Retailers can meet the growing demand by stocking a variety of colorful roots in their wet veg sets

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Root vegetable display

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (February 2016) – Health conscious shoppers and trend-chasing foodies are driving the vegetable-centric menu trends, and they are looking for a greater variety of root vegetables to add nutrients, color, texture, and flavor to their dishes. Retailers should ready their wet veg sets to take full advantage of this growing demand by building a beautiful display to showcase the wide selection and brilliant colors that can be found in root vegetables, from specialty carrots to radishes, parsnips, and beets.

The rising stars of the radish world are multi-colored Easter egg and French breakfast varieties, as well as Asian flair daikon and beautiful watermelon radishes. For roots with tops, occasional long truck rides can cause wilted or yellowing green tops. With food waste reduction top of mind, Frieda’s Specialty Produce has worked with its retail partners on trimming yellow tops or soaking the greens to revive them instead of rejecting product.

Over in your fresh beet display, shoppers continue to find ways to add these nutritious and colorful roots to every meal. Make sure to always have multiple varieties on hand, like red, gold, and striped (chioggia) beets.

In the “ugly duckling” category are roots like jicama, celery root, parsnip, kohlrabi, and Sunchokes®. These humble roots do not win any beauty contests, but shoppers in the know will be looking for them. In the wintertime, consumers can roast these vegetables, and in spring and summer, they are added to salads. Attract shoppers to the “beauty within” with big, bold, colorful signage.

Interested retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice distributors who carrot all about food trends should contact Frieda’s to keep their wet racks well stocked, to find out more information, and to 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.

“You are what you eat” has never been more embraced in our history as a society. I know that what I eat on a daily basis has an effect, not just on how I feel in general, but how healthy I am.

The more mainstream acceptance of food as medicine is really good for the produce business. Whether people are going vegetarian, eating clean, or following an anti-inflammatory diet, fresh fruits and vegetables play major roles in helping them follow their healthy-eating plans.

I want to share two personal examples:

My colleague’s husband was suffering from severe psoriasis (red patchy skin) and psoriatic arthritis (joint pain). If you’ve ever experienced either of these, you know how debilitating, painful, and limiting these conditions can be. After unsuccessful treatment with several different prescription drugs, his rheumatologist suggested trying injectable biologic drugs. After reading about the potential side effects, he was hesitant and sought a second opinion from a naturopathic doctor (something he had never done before). The naturopath put him on a strict anti-inflammatory diet, which meant he could not eat sugar (except lots of fresh fruit), dairy, gluten, red meat, or nightshade family vegetables, like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant or peppers.

The doctor was optimistic that his arthritis would resolve and skin would clear up within six months. He amped up his diet with lots of whole foods, and endless fruits and vegetables; he also pretty much avoided all packaged foods. Three months later, my colleague’s husband’s skin had cleared up by 90 percent and his arthritis pain was gone. Yes, gone. Oh, and he lost 30 pounds.

My next example happened this past weekend. I went to visit my friend Elise and during our visit, she shared that she had been recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. It’s a very scary disease, and if untreated, completely debilitating. Literally, this vibrant 57-year-old woman woke up one day and could not uncurl her fingers.

Elise did a ton of research and came across a lot of anecdotal information about the Paleo Diet and the benefits of eliminating nightshade foods from her diet.  So, she tried it. The Paleo Diet is basically, no sugar, no dairy, no grains, no legumes or processed foods. You only eat foods that were consumed by “cave men” in Paleolithic times. For a complete list, look here.  She told me that she was desperate when she changed her diet.  And she said that within three days, she felt like a new person. The pain and stiffness had subsided. (Full disclosure: she is also taking some prescription medicines.)

Every time I meet a medical student, faculty member or doctor, I ask them the same thing:  How many classes do you take on nutrition during medical school?  Sadly, they all say the same thing: not enough. However, I was excited to read recently that the state of Michigan has the right idea with a program that offers grants to medical centers to offer their patients a prescription in the form of vouchers for fresh produce from local farmers markets.

Imagine that. Doctors prescribing fresh produce for good health. And in Minnesota, a health insurance company offers its members monthly deals on healthy groceries and fresh produce through participating retailers.

So, if you ever find yourself having unexplainable aches and pains, or stiffness in your joints, why don’t you try this:  Eliminate nightshades and processed foods from your diet for a few days and see if you feel different.

I can tell you from personal experience that it’s hard to do. Especially if you love fresh, juicy tomatoes and roasted potatoes (like I do).  But making a few changes in your diet can make all the difference in the world.

Karen

We all know that gluten-free products have become a popular food group. As I travel around the country and visit supermarkets, I continue to see larger and larger displays of gluten-free items.

With Italian food so popular, it only makes sense that one of the most common gluten-free products is pasta. Years ago, I remember the first gluten-free pasta from the DeBoles Company.

But did you know that there is gluten-free “pasta” that’s also low in calories and carbs?

Enter the spiralizer and the zucchini squash!

