I remember my dad drinking a lot of coffee when I was growing up. Instant decaf coffee. The brand was Sanka and we always had a large jar of it at home. It was my job to boil the water in the tea kettle and make him a cup of Sanka, whenever he asked. Which was at least a couple of times a day.

That was the 1970s. Fast forward a few decades and coffeehouses like Peet’s and Starbucks popped up, serving espresso-based coffees with fancy names like latte, mocha Frappuccino and Americano that started to dominate the coffee scene. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that instant coffee is back and it has a new name: VIA Instant.

I don’t remember when I discovered VIA Instant was offered by Starbucks, but over the years I’ve become a bit of a coffee snob, so I’d never tried it. Actually, my current favorite coffee is Lavazza Classico medium roast, which I make every morning in my drip coffee maker. Friends and other visitors to my home comment on how flavorful and fresh it tastes.

So you can imagine my surprise when my niece Rachel gifted me a box of VIA Instant French roast coffee packets last week. My first thought was, “Toss it.” Then I said to myself, “What the heck. I could at least try it.” And what I’ve discovered is that it is just strong enough and so fresh-tasting that I am going to make it my newest travel companion on airplane trips. Instead of being disappointed with airplane or hotel coffee, I am going to be asking for a cup of steaming hot water and making my own. Rather than searching for the next fancy Third Wave, indie coffee brew – good, old instant coffee reinvented is my new go to. Sometimes the best ideas can be so simple.

So thank you to whoever reinvented instant coffee. It’s amazing how much more appealing something is with a new brand, a new look and a more modern approach. And to think, it was right under my nose the whole time!



I go to a fair number of conferences where speakers are up on a stage (in front of hundreds or thousands). Over the years, I’ve noticed that the acceptable dress code for speakers has changed.

A few decades ago, male speakers always wore a suit and tie. Female speakers wore a dress or pantsuit. Both were formal in their dress. I suppose this was not only to signal that they were “pros,” but also because most of us attending conferences dressed in business attire. Back in the day, that may have included a suit.

I’ll never forget when I saw leadership guru Simon Sinek speak at a CEO business conference about 10 years ago. He was one of the first speakers I noticed that dressed more informally. In fact, I recall that he was NOT wearing a jacket. He wore jeans with a shirt (sleeves rolled up) and his well-known orange watch (orange is his favorite color).

Then I started noticing a trend at conferences—thought leadership speakers, who were comfortable with themselves, always dressed casually. It became obvious to me that they had nothing to prove to their audiences; they were comfortable in their own skin. So they dressed like they always dress, in their comfort clothes.

So Simon Sinek was part of my inspiration to change the way I dress when I attend conferences or do public speaking. You will almost 100 percent of the time find me in dark jeans. I feel it humanizes me. It makes me more relatable and approachable as a speaker.

Have you ever thought about that? What vibe do you give out with the way you dress? Do you want to be perceived as rigid or flexible? Approachable or aloof? Easy to talk to or set in your ways?

Especially in business, I think it’s an important factor to take into consideration when dressing for a meeting, event or conference.

I’ll never forget the day a few years ago when we had a visit from one of our growers. I had come to work a bit dressed up and my grower relations person gave me a look. I asked, “Should I go home and change into my jeans and boots before our grower arrives?” She nodded. Thankfully I live close to my office and ran home to change. Funny thing—when I was meeting with the grower later that afternoon, he commented to me, “I feel so comfortable with you, Karen. I had a meeting with someone from another company and they looked so uptight in their suit. I don’t feel like they understand me and my business challenges.” Those unsolicited comments just confirmed my theory: how you appear (your clothing and style) can influence a deal or a relationship. It can make you more relatable.

What inspired me to write about this? I was reading a paper (online) and noticed an executive was on stage at a conference talking about future trends and consumers. It didn’t make sense to me that the executive was dressed in a suit and tie. If he was talking about future trends, I think he should have been dressed like Simon Sinek. In jeans and rolled-up shirt sleeves. He would have looked like he was in tune with consumer trends.

So next time you are getting dressed to do public speaking or to attend a conference or event, think about how you want to be perceived. Wearing jeans might just be the right touch. Not to mention the fact that you will be much more comfortable. Who knows, maybe the next trend will be yoga pants that are disguised as dress pants?


Try a citrus lineup that celebrates the little things…like kumquats!

Los Alamitos, CA – (January 2019) – Stay on trend with your shoppers by carrying a variety of specialty citrus from Frieda’s this season. Items that once felt unfamiliar, like tart and sweet Kumquats, are stealing the spotlight at restaurants and retailers across the nation. In fact, over the last six months we’ve seen a 30 percent increase in Google searches.

The kumquat’s cousins calamondins, mandarinquats and limequats are also coming up on the scene as bite-sized additions to your citrus set. Calamondins and mandarinquats are the results of crossbreeding mandarin oranges and kumquats. Calamondins are more tart, while mandarinquats are a bit sweeter. Limequats are a hybrid of limes and kumquats. All “quats” can be enjoyed whole, even the skin — tracking to Frieda’s 2019 poppable trend prediction.

“We have seen a boom in mini-citrus this year,” says Alex Berkley, sales manager at Frieda’s. “This is a great way to elevate other items that you’ll find on your citrus table, like Meyer lemons, pink lemons and blood oranges. With our brightly colored Frieda’s branded pouches and clam shells, these items are sure to stand out on your shelf and drive shoppers to buy. The whole ‘quat’ family is trending, so be sure to stock up!”

