When was the last time you wrote a personal check? Or deposited one with a teller in a bank?

Today you can bank without setting one foot outside your house. Using your smartphone, you can deposit your checks, transfer your money, and pay your bills without touching a piece of paper or signing any form. And I have to admit: I love it! I can sit at my desk, take out my cell phone, snap a couple of pictures, and “poof,” my check is deposited.

And just to think, 30 years ago, my friend had to show me how to use the ATM when it first came out. I mean, before that, we had to cash our paychecks inside the bank with everyone else. Oh, the lines! The forms! The hassle! Those days are long gone now.

And it’s not just banking either.

I had a bit of surprise last weekend when I needed to refill a prescription while I was traveling. My insurance company had just changed, and I didn’t think about updating that information with CVS. Why would I? Like most people, I have my prescription on auto-refill.

So, when I got a text from CVS telling me that I needed to update my insurance information before they would refill my prescription, I was trying to figure out how I was going to get to the pharmacy while it was open. But then I noticed a link next to my text, “Click to update your information.”

And to my surprise, a screen similar to my banking app showed up.Kind of like this but for my insurance card:

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - CVS Caremark

Wouldn’t you know it? Within an hour, I got a text that my information was accepted and my prescription was available for pickup.

As my mom Frieda always says, “Technology is just amazing.”

What’s more amazing is how companies are using technology to provide solutions for their customers, bettering their experience and retaining their loyalty. Taking a look at my own industry, Ahold USA banners (Stop & Shop and Giant) have SCAN IT! Now a mobile feature, this tool allows shoppers to scan their items, using their smartphones, for a self-serve checkout. The store recently announced it is upgrading its Wi-Fi connectivity for an even better customer experience. This will make the customer app run faster and also allow store associates to help customers with ordering and price checking.

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Ahold USA - Verizon

For some, business technology will be the ultimate disruptor. And for others, it will create opportunities. We, as shoppers, totally love the seamless transactions! But what can we do as a business to provide that to our clients?

Back in the office, I shared the story of updating my insurance information via my cell phone with my colleague Mark. He said that that he reported his car mileage to the insurance company the same way—taking a photo of his dashboard and uploading it to his State Farm app. Done.

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - State Farm App

Yes, technology is amazing!

Karen

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Frieda’s Specialty Produce, Taylor Farms, and Driscoll’s Berries execs join other esteemed speakers to discuss future of agriculture

Frieda's Specialty Produce - THRIVE AgTech Innovation Forum

Los Alamitos, CA – (January 2017) – Corporate executives from all corners of the agriculture industry gather to share their ideas on the future at THRIVE AgTech Innovation Forum on Wednesday, February 1, in Menlo Park, California. The event is a full day of keynote addresses, panel discussions, and tech presentations for executives, investors, farmers, and startups to discover the technologies that are changing the way we grow food today and will in the future.

Among the panelists are produce industry leaders Taylor Farms CEO Bruce Taylor, Driscoll’s Berries CEO Kevin Murphy, and Frieda’s Specialty Produce President and CEO Karen Caplan. Taylor and Murphy will be on the “Catalyzing Industry Transformation” panel, and Caplan will be on “Driving Innovation for the 21st Century Consumer.”

“Our goal by inviting these three produce leaders is to join together the great minds and innovators in the Silicon Valley with the great minds and innovators in the fresh produce industry,” commented John Hartnett, CEO of SVG Partners and founder of THRIVE. “We are thrilled that all three of them will be joining us for the day.”

About THRIVE AgTech

THRIVE AgTech connects the expertise of tech companies to the on-the-ground knowledge of agricultural companies, the financial backing of investors, and the innovation of entrepreneurs, bringing them together to meet the global food demands of the future.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families, and food lovers everywhere since 1962. From kiwifruit to dragon fruit and from Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes to habanero peppers, Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 unique fruits and vegetables to the U.S. marketplace. Founded by produce industry trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce, and Friedas.com. Inspire. Taste. Love.

As fermented foods become more mainstream, retailers should stock up on shoppers’ favorite Korean pickled vegetables

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Kimchi

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (January 2017) — Food trendsetters and health experts continue to sing the praises of fermented foods, so it’s time for produce departments to capitalize on the rising demand by stocking the refrigerated section with kimchi—Korean pickled vegetables.

Consumer Reports, Thrillist, and Food Network’s Healthy Eats blog are among many trends lists that called out fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha (fermented tea), and kefir (yogurt-like drink) as this year’s hot items.

