I could tell it was autumn last week while I was traveling in the Pacific Northwest, even though the temperatures were in the 80- to 90-degree range.


Because I saw HUGE hard-shell squash displays in every supermarket.

(Note: It is normal procedure at most supermarkets to do a “fall reset.” Pumpkins, squashes, apples, and oranges are moved to the front of the department. Displays of cooking vegetables get bigger. And summer fruit displays become much smaller or disappear altogether.)

Doesn’t this make you think of fall? Beautiful displays of squash and pumpkins on centerpieces and the aroma of squash baking in the oven fills the air!

Photo: Paleo Nutrition Notes

Every produce manager I spoke with said they sell lots of squash during the fall season. Up in Oregon and Washington, hard-shell squashes are a local crop, so I think part of the appeal is that consumers are supporting local farmers—a huge trend these days.

But I also think a few other trends explain the popularity of hard-shell squashes.

One-Dish Meals

It’s easy to bake—or even microwave—a squash and stuff it with rice, ground meat, or steamed veggies for a simple and tasty meal. For those who are in a time crunch, this is an easy and yummy dinner.

Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking

Forget the meat! Someone following a plant-based, whole-foods diet can have a tasty meal by stuffing halves of cooked squash with protein-rich, ancient grains like farro and quinoa. (One of the most successful produce managers I spoke with last week went vegan last year and has lost over 60 pounds!) The hard-shell squashes are also excellent sources of vitamins A and C.

Flavor, Flavor, Flavor!

Hard-shell squashes are some of the most flavorful and richest tasting vegetables. As much as I love green salads, when it gets cold outside, I want something warm and delicious. And squash fits the bill!

This year’s darling is Delicata Squash, which has a flavor reminiscent of corn pudding. A produce manager told me he thinks one of the reasons it is so popular is that it’s the only variety with an edible skin!

More than a dozen varieties of hard-shelled squashes are available in local supermarkets. Click on the image to learn more about them.

I would love to hear what your favorite squash is. Let me know by posting a comment below.

Enjoy autumn’s abundance!


“Agriculture’s tastemakers are arguably the most potent trendsetters in the world,” said James Beard Award-winning author David Sax in his new book “The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes But Fed Up with Fondue,” released in June. One of those trendsetters mentioned in his book is our founder, Frieda Rapoport Caplan.

Sax is also the author of “Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen” and has won a James Beard Award for writing and literature. He is a freelance writer specializing in business and food. His writing appears regularly in the New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Saveur.

We were also featured in “Cooking Techniques and Recipes with Olive Oil” written by our friends Mary Platis and Laura Bashar. Our products were used in many recipes in the book, including Organic Finger Limes Kamikaze Shots with Mint and Olive Oil.

One of my favorite songs these days is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

Every time it comes on the radio, I get a huge smile on my face.

So, when I was returning from a weekend trip in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., this past weekend and we were dropping off our rental car, I must have been thinking of that song. As I got out of the car, I smiled at the attendant. His reaction was amazing.

“What a great smile you have!” he said.

“Thank you!” I replied.

“It’s not just your smile, or your teeth. It’s the way your whole face lights up!”

I told him that he really made my day, and he told me that I made his.

How many times do we have something on our minds, completely preoccupied, and don’t think about what we look like to others? You know what I am talking about—that slight scowl or tense look. That’s not a face that is fun for people to look at.

What if we each conscientiously put our efforts into walking around with a smile and saying hello to everyone we see? It doesn’t really take that much extra effort.

I learned this from a speaker who presented at our recent company sales meeting: when you say something positive and kind to someone else, it gives energy and strength to both you and the person to whom you are speaking.

And conversely, when you say something negative or critical, you weaken both yourself and the other person.

So, why not try it for a week? Smile at everyone you see. I would love to hear about the reactions you get, if you would share with me in the comment section below.

Big smile from Avery Maes, Frieda’s future intern and unofficial mascot, daughter of our production artist Mark Maes.


P.S. I have never seen a YouTube video that has more than 410 million views before! That’s how many Pharrell has for “Happy!” I guess happiness is catching on.