Last week, I had the great fortune to travel to Capetown, South Africa. I was invited to speak about marketing fresh citrus in the United States to Summer Citrus from South Africa, a collaborative of a large group of South African citrus growers, along with importers, government agencies, and a few retailers.

My total in-flight time was 24 hours, plus an eight-hour layover in Dubai. With South Africa being nine hours ahead of California and my long journey in mind, I decided to arrive a few days early to adjust to the time change and do a little sightseeing.

I went to South Africa to educate a room full of enthusiastic growers about the U.S. market. What I didn’t expect was that I would in turn be educated in so many ways about this wonderful, beautiful country. I don’t know why I waited so many years to go to South Africa!

Worth the Wait

Although South Africa always seemed like a galaxy away, I prepared myself for the long flight. With in-flight movies and a few long naps, the trip did not feel as long as I had feared. Capetown alone is worth the trip. The city is beautiful, and people are super friendly and welcoming. With 40 percent unemployment, tourism is a big part of the economy.

Capetown reminds me of the San Francisco Bay area. The most dramatic sight to see is Table Mountain, a flat-top mountain, which looks over the city.

Karen's Blog - Table Mountain - Capetown - South Africa
Table Mountain

Robben Island

Capetown also has Robben Island, where people used to be incarcerated; it’s similar to San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island. The most well-known prisoner there was Nelson Mandela. I highly recommend taking the ferry ride and the two-hour tour.

Karen's blog - Robben Island Prison Tour
Our guide Derrick

The prison tours are conducted by former prisoners. Our guide was Derrick, arrested at age 18 and released when he was 23. He is now 51. His personal story and the stories he shared of what it was like to be imprisoned there were chilling. This visit was a life-changing experience for me.

Hop on an Adventure

Getting around Capetown is easy with both the City Sightseeing bus and the MyCiti bus that you can hop on and off. It’s a great way to see a city and get the full perspective with the audio tour in your own language. I was traveling alone, so I was free to get off at any point and just explore. Got some great photos as I toured the city.

Karen's Blog - Capetown - South Africa

And There’s Wine!

South Africa is well-known for its wine and I did get a chance to visit a winery in the wine region, Franschhoek. Sadly, due to an oversupply of wine production, many wineries are having a difficult time, so some have now opened restaurants on their premises to attract visitors. I was able to enjoy an amazing lunch at Maison Estate.

Karen's Blog - Franschhoek - Maison Estate - South Africa
My beautiful dessert at Maison Estate

Six hours were not enough time to enjoy Franschhoek! I would definitely recommend a day or two for that region.

Karen's Blog - Franschhoek - Maison Estate - South Africa
What a view at Maison Estate in Franschhoek region.

On my return trip home, I was able to spend about 24 hours in Dubai. That was an experience! The airport is state of the art and the city is immaculate. The world’s tallest building is the Burj Khalifa there. At night, the way it lit up looked like Paris meets New York City!

Of course, I had to visit the wholesale produce market while in Dubai. Surprisingly, it felt familiar, though I had never been to Dubai or this market before. As we walked through it both at noon and then again at 6 p.m. (it operates almost 24 hours a day), my colleague kept warning me about the forklifts, pallet jacks, and loose produce on the floor. I told him, “Hey, I grew up on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. This feels like I am back home!”

 

My final meeting of the day was also at the produce market, upstairs in a well-lit office. As I looked around the room. I realized there were two Jordanians, one Englishman, and an Indian who lives in Thailand. And then there’s me, a Jewish woman from California. Yes, this feels exactly like the melting pot of Southern California.

Karen's blog - Dubai

As much as I loved my 12 days in South Africa and Dubai, it sure felt good to climb into my own bed at home in Southern California. But I have to be honest: I’m already thinking about my next trip to South Africa. Perhaps a safari?

Karen

Frieda’s founder is one of the two honorees at the upcoming EPC event in New Jersey

Los Alamitos, CA – (March 2018) – Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, founder of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, is among the two women honored for their decades of contribution to the produce industry at the Eastern Produce Council (EPC) John J. McAleavey 52nd Annual Dinner Dance in Woodland Park, New Jersey, on April 7.