I first experienced zucchini pasta when I was in Maui last summer and enjoyed an amazing Kobe beef meatball atop a mound of zucchini pasta at Sarento’s on the Beach. We asked the chef how he prepared it, and he told us he steamed the zucchini spirals for three minutes before serving.

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Then, last night, I received a text message from my dear friend Elise: “You probably thought of this, but I always spiralize zucchini.”

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These zucchini “zoodles” really are a great pasta substitute. A simple search on Amazon showed me that a very nice spiralizer costs less than $30. Plus, I noticed at least eight different cookbooks featuring this kitchen gadget.

Prior to the popularity and availability of the spiralizer, the best alternative to pasta was one of my personal favorites—the spaghetti squash.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Spaghetti Squash

Our company first introduced spaghetti squash to American supermarkets back in 1975. I was still in college when my mother received her first shipment from our grower in Northern California. Before that time, spaghetti squash was mostly popular with home gardeners. Eventually, seed companies began introducing it to commercial growers, but the biggest challenge was that it looked like a large melon. It was difficult to comprehend and communicate that all you had to do was cook it (steam, boil, or bake), and the flesh separated into spaghetti-like strands. Out of necessity, one of our first product labels was born.

So, next time you’re thinking of serving pasta for dinner, try serving zucchini pasta. It’s a great way to get more fresh veggies into your diet, plus it has a nice fresh flavor and texture. Or, if you are looking for interesting and useful gift ideas, try the spiralizer. I know it will be on the top of my list of unique gift ideas.

Though fueled by wheat-gluten allergies, celiac disease, and low-carb diet preferences, some say the popularity of gluten-free products is actually starting to peak. That doesn’t trouble me; I’m still making zucchini pasta whenever I’m craving Italian food.

Enjoy,
Karen

Fear No Fruit - Frieda Caplan

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (February 2016) – “Fear No Fruit,” the Frieda Caplan documentary, is among a handful of documentary films about food and agriculture at the Sedona International Film Festival. Screenings will be in Sedona, Arizona, on Saturday, February 20, at 3 p.m. at Mary D. Fisher Theatre and on Monday, February 23, at 12:10 p.m. at Harkins Sedona 6 Theater.

The Sedona International Film Festival is one of the top independent film festivals in the nation. From features to shorts, documentaries to animation, and foreign films to student films, over 160 films are being shown during this nine-day event from February 20-28.

Directed by Mark Brian Smith, “Fear No Fruit” chronicles the life of Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, the first woman entrepreneur on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market in the 1960s. While the film focuses on the life and career of produce icon Dr. Caplan, founder of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, it also features interviews with other industry power players like Rick and Tonya Antle of Tanimura & Antle, Dick Spezzano (formerly of Vons), The Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert, and David Karp, The Fruit Detective. The storyline touches on California agriculture along with the state’s current water crisis and its impact beyond agriculture. Well-known California chefs Susan Feniger, Mary Sue Milliken, and Michael McCarty also appear in the film.

“Fear No Fruit” is now available on DVD on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and Kino Lorber, and as a Netflix DVD rental. Streaming and digital download are also available on iTunes, HuluPlus, Google Play, Amazon Instant Video, Xbox Video, Vudu, and Vimeo on Demand. Additionally, the film is available for educational and community screenings via Kino Lorber EDU.

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.

A couple of exciting things happen in Berlin, Germany, each February. Most notable in the entertainment world is the Berlin International Film Festival. For those of us in the fresh produce business, February brings the largest global produce trade show, Fruit Logistica.

As some of you know, I attend every other year. And I literally have to gear up, both physically and mentally, to walk through and explore the 19 buildings at Messe Berlin, the city’s fairgrounds. It’s a huge show and takes a full three days to explore properly. This year was a great treat, as my sister and business partner, Jackie, traveled with me.

Of course, traveling with your sister means you get to fit in a little fun. We arrived a day early and took a daylong tour of Berlin, getting a chance to see the contrast between East and West, including the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall.

y sister Jackie taking a selfie at the East Side Gallery/Berlin Wall
My sister Jackie taking a selfie at the East Side Gallery/Berlin Wall
The most famous mural at the East Side Gallery/Berlin Wall
The most famous mural at the East Side Gallery/Berlin Wall

We sipped champagne at the world famous department store, KaDeWe.

Sisters sipping champagne

But we did spend three full days walking the intense and diverse show. This was my sixth  time attending the show, so I asked Jackie what her biggest takeaway after her first show was. She had the same reaction I did after my first visit with two main takeaways: it made her realize just how small our world is as you walk from “country to country” in three days, and it was an intriguing and refreshing change to see the more relational way business is conducted at this show versus the rush-rush way we work at U.S.-based trade shows.

One of the highlights for me has always been the Innovation Center. More than 60 promising innovations of fresh and mechanical products and services are entered into the competition, and just 10 finalists are chosen to be featured at the Fruit Logistica Innovation Competition.

Of those finalists, just six were fresh produce: Cherry tomato plants, microwavable potatoes, colored potatoes, micro-greens from Israel, and Enjoya—a striped bell pepper. The winner was an organic coconut. You can see all the entries and their details here.

