Let me start by saying that I have no near-term plan to retire. But I would like to share what my 96-year-old mother thinks about retirement.

Most of you have heard of my mom, Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan. And that up until 2019, my mom was coming into our office four days a week (she cut back a few years ago from five days a week).

It was only in late December that she chose to work from home because the trek up our two flights of stairs had gotten to be a bit much for her. But believe me, she is still on her computer from her home office, monitoring the important activities of “her baby,” Frieda’s Specialty Produce, the company she founded in 1962.

I have to be honest that at times during my career, I have been annoyed with my mom’s continuing interest in every detail of the business. She closely monitored the Accounts Receivables, sometimes volunteering to call overdue customers to ask for our money (she always got a quick response). She frequently would send emails to some of our sales reps when they made a big sale or her email might ask why a client hadn’t purchased in a few weeks. I’d be thinking, “Mom, can’t you let it go?”

And then I had the opportunity to hear Dan Buettner, the National Geographic Fellow and author of “The Blue Zones,” last month at a produce conference. It’s the second time I’ve heard Dan and for some reason, this time one part of his message really resonated with me.

When sharing the details of the five or six communities around the world where a high concentration of people live past 100 years of age, one characteristic stood out. It wasn’t their primarily plant-based diet, not their sleeping patterns of seven to eight hours a night or the involvement in a spiritual practice or religion. It wasn’t the natural amounts of exercise they get or their close-knit community of friends.

It was that they had a purpose. A reason to get up in the morning!

And it was when he was talking about having that purpose, that raison d’etre, that I realized why my mom is so vibrant. So relevant. So alive! It’s because she is still connected with, interested in and passionate about our business.

As we celebrated her 96th birthday last Saturday, she peppered my daughters, Alex and Sophia, and me with questions about work, our clients and our growers. I realized that perhaps retirement may not be the best solution for everyone. I have read many articles that talk about people who retired and then got ill or passed away shortly after they stopped working. I’ve even had close friends who this has happened to. One of my friends recommends if you are considering retiring that you have a plan for a slow transition from your current work life to something else (a hobby, volunteer work or a Chapter 2 or 3 in your life).

As for me, as long as my mom is calling me daily asking for a recap of “what great thing happened at work today,” I plan to be working passionately.

How about you? Have you thought about what you would do if you weren’t working? Would you have a purpose, a reason to get up in the morning?

Karen

P.S. If you want to send Frieda a Happy Birthday message, please click here.

Mom and me, on her birthday this past weekend.

This is not a blog about shopping. This is a blog about removing roadblocks.

This past weekend, I needed to restock on a few things, so I headed to my local mall. Even though I went into Nordstrom only to purchase their special liquid laundry soap, I couldn’t resist taking a stroll around the store. And as you might have guessed, that little stroll ended up with me finding a few things to try on.

I have been a Nordstrom shopper since the company opened its first stores in southern California over 30 years ago. I know that in order to get access to a dressing room, you need to find a sales associate, as the dressing rooms are locked. Only the sales associates have the keys.

So, you can imagine my shock when the sales associate told me that the dressing room doors were all open, so pick whichever room I wanted!

When I went to purchase my items at the cash register, I asked the cashier, “So, when did Nordstrom unlock the dressing room doors?”

She told me that they got a new store manager about four months ago (the previous manager went on maternity leave), and the first thing the new manager did was tell the sales associates to unlock the dressing room doors.

Even though the locking practice had come into being to reduce theft, it also helped engage the salespeople with shoppers by personally escorting them to the dressing rooms. The new manager realized that it actually had become a huge inconvenience for shoppers. It interfered with their ease of shopping. And I’m guessing, she realized that it was not sending a positive message in alignment with the Nordstrom brand.

So, I asked the obvious question of the cashier, “Did theft go up after you unlocked the doors?” She told me she had not heard anything more about it, so she assumed it had not.

That made me wonder: How many “locked dressing room doors” do you have in your business? If you have an automated voicemail for your business, do you start your message with, “To speak with someone immediately, press “0” for operator,” then proceed with the directory of names? Or do you force callers to go through the directory by entering the first three letters of the person’s first or last name?

On your website, do you feature your best selling items on your home page? Or do you force customers to search through your entire website to find what they’re looking for?

When you have a visitor to your building, do you immediately offer them water or directions to the restroom? Or do you wait for them to ask?

When you give new employees your company handbook, do you give them a cheat sheet of the FAQs (such as company holidays, benefits info and payroll info)? Or do you hand them the 100-page handbook and say, “Good luck! Everything is in here.”

How many roadblocks do we naturally put up in our businesses? And if we replaced them with something easier and more convenient, would we have a better result?

If you want to “unlock the doors” in your company, know that most of them are super easy to change. The challenge may be that they are habits, with unknown origins, e.g., “We’ve always done it that way.”

It took only a bit of adjustment at our company to change our company voicemail, website, visitor-welcoming process and employee handbook.

What should you change?

Karen

Los Alamitos, CA (August 2019) – With the new school season fast approaching, parents are stocking up on notebooks and school supplies. While they’re at the grocery store, encourage them to stop in the produce department for tasty, healthy lunch box items.

“Frieda’s Chilean kumquats are the perfect school snack because they are bite-sized, delicious and ready to eat,” says Alex Berkley, director of sales at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “With their convenient packaging, it is easy to merchandise them with other common snacking produce like apples or oranges for a back-to-school destination set.” Retailers can also add Frieda’s cape gooseberries, jicama and watermelon radishes to their display as shoppers are always looking for new, healthy and delicious treats to add to their kids’ lunch.

“This year, we are trying something new with our two young kids,” says Cindy Sherman, director of marketing at Frieda’s. “I picked up bento boxes that make packing lunches a breeze! It’s easy to fill the compartments with kumquats, jicama sticks, cheese and whole grain pretzels.”

To help inspire parents, Frieda’s will host a social media campaign on Instagram and Facebook dedicated to sharing what parents are putting in their kids’ lunch as they head back to school. It’s all about #WhatsForLunch. This campaign is a perfect way for parents to share and receive lunch box inspiration. Look for the campaign kicking off in August and don’t forget to share #WhatsForLunch.

To fill your back-to-school destination display, 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 and dragon fruit, to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and 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’m guessing I am not the only person who gets a hard knot in their lower neck-shoulder region. It feels so tense. Last week while I was out of town at a produce conference, it got really bad. It was like I couldn’t even turn my head without feeling the strain of my tight muscles. Does that ever happen to you?

My first angle of attack was to take an Advil and go to bed early.

I did sleep well, but unfortunately that knot in my neck was still there the next morning.

Second strategy was to get a neck massage on Monday afternoon. It felt better for a short while, but that knot returned.

So, yesterday when I went to work out with my strength coach, Yas, I let him know about my sore shoulder muscles. He looked at me and commented, “So, you sit on your **s all day at a desk, right? Typing on your computer.” And he held out his forearms and imitated my daily position, which included having my shoulders tensed up. “Yep, you’re right,” I answered.

And that’s when it dawned on me.

Why am I not using my stand-up desk?

A few years ago, a couple of our employees mentioned to me that they heard having a stand-up desk helps reduce lower back pain and shoulder tension, and actually stimulates better productivity. So we did a beta test with those two employees by purchasing units that would retrofit our current cubicles for less than $300 each. We did nothing more than give them the stand-up desks with comfort mats to go under their feet. And we waited to see what happened.

