Sometimes I just want to count my lucky stars. About 10 years ago, I met a wonderful couple, Bert and Veronique. Our children went to elementary school together and we have become close friends.
Every couple of years, in celebration of her birthday, Veronique likes to gather a few of her close girlfriends to travel to a far away destination to rest, relax and enjoy each others company.
This year, her chosen destination was St. Kitts, which is a small island country located in the Caribbean. So, last week, I took a red-eye flight through Miami and arrived in Basseterre, St. Kitts, on Thursday afternoon. This was my second visit to the home they built there, but this time their house was finished and about a half dozen of us spent a few days eating, sun bathing and exploring the island.
|St. Kitts sits next to an island called Nevis|
|Landing in St. Kitts|
Everyone knows that because I am in the produce business, some part of every trip I take will either be spent in a supermarket checking out the local offerings, dining at a local restaurant or visiting growing areas.
On this trip, I got to visit a start-up nursery and tree farm. The young man, David, who built the home we stayed in, is quite the entrepreneur and has started a nursery and hopes to develop a tree farm to supply all the local home developers who want native plants to landscape their properties.
You can see from these photos that the nursery is small, but I got to see fruits I had only heard of before. I have never seen a “NONI” fruit – and he had a few small trees, one with a piece of fruit. NONI is a fruit that I heard about almost ten years ago, but only could find it in juice. Now – I got to see it, and was surprised that it looked like a mini Cherimoya!
|David’s small nursery|
David is also growing some vegetables, including tomatoes, eggplants and zucchini squash. I shared an idea with him that he should offer the local upscale chefs some “Courgettes” (squash blossoms). He had never thought of that, but began to reminisce that his Italian grandmother used to stuff and fry up the squash blossoms for special family meals. David and I harvested a dozen squash blossoms that day and he then dropped them off for a local chef who immediately placed an order!
On our return drive from the farm, we stopped at a small shoppe to get a beverage. The owner offered us some Carambola (Starfruit) she had picked off a local tree. You can see her here, with my friend Veronique.
|Veronique with shoppe owner and some freshly picked Starfruit!|
Well, I don’t want you to think there was no time for regular fun. Bert took me on a tour of the island on his four-wheeler – a first for me!
And we did lounge around the pool!
|Lounging by the pool|
But the best part for me was meeting Chef Kelly, a St. Kitts native, who prepared the biggest freshly caught lobster I have ever seen. And a feast of a dinner.
|Chef Kelly and the HUGE lobster|
As for David’s tree farm, it is still a dream. As we drove home from his plot of land and future tree farm site at the base of a mountain, I shared with David the possibility that a graduate of EARTH University in Costa Rica would be a perfect candidate to do a feasibility study and be the farm manager for the enterprise.
|Site of David’s future tree farm|
Amazing what happens when the stars align.
One of the most frequently asked questions we get at Frieda’s is, “How do you find new products? Do you travel the world searching for new fruits and veggies?”
In today’s digital world, we don’t always have to travel the globe to find something new. Sometimes it finds us. Here is the story behind our latest discovery.
Willette, a friend of Frieda’s and mine, is a world-renowned theatrical producer (Twist is her latest musical) and world traveler. Last month she was in Paris dining at a restaurant called Passeig 53.
She saw a fruit she did not recognize, so she took a few photos and emailed them to Frieda and me, asking if we knew what it was.
Frieda and I started guessing at what it might be. At first, I thought it was a variety of yellow passion fruit from New Zealand that I had seen many years ago. But Willette told us that it tasted like a lemon and the insides looked like a finger lime (see my previous blog on these). And, it was quite large.
We were now on a hunt!
We forwarded Willette’s comments and photos to some of our favorite citrus Aficionados, and, of course, it was one of the experts at the University of California – Riverside’s Citrus Collection – Toni — who solved our mystery.
She guessed that our ‘mystery citrus’ is possibly a Faustrime or Faustrimedin, a hybrid of finger lime and limequat. Here’s more info on this fruit:
Although we don’t know the country of origin of the citrus fruit that Willette found, we do know that they are being commercially produced somewhere. Maybe one of the small citrus growers in Central California will be interested in planting a few trees so we can see how they produce and taste.
We know that citrus, in general, is exploding in terms of new varieties, and it’s all about taste and flavor! Maybe the Faustrime will be the newest taste sensation. Or not.
Only time will tell.
So, to all my friends reading this blog: When you are dining or shopping while you travel, I would love to receive photos and information about what you see. If you want to share them, please post them on Frieda’s Facebook page. Who knows what the next hot trend in food will be…
You purchase fresh fruits and vegetables with the best intentions. You plan to use up all the lettuce, broccoli, and strawberries before your next shopping trip — before they become old, stinky and inedible in your refrigerator.
