Purple crisp pods stand out as a healthy snack option

PurpleSnowPeas_ReviewHitSeal

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (May 2015) — Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert confirms that Frieda’s Specialty Produce’s Purple Snow Peas are a hit. In “Phil’s Food Reviews,” Purple Snow Peas were his pick of the week on May 1, scoring 93 out of 100.

Purple Snow Peas are available year-round, however the rainy season in Guatemala can affect availability intermittently from June to mid-November. An excellent source of vitamin C, fiber and folate, Purple Snow Peas come in 12/6-ounce plastic bags or in 10-pound bulk. These deep purple pods have tiny green peas inside and maintain their purple color when cooked.

“I love these,” Phil says in his review. “Great to get kids to eat more vegetables. Under 40 calories for half a bag with zero fat, 3 grams of protein and 5 grams of naturally occurring sugars.”

Frieda’s offers healthy snack options to help keep shoppers away from not-so-healthy snacks. Crisp and crunchy, easy and fun-to-eat, exciting fresh produce like Purple Snow Peas, Rambutans, Mini Sweet Peppers, and Starfruit can satisfy any craving.

Interested retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice distributors can contact Frieda’s for additional information on Purple Snow Peas.

About Frieda’s Inc.

With over 50 years of fresh produce innovation, Frieda’s Specialty Produce continues to change the way America eats fruits and vegetables. Founded in 1962 by Frieda Caplan, Frieda’s was the first wholesale produce company in the U.S. to be founded, owned, and operated by a woman, and is still a family- and women-owned business today. Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 specialty items to U.S. produce departments, including Kiwifruit, Spaghetti Squash, Habanero Peppers, Sunchokes®, Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes, Sangria and Fiore Viola Artichokes, and many more. Frieda’s featured program is “Eat One Fruit a Day That Scares You,” which encourages everyone to #FearNoFruit. Connect with Frieda’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and at Friedas.com.

There is a new business disease. It’s called “conference burnout.” You may have it. It goes like this:

Every morning when you look through your emails, in between all your necessary and urgent company and client emails, are email invitations highlighting the “latest and greatest” conferences. You can attend conferences put on by INC. Magazine, Fast Company, Fortune, Hubspot, and other experts in New York City, Austin, or Chicago.

You get excited about the subjects you’re interested in, or speakers who you would love to hear and meet in person. But then you look at the dates and you realize that you would have to give up your day job to attend all of the conferences.

Dejected, you delete all of those emails.

Sound familiar?

With that being said, I managed to attend a conference for the first time in May that was put together by the Western Association of Food Chains.

I have seen the name of this industry conference for many years and never understood it. It looked just like another supermarket retail conference in a nice location. (Hello, Palm Springs!) Except this time, my good friend Sue Klug, executive vice president of Unified Grocers, who happens to be the chairwoman of WAFC, personally invited me.

“You really should come,” said Sue. “I know you will like it. It’s different.”

Sue can be very convincing, so I did a little research on the organization and the event. Even though I was not entirely convinced it would be worth it, I ended up attending. After all, I could give up a couple of days to support my friend.

Only retailer supermarket executives can be a member of WAFC—no vendors or suppliers—however, vendors and suppliers can attend the conference. So I did.

During one of the cocktail parties, I spoke with another board member, Oscar Gonzalez, who is the Co-President of Northgate Gonzalez Supermarkets here in Southern California. All these retail competitors were in constant meetings every day with each other and I knew they could not be discussing their competitive strategies. So, what were all the meetings about?

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen Caplan Oscar Gonzales
Me and Oscar. (Photo credit: Bob Reeves, The Shelby Report.)

Oscar explained it to me beautifully. He told me that back in 1921, the supermarket industry on the West Coast realized there was a shortage of management personnel for their retail stores. Most employees got their start in supermarkets by bagging or checking groceries while in high school. They made good money, and many of them had no incentive to go to college. After being a front-end checker, you could move up to be a supervisor and then eventually a store manager. In most cases, a store manager would be making a six-figure salary. Seriously, there was no incentive for their employees to get a professional education.

So all the retailers got together and created the WAFC with the sole purpose of designing and funding management education programs for company employees!

Education is the primary mission of the WAFC. Since 1958, with the support of scholarship donors, the organization established and has funded the Food Industry Management Program at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. Then in 2000, WAFC launched the “Retail Management Certificate Program,” an accredited community college program specifically designed for food industry associates, which is available online nationally and at over 160 college campus and satellite locations in the Western United States.