Guess what? As other employees noticed, they, too, asked for stand-up units, and everyone personally commented on how much better they felt physically during the day. It’s as if the cobwebs get cleaned out when you stand up and work. And they all have less low-back tension and it creates more energy in the office.

So this morning I came into work, and after our entire floor did stretching at 9 a.m. as part of our newly launched employee well-being program, I raised my stand-up desk. Sure enough, my shoulders felt less tense. My legs and lower back felt better. And as I looked around my office, I saw four other co-workers had raised their desks too.

Does your company offer this option? More and more companies offer these ergonomically friendly stand-up desks. But there are still some that don’t; they must not be aware that it’s an easy $300 retrofit for an existing desk. And that $300 investment is a good hedge against increased absenteeism and injury.

So if your neck and shoulders are usually tight during the work day, you might want to arrange to get a stand-up unit. It will make a world of difference.

Karen

Los Alamitos, CA – (July 2019) – Many people associate working in produce with being healthy, but the folks at Frieda’s Specialty Produce know that health is much more than eating fruits and vegetables. During July, Frieda’s launched a well-being program by holding Frieda’s Wellness Week to help educate and empower all employees to stay healthy.

“I know that Frieda’s cares about me as a person, and giving me the chance to learn more about wellness as a whole helps me to be the best version of myself,” says Megan Klemz, an account manager at Frieda’s. “When I feel my best, I can provide the best possible service to my clients, who can, in turn, provide the best service to their shoppers.”

Frieda’s Wellness Week included two days of stretching and nutrition workshops, a full day of massages from Corporate Kneads and a healthy, yet delicious, taco bar for all employees on the final day. During the workshop, employees learned some tips on warm-ups, stretches and different ways to take productive breaks throughout the day. “The folks at Frieda’s were so much fun to work with,” said Cooper, an exercise and nutrition coach based in southern California. “They were engaged and committed to taking small steps toward improving their health.”

The lessons from Wellness Week have already made a difference at Frieda’s. Teams are stretching each morning in the office, as well as holding “walking meetings” throughout the week. “Wellness Week was just the kick start I needed to begin incorporating more active time into my home and work life,” Klemz says.

Frieda’s looks forward to improving employee well-being throughout the year, setting a new standard for the produce industry as a whole.

 

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 and dragon fruit, to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and 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 you may recall, I changed to a vegan lifestyle on December 31, 2018, for many reasons. Primarily it was for health reasons. I had done a lot of research during the previous year, reading books such as “How Not to Die” by Dr. Michael Greger. Although that book has a title that sounds less than positive, it actually gives you hope in each chapter about how no to die from specific diseases, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, diabetes, etc.

What I never told anyone was that a week after I chose a completely plant-based diet, I went for my annual checkup and stress test at the cardiologist. Like many CEOs, because of the stress of my job, I proactively choose to get a checkup each year, versus waiting for something to happen.

So after my annual exam, my doctor and I sat down in his office. He told me, “You have to do something. Your cholesterol has gotten really high and I am starting to see a blockage in your left ventricle. That means the left side of your heart is having to work harder.” He asked me, “Do you want my help?” And my answer was “Yes. As long as it does not involve medication. And by the way, I just went vegan last week.” He took a deep breath, thought for a minute, and then proceeded to give me his “prescription.”

  1. Start intermittent fasting (the science was showing this was very effective, he said). That meant only coffee and water in the morning, not eating anything until noon. Eat super light for lunch and as little as possible for dinner. Really cut back on food consumption. No grains, breads, sugar, etc.
  2. Do cardio every single day; a minimum of 30 minutes a day and up to 75 minutes a day.
  3. Return in six months for a follow-up exam.

It took me a week or so to wrap my head around intermittent fasting. But I figured I would try it. Once I started skipping breakfast in the morning, I found I was not hungry in the morning. It was like eating caused me to want to eat more. So the longer I waited to eat, the less I was hungry. And if I started to get hungry, I would drink a lot of water. So one to two cups of black coffee in the morning have been the start of my day for the last six months.

I admit that during the first five months, I did cardio almost every single day. But as I started traveling, it got harder. But I joined a new gym in January that is super upscale, by the beach and very clean, with all new equipment. That has made a huge difference for me. I am now working out and doing cardio four to six days a week.

And of course, I have been 100% vegan since January 1. As hard as that may sound, it has actually been very easy (I like to say it is totally in the mind). I have traveled to Germany and Spain, plus New York and Houston. I’ve never had a hard time finding something to eat, no matter if I am at a steak house or a vegetarian restaurant, which I found in Barcelona. It was actually very fun and touching when I was in southern Spain visiting some grower friends; all three guys I was with chose to have a veggie lunch with me.

So, here are the results of my vegan-cardio-intermittent fasting lifestyle for the last six months. I went to see my doctor last week and had a complete blood panel done.

When my doctor walked in after seeing the results of my blood tests, he sat down beside me and said with a big smile on his face, “What did you do since I saw you? Your results are remarkable!”

I told him that I did everything he told me to. Plus I was 100% vegan (turns out, he is also vegan which was refreshing for me to learn). He then asked me how I felt.

I told him there were many things I had noticed since going vegan.

I want to share them with you now:

  1. I am sleeping so much better. My sleep is more solid and I feel so much more rested, even when I don’t get my seven and a half to eight hours a night.
  2. I lost about 10 pounds in the first three months. I’m sure it was from eating less food, and no grains or breads. I have more to lose, but I know that “calories in” are the biggest factor in weight loss. Since I work out with a strength trainer, I’m guessing some of that fat has turned into muscle.
  3. My mind is clearer. This is a big one. As I was reflecting on the first six months of the year with my business coach last week, I commented on how much clearer my mind seems. I’m not foggy anymore. Previously I had a slower start in the morning and it would take a few hours to get going. Now, I feel on my game the minute I get to work. And everything seems crystal clear to me.
  4. This one is kind of personal, but I noticed I’m not perspiring as much. Of course when I work out I sweat a lot, but I’ve noticed that when I am at work I don’t sweat as much. I do think that is due to my system being clear of animal products.
  5. My thinning hair is growing back. Many of us find our hair thins as we get older. A dear friend of mine had commented on my hair thinning in the front a few years ago. It was a very personal comment she made, but that’s one of the things I love about her. Well, when I went to my hair stylist last week, we both noticed that my hair was getting thicker in all the right places.

And finally, I have to share an article that my darling mother, Frieda, gave to me last night. It’s from The Week Magazine and entitled “Red meat could shorten your life.” She said that this article is so important she wants to share it with everyone she knows. I made a dozen copies for her to share with all her friends.

I probably never told you that when I went vegan six months ago, my mom joined me! Yes, that’s right, my 95-year-old mother, Frieda, is now also vegan. And I think that is quite a testimonial as she tells me every day how much better and lighter she feels!

So, I hope you will take some time to consider whether eating fewer animal products, and more fruits and veggies, might be an easy choice for you to make. You don’t have to be as dramatic as I’ve been by going 100% vegan. In fact, another friend, also a doctor, recently decided to be “Vegan Before 6” each day. It’s all about choice, and it’s really all about making our lives better and longer.

To your good health!

Karen

 

Even before the two earthquakes we experienced in Southern California last week, I had planned to blog about earthquakes. If you don’t live in California, but somewhere else that has other natural events like tornadoes, hurricanes, fires or flash floods, I know you’ve had similarly scary experiences. But I’d bet you’ve never had the opportunity to listen to the world’s expert on your particular natural disaster-causing event, right?