“I am so honored to have been chosen by the Eastern Produce Council for this honor,” said Caplan. “Some of my first direct customers are EPC members: Wakefern, D’Arrigo Brothers, and Kings Supermarkets.”

“Frieda is an amazing pioneer in our industry,” said Marianne Santo, vice president of the EPC and senior produce buyer for Wakefern. “I join all my peers at the Eastern Produce Council in recognizing her contribution to the industry.”

The EPC also will posthumously honor Annabel Donio Arena, second-generation leader of Frank Donio Inc. of Hammonton, New Jersey.

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.

Thank your produce staff for a job well done after busy spring holiday promotions

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Love Your Produce Manager Day - LYPM - April 2

Los Alamitos, CA – (March 2018) – This year’s national Love Your Produce Manager® Day is on April 2, the Monday after Easter and Passover weekend. Show your extra appreciation for your produce staff for a job well done after a busy spring holiday weekend.

As featured in Chase’s Calendar of Events, Love Your Produce Manager® Day is a day to honor supermarket produce managers for their exemplary service and dedication to their craft. Frieda’s Specialty Produce invites industry participation in saluting these hardworking men and women both in stores and over social media with hashtag #LYPM.

For each industry company or organization that uses #LYPM hashtag or mentions Love Your Produce Manager® Day in its communications, Frieda’s will make a donation on its behalf to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, a member of the Feeding America national network. Love Your Produce Manager® Day messages must be posted by 11:59 p.m. PST on April 3 to be counted for the donation. Over 30 produce organizations and professionals participated in 2017.

“The produce department is the center of a supermarket now more than ever, and the produce managers work hard to build beautiful displays, keep products in stock, and inspire new food experiences for shoppers every day,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s. “As a company that got our start because of produce managers calling and asking for unusual fruits and vegetables, we know that they are as passionate about their jobs as we are. That’s why we created the holiday on our 50th anniversary in 2012.”

Additionally, Frieda’s is hosting a public social media giveaway to encourage shoppers to share selfies with their local supermarket produce managers and hashtag #LYPM from March 26 through April 3.

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.

Get to know the people behind your produce department

Do you know who your supermarket produce manager is? Most people don’t, unless they happen to be in the produce department early in the morning when these hardworking men and women go through the inventory of beautiful vegetables and gorgeous fruits they have ordered for your local grocery store. That is why, on April 2, we are celebrating Love Your Produce Manager® Day to show our appreciation for their work.

So, why should you love your produce manager and other produce team members?

They know what’s what

Is this cilantro or Italian parsley? Is scallion the same thing as green onion? (The answer is yes.) Can you help me find a jicama? Your produce managers can help you navigate the produce department and find the exact fruit or vegetable you’re looking for. They can also answer your questions about certain products. Not sure how to eat a cherimoya? Your produce manager can help you with that!

They know what’s fresh

Produce managers definitely know their produce. They can tell you what’s in peak season and when your favorite vegetables will be back in season. They also have the knowledge to help you pick the best fruits and vegetables from the shelf!

They provide inspiration for your next meal

Supermarket produce people know how to make those fruits and vegetables look enticing with creative and colorful displays. Merchandising these perishables could be considered an art form, and it may even inspire you to pick up something for a recipe you’ve been meaning to try. While not all produce staff are gourmet cooks, many do have a handy tip or two about the best way to store and prepare some of the fresh items in your basket. Ask your produce manager about his or her favorite recipe and try it out for yourself.

They can help you get what you want in the store

It never hurts to ask your produce manager about hard-to-find items or to request specialty items. Produce managers are your connection to new and exciting produce. Your input helps them stock their shelves better and gives them opportunity to bring in something new to the stores. For example, back in the 1960s, a shopper asked a produce manager for what we now know as the kiwifruit. He, in turn, asked around, and we found them for him. The rest is history!