As more research reveals the correlation between good digestive health and overall wellness, dietitians and other health professionals continue to recommend adding fermented foods like kimchi to one’s diet for a healthy dose of probiotics.

“More shoppers are looking to eat better and are getting their recommendations from retail dietitians. We are definitely seeing that in our sales over the past few years,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Our new packaging also helps with that. It’s colorful. It’s funny. And that helps make kimchi less intimidating to shoppers who may be scared to try something ‘fermented.’”

Frieda’s offers Nice & Mild “funky fresh” kimchi, Hot & Spicy kimchi that’s “fire in the bowl,” and “fiery and delish” Extra Hot kimchi—all with “friendly fermentation!”

“Kimchi is popular with the health and wellness set, as well as foodies everywhere,” said Caplan. “You can find recipes and pictures of kimchi in just about everything from Korean-inspired tacos and burgers to a Bloody Mary. Even the Idaho Potato Commission’s recent recipe contest winner is a kimchi potato recipe!”

Caplan also added, “The upcoming Chinese New Year promotion is a great opportunity to showcase this versatile fermented food along with other Asian vegetables.”

Retailers who are ready to rock their refrigerated cases with Frieda’s kimchi varieties should contact Frieda’s account managers today.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families, and food lovers everywhere since 1962. From kiwifruit to dragon fruit and from Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes to habanero peppers, Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 unique fruits and vegetables to the U.S. marketplace. Founded by produce industry trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce, and Friedas.com. Inspire. Taste. Love.

I know everyone celebrates New Year’s on January 1 of each year, but have you ever thought of mixing it up a bit by celebrating the New Year when the Chinese do?

Every year around January or February, many parts of the world celebrate Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year. The date changes from year to year because this holiday is part of a lunisolar calendar based on lunar cycles and therefore different from the Gregorian calendar which we use on a daily basis.

This year, the Year of the Rooster begins on January 28. But what does a Rooster mean? And how do you know which year of the Chinese zodiac are we in? Well, this website helps you figure it out, or you can check your birth year against this chart and click on it to find out more about your year.

What's on Karen's Plate - Karen's Blog - Chinese New Year Zodiac
Find your zodiac sign then click on the chart to learn more.

Many stories explain how the zodiac came to be. But the popular folklore is that the Jade Emperor called a meeting of the animals, and the zodiac signs are named for each animal in order of arrival. To get there, the animals had to cross the river as a test of strength and wit, showcasing each animal’s character. Rat got there first because he hopped on the back of the ox. The tiger used his strength to swim against the current, coming in third. And so on.

So, in case you’re wondering, I was born in the Year of the Sheep. According to the Chinese, people born in the Year of Sheep are tender, polite, loving, clever, and kind-hearted. They have special sensitivity to art and beauty, and a special fondness for quiet living. Be sure to check out which year you were born in and what that means!

Okay, now that you are fully educated on Chinese New Year, how does one celebrate?

If you live in a big city, look for Chinese New Year (or CNY as we call it at my office) events in the calendar section of your local paper or online. They could also be listed as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. Chinese New Year celebrations usually have a parade, and food. Food, everywhere.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Year of the Rooster

Chinese New Year is one of the biggest food holidays of the year, right up there with Thanksgiving. Feasts are held as families gather to celebrate. The foods eaten also have auspicious meaning—like wontons and dumplings signify coin purses, daikon for good luck, and Chinese long beans for longevity.

And for most American shoppers, if you go into your local supermarket, you may find large displays of Asian vegetables (napa cabbage, bok choy, Shanghai bok choy, Chinese eggplant, fresh ginger, Asian pears, boxes of citrus, and add-ons like tofu, and eggroll and wonton wrappers) at this time of year. I’m proud to say that my company was the first in the produce industry to talk about the fruit- and veggie-centric Chinese New Year celebration as an opportunity for produce managers!

So, knowing that you can get authentic ingredients from your local supermarket, you can host your own CNY dinner party! A potluck is a perfect way to gather your friends and family to share food and welcome the new lunar year. Wontons are super easy to make for potlucks either in a soup or fried for a crispy appetizer. Not sure how to fold them? Check out this quick video:

[youtube=https://youtu.be/w4fth81B0_U]

A few more Chinese traditions that I’d like to share:

Gung Hay Fat Choy (Happy New Year….in Chinese)!

Karen

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Frieda's Specialty Produce - Purple Power - Retail Display

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (January 2017) — Purple produce was featured as a top 2017 food trend in national media including NBC’s TODAY, Fortune, Forbes, Food & Wine, Parade, and Consumer Reports. Frieda’s Specialty Produce urges retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice providers to take advantage of this purple buzz before it fades.