Well, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Lucy Jones (aka “The Earthquake Lady”) last month at the Natural History Museum. You see, one of my good friends, Lori Bettison-Varga, is the president of the museum. She invited me to one of its First Friday events. I checked my calendar and was kind of excited to drive to downtown LA after a long week, and sip a little wine in the museum’s outdoor garden.

At about 7, they started ushering us into a dark, auditorium-like room. As I looked around, I realized that we were in the Dinosaur Wing, as life-sized dioramas featuring various dinosaurs covered every wall in the huge hall.

As we sat down, I glanced at the program and noticed that famed LA Times reporter Patt Morrison would be interviewing “The Earthquake Lady.” I’m like, “Oh, this is just GREAT.” (Not really.) Frankly, like most Southern Californians, whenever there’s an earthquake, my heart starts racing and I get a little panicked. The last thing I wanted to be doing on a Friday evening was listening to a couple of people talk about earthquakes. But I was seated between Lori and her husband, Bob, so there was no escaping. Did I mention that Lori and Bob are geologists?

So, I decided to enjoy the lecture.

And frankly, I was surprised—I was surprised at how calm Lucy was. She is a seismologist and the public voice for earthquake science and earthquake safety in California. You can read tons about her right here.

What I loved most about her presentation was what I learned. Simple, basic things that I had never thought of:

  1. Many of us buy extra water to have on hand in case of an emergency. When asked how much water you should have, Lucy answered, “No matter how much you have, you should probably buy more.”(I went out and bought a lot more water.)
  2. She said the reason we will want more water is that if we have a huge earthquake, there is a good chance that the large, clay, underground pipes that carry water to our homes will crack. And if so, it could take a long time to repair them. So, it’s possible we will not have access to water for a while.
  3. The other pipes that are underground, which could crack during an earthquake, carry our sewage. Picture that. Cracked sewage pipes underground. Enough said.
  4. And finally, if the power goes out, ATMs will not work. Lucy said that most people don’t think about what it would be like without cash or access to cash. She suggested going to the bank, taking out some cash, and stashing it in a safe, secure place in your home. (I went to the bank and now have many $20 bills stashed away at home.)

After hearing Lucy talk, I felt more informed about earthquakes, what causes them and how the earth works. When you are informed, you react more calmly.

And that’s what happened as I was sitting on the floor taking off my shoes on Friday night, when we had that 7.1 earthquake about 8:20 p.m. Instead of my usual run for a doorway (Lucy said that is a fallacy; it is not a safer place to be in an earthquake), I stayed seated on the ground. That’s where Lucy said to be, away from windows, and near something you can crawl under for protection. She said many people break bones or get injured because they are running during an earthquake and they fall down because of the jarring movements.

Lucy took questions from the audience: Does fracking cause earthquakes? Do earthquakes cause tsunamis? She was very clear that there is no such thing as earthquake weather and earthquakes do not only happen in the early morning, which was demonstrated perfectly on Friday evening.

So, I hope that you get a little extra cash next time you are at the ATM and stash some extra water and non-perishable food in case of an emergency. Oh, by the way, Lucy said you should be sure that stored food and water are in an easy-to-access place, where they aren’t likely to be hidden in case of an earthquake.

Thank you, Lucy, for making earthquakes more manageable.

Karen

 

Like anyone who exercises regularly, or walks or runs a lot, I am in the habit of getting new workout shoes every four to five months. I work out about five or six days a week. Most days I spend time on the treadmill. So, I have learned to keep an eye on how my shoes are wearing.

But six months ago, I started working with a strength coach (he hates being referred to as a “trainer”). Twice a week, I meet him at my gym for an hour of weight lifting and strength conditioning. A few months ago, Yas (that’s his name) mentioned to me that I need to get thinner-soled trainers. In case you didn’t know, in England, they call workout shoes “trainers”; many Americans call them “tennis shoes.” Yas is from England, so in his distinct and sometimes difficult-to-understand British accent, he finally convinced me to get new trainers, based on his recommendation.

Yas had noticed during my exercise sessions that I was a bit unstable on my feet. He told me that the cushiony soles of my Adidas, Nikes and Brooks shoes are all thick and that can make my ankles a bit weak and wobbly. Interestingly, in speaking to friends, they, like me, thought it was good to have these thickly soled shoes. Something about the cushion being good for you. The cushion might feel good, but it raises your center of gravity enough that we compensate by wobbling.

So Yas sent me a link to a shoe brand called Merrell. I believe Merrell is best known for hiking shoes. But Yas recommended the Vapor Glove model for me. These shoes have very little padding. The toe box is broad and they have serious arch support. I actually feel more like I am walking barefoot. My feet are definitely closer to the ground.

 

Yas also told me to walk barefooted at home as it activate the muscles in my feet and will train them to work harder at stabilizing me.

So, two weeks ago, I wore my new Merrell Vapor Glove shoes to my workout. I could not believe the difference in my stability. He has me do some rather complicated strength-building exercises for my hamstrings and the improvement in the number of reps I was able to do and how much stronger I felt was palpable.

As we get older, we are concerned about building muscle mass and bone strength. The last thing we want to happen is to lose our footing, fall down and hit our knee (which I did twice last year) or break a bone (thank goodness that has not happened to me). I never knew that there were other styles of workout shoes that actually HELPED create more stability when I exercise or walk.

If you have experienced any of the wobbling or instability when you run, walk or exercise, I suggest you try this style of shoe. And don’t forget to walk barefoot every day. Who knew this could help with balance?

Karen

Los Alamitos, CA (June 2019) – Summer is all about grilling and, surprisingly, research shows that potatoes are the #2 favorite vegetable to grill after corn*. “When you combine that with the fact that 68% of shoppers want to add more vegetables to their summer tables**, it is a no brainer that shoppers would be looking for ways to grill & serve sweet potatoes, specifically Stokes Purple® Sweet potatoes. Their firmer texture and balanced sweetness make them the ideal potato for grilling and summer sides” says Cindy Sherman, Director of Marketing for Frieda’s Specialty Produce.

With this in mind, Frieda’s culinary experts collaborated to create grilling & picnic-friendly recipes inspired by Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and other summer favorites. “We wanted to take shopper favorites and put a grilling twist on them, just in time for summer”, says Sherman. “We had fun making summer time S’MORES more colorful by adding a schmear of purple sweet potato on the graham cracker, or cooked a Stokes Purple® Sweet potato right on the grill (wrapped in foil) as part of our exploration. Grilling these unique products develops richer, brighter flavors, making them a great addition to any summer BBQ”, says Sherman. The Frieda’s team also developed a vegan (no mayonnaise) Stokes Purple® sweet potato salad that is perfect for an outdoor picnic.

Some of the favorites include grilled stokes purple® sweet potatoes, grilled cauliflower steaks with romesco sauce and honey lime jackfruit skewers.  All of the recipes can be found in the new recipe portal at https://www.friedas.com/.

Call your Frieda’s account manager today for signage solutions and recipe cards that inspire your shopper’s summer gatherings!

*Category Partners, 2018

**C+R research, 2019

 

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 and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and 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.

 

Although I’ve never had serious or ongoing insomnia, there are definitely nights when I have a hard time going to sleep. Or I wake up at 1 or 2 a.m. and cannot go back to sleep. I have many friends who complain about the same thing.