Two words: free samples

Would you like to know what a lychee tastes like? Your produce manager may be able to help you with that. In some supermarkets, produce managers can provide a sample of products upon request.

Now that you know how resourceful produce managers are, make sure to stop by and say hello to your local produce guy or gal the next time you’re in the store.

(And don’t forget to show them extra appreciation on April 2 on social media with hashtag #LYPM.)

I’ve always had a fear of hot yoga.

Over the years, I’ve had friends tell me how amazing it is to do yoga in a room with a temperature over 100 degrees. I’m pretty sure my fear came from hearing that the instructor locks the door and you cannot leave during class, even if you are overheating.

At least that’s what I recall hearing.

Actually hot yoga, sometimes known as “Bikram yoga,” isn’t only about the temperature; it’s also about humidity. In some practices, it is an attempt to duplicate India’s climate―in a controlled environment―to induce copious sweating during 26 poses.

A few weeks ago, my daughters, Sophia and Alex, took a hot yoga class together. Afterward they told me how great it was. As you know by now, I’m a tad bit competitive. So when Sophia offered to take me to a hot yoga class, I said, “of course, I’d love to” with complete confidence. I did not share my previous fears with her.

In 2017, one of my goals was to take yoga. I took a dozen or so classes, so I know what the moves are. I figured hot yoga wouldn’t be much different, just in a significantly warmer room.

As it turns out, the room is between 97 and 101 degrees, depending on the time of day and the number of people in the class. Warm, moist air is pumped into the room, encouraging you to sweat. A lot. When the room got too stuffy, the instructor did open the door briefly to let in a cool breeze from the hallway. The heat simply encourages your muscles to warm up more quickly and adds to your flexibility.

The fact is hot yoga was not as awful as I thought it would be.

Admittedly, I did get a little lightheaded during my first class. I’ve now taken three classes. And I am hooked!

I learned a lot from my hot yoga experience.

First, my expectation of the experience was not quite accurate. How often do we exaggerate something in our heads, which causes us not to experience it?

Second, I leveraged my competitive nature to force myself to try something I had avoided for decades.

And finally, that which I feared became something I like.

Are there things in your life that you have been afraid of, but once you put your toe in the water and tried them out, you found that you enjoyed?

Hot yoga is definitely on that list for me.

Thanks to my daughters, I pushed through my fear and now experience it with joy and pleasure.

Think about those things in your life that you fear. Perhaps it’s being alone or being in a relationship. Maybe it’s applying for a position that you don’t think you’re qualified for or changing careers. It even could be talking with someone or stopping an ongoing conversation. Is there someone in your life that pushes your buttons―in a good way―who might help you?

Maybe it’s time to confront your fear. I did, and I am happy I did.

Karen

Shoppers will be looking for colorful produce to celebrate spring holidays

Los Alamitos, CA – (March 2018) – Draw in shoppers who are looking to add colorful produce to their Easter holiday tables with Frieda’s Specialty Produce-exclusive Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and other purple produce.

“Shoppers look for bright, spring colors for their Easter feasts, and Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes are perfect for that,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s. “After all, purple is the color of the year!”

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes - two-tier display

Get ready now for Easter Sunday, which falls on April 1, with a bountiful, colorful Easter purple display, starring Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and top-selling purple spring items such as baby beets, baby carrots, purple kohlrabi, purple cauliflower, Easter egg radishes, radicchio, and treviso. Other recommended products for Easter are green artichokes, fennel, celery root, rapini, rhubarb, Frieda’s French Style Crêpes, and Cipolline, pearl, and boiler onions.

Frieda’s also offers innovative two-tier display units for specialty displays during the Easter holiday. The easy-to-set-up display takes very little space, and stops traffic with its bright colors and design.

“This display is a perfect merchandising solution for items that don’t require refrigeration or that retailers plan on turning over quickly,” said Berkley.

Contact Frieda’s sales team today to get your purple program started.

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.