It wasn’t a surprise to me that the organic coconut, with its special patented opening device, won. As I wrote just a couple weeks ago, coconuts are definitely a top trending item.

Genuine Coconut
Genuine Coconut, the winner of the 2016 Fruit Logistica Innnovation Competition

Called “Genuine Coconut,” the packaging is clever and very attractive. The product demonstrated a cute and familiar method (a pop-top opener) to solve a common problem (opening up and getting the water out of a brown coconut). Unfortunately, when I went by the Genuine Coconut booth and tasted the water, it was only so-so. What they didn’t tell people is that the most desirable coconut water comes from young coconuts. Genuine Coconut uses brown, more mature coconuts, which are typically used for their meat as the water inside is not nearly as sweet as that from a young coconut. Coconut aficionados do not typically drink the water straight from brown coconuts.

But, in my mind, any attention that comes to such a healthy product will build sales and awareness for the category. And that is a good thing.

Oh, back to the Berlin Film Festival. The night we arrived in the city, we walked over to the Sony Center near our hotel. When we walked up, we saw a giant red carpet and lots of lights leading into the theater. As it turns out,  “Zoolander 2” was having its European premier! And, literally, we had just missed seeing Ben Stiller, Penelope Cruz, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig, and other cast members. Darn!

The Red Carpet for 'Zoolander 2'
The Red Carpet for ‘Zoolander 2’

Karen

If you’re familiar with the Chinese zodiac, you may be aware that Monday is the Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year. It’s one of the most important Chinese holidays, and it’s celebrated around the world. And of course, food is a part of the celebration.

In Chinese traditions, foods served during this time are rich in wordplay and symbolism. Some of the dishes and ingredients have names that sound similar to words and phrases referring to good wishes.

For example, “kumquat” literally means “golden orange.” Symbolizing wealth and prosperity, the little citrus fruits, and sometimes the tree saplings, are given as gifts during Chinese New Year. Other “wealthy” fruits include oranges and tangerines. The larger citrus like pummelos and grapefruits symbolize abundance, prosperity, and family unity. Another item that represents good fortune is daikon. In one Chinese dialect, the word for radish is a homophone for “good fortune.”

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If you’re thinking of preparing some foods in honor of Chinese New Year, check out the selection of fresh Asian vegetables at your local supermarket. Along with daikon, you’ll probably find bok choy, napa cabbage, fresh snow peas, ginger root, and more. Almost every produce department carries these items now because Asian cuisine is so popular. If you aren’t already cooking with these ingredients, maybe this is a good time to try adding something new to your recipe repertoire. There’s nothing like a bowl of steaming rice or noodles topped with stir-fried, colorful, and crisp vegetables.

Some popular Asian produce items for Chinese New Year
Some popular Asian produce items for Chinese New Year

2016 is also welcoming a new Chinese zodiac animal sign—the Year of the Monkey. While I don’t follow the Chinese zodiac closely, I always find the symbolism and characteristics associated with the different animal signs interesting.

Astrologists say that anything goes in monkey years, as the monkey sign is known for enthusiastic energy and mischievousness. Maybe we should prepare for the unexpected and hang loose this year.

If you’re interested in learning what your Chinese zodiac sign is, check out this page.

One of the many Chinese New Year wishes translates to “May your happiness be without limit.” Kung Hei Fat Choy! (Happy New Year and be prosperous!)

Karen

Make a big splash in the produce aisle with attention-grabbing citrus bags

friedas-citrusbag-product

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (February 2016) – Citrus fruits are enjoying their time in the spotlight, from everyday shoppers to foodies to chefs. And it’s not just during the winter when shoppers are looking for healthier options to brighten up their foods on dreary days. Specialty citrus is here to stay.

Once a limited specialty item, Meyer lemons have become so popular that every retailer must stock them. New and unusual citrus varieties like kumquats, finger limes, and Buddha’s hand citron are getting more attention these days thanks to the growth of foodie-focused millennial shoppers, who always seem to want something new and different—an “adventure” with every meal. Retailers who offer a wide variety of produce options can capitalize on this experiential shopping trend.

Millennials and other foodie-focused shoppers also tend to prefer brands with a style or personality that reflects their own. As shoppers peruse the produce aisles for their next fresh experience, an attention-grabbing package or label can make all the difference.

Part of Frieda’s Specialty Produce overall brand refresh, the new specialty citrus bags offer an eye-catching design that welcomes shoppers to give the fruit a try. Featuring fun wordplay like “Don’t pucker up, we’re sweet” for Meyer lemons and “We’re blushing on the inside” for pink lemons, the packages attract curious shoppers who may not have tried these varieties.

Frieda’s branded line of citrus bags stands out with bright, bold, playful copy paired with a natural, kraft-paper feel. Frieda’s launched its new 1-pound Meyer and seedless lemon bags in October 2015, and has recently added a 1-pound pink lemon bag and an “adorable” 8-ounce kumquat bag to the line.

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Interested retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice distributors can contact Frieda’s to find out more about specialty citrus 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.