So, when two of my coworkers got some insights on getting better sleep, I was very interested.

They had gone to see a healer. I don’t know what kind of healer, but I am guessing it was someone spiritual, homeopathic or something along those lines. Anyway, I was fascinated about what they shared with me.

As they were finishing their session, the healer turned to one of my coworkers and asked, “So, do you have problems sleeping?” She was caught off guard because she had not mentioned anything to him about her constant restlessness at night. She often complained that it was hard for her to get a good, solid night’s sleep.

He then asked her, “Do you have any crystals or books in your bedroom?” She nodded yes and pointed to the necklace that her boyfriend gave her. It contains a crystal. She never takes it off. Plus, her bedroom is filled with many full bookshelves and she has several crystals hanging on her walls and sitting on her nightstand.

The healer suggested she remove all crystals and books from her bedroom. He told her that the energy of the crystals and the words in the books were interrupting her sleep.

She wasn’t quite sure about all of this, but went home and removed all the crystals and books anyway. That very first night, she had one of the best, uninterrupted, full night of sleep she’d had in a long time. Later that week, she forgot to take off her crystal necklace, and guess what? She did not sleep very well that night.

As she told me all this, I found it interesting. Not very scientific, but interesting.

So, just for the heck of it, when I got home that night, I removed all the crystals from my bedroom, took the books off my nightstand and moved them into another room. Then I went to bed.

Seriously, I had one of the best night’s sleep! And I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that my sleep has continued to be more restful. I am also able to fall asleep quickly. Of course, when I go to bed with a lot on my mind from work, I occasionally wake up super early, but I figure that is my subconscious telling me to get to work early that day. I actually embrace that when it happens and don’t stay in bed. I get up and read, write or do work.

After I had experienced this crystal- and book-free sleep, I mentioned it to a couple friends who have insomnia issues. One friend is a recent widow and good, restful sleep has been a real issue. I suggested she try this new technique: Remove all crystals, books and photos of her spouse and family from her bedroom to see if her sleep would get better. I added the photos to the list, as it made sense to me that having your former spouse or family members staring at you all night might be equally disruptive to sleep.

I haven’t heard back from her yet, but I am hopeful that these changes help her.

If you have challenges with poor quality sleep and you’ve tried all the other normal suggestions (no coffee after noon, keeping your room cold, not using any devices an hour before you go to sleep), perhaps you might want to clear a few things from your bedroom.

I would love to hear if this allows you to have more restful sleep.

Sleep well!

Karen

Last week, I got to spend an hour touring one of the most dynamic and regenerative organic walnut farms in California. It’s in Winters, California, just outside Sacramento.

I was in the area for a meeting at the University of California, Davis, and my dear friend Craig McNamara invited me to come by to see his organic walnut ranch and Center for Land-Based Learning, his pet project and legacy.

I literally had 45 minutes to spend with him, as I had a flight to catch that evening. So as soon as I arrived at the ranch, we jumped into an all-electric ATV and did the fastest tour I’ve ever had of a farm.

If the name McNamara sounds familiar to you, it’s because Craig is the son of the late Robert S. McNamara, the eighth U.S. secretary of defense, who served from 1961 to 1968 under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He played a major role in escalating the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War.

I had recently learned of that personal connection, so in the most diplomatic way I could, I asked Craig about his dad (whose name is inextricably associated with that war) and how Craig ended up as a farmer in Winters, since he grew up in Washington, D.C. You can read more about Craig and his dad in this article.

Craig shared with me that due to his father’s connection to the war and the personal burden Craig felt, he dropped out of Stanford University in protest and fled the country. He rode a motorcycle 6,000 miles to Colombia, then hitchhiked another 6,000 miles to Tierra del Fuego (the southernmost point on the continent). He ended up living on the land of peasant farmers in Mexico, Ecuador and Chile, and worked side by side with them, growing food. Craig realized working on the land was helping him heal. He returned to UC Davis and earned a degree in Plant and Soil Science. He met the love of his life and now wife, Julie, and they bought a small farm in Winters.

When they bought the farm, the best part was a cute house, which they still live in. But the ground was in terrible condition. During his time working with farmers in South America, he had learned to cultivate the land organically and applied that to his new business. He eventually created three enterprises.

First is Sierra Orchards, at 450 acres, producing mostly organic walnuts and olives for olive oil.

Second is the Center for Land-Based Learning, Craig’s passion project. Its mission is to inspire, educate and cultivate future generations of farmers, agricultural leaders and natural resources stewards. The center trains more than 2,000 people annually on sustainable farming practices, so they can go back to their communities and farm.

And third is the creation of the California Farm Academy (CFA) that trains 24 beginners each year, preparing them to be the next generation of California farmers. Graduates of CFA share incubator plots on 15 acres of Craig’s land, selling their produce to restaurants across the Bay Area and Sacramento. They are also part of the Farm to Table movement and have started many urban farms.

Craig proudly standing in front of the 15 acre incubator farm.

 

After the tour, Craig took me into his small office to give me a couple of bottles of his special olive oil. I spotted a photo of Craig and his dad, Secretary McNamara. With permission, I snapped this photo.

Craig and his dad Robert McNamara.

While driving to the Sacramento airport, weaving through the countryside on a one-lane road, I just couldn’t turn on the radio. I had too many thoughts going through my mind about the burdens Craig carried regarding his father’s legacy. And how Craig was able to move past those to become a farmer and entrepreneur. Interestingly, he leveraged his own leadership skills to get appointed to the California State Board of Food and Agriculture (he served for 17 years, the last seven as president). That means he was a key advisor to California’s governor and secretary of agriculture.

My final thought as I arrived at the airport was of Putah Creek flowing through his farm. Craig and I, in his ATV, roughed it through a few fields, so that he could show me the work he and his crew had done to restore Putah Creek. It’s a tributary of the Sacramento River. The 85-mile creek has its headwaters in the Mayacamas Mountains, a part of the Coast Ranges, and flows east through two dams, including a section on Craig’s farm. He showed me how, over many years, they were able to install large boulders and create an aerated section of the creek, which is now home to thousands of salmon that swim upstream each season.

The circle of life is so amazing to me. In 45 minutes, Craig shared the most intimate details of his life with me, and how he finally healed his wounds from memories of his father’s life by becoming a farmer. An organic farmer and teacher. And yet, part of Craig’s legacy will be that he served in our own state government, as a leader and influencer for generations to come.

It’s interesting how even when we resist being like our parents and want to follow our own path, we eventually find that our parents were perfect for us. It was our parents’ choices and actions that helped make us who we are today.

 

Karen

The restored Putah Creek on Craig’s farm.

Los Alamitos, CA (June 2019) – Staying true to its mission of ‘inspiring new food experiences’ Frieda’s has relaunched its website to make it easy for shoppers to know what is in season, get inspired with kitchen-tested recipes and make it easier for shoppers to find them in store.

Perhaps the most innovative feature is the new product locator tool that helps shoppers easily find where to buy Frieda’s products anywhere in the US. “We are thrilled to partner with Frieda’s. As one of the leading purveyors of specialty produce, Frieda’s has cultivated a devoted following of consumers eager to find their must-have products”, says David Navama, CEO of Destini. “With Destini’s Product Locator technology, consumers can now discover the exact location of their favorite Frieda’s products with a single click, and Frieda’s internal team can capture important insights on regional product demand. The Destini team is proud to be part of Frieda’s continued dedication to inspiring new food experiences.”

