Aspara­gus is a mem­ber of the lily fam­ily and is related to onions and gar­lic. The spears are usu­ally not har­vested until the third or fourth year planted to allow the crown to develop a strong root sys­tem.

After that, the healthy plants will then pro­duce spears for about fif­teen years.

Cal­i­for­nia pos­sesses sev­eral micro-​climates ideal for aspara­gus pro­duc­tion. The 250 farms that grow the favored spring crop deliver on the promise of local, fresh and hand-​cared atten­tion.

Sev­eral regions through­out the state are ideal for grow­ing “grass”, includ­ing the Cen­tral Val­ley, the Cen­tral Coast and the Stock­ton Delta.

Nearly sev­enty per­cent of the nation’s fresh mar­ket aspara­gus is pro­duced in Cal­i­for­nia. Har­vest sea­son is about ninety days long, start­ing in March and run­ning through May.

This peren­nial crop is labor – inten­sive from har­vest to pack­ing. Work­ers walk the rows, scout­ing for nine inch green spears to har­vest. Aspara­gus is graded, sized and packed in sheds located near the fields to assure max­i­mum fresh­ness.
Early in the sea­son, spears may be picked every four days or so. As tem­per­a­tures warm up, they may have to be picked every day. Each spear grows about seven to nine inches per day. Depend­ing on weather and growth, beds maybe cut mul­ti­ple times per day.

Spears are trimmed to lengths of nine inches and bun­dled for sales. Typ­i­cally, a one pound bun­dle con­tains about 10 to 14 spears, depend­ing on size/​thickness of the stalks.

Read more: Grass Season →

The chaos and may­hem of gro­cery shop­ping a year ago seems like a wild faded dream. Dur­ing lock­downs and stay-​at-​home orders, we found ways to com­pen­sate for long lines and hoard­ing.

As life begins to unfold post-​pandemic, new habits have emerged that retail­ers and food ser­vice providers have made invest­ments.

We may all be count­ing on new ways to feed our­selves. Online order­ing and home deliv­ery have taken the sting out of food pan­de­mo­nium. We’ve learned new cop­ing skills.

Meals can be either ready-​to-​eat or those ready to pre­pare. The pan­demic accel­er­ated ghost kitchens (also known as dark or cloud kitchens) and the wide­spread adop­tion of food deliv­ery by at least three to five years.

No doubt, food deliv­ery had the lime­light 2020. As con­sumers adopted new habits, the gig econ­omy surged in that arena. Grub Hub, Uber Eats and Door­Dash were on Smart phone “Favorites”.

The trend and adop­tion of dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies and e-​commerce was greatly advanced by per­sonal health safety con­cerns as much as con­ve­nience. Com­fort lev­els now push con­sumers to pur­chase prod­ucts online with con­fi­dence.

Already on the rise in recent years, par­tic­i­pa­tion in online gro­cery shop­ping sky­rock­eted in 2020.

Read more: Pandemonium →

Restau­rants are tun­ing up menus to reflect stream­lined offer­ings and their need to do more with less. Smart oper­a­tors are not hav­ing to com­pro­mise on qual­ity food that tastes great over bet­ter effi­cien­cies.

Now, more than ever, we eat first with our eyes. This includes scan­ning menus online or using QR codes on smart­phones.

Good com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key for every suc­cess­ful busi­ness. Menu writ­ing is a com­mu­ni­ca­tions art­form and tal­ent nec­es­sary for food­ser­vice providers. Chalk­boards, ink on paper or vir­tual links help sell what’s for break­fast, lunch and din­ner.

Words mat­ter and how they are used on a menu can entice orders and impact rev­enue. The power of per­sua­sion when it comes to food descrip­tions makes or breaks ini­tial per­cep­tions.

Set­ting appetite expec­ta­tions is only a word or phrase away. Loaded cau­li­flower casse­role tells the diner to expect a hot, cheesy, gooey and indul­gent dish.

Descrip­tions regard­ing culi­nary prepa­ra­tions pique inter­est. Roasted, grilled, poached, fried, toasted, whipped or stuffed tell much about what will be deliv­ered on the plate.

Sea­son­ings and fla­vors get prime text space. Smoky, savory, fiery, nutty, tart, pep­pery, cit­rusy, zesty, and but­tery get the mouth and brain work­ing together for the selec­tion. Food and mood are strongly teth­ered together. What food crav­ing needs to be con­quered today?