Having spoken with some of the students who graduated from either USC program or the Retail Management Certificate Program, they all said two things:

“It changed my life forever” and “I would never be in the career position I am in now without this program.”

One of the graduates has now been promoted to the most senior sales/marketing executive in his company’s regional retail chain of more than 100 stores!

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate? - Oscar Gonzales with WAFC students
Oscar and WAFC scholars. (Photo credit: Bob Reeves.)

Not only was it very exciting to hear, honestly, it was very refreshing.

A bunch of competitors identified that they had a common need, and banded together for this noble cause of not only designing and managing a management training program, but also of helping change the lives of their employees.

Now that I understand the purpose of WAFC, I was all in! But as a vendor (and a newcomer), what could I possibly do?

Well, as it turns out, vendors can actually join another organization called the Illuminators. WAFC was started in 1921 and a few years later the vendors formed their own, supportive group. The sole purpose of the Illuminators is to provide volunteers to run the WAFC conferences and events. So I paid my dues and signed up within the first hour of getting there, and joined all the other volunteers right away. I sold raffle tickets, served lunch, and staffed a silent auction, among other duties. It was so much fun!

The grocery industry is often accused of being stuck in the “old business model,” e.g. brick and mortar, but the WAFC found an innovative way to collaboratively tackle an industry-wide hurdle, and at the same time, develop a retention strategy for our companies and industry!

It makes me so proud to be a part of the industry!

Karen

Five tips to great fruit and vegetable grilling

Recent studies show that 87 percent of American households have outdoor barbecues, and they believe grilling more often is a healthier way to prepare meals. Grilling also brings out the flavors of fruits and vegetables like no other cooking method can! As our eating habits are changing to include more fruits and vegetables, so are our grilling preferences. Put more vegetables—and even fruits—on your grill this summer. Follow these five easy tricks and tips to make grilling produce a breeze.

Well-oiled Grate

Vegetables and fruits tend to stick to the grate more because of the caramelizing sugars. Brush some oil (or spray) on the grate before adding your produce to the grill.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Grilled Fava Beans
Grilled Fava Beans. Get recipe

Cooling Rack as Veggie Grill

Tired of losing your vegetable slices to the fire? Put a metal cooling rack on the grill grate as a secondary, smaller grate grill surface so nothing falls through. And you can still get the beautiful grill marks. (We picked up this tip from Alton Brown!)

Aluminum Foil Is Your Best Friend

Cleanup is a breeze when you cook your fruits and veggies in aluminum foil packets! Add your favorite vegetables onto a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with some olive oil, and season with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. Fold up the packet and seal the edges well. Set the packets on the grill and let the vegetables steam themselves. You can do the same with fruits, sugar or honey, and a drizzle of orange or almond liqueur, then serve over vanilla ice cream.

Hooray for Skewers

Wooden or metal skewers make grilling fruits and vegetables easy AND fun! The key is to make sure all the pieces are about the same thickness so they cook evenly. Shishito Peppers, Mini Sweet Peppers, thick slices of sweet Maui Onion, and whole Elephant Garlic cloves are wonderful when charred on skewers. Finish off parboiled Fingerling Potatoes, Pearl Onions, or Baby Sunburst Squash on the grill for great smoky flavor and beautiful grill marks. Zululand Queen Baby Pineapple, Yellow Seedless Watermelon, and other melon cubes are all delicious when lightly caramelized.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Ready, Set, Grill!

Try Something Unexpected

You can put more on the grill than onions, peppers, carrots, and zucchini! Did you know that you can grill leafy vegetables like Belgian Endive, Radicchio, Baby Bok Choy, and even romaine lettuce? They actually get sweeter when a little charred. You can also grill Fava Beans in the pods and eat them whole, pods and all. Try avocado halves, grilled right in the skin. As for fruits, have you ever had grilled Dragon Fruit? Cube them and add to skewers with other fruits for fun fruit kebabs!

Have a great grilling season!

Save

I don’t usually get star-struck. I have no interest in getting autographs of famous people or visiting the homes of the stars in Hollywood.

But about six weeks ago, my daughter Alex and I attended an NCAA Sweet 16 Championship game at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Afterwards, we decided to grab dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Border Grill, which is owned and operated by longtime business partners, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken. They are big users of fresh produce and offer flavorful and fresh authentic Mexican cuisine.

So there we were in an almost empty restaurant (typical of downtown L.A. at 5 p.m. on a Saturday evening), munching on chips and salsa, when a familiar-looking man walked in.

I would recognize Mark Bittman anywhere.