The new website curates a selection of seasonally relevant items in the “trending now” section, to help inspire shoppers to try the best of the season and a refreshed collection of recipes. “Recipes are the pride and joy of our site, including our new video series that makes innovative new dishes super easy for consumers”, says Cindy Sherman, Director of Marketing & Innovation. “Our carefully selected recipes featuring specific Frieda’s products are a great way to bring next-level excitement and enjoyment to any table.” With eye-catching photos and easy to follow instructions, these recipes can be easily printed or shared on social media directly from the website.

One-click navigation lets consumers easily find our top 20 items or they can explore to discover almost 300 top specialty fruit, vegetables and packaged products with relevant information from how to use, to where they are grown, and to how to select.

 

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 and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and 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.

 

Los Alamitos, CA (May 2019) – Grown on the lush and sunny volcanic hills of Nicaragua, Frieda’s red dragon fruit is about to be hand-picked!

According to a recent survey by C+R Research in partnership with Frieda’s, 38% of shoppers say they are more likely to shop at YOUR store if you carry red dragon fruit and 62% of shoppers say they are worth paying more for, compared to traditional white-fleshed dragon fruit. With this in mind, Frieda’s has created a limited-edition ElastiTag® to help buyers and shoppers identify this red-fleshed dragon fruit.

 

Its beautiful appearance and attractive deep red-magenta flesh make this unique fruit a must for attention-grabbing displays. “We are recommending retailers to merchandise red dragon fruit alongside young coconuts (on ice) and blueberries to increase dollar ring for the July 4th holiday,” says Alex Berkley, sales manager at Frieda’s specialty produce.

This beautiful and refreshing tropical fruit can be simply peeled and enjoyed alone, or added to summer classics like salsa, fruit salads, and smoothies. Frieda’s red dragon fruit is not only one of the sweetest dragon fruits with a Brix of 17, but its mild flavor also complements summer classics like pineapples and strawberries. It can also be used as a garnish or ingredient for cocktails or as festive table decoration.

Available in 6, 9, 12 and 18 count “and a baby “snackable” size, we expect it to be available all summer through October. Contact your Frieda’s account representative today for merchandising suggestions that drive higher traffic to your produce department and increase dollar ring and overall sales.

 

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 and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and 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.

Los Alamitos, CA (May 2019) – The beginning of summer means – Frieda’s white-flesh Angelcots® are coming! Though the season is short and sweet, consumers nationwide know they are coming and demand always exceeds supply.

“Angelcots® and other high-flavor tree fruits are trending every year because they’re something familiar with a slight twist,” says Alex Berkley, sales manager at Frieda’s. “The flavor of these are mild and sweet, and shoppers are already waiting to get their hands on them, which is why we do pre-orders before the season even kicks off.”

The unique and irresistible juicy and floral flavor of Angelcots® makes them a crowd favorite. The crop has been grown exclusively for Frieda’s in California for almost a decade, and the first harvest usually starts mid-June.

If you want to have the amazing Angelcot® experience in your stores, better call your Frieda’s account manager today – before they are all sold out.

 

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 and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and 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.

Los Alamitos, CA (May 2019) – The super-hot pepper season has arrived early this year. Peppers like ghost, carolina reaper and trinidad scorpion are coloring up on plants and getting ready to land in your produce department, just in time for Memorial Day displays.

“Super-hot peppers have become a cult favorite in recent years” says Alex Berkley, sales manager at Frieda’s specialty produce. “We are seeing their arrival from Holland earlier than last year, which is perfect timing to add them to ‘chill & grill’ displays and merchandise with summer favorites like watermelon and refreshing young coconuts, on ice. In fact, according to a recent study by C + R Research in partnership with Frieda’s, 35% of shoppers say they are more likely to shop at YOUR store if you sell young coconuts.”

Don’t just stop there. Entice shoppers to celebrate Memorial Day (and the whole summer) by adding to your summer displays. “With Memorial Day serving as the kickoff to the summer grilling season, we encourage retailers to add new grilling favorites to their summer sets, including Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, colored cauliflower, shishito peppers and graffiti eggplant,” says Berkley.

Call your Frieda’s account manager today for merchandising solutions that inspire your shoppers’ summer holiday celebrations.

 

Source:

  1. C+R Research Omnibus Survey. Sample size of 1,000 people. Representative of total U.S. demographics.

 

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 and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and 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.

Los Alamitos, CA (April 2019) – Entice shoppers to celebrate Mother’s Day more memorably this year by adding Frieda’s French Style Crêpes to your berry case.

“Shoppers are looking for new and easy ways to enjoy holidays like Mother’s Day without breaking the bank,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, sales manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Showing your customers that they can elevate their celebration with items like our crêpes is a sure-fire way to boost your berry sales this season!”

Providing recipe inspiration is another way to drive customer purchases. With berries being a popular complement to crêpes, we recommend sharing a recipe like our Blueberry Lemon Mousse Crêpes and cross-merchandising with the berries to have a one-stop pop-up display. Frieda’s offers a shelf-stable display box that holds 12/5 oz. packages of Frieda’s French Style Crêpes, which makes creating these types of displays easy.

Call your Frieda’s account manager today for merchandising solutions that inspire your shoppers’ celebrations this May!

 

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 and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and 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.

Los Alamitos, CA (April 2019) – This year the Passover holiday will be celebrated from April 19 at sundown on April 27. The highlight of Passover is the Seder, observed on the first two nights of the holiday. The Seder is a fifteen-step family-oriented tradition and ritual-packed feast.

“Those of us in the fresh produce business know that Passover has some very distinctive foods that are used at the Seder.” says Alex Berkley, sales manager at Frieda’s.

The traditional celebration usually includes specific essentials like horseradish, but that doesn’t mean your meal has to be completely conventional. Newer generations are celebrating Passover by incorporating other produce in their modern versions of Passover Seder plates.

“We know that shoppers will be looking for exciting Passover items at their local markets so we want to make it easier for them to find these holiday must-haves through merchandising. Try cross-merchandising horseradish and Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes as a way to increase the basket ring during this springtime Jewish holiday.” says Alex Berkley, sales manager at Frieda’s.

Furthermore, a recent article by reformjudaism.org explained how and why new additions are showing up on modern Seder plates. Such is the case for tubers, including potatoes and sweet potatoes. “In 1991, Israel launched Operation Solomon, a covert plan to bring Ethiopian Jews to the Holy Land. When these famished, downtrodden Jews arrived in Israel, many were so hungry and ill that they were unable to digest substantial food. Israeli doctors fed these new immigrants simple boiled potatoes and rice until their systems could take more food.”

Therefore, to commemorate this at their Seder, consumers are incorporating sweet potato alongside the karpas (green spring vegetable). This addition honors a wondrous exodus in our own time, from Ethiopia to Israel. We especially like the inclusion of Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, and then highlighting it during the dinner portion of the meal, in dishes like organic Stokes Purple ®sweet potato fritters with green tahini. This recipe was created especially for Frieda’s by chefs Heather Sperling and Emily Fiffer of Botanica. Located in Silverlake, CA. Botanica was named one of the Top 10 Best New Restaurants in 2017 by LA Magazine.

 

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 and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and 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.