On Tuesday evening, I found myself trekking into Westwood, 37 miles away from my house, through the infamous Southern California traffic, to attend a roundtable at UCLA. It was hosted by the deans of the UCLA Anderson School of Management and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Was sitting in traffic for an hour and a half worth it? Absolutely.

Judy Olian, Ph.D., is dean of UCLA Anderson School, and Willow Bay is the dean of the USC Annenberg School. Even with their well-known crosstown rivalry, they came together for a noble cause: a roundtable discussion about the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs.

Twenty of my fellow businesswomen from Southern California and I sat around a giant conference table and listened to other great women share their stories.

To put things in perspective, Suzy is 30, Kelsey is 32, and Jane is 59.

From left to right: Judy Olian, Willow Bay, Suzy Ryoo, Jane Wurwand, and Kelsey Doorey.

Kelsey and Jane talked about the challenge of explaining their business model and securing investors. Most investors are male, so getting them to understand a business that serves women almost exclusively is a challenge. Suzy educated us on what she looks for when investing, what a “cap table” is, and why she asks how many women are in one.

As I sat at the table, I watched the other 20 women take in the “new world of business talk.” Most of the women sitting with me were older than Jane. Cap tables, VCs, e-commerce marketing, deal sheets, and pitches were not in their lexicon when they started their careers. But they could see right in front of them that the exciting world of business and the world in general are changing. And both are decidedly more female.

I believe it was coincidental that this roundtable was held in March, which is National Women’s Month. And today, March 8, is International Women’s Day.

All I can say is that I was incredibly inspired to hear firsthand from women who are fearless, have a vision for success, and are paying it forward to create the new economy. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, a mother, father, son, or daughter. We need people with fresh ideas, who are disruptive, create jobs, and help ensure the innovative and responsive business environment which will keep the U.S. growing and thriving.

It’s exciting and it’s time.

Karen

This past weekend, I participated in my second “Race on the Base,” a community event here in Los Alamitos—where I grew up and where Frieda’s is based.

The event on the Joint Forces Training Base is well known for its reverse triathlon race, 5K walk/run, and 10K run. Organizers added an evening fun run for kids on the night before a couple of years ago. Triathlon competitors run and ride their bikes on the actual airfield and swim in the Aquatics Training Center.

Karen Caplan Oakley Boren Matt Hubbard - Race on the Base 2018
Me and my coworkers Oakley and Matt after the 5K Walk/Run

When I was in Stockholm, Sweden, in May for an international women’s conference, I was pleasantly surprised when a former Olympic athlete noticed “Los Alamitos” on my name badge. She asked, “You’re from Los Alamitos? I’ve trained there at the Base!” Up until then, I didn’t know the women’s national water polo team trains right here at the aquatics center!

One of the best photos I took on Saturday morning before I started my 5K, was of the sky, of all things. They say it never rains in Southern California. But in Los Alamitos, if often rains parachutes! And what a sight.

The Base sits on more than 1,300 acres and employs more than 850 full-time people and more than 6,000 National Guard and Reserve troops. It was formerly operated as the Naval Air Station, which also includes the Los Alamitos Army Airfield. Not a lot of people know that when Air Force One lands in Southern California, it will oftentimes land in our backyard! Even the Blue Angels have been hosted here for air shows.

Some of my local farmer friends grow strawberries and cauliflower on the Naval Weapons Station in Seal Beach, just a few miles down the road. (They lease the prime agricultural land from the government.) They often talk about the helicopters and fighter jets going in and out of the Base as the Army reservists and National Guard units train.

Many of the people who live in our community are employed at the Base. At lunchtime, it’s not unusual to see men and women in military uniforms in our local restaurants, and we all know they are reservists or active duty, serving our country.

A couple of times a year, the Base opens to the community. One is for a Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular before which you can set up your picnic on the fields, then watch a professional fireworks show. And the other, of course, is Race on the Base. These events really bring us all together: residents, businesses, and the military.

I always diligently talk about our Base with visitors. Can you tell that I’m very proud of my community?

Karen