And then, your week gets the best of you. All of a sudden, your fresh produce is rotting produce and you have to throw it out.
I have a solution to this problem!
It all started about 12 years ago when I was first introduced to Peakfresh bags.
The company’s founders had developed a mineral-coated, perforated bag designed to keep produce fresher during shipping and in home refrigerators, and they came to Frieda’s, since we’ve always been open to new products and ideas.
Because I have to prove everything to myself first, I took the bags home and tested them out with two clamshells of fresh strawberries. I put one strawberry package straight in the refrigerator, and I put the other one inside the Peakfresh bag, then into the refrigerator.
I was impressed. Even after two weeks, the strawberries inside the Peakfresh bag were PERFECT compared to the shriveled up, molding regular strawberries. Then I tested the bags with fresh broccoli, and the same thing happened.
As it frequently happens in the business world, we were “ahead of our time.” Although we enthusiastically introduced these shelf-life extending bags to our supermarket customers, the concept did not catch on.
What did catch on however, were commercial-sized bags. The company went on to develop bags to wrap entire shipments of fresh produce, such as strawberries and chile peppers, to keep them fresh during cross-country transit. Several other companies have gotten into the business, and this segment of the industry is booming.
Then a few weeks ago I saw a display of my beloved Peakfresh consumer-sized bags at my local Sprouts Market. I was thrilled, and I purchased a box of 10. (If your local market doesn’t have them, you can buy them on the Peakfresh website.) The great thing about these bags is that you can reuse them – just rinse them out and let them dry. I call them my new best friend.
If you are concerned about wasting food, or have a hard time scheduling in fresh produce shopping during the week, I encourage you to try these bags. They are a life saver.
Or really – a produce saver!
I was heading to Berlin last weekend for Fruit Logistica — the largest produce trade show in the world. More than 2500 companies from 84 countries exhibited — only 35 from the United States.
But on Sunday morning, I found out that my flight to London had been cancelled. I decided to make the most of it. I let American Express find me an alternative flight to Berlin, which bypassed the snow and ice in England. I would be leaving a full 24 hours later, but that allowed me to spend the day with my youngest daughter, Sophia. That was an unexpected gift!
Then on my flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt, someone had a medical emergency, so we had to make an unplanned stop in Halifax, Nova Scotia. My sister Jackie texted me that maybe I was not meant to go to Berlin, after all. But, I made the most of it, and made a new friend, Alicia, who was also traveling to Berlin.
We finally arrived in Berlin on Tuesday afternoon.
Since my company wasn’t exhibiting at Fruit Logistica, I was able to spend my time walking the 26 buildings (and the 2537 booths) looking for new products, new packaging ideas and all sorts of innovations.
Ten companies were nominated for product innovation awards. My personal favorites were Purple Sprouting Broccoli — colorful, but a little mushy when cooked; Angello Sweet Seedless Pepper — amazingly sweet and crunchy; and Achacha, an Amazonian fruit grown in Australia that looks like a loquat on the outside and a mangosteen on the inside.
Read about all 10 nominated products here. As you can see, some are not fresh produce – but packaging, processed products and juice and even an interactive website.
Trade show attendees are encouraged to evaluate and vote for the nominated products. My personal favorite was the Angello red seedless pepper. I can see it becoming successful once planted here in the states – it is much like the Veggie Sweets and Mini Sweets we have, but seedless. Being seedless is a big plus, and it would be great in restaurants for stuffing and grilling.
The final votes were tallied after I left Berlin on Friday afternoon – and I just checked online and the winner of the Innovation Award for 2012 was the Angello! I’m sure it was my vote that made it a winner!
So, was it worth spending two days flying to have two days at Fruit Logistica? Yes, and the best part was the personal connections I made. Conversations and connections turn into relationships that eventually become business.
By passing out my business cards to everyone I meet, I receive follow-up emails, connections on LinkedIn, followers to my blog, and eventually some new business relationships. I always strive to make the best of any situation, even if it means my flight is cancelled and my trip is cut short.
My only regret was that I had no time in Berlin to sight see! This was the fourth time I have visited Berlin for Fruit Logistica, but there never seems to be time for a tour of the city. (Read my post about the show two years ago.) I guess that’s a reason for me to go back in another two years.
As you may recall reading in a previous blog post, when I travel I always purchase a magazine or two at my departing airport. I take special care to choose one that I would not normally read. I learned this technique more than 20 years ago from a speaker at a leadership conference. You’d be surprised at how much new information you will learn.
So last week, as I was departing for Berlin, Germany, for the Fruit Logistica International Food Show, I picked up Esquire Magazine.
I have to admit that seeing President Bill Clinton on the cover with the title, “Bill Clinton and 78 other things we can all agree on,” caught my eye.
I started my journey through Esquire by scanning the QR code on the cover. It said “Scan this for a message from President Clinton.” I used the RedLaser App on my iPhone to scan the code and watched a short video clip of President Clinton.
|Link to video|
If you are uncertain about QR codes – here’s a quick tutorial. You’ll start noticing them everywhere!
To say that I devoured this magazine is an understatement. I read about actor Woody Harrelson. I read about Roger Craig, who won the most money ever on “Jeopardy!” and how he trained himself to learn everything. I read a hilarious story called “The Man’s Guide to Valentine’s Day.” But it was a story near the end that really grabbed me.
It is the story of Vivek Ranadivé, the CEO of the $4 billion software company, TIBCO Software, Inc. His personal goal is to harness the ocean of data in this world. And save civilization.
I could completely relate to the opening quote in the article: “If you take all the data that was generated from the dawn of man to, say, the day Barack Obama became president, that’s X. And then if you add up all the data that’s been generated since then, in just three years, that’s 10X. We are drowning in data.”
Amen, brother. That’s exactly how I feel.
The article shared examples of how he and his company organize and make sense of all the data, so that the right information reaches the right place at the right time with the right context. Industry by industry. And coincidentally, he is also the owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. They are a real live example of how he plans to leverage the data about the people who attend NBA games to provide a truly “WOW” experience, and to maximize sales for the NBA franchise.
But perhaps the most interesting part of this article was what Mr. Ranadivé has created: TopCom. He believes it will change the world.
TopCom is a private communications platform for the two hundred most powerful people in the world. It’s meant to be a kind of combination of Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, texting and Skype. A private social network, in this case, for world leaders.
Can you imagine the implications for achieving world peace or solving world hunger? Ranadivé actually gives an example in the article about how the Tsunami in Japan could have been handled differently which would have hastened rescue efforts and potentially saved thousands of lives.
The bottom line is that all of us are drowning in data. We all feel overwhelmed by our emails and just want to get our work done and our lives back to normal. It’s good to know that there is someone who can sort this all for us!
Here’s the article, if you want to read more:
I don’t remember how long our company has been selling Lemongrass, but I do remember our first Lemongrass grower. It was a couple from Bakersfield, California, who brought these wonderfully aromatic plants to us more than 35 years ago, and told us it was a popular ingredient in Asian cooking.
The Lemongrass looked like puny leeks with dried out yellowish tops, but they emitted a wonderful, intense lemony scent when you cut them. (Back then, I remember thinking the smell reminded me of a popular teen fragrance at the time – Love’s Fresh Lemon.)
Three decades later, we continue to sell fresh Lemongrass. Some of our supermarket customers sell it packed in small plastic bags or clamshell packages, but most ethnic supermarkets sell it loose in large displays so you can purchase large quantities. They must be on to something.
Today, I predict that Lemongrass will become the next “big thing” – and here’s why.
I have been reading some interesting email chains lately between people in the scientific community who I personally know and respect. And the subject? Lemongrass.
Among them are botanist Dr. James Duke, who developed the USDA’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases, Dr. Roberta Cook of the University of California-Davis, and Mark Dafforn of the National Research Council, who is involved in Vetiver Grass research. (Read my previous blog post about Vetiver Grass.)
It all started with this article: “Israeli researchers find way to make cancer cells self-destruct.” It describes the process of apoptosis, in which cancer cells self-destruct, caused when one consumes tea made from fresh Lemongrass.
As Dr. James Duke wrote to us:
“…lemon grass is one of the 300 plants in my Green Farmacy Garden. And lemon grass is one of 3,000 medicinal plants for which I have dense boring write-ups. I suspect that more than 10 percent of them have some apoptotic effect on cancer cells. So I dutifully record it in a database.
I am more excited these days about herbistatins, now that Lipitor® has been proven to double the rate of diabetes in women. Herbistatins are safe herbs and spices that raise the good HDL and lower the bad LDL cholesterol… Some more familiar herbistatins include almond, black cumin, black pepper , chickpeas, chocolate, cinnamon, coconut, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, flax, garlic, ginger, green tea, lemon, oats, peanut, peppermint, pistachio pumpkin seed, sage, sesame, soy, tamarind, wasabi, and watercress.
Spiced hummus or tahini anyone? Could be healthier than Lipitor!”
Read one of Dr. Duke’s books here for more on this. Also more info on Lemongrass can be found here.
Back in the 1980s, I gave many talks about “Food as Medicine.” I spoke about the healthful qualities of garlic, dark green vegetables and tomatoes.
It seems that I may have been on to something!
|(If you can’t read the chart, go to www.friedas.com/eMail/websiteimages/Untitled-34.jpg)|
|(If you can’t read the chart, go to|
If you are intrigued with this concept, check out Seth’s company, BridgeWorks.