Los Alamitos, CA (March 2019) – Love Your Produce Manager® Day (LYPM) is our favorite day of the year to recognize supermarket heroes across the country – produce managers and their teams. LYPM Day grabs attention every year, with many different organizations engaging online to celebrate their produce teams. We all know execution in the produce department depends on a motivated and inspired in-store produce team, which is why Frieda’s created the holiday in 2012 to recognize produce managers and the hard work they put into their departments to stay fresh, educate shoppers and increase sales.

“Making people feel valued individually can truly motivate your employees, and it’s even better when the entire store team feels like they are in it together,” says Karen Caplan, CEO and president of Frieda’s. “This helps to build comradery and strengthens performance across the entire team.”

“That is why this year, for the first time ever, we are celebrating the whole produce team for LYPM Day!” says Caplan. Frieda’s partnered with produce district specialists nationwide to nominate the outstanding produce teams that go above and beyond in their department. “We used a panel of produce merchandising experts to select winners based on customer interactions, sales growth and upkeep of their department,” says Caplan.

Frieda’s is excited to announce the winners for LYPM Day 2019: Schnucks #188 in Ladue, St. Louis, MO, Kroger #533 in Shreveport, LA, Kroger #302 in Galveston, TX, Lowes Foods #224 in Raleigh, NC and Ralphs #611 in Palm Springs, CA. Congratulations to the winners! The entire team at Frieda’s appreciates everything that you do.

We encourage you to go on social media to share what you love about your favorite produce teams using the hashtag #LoveYourProduceManager. Call your account manager today if you’d like to send a special recognition to your favorite produce team and tell your produce manager and their team how much you appreciate what they do every day!

 

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 and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and 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.

Los Alamitos, CA – (March 2019) – Go above and beyond this spring and help Frieda’s celebrate Registered Dietitian Nutritionist day (3/13/19) and Love Your Produce Manager® Day (4/2/19). Both holidays are opportunities to show appreciation for everything these two teams do throughout the year to make healthy eating easy and delicious for shoppers.

“Recognition of your produce and dietitian teams is always important, but having a day that truly acknowledges the value they bring every day builds loyalty,” says Alex Berkley, sales manager at Frieda’s. “These teams help create an in-store experience that brings shoppers into YOUR store and keeps them coming back.”

Data shows that freshness and associate friendliness are key drivers of the shopper experience, scoring a 4.4 and 4.3 respectively, on a 5-point scale according to The Retail Feedback Group’s U.S. Supermarket Experience 2019 report. “Going that extra mile for these teams is a great way to ensure that your store becomes THE destination for fresh and healthy eating,” says Berkley.

So don’t forget to celebrate your produce and dietitian teams this year and all they do to help create that outstanding consumer experience that shoppers are looking for. Call your Frieda’s account manager today for ways to celebrate these produce heroes.

 

Source:

  1. U.S. Supermarket Experience Study.

 

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 and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and 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.

Los Alamitos, CA – (February 2019) – Over the years, Easter has evolved from the full-spread dinner where ham is the center of the table to a brunch focus with lighter fare and more produce. And this trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

According to a recent study by C + R Research in partnership with Frieda’s, 68 percent of shoppers plan to serve more vegetable-forward dishes this spring. Furthermore, the same study revealed, 66 percent of shoppers are looking to try new varieties like Colored Cauliflower and Rainbow Carrots over classic items such as kale and artichokes. “Here at Frieda’s, we were surprised to learn how interested shoppers are in trying new vegetables in spring, primarily driven by millennials,” says Alex Berkley, sales manager at Frieda’s. “This is suggestive of everything we have been learning about millennials’ tastes, but the survey really drives it home.”

The interest in variety is good news for retailers because the same study revealed that variety drives in-store traffic. In fact, 73 percent of shoppers will choose one grocery store over another, if one offers better variety (C + R Research, 2019). “Frieda’s is working hard to make sure all retailers are able to fulfill their shoppers’ desires for variety, especially when thinking about celebrating Easter and Passover. So stock up on items like Fennel, Purple Asparagus, Sunchokes®, Pink Lemons and Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes to help shoppers plan their menus as they serve up dishes like Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato Frittata, Hearty Sunchoke® and Wild Mushroom Salad and Granola-Crusted Pink Lemon Tartlets,” says Berkley.

Additionally, supply is shaping up nicely for spring items. “Although weather has kept us on our toes in California, we are excited about the outlook of our supplies on the best spring sellers,” says Allen Demo, director of procurement and sourcing at Frieda’s. “Along with our western vegetables and California citrus supplies, our Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes remain high in quality and rich in flavor, especially over other varieties on the market.”

Drive your produce sales this spring by taking advantage of the variety and great supply of Frieda’s spring products. Call your Frieda’s account manager today for merchandising, signage and recipe solutions that will make shoppers say, “Move over ham, I’m ready for more vegetables.”

 

Source:

  1. C+R Research Omnibus Survey. Sample size of 1,000 people. Representative of total U.S. demographics.

 

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 and dragon fruit to Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and 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.

 

My discovery about the celery juice phenomenon started about two months ago, when I was vacationing in Barcelona, Spain. I took a day trip to visit some grower friends in Murcia, Spain. As we were walking their celery field, my host said, “Can you believe that celery market? We got a call from a U.S. celery grower friend of ours this morning commenting on how crazy the celery market has gotten.” (Translation: The prices and demand for celery are both very high.)

I didn’t give it a second thought.

Then, about two weeks ago, I happened to pick up a copy of the Long Beach Business Journal and read an interview of the CEO of a local company. I was so inspired by his comments that I wrote him a personal note. A few days later, I received an email from him, thanking me for sending him the article. He closed his email by saying, “Frieda’s looks like a great operation and given the boom in wellness awareness, should be well positioned for growth. Drinking my 20 oz. of celery juice as I type this…”

Half–joking, I just had to write back and ask, “I wonder what’s up with the celery juice trend, anyway?”

My new pen pal, David, wrote back: “It has a lot to do with the awareness of Anthony William – Medical Medium…”

So I googled the Medical Medium, saw he wrote a book on Celery Juicing, but ultimately after a few minutes, I turned back to my work.

And then, last Thursday, I was up in Salinas attending the retirement party for an industry friend and I ran into one of the U.S. largest vegetable growers, David Gill. David looked fantastic! I mean, his eyes were clear, his skin looked great, and he actually looked younger. So, I ask him, “What are you doing these days? You look great.”

You aren’t going to believe what he told me: “I’ve been drinking 16 oz. of celery juice every morning for the last 6 weeks!” Seriously? I asked him what inspired him to do that. He said, “Well, I am a large celery grower, and someone told me about the health benefits of celery juice, so I figured I should try it. After all, I know where to get fresh celery!”

So I literally came home this weekend and went online to do my research. I ordered a copy of his book Medical Medium Celery Juice.

Thanks to Amazon Prime, it arrived on Sunday morning, and I quickly thumbed through the first few chapters of the book. The more I read, the more I thought: drinking 16 oz. of celery juice first thing every morning can’t be bad. So off I went to buy a juicer and a few large heads of organic celery.

In concept, Anthony William professes that drinking 16 oz. of freshly juiced celery each morning, on an empty stomach, acts a bit like a detox. He tells you not to have anything else to eat or drink for 30 minutes (so my morning coffee just has to wait).

Of course, in his book, he lists a variety of conditions that the celery juice will help minimize.