Most of these reports mentioned by name Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, purple asparagus, and purple cauliflower, which Frieda’s predicted to be one of the top trends for 2017.

“Purple fruits and vegetables are everywhere in the media right now with purple cauliflower and Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes leading the way,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Cauliflower in general is gaining ground as a contender to dethrone kale, and Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes sales remain strong as shoppers are asking for them by name nationwide.

“This is the perfect time to build a big, bountiful ‘Purple Power’ destination in the produce department or promote special menus while purple is fresh in shoppers’ minds.”

Other purple produce includes passion fruit, purple potatoes, purple carrots, radicchio, Treviso, and eggplant varieties.

Frieda’s has been promoting purple produce since its “Year of Purple” campaign in 2013. Retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice providers should contact Frieda’s account managers to discuss all the ways to bring purple power to the people today.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce has been inspiring new food experiences for friends, families, and food lovers everywhere since 1962. From kiwifruit to dragon fruit and from Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes to habanero peppers, Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 unique fruits and vegetables to the U.S. marketplace. Founded by produce industry trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, subject of the 2015 documentary “Fear No Fruit,” the family company is owned and operated by Frieda’s daughters, Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins, in Orange County, California. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce, and Friedas.com. Inspire. Taste. Love.

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As you may know, I travel quite a bit. Mostly it’s for business.

Because I’m a frequent traveler, I have apps on my smart phone for the airlines I frequent: United, American, Jet Blue, and Delta. I can check in and access my boarding passes via the app, and as the year progresses, I continue to check my mileage so I can qualify for “frequent flyer status.” Sadly, due to all the recent mergers, I cannot remember the last time I got upgraded. So, the only benefit of status is that I get to check one bag for free.

Then last month, I missed the last connection home out of Denver late at night and was stressing out. That’s when my colleague Kevin said to me, “Let’s catch a Southwest flight back. I can book it right now.”

It had been a long time since I had flown Southwest Airlines. It was never my favorite because there are no pre-assigned seats.

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Southwest AirlinesBut during our flight back, Kevin informed me that with Southwest, you can change or cancel your flights at any time, without any change fees or penalties (other airlines charge $150 to change a ticket). And there is no charge for the first two bags (other airlines charge $25 to $35 to check bags).

That piqued my interest. Oftentimes, my trips get changed, and I hate paying such a hefty change fee.

I downloaded the app on my phone and last week I booked a last minute flight to New Orleans for this past Tuesday.

So, what do I like about Southwest? They make it easy. They have literally thought of everything a flyer would want and make that available.

For $15 per ticket, you can get EarlyBird Check-in®, which basically puts you in front of the line to your seats over other passengers. No charge for bags. They always hand out snacks on the flights. And what I especially love—no heavy, unwieldy carts going down the aisles. The flight attendants take your beverage order and then bring it back to you on a tray.

The flight attendants are always friendly; it’s obvious that the company culture promotes a stress-free attitude of customer satisfaction. And they only fly one kind of airplane. So I always know the configuration of the seats.

And as I was scrolling through the app Wednesday night on my flight home, I noticed that if you fly on New Year’s Day or Valentine’s Day, alcoholic drinks are complimentary!

So, do you have any paradigms about businesses that you didn’t like based on previous experiences? Maybe it’s time to take another look. Whether it’s a grocery store, the gym, a new restaurant, or service provider, it’s possible that they have gone to the Southwest Airlines school of thought to “Make it easy.”

stapleseasylogo

I predict more and more businesses will reinvent themselves or be disruptors in their business sector by making it easy on their customers. And if they don’t, someone else will be the disruptor.

Karen

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Frieda’s Specialty Produce picks four produce trends to prepare retailers for 2017

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Specialty Radishes - Tokyo Turnip - Easter Egg - Icicle - Watermelon

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (January 2017) — From Whole Foods to Nielsen, almost all of the 2017 food trend reports lead to one place: the produce department. “Vegetable-centric” cooking and dining are on top of most trends lists and retailers must be ready to offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to shoppers seeking to add more produce to their plates.

“Vegetable-centric eating is finally mainstream, and it’s paving ways for the future of food and produce consumption,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Retailers are embracing this change by expanding the number of vibrantly colored vegetables and providing more produce variety for shoppers.”

Frieda’s identifies four emerging fruit and vegetable trending items for 2017:

Radishes

With root-to-stem cooking making its way from restaurants to home kitchens, specialty radishes will take center stage as vegetables that can be eaten whole, tops and all. It also doesn’t hurt that the recent episode of Bravo’s “Top Chef Charleston” featured all types of radishes from daikon to French breakfast to watermelon radishes. With their vibrant colors, bright flavors, and nutritious green tops, radishes might just be the next kale.