Photo credit: MarkBittman.com

Mark currently writes for The New York Times, but I first learned about him when I bought one of his books, “How to Cook Everything,” more than 10 years ago.

His writing covers agriculture, health, the environment, and, of course, cooking and eating. He is a regular on the “Today” show and has hosted four TV series. But when he went mostly vegan a few years ago and wrote “VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00,” he really got my attention. (As you may recall, I went vegan for about a year in 2012.)

The premise of VB6 was that Mark loves food, but he needed to make some dietary changes due to health concerns. That is when he ingeniously realized he could be a vegan before 6 p.m. each day, then eat pretty much what he wanted in the evening.

So, when I saw him walk into the restaurant and sit at a table by himself, I took a deep breath, put on my lipstick, and went over to say hello.

We chatted for a bit about my mom, Frieda, about why he decided to go vegan, and which restaurant I should dine in during my next visit to New York City to celebrate my youngest daughter, Sophia, graduating from college. I also learned that he is temporarily living in Berkeley, Calif., thus his recent story on Monterey Market. I think he was impressed that I had seen the article.

After I went back to my table, I had my regrets. Shouldn’t I have gotten a picture with Mark? So I recruited Alex to return with me about 30 minutes later to chat some more and get his permission for a photo together.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's plate? - Mark Bittman

What I loved about talking with Mark is that for someone who is such an authority on EVERYTHING, and so well connected, he was, well, human—a little funny and very humble. He was not annoyed that I interrupted his dinner twice.

I have met another pretty famous person. His name is Shaquille O’Neal and I met him at O’Hare airport in Chicago. As it turns out, a friend of mine, Michael Downing, is a business partner with Shaq in a company called Tout, which has been around for more than four years, before Vine videos became so popular. Tout is a next generation video platform for media companies to share content.

So, when I saw this HUGE man walk past me in the airport, I took a chance and approached him, asking if he knew Michael. I think Shaq was taken aback that I was not asking him for his autograph or photo.

After I said hello, I walked away, and then realized I should have asked him for help. You see, and you may not know this, but Shaq is a bit of a computer geek. So, I walked back to him and asked him if he could show me how to use Tout. I had downloaded the app, but did not know how to use it!

And there I was in the middle of O’Hare airport with this giant man showing me how to use an app on my phone.

So my lesson learned is that most of those famous people are human like the rest of us. And if you treat them like an old friend, and have a sincere conversation, they might just let you get your picture with them.

Karen

Shoppers take healthy eating habits to grilling season

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Summer Grilling

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (May 2015) — While hot dogs and burgers have always been summer’s favorite grilling items, this year shoppers will look for a variety of fruits and vegetables beyond onions and peppers to grill.

Holidays are no longer a “cheat” day for shoppers, but opportunities for them to try healthy food. Recent studies show that 87 percent of American households have outdoor barbecues, and they believe grilling more often is a healthier way to prepare meals. Shorter cooking time on the grill ensures that much of the nutritional content is retained in vegetables when cooked.

“We find a significant change in American barbecue habits. Shoppers are grilling more vegetables in the summer, and now they are starting to grill more fruits as well,” said Karen Caplan, President and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “One of the food trends this year is making vegetables the main course, and summer grilling season sets the perfect stage for that.”

Some exciting vegetables for grilling are Shishito Peppers, Baby Bok Choy, Belgian Endive, Eggplant, Fava Beans, Fingerling and Baby Potatoes, Artichokes, and Colored Cauliflowers for cauliflower “steaks.” Starfruit and Zululand Queen Baby Pineapples are also great lightly caramelized.

“While grilling season officially kicks off during Memorial Day weekend (May 25), continues with Father’s Day (June 21), Fourth of July weekend, and concludes on Labor Day weekend (September 7), we are seeing retailers starting to promote grilling certain parts of the country,” added Caplan.

About Frieda’s Inc.

With over 50 years of fresh produce innovation, Frieda’s Specialty Produce continues to change the way America eats fruits and vegetables. Founded in 1962 by Frieda Caplan, Frieda’s was the first wholesale produce company in the U.S. to be founded, owned, and operated by a woman, and is still a family- and women-owned business today. Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 specialty items to U.S. produce departments, including Kiwifruit, Spaghetti Squash, Habanero Peppers, Sunchokes®, Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes, Sangria and Fiore Viola Artichokes, and many more. Frieda’s featured program is “Eat One Fruit a Day That Scares You,” which encourages everyone to #FearNoFruit. Connect with Frieda’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and at Friedas.com.