So, if you’re wondering why there seems to be a shortage of celery bunches at your favorite grocery store, part of the reason is because juicing-obsessed consumers nationwide are literally buying up everything they can get! Plus, grower David Gill did disclose that there have been some growing and weather challenges with celery, which has also limited supplies. It’s a bit of a perfect storm of celery demand.

If you’re one of those millions of consumers who are drinking celery juice each morning, I’d love to hear from you!

And if you just can’t fathom the flavor of celery juice first thing in the morning, you’ll be amused to know my daughter Sophia texted me this morning, “I don’t know what I expected celery juice to taste like, but it’s gross.”

Yes, I recruited her to join me on my celery juice journey.

Karen

 

Okay, let me start by saying: When you are into healthy eating or at least want to make healthier choices, you are always reading food labels. It’s shocking to see what “stuff” gets put into food to make it taste good. It’s usually excessive sodium, high-fructose corn syrup, and other things I cannot pronounce or spell.

So, when I was at a produce trade show last year and saw this new snack food Peatos, I was intrigued.

 

 

 

And, they were delicious. I thought: Clever! A “healthy” alternative to Cheetos. And that was it. I saw them at my local supermarket and occasionally bought them. And since I went vegan, I have been delighted by their “Fiery Hot” flavor product.

End of story.

Then, I was reviewing the guest list for a CEO Summit I was attending the day before the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 3. There on the list was the name Nick Desai, CEO of Snack It Forward LLC, World Peas Brand, i.e., the creator of Peatos. My favorite snack.

OMG. OMG. OMG.

I put Nick’s name on my short list of people to be sure and meet. And when I got to the meeting, the orange Peatos logo on his white shirt (and the shirts of his two young daughters along with him) made him easy to identify. (We produce people tend to wear our logo shirts everywhere… Shameless promotion.)

Nick and I immediately struck up a conversation at the break.

I asked him how the heck he started the company. He told me he was in the investment banking world and decided it was too stressful, so in 2007 he decided he wanted to get into real business and found the opportunity to buy the company Snack It Forward. We both laughed about it being a tossup of which is more stressful: investment banking or owning your own (food) company.

Fast forward to 2018. Nick got rid of his manufacturing plant and stopped selling the licensed Sunkist trail mixes his company was known for.

Being of Indian descent, and being raised in a vegetarian lifestyle, he was perplexed why American vegetarian snacks weren’t made of pulses (beans, lentils, fava beans, etc.). They are a great source of protein, and he noticed that most snack foods in the U.S. were mostly carbs and fat. So, he developed a pulse-based snack that resembled the craveable Cheetos snack.

We talked about the challenges of attending trade shows, doing sampling, getting co-packers, signing confidentiality agreements with manufacturers, pursuing retail clients, getting that first big sale and then the 24/7 nature of the food business.

We both love it! And because he brought his two daughters with him, we developed a more personal connection about the realities of balancing work/family. I’m guessing his wife was enjoying some downtime back in SoCal.

I was intrigued and full of admiration that Nick was able to transform his life and his company by looking back at his roots. His family is from India, and his wife is vegetarian. He’s a smart business guy, but he wanted a change that was more real to him.

So, thank you, Nick, for taking the plunge into healthier snack foods. I’m grateful that his first retail customer was Kroger, and from what he told me, his line of Peatos is available nationwide in all Kroger stores in the produce department. He also told me that I could purchase Peatos on Amazon… But that’s another story.

#UNJUNKYOURSNACK

 

Karen

 

About 18 months ago, a dear friend of mine suggested I read a book entitled Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown. I really had no idea who Brené Brown was, but I felt an instant connection to her since she narrates her books (I listened to the book on Audible).

Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, is a research professor at the University of Houston. That’s her day job. But her real calling is that she has spent the last two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. Her TED talk – “The Power of Vulnerability” – is one of the top five most-viewed TED talks in the world, with more than 35 million views. That is a lot of views!

She talks about shame and vulnerability – not the typical subjects of speeches and presentations. Mostly because no one likes to talk about that. If you haven’t listened to her, I highly suggest you either watch her TED talk or listen to one of her books. Her Texan accent, her speech is punctuated with swear words (her talks are heavily peppered with the word “bullshit”) and her authenticity are contagious. I learned years ago that to use a swear word properly in a speech can actually connect you with your audience.

But Brené’s use of swear words is more than a connection tool, it is the truth, exemplified. Like when she was asked to speak at a Very Big Business Conference, with the limitations of 1) no swearing and 2) no mention of her faith (her personal values are faith and courage). She talked about her thought process on this request, and finally she decided, “This is bullshit.” She is who she is, and she will not give in to anyone who asks her to NOT be her authentic self.

Brené has written five New York Times #1 best-selling books:  The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness and most recently Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

You can probably tell, I am a bit of a fangirl for Brené, so when I learned that she was speaking in Houston at a small private event, my friend Lisa, who lives in Houston, offered to have me sit at her table for the dinner. I booked my ticket to Houston immediately – I was in!

Let me start by saying that I must have mentioned to Lisa at least five times that I wanted to meet Brené personally. I was so determined that Lisa sent me a screenshot of the seating chart for the event, to show me where we were sitting (table #4) and where Brené would be. I wrote a note to Brené on my personal stationary and carried it with me in my purse.

So, it was no surprise that when we arrived at the pre-event reception, I spotted Brené across the room. I don’t think anyone had really seen her yet. So I quickly pulled out my phone, recruited someone I didn’t know to take our photo and moved toward Brené.

I was immediately struck by how she connects with people. She looks directly into your eyes and genuinely smiles. When it was my turn to say hello to Brené, I passed her my note (to open later) and told her that I flew from California just to see her. I also shared that her latest book, Dare to Lead, was so amazing that several months earlier I purchased 10 copies of it to distribute to every member of my leadership team at work.

After our photo was taken, I looked and there were dozens of other people lined up to talk with her.

After the dinner portion of the event, she got up and spoke to this group of 250 people about the Five Barriers to Courage:  Tough Conversations, Fears & Feelings, Stuck in Setbacks, Problem Solving/Action Bias and Inclusivity, Diversity + Equity. And she ended her talk with the Four Skills Sets Needed: Rumbling with Vulnerability, Living into Our Values, Braving Trust and Learning to Rise.

She is such a compelling speaker that even though the dinner ran long and she wasn’t able to start her talk until 9 p.m. – not a single person got up to leave before she finished at 9:45 p.m.

As I rode in the car back to my hotel, two takeaways rolled around in my head.

First, there is no courage without vulnerability. (I decided that it is okay for me to be vulnerable. Even though I feel like I am supposed to have that big red “S” for superwoman on my chest, I think it is better for me to be vulnerable and ask for help when I need it.)

And second, clear is kind. Unclear is unkind. (I asked myself, how many times do I beat around the bush with people and am not direct with my ask or my opinion?) I am really being unkind by being unclear?

This trip to Houston to meet and hear Dr. Brené Brown was a revelation for me.

The name of the event was: Dare to Show Up. It took a little scheduling and a plane flight, but I’m so glad I did dare to show up. I hope YOU will dare to show up when the opportunity presents itself to you.