Read more: Eat My Words →

The holy Easter hol­i­day cel­e­brates the res­ur­rec­tion of Jesus Christ and is of great sig­nif­i­cance to Chris­tians around the world.

This is a time for prayers, reli­gious obser­vances and gath­er­ings with fam­ily mem­bers and friends for Spring feasts.

The sym­bol­ism of spring sig­ni­fies rebirth, renewal, a new dawn, hope, awak­en­ing, and promise. Sea­sonal flow­ers are nat­u­rally asso­ci­ated with the annual Easter and spring fes­tiv­i­ties.

Aware­ness of spring bloom­ing flow­ers and their sig­nif­i­cance will guide deci­sions for bou­quets, table arrange­ments and pot­ted plants for décor. Uplift­ing, cheer­ful and some­times fra­grant, bloom­ing flow­ers are an instant mood booster.

Tulips are the ulti­mate spring flower. Beau­ti­ful and vibrant, these flow­ers come in an array of bold and sub­tle col­ors. White tulips are asso­ci­ated with for­give­ness, a com­mon theme for Easter.

The pur­ple tulip rep­re­sents roy­alty. Com­bined, they cel­e­brate the roy­alty of Jesus Christ and mean­ing of Easter.

Easter Lilies and Lilies of the Val­ley, both white flow­ers often sym­bol­ize purity and inno­cence. This purity and inno­cence is asso­ci­ated with Christ. Lilies also have reli­gious sig­nif­i­cance from being men­tioned in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments.

Read more: Bloom­ing Color →

Amer­i­cans can thank the ancient Greeks for the orig­i­nal waf­fle. While they may not have tasted like what we enjoy today, those “obelios” or wafers were cooked in much the same fash­ion.

The Greek hot cakes were cooked between two hot metal plates attached to a long, wooden han­dle. The Dutch get credit for the deep grids in waf­fles that hold our pre­ferred culi­nary accou­trements.

Sweet or savory, the ver­sa­tile waf­fle is enjoyed around the world as a per­fect street food or snack. In the U.S., we rely on them for a quick toaster break­fast or more lux­u­ri­ous one when time allows us to make a big­ger fuss.

Dur­ing COVID, we don’t need an excuse to glam up break­fast or din­ner. Start plan­ning for a fam­ily waf­fle date. In or out, home or restau­rant, waf­fles make every­thing feel bet­ter.

Made from scratch, an ordi­nary day turns spe­cial by whip­ping together a batch of waf­fle bat­ter. Most of the ingre­di­ents are ready pantry sta­ples. What we choose to slather into the crevices makes them per­son­al­ized and favorites.

But­ter, hot maple syrup or whipped cream are just the gar­den vari­ety start­ing points. Pow­dered sugar, almond but­ter, and fresh fruit purees are the sec­ond wave of good­ness. Pecans, banana slices and a driz­zle of choco­late trans­forms week­end brunch into an extra­or­di­nary occasion.

Read more: Waf­fles Baby →

As restau­rants gen­tly lean back into indoor din­ing, they likely will keep take-​out and deliv­ery busi­ness in their wheel­house.

Those seg­ments were sup­ple­ments to Amer­i­can meals and a wel­comed break to cook­ing and eat­ing at home.

Over the past year, the improved per­spec­tive on eat­ing left­over foods has shifted to very favor­able.

Research from The Hart­man Group reports that 28 per­cent of all eat­ing occa­sions involve left­overs (vs. 22 per­cent in fall 2019). Sig­nif­i­cant increases of left­over eat­ing hap­pens dur­ing morn­ing snack and lunch occa­sions. Eat­ing restaurant-​sourced left­overs has become a more com­mon­place behav­ior dur­ing the pan­demic, with 67 per­cent of left­overs occa­sions involv­ing at least some food or bev­er­age sourced from a restau­rant.

This is abun­dantly clear as con­sumers are even upping food orders to pur­posely plan for future meals or snack­ing. Left­overs. Yay!

As the pan­demic con­tin­ues, con­sumers’ new­found love of left­overs sug­gests great oppor­tu­nity for meals-​oriented food­ser­vice providers and brands to mar­ket towards evolv­ing snack­ing occa­sions and eat­ing approaches.

Every­one has dif­fer­ent types of food stored in their fridge or freezer. Stay­ing on top of it before spoilage can be a chal­lenge. If hoard­ing was part of the plan to stay a step ahead of pan­demic food scares, now might be a good time to take inven­tory of the freezer or pantry.

Read more: Yay! Leftovers →