Purple Cauliflower

Cauliflower has been jockeying for “the new kale” position for many years now, but with the focus firmly back on purple vegetables, the purple cauliflower might just make it this year! This purple cruciferous vegetable finds itself all over Instagram in gorgeously-arranged vegetable trays and pickle boards. Even food television personality Alton Brown touted cauliflower as the “ingredient of the year” for 2016.

Hard Squashes

Shoppers are also looking for a variety of squash year-round instead of just in the fall and winter. From soups to grain bowls to spiralized noodles, hard squashes can do it all. They are hearty and nutrient-dense, economical and versatile. No wonder they are becoming the darling of “veg-centric” cooking, with butternut and delicata squashes leading the pack.

Tropical Fruits and Aromatics

Tropical flavors are the key to many rising trends from the tiki cocktail revival to island cuisine. Be ready with shoppers’ favorites like jackfruit, lychees, dragon fruit, and starfruits, and make sure to have fresh aromatics on hand like turmeric, ginger, and lemongrass.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 55-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 kiwi fruits, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, 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. Find Frieda’s on Facebook, @FriedasProduce, and Friedas.com. Inspire. Taste. Love.

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At the end of each year, a lot of people make monetary donations to charitable organizations.

Some make donations because they are passionate about the cause.

Others do it because they are looking for an end of the year tax deduction.

For me, personally, I am not motivated by the tax deduction—I’m always driven by the cause. As you know, I’m passionate about eliminating hunger, so I donate to food banks and organizations that support them. I’m also passionate about mentoring people (young people, women, business owners), so the way I donate is to accept quite a few speaking engagements that pay it forward during the year.

But there is something I have always wanted to do.

And that is to donate blood through the American Red Cross.

My interest in it started when my good friend Jack Daly, one of the top-rated sales and motivational speakers in the world, started posting on Facebook whenever he donated blood or platelets. I have to admit that even though I consider myself a driven and competitive person, I don’t hold a candle to Jack. On his bucket list are things like: run a marathon in all 50 states and on every continent; play the top 100 golf courses; and visit all the presidential libraries. Oh, did I mention that Jack is 67 years old? If you want to see what he accomplished this year, check out this recent post on his Facebook page.

Karen's Blog - What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen Caplan - Jack Daly on Facebook

Tale of the tape 2016.
168 flights, for 219,991 miles. 91 speaking gigs. 38 books read and watched 87 movies. Enjoyed 112 home cooked meals while I was home 168 nights. 107 nights in hotels for biz and 91 in resorts for fun.
Some of the travel was Amsterdam, Ireland, Tasmania,Australia, KL, Singapore, Hawaii, Nova Scotia, Panama, Copenhagen, Venice, Rome, Croatian Coast, Pompeii, Greenland and thruout North America.
Golf on several USA and World Top 100 golf courses, Windstar cruise, Ryder Cup, Phoenix Open, Kentucky Derby, dog sledding, ice Fjords, glacier, Mt. Rushmore , oh my!
222 exercise days comprising 356 hours. 9 marathons, now at 88 lifetime, 49 states and one shy of all continents (next year on Great Wall). 1000 miles run, 1129 miles biked, 74 hours weights, and 6000 yards swimming.
Moved to a new home, built a room sized wine cellar, published #1 Amazon Best Seller “Sales Playbook”, and celebrated 47 years married to my supportive Bonnie Daly. 2016 BAM. Bring on 2017!

So, every time Jack donated blood, he would write something like, “I saved this many lives this week by giving blood.” And I thought, if Jack can find time to donate blood, then I certainly can.

For some reason, I had never done it before 2016, but I made an appointment at my local Red Cross early last year. The whole process (which includes an extensive survey about your health and recent travel, plus a quick skin prick to confirm that your iron levels are high enough) took 45 minutes. But the exhilaration I felt lasted for hours.

Like Jack, I decided to take a photo of myself giving blood and post it on Facebook. And who do you think was the first person who commented? Jack (John) Daly!

Karen's Blog - What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen Caplan gives blood - Facebook

Karen: I’m extra excited to be donating blood. The last two times my iron was too low…but today it was just fine. Giving the gift of life for the holidays. ?

John Daly: You are a genuine gift to life. Happy Holidays!

So, as you are contemplating how you can make a difference during the new year, I encourage you to consider giving the ultimate gift.

Happy New Year!

Karen

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