It may seem strange to some people that I have not yet written a blog post on “Fear No Fruit,” the documentary film about my mother and our business. After all, it was publicly released back in June 2015. I knew there would come a right time, and that is today. Let me tell you why.

This week, Civil Eats published a story about “Fear No Fruit.” Civil Eats is a daily news source for critical thought about the American food system and was named 2014 Publication of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.

The writer, Larissa Zimberoff (who also freelances for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Mashable, and more), first discovered the film while flying on United Airlines from Paris to New York about six weeks ago. She selected “Fear No Fruit” as her in-flight entertainment. (United Airlines, Emirates and Qatar Airlines have all licensed the film for their passengers’ enjoyment.)

Larissa
Larissa Zimberoff

She loved the documentary and was thrilled to see a familiar face, Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert, in the film.  So while in flight (don’t you love technology?!), she emailed Phil and asked if he could connect us. Today, Larissa tells me that she finds it utterly amazing that within four hours of seeing the film, she and I were corresponding by email.

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The Frieda Caplan documentary

Well, as they say, the rest is history.

Larissa originally called to interview me about a story on the future of supermarkets. During our conversation, we started talking about the film. She began asking me questions, and I shared many untold stories about our company. She ended up writing the Civil Eats piece, which published on Christmas Eve.

A few weeks after our phone conversation, I was able to meet Larissa while in New York City, and we now talk on a regular basis.  I always tell her that I’m happy to be her behind-the-scenes source of produce information, even if she doesn’t quote me.

If you haven’t seen “Fear No Fruit,” it’s available for streaming on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play and Hulu Plus. And on January 12, it will be available on DVD.

The film is the story of my mom, Frieda Caplan—the Queen of Kiwi and the first woman entrepreneur in the wholesale produce industry—and the company she started in 1962.  It premiered at the 2015 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, followed by the 2015 Newport Beach Film Festival and the 2015 Carmel Film Festival, and had an intimate produce industry premiere in London.

Our many thanks to Mark Brian Smith, the visionary, award-winning filmmaker, who approached us about making the film and his amazing crew who filmed it in 10 days. (But it took more than two months of editing to complete it.)

And since this is my last post of the year, I want to add: Happy New Year from my produce family to yours!

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Frieda Caplan, myself, Jackie Caplan Wiggins and Alex Jackson (my daughter)

#fearnofruit

Karen

drinks

Keys to a great New Year celebration are preventing a hangover from happening, while also preparing to “cure” it after the fact. Many of the well-known and well-tested methods can be found right in your produce department. All of these “cures” can be prepared a few days before—or even on—New Year’s Eve, so you don’t have to stumble around the kitchen too much on New Year’s Day.

Young Coconut

Staying hydrated is the number one hangover prevention and “cure.” Coconut water is a great alternative to water to keep you hydrated before and after New Year’s Eve celebrations. Since ideally you’ll hydrate pre-party with one or two, I highly recommend also opening two or more for after the party. Cover them with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for easy access in the morning. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t attempt to crack open a young coconut with bleary eyes and a pounding headache.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - How to open a Young Coconut

Ginger and Turmeric

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Turmeric Ginger Tea - Cold Killer

Ginger has been used for centuries to aid indigestion and settle nausea. Turmeric, the “It” spice of 2016, is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Fortunately, both of them taste wonderful together in a tea that will sooth your stomach while helping you hydrate like this recipe here, or simply steep slices of both roots in boiling water, then add a bit of brown sugar or honey to taste. This “magic” elixir can be made ahead and kept in the fridge so you can just nuke it on New Year’s morning.

Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Purple is the New Orange

Any starch can help alleviate nausea and general queasiness. Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes are a source of complex carbs and fiber that will help keep your stomach calm. They also have the added benefits of vitamin C to help you bounce back faster. Bake a few sweet potatoes on New Year’s Eve and leave them in the fridge. They can be eaten hot or cold, hashed with eggs, or even mashed and added to pancake batter (with bacon).