In addition to your shoppers’ interest and the merchandising opportunities, this year’s kumquat supply is proving to be of the highest quality. “We are currently sourcing kumquats from Southern California and this beautiful product is full of flavor with outstanding quality,” says Allen DeMo, director of procurement and sourcing. “We are expecting steady yields and pricing through the end of February,” he adds.

To make your produce department a one-stop for all winter citrus, call your Frieda’s account manager 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.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Well, I don’t. I’ve found that if I make radical lifestyle resolutions on January 1, I get frustrated with my progress and eventually give up on them. I know I’m not alone.

However, I did make a lifestyle decision that coincided with this new year. And that is, I decided to only consume a plant-based diet. No meat, dairy, eggs. Only plants (veggies, fruits and nuts). If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you will recall that I became vegan a few years ago. You can read about it here and here. What started out as an experiment for 30 days, which I chronicled in my blog, was so easy, and I felt so much better, that I continued for a year.

After a year, I slowly added back fish, dairy, eggs and occasionally meat and poultry. But I found that plant-based foods were where I got the most sensory pleasure, like the crunch from vegetables and the smell of the fresh fruits. And I recall how much BETTER I felt physically when I was vegan. All my aches and pains seemed to disappear. And people kept saying my skin looked better and I looked younger. Who can argue with that?!

So, what made me decide to go back to a vegan diet, after a hiatus of over five years? Maybe it was my cardiologist who suggested I become vegetarian a year ago. Or perhaps, I was influenced when I read the book “The Plant Paradox” during the summer.

Frankly, it was two things.

First, my coworker Valerie introduced me to another book “How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease” by Dr. Michael Greger. Dr. Greger shares research and evidence about how not to die from breast and prostate cancer, lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, suicidal depression and more. You can see the table of contents here.

Second, I recall over the years hearing anecdotally that vegans tend not to have the same incidences of diseases, like cancer, as compared to those who eat an omnivore diet. With that loop running in my head, I was clearly open-minded to what Dr. Greger writes about.

So, after watching multiple friends being diagnosed with cancer and other diseases, feeling myself become stiff and achy after long plane flights and sitting too long, I did my research (at my standing desk). It became evident to me that a plant-based diet was the healthiest choice for me. I wanted to feel better over time, not worse.

Honestly, it’s not that hard. I’m not a big animal-rights advocate, but it was easier for me to skip that part of my diet than I thought.

The hardest part was to make the decision. It’s kind of a mental thing. Once you wrap your head around managing your eating choices, then you just have to plan ahead. Believe me, lots of fruits and veggies are always available everywhere. Thank goodness that nuts are a plant-based food. I love my Brazil nuts and walnuts. It also helped that Valerie is still on the same path as I am. We compare notes every few days, and having a buddy to help reinforce your eating choices really makes them stick!

I realize that eating a plant-based diet is not for everyone. Perhaps you want to eat a plant-based diet some days and choose to try #MeatlessMonday or veggie taco Tuesdays (try these turmeric-roasted cauliflower tacos – you won’t miss the meat!).

Or you may read Mark Bittman’s book “VB6: Vegan before 6,” in which he talks about how he changed his lifestyle to eat vegan before 6 p.m. each day, and then a flexitarian diet for dinner. He lost a lot of weight and improved his overall health.

But no matter what, I hope you make a conscious effort to eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies as part of your daily diet. It’s good for your body. Right now my must-haves are crunchy radishes and celery, black beans, mushrooms and spiralized zucchini.

Happy New Year! I will keep you updated on my plant-based journey.



Los Alamitos, CA – (January 2019) – With February fast approaching, the holiday traditionally celebrated as Chinese New Year is upon us. This year, Frieda’s is innovating to recognize it as Lunar New Year to be more inclusive of all Asian cultures that celebrate the holiday. This is a great opportunity to bring into your store shoppers who are familiar with or curious about Asian cuisine, while appealing to shoppers of all Asian descents. The Year of the Pig will begin on February 5 and be celebrated through February 19.

Asian food is the fastest growing cuisine in the United States, according to VOA. “Lunar New Year is a great opportunity to establish your produce section as a shopping destination,” says Alex Berkley, sales manager at Frieda’s. “A stronger Asian produce set does double duty, as it appeals to Asian shoppers and non-Asian consumers who want to experiment with Asian cuisine.” Data guru Nielsen shares in a recent report that Asian-Americans are the fastest growing ethnic population with significant buying power. Further Nielsen findings indicate that Asian-Americans purchase 72 percent more fresh vegetables and 29 percent more fresh fruit per household than the total U.S. population, so this is the time to stock up on recipe staples like Shanghai Bok Choy, Napa Cabbage, Ginger and Lemongrass.

Other top-selling items include Kumquats, Pummelos and Mandarin Oranges, as these citrus fruits are traditionally given out as gifts during Lunar New Year. Try merchandising these items with other popular Asian produce like Dragon Fruit, Daikon and Jackfruit, and popular complementary items like Eggroll Wrappers, Wonton Wrappers, Kimchi and Edamame. Also try sampling and cross-promoting with other departments across your store. This is a way to create an experience—only available at brick-and-mortar retailers—that will drive traffic into your stores.

Call your Frieda’s account manager today for tips on how to make your produce department a Lunar New Year destination.

Sources: Nielsen. 2016. Asian-Americans Are Expanding Their Footprint in the U.S. and Making an Impact.; VOA. 2018. Asian Cuisine Is Fastest Growing in US.

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.