Its easy to ignore “The sky is falling” warn­ings when they are incon­clu­sive. The clas­sic folk tale of Henny Penny (Chicken Lit­tle) bares rec­ol­lec­tion when food safety is at stake.

The most recent indus­try mes­sages regard­ing romaine let­tuce alerts have been frus­trat­ing for every­one in the sup­ply chain.

In defense of all stake­hold­ers, no one wants to err on the side of per­sonal ill­ness or worse case sce­nario, death.

As com­pa­nies wait for more infor­ma­tion from fed­eral agen­cies on the E. coli O157:H7 out­break that has been ascribed to chopped romaine only and not a spe­cific sup­plier, fresh pro­duce indus­try asso­ci­a­tions are com­mu­ni­cat­ing in a uni­form voice about the sit­u­a­tion.

United Fresh Pro­duce Asso­ci­a­tion, Pro­duce Mar­ket­ing Asso­ci­a­tion, Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion and the Leafy Greens Mar­ket­ing Agree­ment have worked in con­cert on com­mu­ni­ca­tions regard­ing this recent outbreak.

Read more: Henny Penny →

Cal­i­for­nia avo­ca­dos have arrived! They are gen­er­ally avail­able from April to Sep­tem­ber, but for the nearly 5,000 grow­ers in the state, the avo­cado sea­son is a year-​round endeavor.

Farm­ers walk their avo­cado groves every month to check on the trees, assess weather affects and grove con­di­tions. They must ensure avo­ca­dos are on the right track for pro­jected har­vests. Each stage in the growth cycle is crit­i­cal.

Avo­ca­dos, grown on trees, have a tree growth cycle with six stages: flow­er­ing, shoot growth, root growth, fruit set, fruit growth, and har­vest.
That’s a lot to watch and care for dur­ing each sea­son.

Cal­i­for­nia pro­duces about 90 per­cent of the nation’s avo­cado crop. Ninety-​five per­cent of Cal­i­for­nia avo­ca­dos are the Hass (rhymes with pass) vari­ety.

The Hass vari­ety accounts for about 80 per­cent of all avo­ca­dos eaten world­wide. By now, most of us under­stand that an avo­cado is actu­ally a fruit.

Read more: Taste California →

Nearly six years ago, meal kits com­pa­nies took the food scene by storm in the United States.

They looked to be the major dis­rup­tors in how peo­ple choose to pro­cure, pre­pare and eat food.

As Amer­i­can food cul­ture evolves, what we eat, when we eat and how we eat are all open to per­sonal inter­pre­ta­tion.

The crowded space of meal kit com­pa­nies is fac­ing fierce com­pe­ti­tion as meal sub­scribers are select­ing from vast options for con­ve­nience, value and vari­ety.

Gro­cery indus­try “brick and mor­tar” spend­ing rep­re­sents about $650 bil­lion, with a “B”, dol­lars in the U.S. The expe­ri­ence of daily pro­vi­sions can be frus­trat­ing at best with lots of energy devoted to meal plan­ning, gro­cery shop­ping and finally preparation.

Read more: Kit or Miss →

Once the door to Spring is cracked open, watch out. There seems to be no limit of vibrant swaths of color pop­ping up every­where.

It’s hard to miss the stun­ning fruit tree blos­som­ing in and around neigh­bor­hoods or road­side orchards.

A river walk presents clus­ters of wild neon pop­pies and ver­dant anise in early bloom. Breathe it all in…then exhale slowly.

Awaken the senses with pots of bold color after Easter pas­tels fade. Peren­nial bulb plants give us an excuse, as if one is needed, to dig in the gar­den beds.

Avoid get­ting dirt on the hands alto­gether with one quick trip to a gro­cery store these days. The bevy of new color bowls and pot­ted color bulbs and plants is staggering.

Read more: Inhale Spring →

The fleshy green spears of aspara­gus are all at once suc­cu­lent and ten­der. They have long been con­sid­ered a true sea­sonal del­i­cacy.

This highly prized veg­etable arrives with the com­ing of spring. When the shoots finally break through the soil and reach their peak har­vest length, we are ready to enjoy locally grown aspara­gus.

In Cal­i­for­nia, the first crops may be picked as early as Feb­ru­ary. The sea­son gen­er­ally is con­sid­ered to run from April through May. Like most things in agri­cul­ture, Mother Nature is in charge.

In the Mid­west and East, the sea­son may extend through June or July.

Under ideal grow­ing con­di­tions, an aspara­gus spear can shoot up to be eight to ten inches tall in a 24-​hour period. Each crown will send spears up for about six to seven weeks dur­ing the spring and early summer.

Read more: Spring Forth →

Kids of all ages have per­fected the art and tra­di­tion of egg dying for Easter.

From waxy pen­cils to small tablets of color, not much has changed in the dec­o­ra­tion process. Or has it?

The kitchen pantry is a stu­dio of nat­ural ingre­di­ents and inter­est­ing col­ors wait­ing to be used. Com­mon food items, and food waste in some cases, will trans­form an ordi­nary hard boiled egg into a beau­ti­ful show­piece.

Nat­ural dying ele­ments have long been used in fab­rics and paper. Porous eggshells invite color no mat­ter the source.

Red cab­bage and beets, brown, red or yel­low onion skins con­tribute to an array of egg color pos­si­bil­i­ties. So will cof­fee, tea, and dried spices.

Read more: A Few Good Eggs →