As a testament, yours truly had once rolled off the couch the morning after overindulging, nibbled on some purple sweet potatoes on the way to a 5K race, and completed the run without any, um, incident. So, there you go.

Enjoy your celebration responsibly, and we’ll see you in 2016!

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As the year draws to a close, I had the chance to look over my writings, predictions, and thoughts from the past 52 weeks. It’s fun to see what topics resonated with those who read my blog. So, here goes… My top 5 posts of 2015:

1. Produce Trends for 2015 
Interesting to see that a few of these trends appeared in this week’s headlines: food waste, ugly produce, and smaller supermarkets. (Read the post here.)

2. Demystifying Shishito and Padron Peppers, and

3. What the Hell Do I Do with Kohlrabi? 
I don’t always write about produce, but when I do, I try to pick the most interesting and timely products. (Read more here and here.)

Frieda's Specialty Produce - ShishitoPeppers
Roasted Shishito Peppers

4. Meeting Someone Famous 
Anyone who knows me knows that I do not usually get star-struck, but I when I saw famed author Mark Bittman in a downtown L.A. restaurant, I had to write about it (and I mentioned meeting Shaquille O’Neal at the Chicago airport). Interestingly enough, Mark recently left the New York Times and is now working for a start-up called Purple Carrot. Home delivery of vegan meal ingredients. I need to call him. (Read the post here.)

5. The Book that Changed My Life 
Of course, I had to write about this book. In case you are wondering, I have kept the habits of the author intact in my house, and I still fold my clothes the way she taught me, and my house is still decluttered. I think the way our house or work space looks is a metaphor of our lives. (Read more.)

And finally a bonus from my top posts of 2015. The first of my predictions of “hot items” for 2016…Fresh Turmeric. I wrote about it here. I predict you will be seeing it more and more in produce departments, in recipes, on menus, and as a featured ingredient in nutritional supplements.

Enjoy the holidays! Next time, I will share my predictions for 2016.

Karen

Frieda’s recommends shoppers find intergalactic snack ideas in the produce aisle

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Darth Maul - Kiwano

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (December 2015) – You have your tickets. You have your plans. But do you have the perfectly themed snacks to celebrate “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with? You don’t have to be the best cook in the universe to serve up intergalactic snacks. Just look in your produce aisle!

STARFRUIT

Obvious choice, isn’t it? Slice Starfruit crosswise and serve fresh, make starfruit upside down cake, or play up the Dark Side and the Light by dipping the slices in dark and white chocolate.

KIWANO® HORNED MELON

This horned melon is the golden cousin of Darth Maul! Relations or not, the Kiwano is alien-looking enough to serve up at your party. Slice and serve Kiwano with a sprinkle of sea salt or a squeeze of Meyer Lemon. And of course, the Kiwano’s electric green pulp also makes great Mos Eisley-esque cocktails.

ICICLE RADISH

Recreate the Wampa cave scene with these spicy, pure white radishes. Nestle your Hoth Luke action figure or a mini Lightsaber on the platter, and serve with a snowy white dip or whipped butter.

BLACK GARLIC AND ELEPHANT GARLIC

Which side will you choose: the Dark with umami-tastic Black Garlic Spread or the Light with sweet Roasted Elephant Garlic? Split the platter down the middle with crostini or crackers and let your guests choose their own tasty side of the Force.

Enjoy your snacks and see you at the movies!

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 53-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes, Sangria Artichokes, Habanero Peppers, Sunchokes®, and Organic Finger Limes. Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in Orange County, California. Inspire. Taste. Love.

You have your tickets. You have your plans. But do you have the perfectly themed snacks to celebrate Star Wars: The Force Awakens with? You don’t have to be the best cook in the universe to serve up intergalactic snacks. Just look in your produce aisle!

1. Starfruit

Obvious choice, isn’t it? Slice Starfruit crosswise and serve fresh, make starfruit upside down cake, or play up the Dark Side and the Light by dipping the slices in dark and white chocolate.

