Ennis

But­ter­nut & Red Kuri
Squash Soup
Rochelle Grover

Parme­san Acorn
Leah Haz­zard

Roasted Red Kuri Squash with Can­nelli Beans
& Spinach Salad

Linda Luka

Kabocha Squash
Donut Muffins
Linda Luka

Spicy Squash Salad
with Lentils and
Goat Cheese

Jeff Sac­chini

African Lamb Kabocha Tagine
Gina Back­ovich

Lemon Grass But­ter­nut Squash
Patty Chan

Sauteed Del­i­cata
Nancy Spinella

Green business Bureau article about GP
Green Busi­ness Bureau
By Amanda John­son Sep­tem­ber 11, 2018 Blog, Mem­ber News

From food­ser­vice to retail, export to whole­sale, the fresh pro­duce dis­tri­b­u­tion busi­ness can cover a wide-​rage of busi­ness seg­ments that come together to ser­vice every­thing from gro­cery stores to restau­rants and casi­nos to schools. One busi­ness that suc­cess­fully cov­ers all of these seg­ments is Green Busi­ness Bureau mem­ber, Gen­eral Pro­duce Com­pany, a com­pany tack­ling the fresh pro­duce mar­ket in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Founded in 1933 by Chan Tai Oy, his three sons and nephew, Gen­eral Pro­duce Co. is a third gen­er­a­tion owned and oper­ated fam­ily busi­ness that dis­trib­utes and exports fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles that are local, organic, sus­tain­able, and region­ally and glob­ally sourced. As a PRO*ACT mem­ber, Gen­eral Pro­duce is focused on energy con­ser­va­tion and reduc­tion, recy­cling and par­tic­i­pat­ing in pro­grams like Greener Fields Together, a local farm ini­tia­tive. Gen­eral Pro­duce works to inte­grate sus­tain­abil­ity – social, envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nomic – into their daily busi­ness prac­tices and long range plan­ning.

While Gen­eral Pro­duce is chal­lenged with facil­i­ties that are dated in terms of struc­tures, energy sys­tems, fleet demand for ser­vice and CA leg­is­la­tion, they have worked hard to be cre­ative in address­ing the demands of state man­dates, as well as facil­ity lay­out. From light­ing to cool­ing and refrig­er­a­tion, the company’s oper­a­tions and facil­ity team con­tin­u­ously work toward mak­ing improve­ments. They also look for ways to min­i­mize the company’s envi­ron­men­tal impacts in the areas of water, waste, energy and air, and reduce their car­bon foot­print by installing cost sav­ing mea­sures.

“Our approach to busi­ness is guided by our com­mit­ment to the prin­ci­ples of integrity, hon­esty, per­sonal rela­tion­ships, diverse exper­tise, stew­ard­ship and inno­va­tion,” said Linda Luka, Direc­tor of Mar­ket­ing & Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. “We are ded­i­cated to pro­vid­ing qual­ity ser­vice and prod­ucts. To do so, our aim is to ensure that our work­force and com­mu­ni­ties ben­e­fit from the small scale of our daily oper­a­tions to the large scale of our sup­ply chain.”

Read the orig­i­nal arti­cle here.

Seek­ing to infuse your culi­nary or bev­er­age cre­ations with the ulti­mate fresh fruit fla­vor? No need to peel, dice, purée, and sim­mer for those ideal results.
Per­fect Purée is the solution!

Per­fect Purée is the pre­mium purée prod­uct on the mar­ket. The suc­cu­lent, single-​note fla­vors of Per­fect Purée inspire every­thing you can think of: cock­tails, mari­nades, cakes, cook­ies, sor­bets and smooth­ies. At the back of the house or front of the house, chefs, cookes, baris­tas, bar­tenders, pas­try chefs, and brew mas­ters love this prod­uct line!

For a per­fect sum­mer, try out our favorite warm weather fla­vors: El Cora­zon, Pink Guava & Pas­sion Fruit.

Call us today to order your sam­ple kit. Can’t wait? Go online to http://​bit​.ly/​g​p​p​u​r​e​e.

Dan Chan (Pres­i­dent) and Tom Chan (CEO) with Sacra­mento Food Bank & Fam­ily Service’s Kelly Siefkin (far left) and Blake Young (sec­ond from right)
Last week, Farm-​to-​Fork and Food Tank hosted the inau­gural food sum­mit called Farm Tank in Sacra­mento. Look­ing to fur­ther offer indus­try mem­bers oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn about the unique per­spec­tive of Cal­i­for­nia food and agri­cul­ture, Gen­eral Pro­duce par­tic­i­pated in Farm Tank in many ways. We really wanted to pro­vide an exhil­a­rat­ing expe­ri­ence that will advance con­ver­sa­tion around access to healthy food. All of the thought­ful con­ver­sa­tion and edu­ca­tion that tran­spired those few days could poten­tially improve our local food system.

Read more: Farm Tank Sum­mit & On the Plate 2016

Learn about California’s rich agri­cul­tural industry.


The United Fresh Retail Pro­duce Man­ager Awards Pro­gram pays spe­cial recog­ni­tion to pro­duce man­agers on the front lines in super­mar­kets work­ing every day to increase sales and con­sump­tion of fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles. Gen­eral Pro­duce is hon­ored to have nom­i­nated yet another win­ner, Ryan Blan­cas of Beale AFB Commissary.

In June, Ryan, along with Gen­eral Pro­duce team mem­bers, will attend the United Fresh Pro­duce Inno­va­tion Con­fer­ence in Chicago. United Fresh will honor 25 of the industry’s top retail pro­duce man­agers for their com­mit­ment to fresh pro­duce, inno­v­a­tive mer­chan­dis­ing, com­mu­nity ser­vice and cus­tomer satisfaction.

Left to right:
Mar­lon Walker, Store Direc­tor, Beale AFB Com­mis­sary
Alan Edi­ger, VP Busi­ness Devel­op­ment, Dole Fresh Veg­eta­bles
Ryan Blan­cas, Pro­duce Man­ager, Beale AFB Com­mis­sary, 2016 Retail Pro­duce Man­ager Award Win­ner
Jeff Ober­man, VP Trade Rela­tions, United Fresh Pro­duce Association
Just a lit­tle less than 2 hours away in Pleasan­ton, the Expo It is a great oppor­tu­nity for us to see what’s new out there. It is easy for us to take our cus­tomers with us to con­nect with grow­ers, ship­pers, and retail­ers. The Expo exhibitors pro­vide updates on their lat­est crops and prod­ucts while we get to talk to them about how and why they do what they do.

GP Team Mem­bers David John III, Jen­nifer Ho, Ray Hoell­warth, and Linda Unden attended the FPFC Nor­Cal Expo this year. They all enjoyed it and are look­ing for­ward to more FPFC events.

Read more about the event: