Next week, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts at sundown on September 4, the earliest it’s been since 1899. Read about why here.
When I was growing up, I always thought of Rosh Hashanah as a day I got to miss school and go to temple, as it is tradition to go to temple services both on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, and the following morning. But, as I grew older, I realized there is so much more to the holiday than going to temple.
As it turns out, one of the traditions of Rosh Hashanah is to try a “new fruit” for the New Year, meaning a fruit that has just come into season, or one you have never tried before.
Another tradition is to dip fresh apple slices in honey, to symbolize the sweetness of the New Year, which might explain why you see displays in the grocery store of honey and apples around this time of year. In biblical times, honey represented good living and wealth. The Land of Israel is often called the land of “milk and honey.”
Even if you aren’t Jewish, enjoy some of these seasonal fruits as a way to celebrate the New Year, or because fall is right around the corner.
Cherimoyas – At this time of year, they are coming from Chile. When ripe, they get soft like a peach, and have a white, grainy flesh. Mark Twain described them as “deliciousness itself.”
Passion Fruit – Shaped like a dark purple egg, they are ripe when wrinkled. Did you know they are the secret ingredient in Hawaiian Punch? The flesh inside is a yellow-green color, with a gooey texture, and has a sweet-tart flavor.
Papayas – They come in many varieties and sizes. The most popular are pink-fleshed and taste like a peach. Papayas are great for soothing stomach aches!
Dragon Fruit – Currently, they are coming to us from California and Vietnam! They are bright pink on the outside, and white with seeds, like a kiwi, on the inside. Unfortunately, they do not have a strong flavor and are quite mild and bland. But, they have some good health qualities.
Kiwifruit – I just had to include them since our company is credited with introducing them to America back in 1962. If you purchase them when they are hard, put them in a brown paper bag with a banana in a warm place and let them soften until they are soft like a peach. Kiwis are one of my favorites!
|Frieda’s also sells Baby Kiwi!|
We have many more unusual “new” fruits, which you can find here on our website.
If you become too full from new fruits, don’t worry…the next Jewish Holiday, Yom Kippur, requires you to fast for a full day.
L’Shanah Tova (for a good year),
When I think of summer in the produce business, one of the fruits I think of is grapes. August is the time of year when grapes are at their peak of flavor.
Interestingly, there are two “new” grape varieties you may not be familiar with, that will be appearing in markets soon.
The first are Muscadines. Completely different from Muscat Grapes, Muscadines are native to the Southern United States. I tasted my first Muscadine a few weeks ago when growers from Georgia sent us samples.
As it turns out, Muscadines are a rare grape variety grown in the “hot, harsh and unyielding climate of the Southeastern U.S.” and are one of only four native North American grape varieties. In New York, they are referred to as “Swamp Grapes,” and most growers consider them berries, so you may find them on the berry table in your produce department. You can read more about them here.
Muscadines naturally develop an extra chromosome, which helps the grapes defend themselves from the difficult growing conditions they are put in. They proactively pass those fighting, defensive capabilities on to the person eating the grapes in the form of antioxidants. A serving of Muscadines has more fiber than a serving of oats, and their skins and seeds are often used in nutraceutical products. They are believed to have more antioxidants than other super fruits, like Açai, Mangosteen, Pomegranates and Goji Berries!
Oh, and they taste great, too! The grape-like flesh is flavorful, sweet and filled with grapey goodness. The skins are edible, and some of the fruits may contain small seeds.
Another interesting new grape variety is the conventionally bred Cotton Candy Grape. My longtime family friends, the Pandol Family of Delano, California, have a breeding program focused on developing high-flavor grape varieties. Two years ago, I had the opportunity to visit their test vineyard for Cotton Candy grapes.
A few weeks ago, you may have seen a short segment on Good Morning America, where my friends Jim Beagle and Jack Pandol talked about this new variety. You can watch the segment here. And here is a recent article in the New York Times about them as well.
And, to answer your question: Yes, these grapes really do taste like Cotton Candy. I did not believe it until I tasted them myself. I will admit they are super expensive. I saw one pound for sale at $7.99 recently, but they appear to be flying off the shelves! As more of the Cotton Candy variety is produced in the coming years, I imagine the price will come down.
Who knew you could find such diversity in new grape varieties in your supermarket? It’s just not the same old green, red and black grapes anymore. Be sure to go into your local supermarket and give them a try. Can’t find them? Ask your produce manager to order some from their produce supplier.
I want to be a duck, just like my mom, Frieda. Mind you, I am not calling my mom a long-necked bird. But, a few weeks ago, my sister Jackie and I were talking about my mom’s upcoming 90th birthday, and why she continues to live a long, healthy life.
We immediately discussed the fact that she does not let things stress her out. She never has. We’ve both watched my mom for more than 50 years, and the one thing we’ve always noticed is how she is so positive. The glass is always half-full for her.
We’ve even joked that if someone were to spit on her, she would say, “It’s raining!”
Admittedly, our mom has great genes. Her father lived well into his 90s. But we think the secret to her long life is her ability to not see obstacles, not let things stop her and the fact that she surrounds herself with people she likes.
Jackie and I call it “being a duck.” Think about it…When a duck is splashed with water, instead of the water being absorbed, and weighing the duck down, it gently rolls right off its feathers.
So whenever our mom faces an obstacle, hurdle or problem, she just lets it roll right off her shoulders…like a duck does with water.
I think that this avoidance, or management, of stress is her secret to long life. And I’m pretty sure that science will back this up: I’ve read many times how stress management can affect someone’s cardiac health. Yoga and meditation have grown in popularity in recent years because of stress management. My mom’s stress management techniques include frequent naps and listening to relaxing classical music throughout the day.
On August 10, Frieda celebrated her 90th birthday. We had a relaxing, garden party in her backyard.
You can see her smiling face, surrounded by our closest family members.
As a surprise, my niece, Jennifer Caplan Herbig, wrote and read this poem in honor of Grandma Frieda’s birthday.
Grand Woman Divine
Some would say time has been good to her,
But I say she’s been good for time.
So many of us fortunate
over many a year
to hear what’s on her mind.
She has no time for petty drama,
But will listen if she must.
Each day for her is valuable,
Too precious for fits and fuss.
In the eyes of her industry,
she is royalty.
A Produce Pioneer,
The Kiwi Queen.
To be one of her subjects
while she’s holding court
is a special gift received.
She has a way of lifting you up
and seeing the best there is to see.
She tries not to worry too much
’bout the heavy things in life.
She instead takes action,
letting life’s abstractions
drift into to the wind
so that her hours are focused,
spoiling those she treasures
time and time again.
Even the smallest moments
with her are quality
because when she speaks to you
you’re her favorite friend,
grandchild, daughter or son.
In that moment, you’re the only one.
That is until it’s nap time.
Time to refuel
to complete her list of important to-dos.
She’s almost always open
to hear what you have to say.
If she doesn’t have the answer
no doubt she knows someone
who can assist you right away.
With all of her many accomplishments,
and all of her high esteem,
when speaking of herself she is brief, humble and would much rather, it seems,
roar loudest about the joy and deeds,
of her children, friends and colleagues.
She is so many things to us all,
But she certainly is no Granny.
She’s an Entrepreneur
A Social Butterfly
A Force of Nature tested by time
A Generous Spirit with infinite shine
A Role Model
A Grand Woman Divine!
I want to be a duck, just like my mom!
Last night, I watched over a dozen 13-18 year-old students from South Central, Los Angeles, and some from as far away as Uzbekistan and Turkey, present their own business plans to potential investors.
Yes, you read that correctly. These budding entrepreneurs have not even graduated from high school!
The program is the brainchild of my good friend, Anna Ouroumian, who came from extremely humble beginnings in Lebanon. She was dropped off at an orphanage in Beirut at the age of three, and was raised by nuns. She moved alone to the United States when she was 16, and vowed to give back and help as many young people achieve their dreams as she possibly could. Since then, Anna has revitalized the Academy of Business Leadership, a non-profit organization. You can read her inspiring story here.
A few months ago, Anna and I were having lunch and she asked me if I wanted to be a judge at her annual business plan competition in August. I was a judge about five years ago and loved the experience, so I immediately put it on my calendar.
The vision of the Academy of Business Leadership (ABL) is to “build a movement of fulfilled, prosperous, and transformational youth leaders NOW for long term sustainability of America, and the world.”
The mission of ABL is “to bring awareness, inspire, educate and expand the education and career goals for all youth, particularly high-potential, low-opportunity youth, through core values and practical and experiential education, with a focus on business, financial investments, entrepreneurial and social entrepreneurial training and transformational leadership development.”
The bottom line is, Anna’s program takes at risk kids, primarily from South Central in Los Angeles, and teaches them that capitalism can overcome almost any hardship. And she knows first hand, as she came to America with $160 in her pocket!
|Anna with a group of kids from the program.|
This year, the competition was held on the campus of USC in downtown Los Angeles. Amazingly, I have never toured the campus before and found it to be beautifully landscaped and regal. And, as I approached the “Town and Gown” building at 5:00pm, the buzz of energy was palpable.
I saw dozens of young people, dressed up in suits, ties, and high heels, with table top displays about their business idea.
At each table we walked up to, these teenagers would shake our hands, exchange business cards with us, and pitch their business idea. There were three finalist teams from the summer-long program, and we heard each of their pitches, with each team being comprised of three to four teenagers.
The three pitches were:
1. EMPWR, an online website platform for 15-25 year-old entrepreneurs to upload their business ideas to potential investors. Their focus: other young entrepreneurs.
2. EARphone, a “slave” phone that has the most popularly used apps (phone, music, contact list and timer) and wireless earphones, and is then linked to your regular smart phone. This is useful for when you go to the gym, or for a run, so you don’t have to take your smart phone with you.
3. ScholarApp, built on the concept of a “Common Application” that has been developed for colleges. However, this team created a business plan to launch an online system for a Common Scholarship Application, to help students apply for college scholarships.
After all of the presentations were given, there was confidential voting and a discussion amongst the judges in a room afterwards. I was joined by 21 other senior executives from venture capitalist companies, fashion designers, movie producers, universities and banks.
The recognition of the winning team was very highly regarded.
As my guests, I brought two of Frieda’s youngest, newest employees, who both work on our Innovation Team.
Their comments during our drive home summed up our experience: “I was blown away by the level of poise and business acumen those teenagers had. Their presentations were of the same, or better, quality as our business plan presentations that we made during our senior year of college!”
Pretty amazing, huh?