A video posted by Frieda’s Specialty Produce (@friedasproduce) on

2. Kiwano®

This horned melon is the golden cousin of Darth Maul. See?

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Darth Maul - Kiwano

Relations or not, the Kiwano is alien-looking enough to serve up at your party. Did you know that you can eat the Kiwano whole–skin and all? Use a vegetable peeler to trim off the spikes, slice into rounds (or cut down the middle like Darth Maul!) and serve with a sprinkle of sea salt. A squeeze of Meyer Lemon also brings out a completely different flavor profile for this odd fruit.

And of course, the Kiwano’s electric green pulp also makes great Mos Eisley-esque cocktails like Toxic Sludge Margarita or a Rum Martini served in the shell.

ETA 12/21/15: Kiwano melons were actually spotted in The Force Awakens along with some Romanesco! Did you see them? (We’ll tell you where in January. No spoiler here!)

3. Icicle Radish

Recreate the Wampa cave scene with these spicy, pure white radishes. Nestle your Hoth Luke action figure or a mini Lightsaber on the platter, and serve with a snowy white dip or whipped butter.

“I wish I could reach the party platter from here… Oh wait…”

4. Black Garlic and Elephant Garlic

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Star Wars platter - Black Garlic - Elecphant Garlic

Which side will you choose: the Dark with umami-tastic Black Garlic Spread or the Light with sweet Roasted Elephant Garlic? Split the platter down the middle with crostini or crackers and let your guests choose their own tasty side of the Force.

Enjoy your snacks and see you at the movies!

– Oakley

Prepare your produce department for vegetable-focused food trends

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Turmeric Root

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (December 2015) – Next year’s food trends lead to the produce department, finds Frieda’s Specialty Produce. From the clean-eating movement to a more vegetable-centric menu, don’t miss out on the great vegetable revolution of 2016!

Clean Eating Movement

Shoppers are eliminating processed food and artificial ingredients from their diets, sticking to more fresh ingredients instead. Take advantage of this trend and keep shoppers coming back for more by consistently stocking your produce department with a variety of nutrient-dense vegetables like Sunchokes® and Stokes Purple™ Sweet Potatoes, and flavor boosters like ginger, fresh chile peppers, and various onions.

Veg-centric

With the Meatless Monday movement continuing to gain popularity and vegetable spiralizers flying off the shelf, it’s easy to see that vegetables are gaining ground as the star players in restaurants as well at home. Colored carrot and zucchini ribbons are nudging out actual pasta, and roasted root vegetables like celery root and colorful beet varieties are taking over more plate space at dinner time.

Turmeric

The Baum+Whiteman report named turmeric “Spice of the Year” for 2016 [PDF]. This yellow root has been gaining popularity in recent years with the clean-eating and juicing sets as an immunity booster.

Flavorful Heat

Home food preservation continues to be a trend with shoppers, including homemade hot and chile sauces. While Ghost and Trinidad Scorpion Peppers remain popular, foodies are—forgive the pun—burned out on pure heat and are seeking more flavor from peppers like Habanero, Serrano, and Poblano, along with Hatch Peppers from New Mexico in the summer.

Interested retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice distributors can contact Frieda’s to find out more about these and other trending products, and gain access to Frieda’s extensive product information, high resolution images, and recipe database.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 53-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes, Sangria Artichokes, Habanero Peppers, Sunchokes®, and Organic Finger Limes. Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in Orange County, California. Inspire. Taste. Love.

Each December, I get to visit New York City. It’s one of my favorite global destinations, and it is especially delightful during the holiday season. The weather is cold and brisk, the holiday lights are up, and everyone is in the spirit of the holidays.

Several years ago during my annual visit, I had dinner with friends at Gramercy Tavern—the iconic New York restaurant located in the Flatiron District. It was an incredible experience. The restaurant was decorated for the holidays, the menu featured many of my favorite vegetables, and the service was amazing. I say “amazing” because when I returned to Gramercy Tavern 18 months later, the server remembered me.

I have never met Gramercy’s Chef Michael Anthony, but one day I hope to.

I was particularly intrigued when I received an email from Gramercy Tavern highlighting Chef Anthony’s new cookbook, “V is for Vegetables.” Now I am a bit obsessed with his new cookbook, particularly the recipe for Daikon Kinpira.

V is for Vegetables book

Chef Anthony writes:

“Before I went to Japan, I had no idea what a Daikon was; after living there I can’t imagine my kitchen without it. Daikon can seem daunting: it grows fast, large, and very dense, but it’s become a staple at our farmers’ markets. Less watery than a cucumber, less peppery than most other radishes, there’s nothing funky or weird about Daikon. And it’s super easy to peel. Grated, braised, pickled, or fermented—there are countless ways to discover this fresh, crunchy root.”

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Daikon

If you’re not familiar with Daikon, it looks like a giant white carrot. We nicknamed it “Japanese Radish” many years ago when we first introduced it to American supermarkets. It is usually found in most produce departments along with other Asian vegetables.

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Daikon on bottom right of display, beneath the baby bok choy.

Because it is so large—usually over 12 inches in length—some produce managers cut off the tops or even cut them into chunks. I guess they’re hoping to make them more approachable to shoppers. I really wish they wouldn’t do that. Whole Daikon is so beautiful and luscious.

Daikon is best eaten raw; the flavor is much milder than other radishes. It’s juicy and refreshing. I remember many years ago when one of our growers shared his “Secret of Daikon.” He told me that if you spill soy sauce on your shirt, you can remove the stain by dabbing it with fresh grated Daikon! (Good thing to remember next time you’re at a sushi bar.)

Judging from Chef Anthony’s description of how he uses it, I am considering substituting sliced or grated Daikon for cucumber in my next salad.

Maybe Daikon will be the new cucumber!

Enjoy!
Karen

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Frieda’s shares four reasons these lucky legumes attract shoppers

Frieda's Specialty Produce Blackeyed Peas

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (December 2015) — Blackeyed Peas have been a part of New Year’s Day celebrations in the U.S. for over 300 years, and this Southern tradition is making a comeback in a big way. Every year, Frieda’s Specialty Produce sees an increase in the demand for pre-soaked Blackeyed Peas, as well as dried beans, and expects this year to be the best yet. Here are four reasons Blackeyed Peas are good for business.

1. Convenience

Today’s shoppers want quick and easy everything. Pre-soaked Blackeyed Peas provide the perfect solution—just rinse and cook. No more soaking dried peas overnight. Retailers can also offer a convenient meal solution center by displaying Blackeyed Peas tubs alongside cooking greens.

2. Modern Southern and Comfort Food Trends

Updated Southern cuisine and comfort foods are trending with shoppers for both home cooking and dining out—from traditional dishes like Blackeyed Peas and Collard Greens to new classics like Blackeyed Pea Hummus.

3. Health and Nutrition

Nutrient-dense food is the new buzzword in healthy eating. Blackeyed Peas are one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables, packing lots of good stuff like fiber, folate, and iron, with fewer calories.

4. Halo Effect

Cooking Blackeyed Peas requires additional ingredients from all over the supermarket, not just the produce aisle, from collard greens and garlic, and dried peppers and canned beans, to ham and bacon.

Frieda’s pre-soaked Blackeyed Peas in our rebranded tubs and our dried beans are available to order now. Interested retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice distributors can contact Frieda’s for product information and high resolution images to assist with any marketing needs.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 53-year legacy of inspiring new food experiences for friends, family, and food lovers everywhere. Credited with introducing more than 200 specialty fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets, Frieda’s has helped launch unique items like Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes, Sangria Artichokes, Habanero Peppers, Sunchokes®, and Organic Finger Limes. Founded in 1962 by produce industry icon Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is now owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins in Orange County, California. Inspire. Taste. Love.