Karen

Last week, in my ongoing quest for “continuous learning,” I attended the UC Davis Agribusiness Executive Seminar in Newport Beach. I have been attending this biennial year 2.5-day seminar for the last 15 years. It is patterned after the Harvard Business School Agribusiness Seminar and uses case studies on businesses written by professional case study writers. As part of the seminar’s method, the CEO (protagonist) comes to the group to defend his/her business decisions and plan. Attendees at the seminar are sent the case studies in advance. We are expected to read them and be prepared to discuss them and to challenge the protagonists.

We had six case studies this year. One of the most interesting was about Raley’s, the privately owned supermarket-chain based in Sacramento, California. Chairman and Owner Michael Teel and his CEO, Keith Knopf, came to speak with us and “defend” their business position.

While I cannot divulge the details of the case study (we take a pledge of confidentiality), I wanted to share what is public knowledge.

Raley’s currently has about 121 stores, and about five years ago, Michael Teel decided to shift the operating strategy of his company. He decided Raley’s should become a purpose-driven company and wanted to position his company as a trusted advisor to the consumers who shop in his stores.

They call it “The Raley’s Way.” On the company website’s career page, it says: “changing the way the world eats, one plate at a time.”

Michael told us, as he was approaching age 60, he reflected on his life and saw a thread around health and wellness and alternative medicine. He made a connection between the products his supermarkets sell and the (poor) health of consumers. In his mind, the connection was not a positive one. Meaning, he was struck that the sugar and salt-filled foods and the choices his stores offered to shoppers were affecting their health in a negative way. That’s when he made the decision to shift his strategy and to be purpose driven.

Over the last five years, Raley’s has made some very dramatic changes. He removed candy from the checkout lanes and replaced it with healthier snacks. He stopped selling tobacco products in his stores and gave priority display space to the healthiest choices on his stores’ shelves. What you may not know about the supermarket industry is that big companies (we call them CPGs – Consumer Packaged Goods) seem to dictate what is sold in stores, because of the attractive incentives they give to retailers to stock those products. And if products are on the shelves at the store, consumers tend to buy them.

Michael saw that he could offer healthier choices. And that meant, he and his leadership team had to go against the conventional supermarket wisdom. Instead of listening to the recommendation of CPG companies, they started to make decisions based on being a trusted, health-oriented advisor to his shoppers.

Since Raley’s is a for-profit business, so you might ask yourself: Did his decision to change what was sold in his stores pay off? Or was this just a “feel good” move? Well, it was kind of both.

Initially the company sales took a dip. So, Mike and Keith and their management team made some adjustments to their plans, and during the course of the last five years, their company has become more profitable and their market share has grown! When they both got up to speak about their decisions, their company’s performance, the alignment in their management teams and their commitment to changing the way the world eats, the passion and caring was oozing from them.

I know there are other small and medium-sized supermarket chains in America that have made a similar decision to focus on healthy foods and lifestyles. I can’t help but think about regional retailers in the Northwest, like New Seasons, Town and Country and Green Zebra. And of course, chains like Mrs. Gooch’s and Bread & Circus (both purchased by Whole Foods more than 20 years ago) that helped Whole Foods become a national natural retailer.

But what is different about Michael Teel and Raley’s is that this is a third-generation family business with a long legacy of being a middle market retailer – long before Aldi, Costco and Walmart. As the succeeding grandson, Michael quickly figured out that being in the middle is never a good strategy.

To me, it was truly an example of not only putting your money where your mouth is, but showing, real time, that you can do well by doing good.

My hat is off to Michael, Keith and their entire team for making a commitment to being a purpose-driven company and sticking to their commitment. And for helping change the way the world eats, one plate at a time.

Karen

 

I feel like the word “gratitude” has become the latest buzzword. Everyone is using it. And when that happens to a word or phrase, it can dilute its meaning or intention.

For me, showing gratitude means authentically being appreciative. Whether it is saying “thank you,” or writing a thank you note, or even smiling at someone with a twinkle in my eye and a nod to show that I appreciate them, it has to be authentic.

It’s not a go-through-the-motions kind of gratitude. You know what I mean: the mandatory thank you note you write after a job interview or after you receive a gift. It’s deeper than that. And if you are writing a thank you note, your choice of words can make all the difference in the world. Just last week, I attended a produce conference luncheon, during which the speaker surprised us all by giving us blank thank you cards. She instructed us to think of someone in our life that we are grateful for, and to write a thank you note. They then mailed them for us.

That was quite a thinking exercise for me, as I was forced to think hard about someone in my life that I was grateful for (and I didn’t want to choose the ordinary options, i.e., family members). I wrote to a dear friend of mine who has been incredibly supportive of me in a nonprofit we both are involved in. I wonder what her reaction will be when she receives my card. I suspect that it will be a surprise, that it will be appreciated and that she will interpret it as an authentic expression of gratitude.

And that’s what gratitude should be.

And on the other side, we have asking for forgiveness. I think it is even more challenging to admit you are wrong and ask for forgiveness. In my role as CEO of my company and a leader in my industry, for many years I really struggled to admit when I was wrong. And frankly, I was wrong a lot. I wasn’t very comfortable admitting when I was wrong, so I tended to make excuses or gloss over my errors.

But now, I find strength in saying the words, “I was wrong,”  “I made a mistake,”  “I don’t know.”

What if everyone on the planet was willing to admit when they were wrong and asked for forgiveness?  To say, “Darn it, I was wrong,” “I would love to hear how you think that should have been handled” and “I am open to your ideas.” Clearly we can all think of some people in public life who should admit when they are wrong.

But how about at work, or in our home life? Wouldn’t it make it easier if someone who was so passionate about their point of view, took a deep breath and said, “Wow – I was wrong,” “I need your help” or “I’ve never done this before and would appreciate your insight”?

So next time you are bubbling inside with frustration or angst, try asking for forgiveness, showing some gratitude and being open to a different perspective.

Karen

Several years ago, someone asked me if there was anything I would like to change about the produce industry. I didn’t even pause when I answered, “Change the grades and standards of fresh produce.”

Years ago, a system was put in place that basically meant only perfect-looking produce would be sold in supermarkets.

You can see the result by walking into any supermarket produce department. Every apple on display is the same size, looks identical and is blemish-free. The tomatoes are all red and identical in size (unless they are heirloom varieties or yellows). And that applies to almost all fresh produce.

As American consumers, we have come to expect perfect-looking produce because it creates a lot of appetite appeal. After years of conditioning, supermarket buyers believe that consumers will not purchase anything but those perfect-looking fruits and veggies.

Then came talk of sustainability, food waste and hunger. We Americans became almost instantly aware of the fact that, according to the USDA, 30 to 40 percent of all fresh food goes to waste somewhere in the supply chain (between farmers’ fields and consumers’ trash cans or compost piles).

Predictably, a few entrepreneurs started businesses to market the produce that was going to waste—that 30 to 40 percent that was not making it onto consumers’ plates.

Companies like Imperfect ProduceFull HarvestHungry Harvest and Misfits Market sprang up. Produce brokers and marketers launched lines of off-grade products. In France, one supermarket chain, Intermarche, even ran this memorable commercial in 2014 to promote its line.

As per usual, it made great headlines.

Five years later, just this week, I read this headline in our trade papers:

“Grocers Turn Away From ‘Ugly Produce’“

The article goes on to say many supermarkets are ending tests with ugly produce because customers aren’t purchasing the product as frequently as they had hoped. Some retailers reported inconsistent interest on the part of consumers.

Does that make sense? That consumers who are concerned about hunger and eliminating food waste would not flock to supermarkets to buy produce that is a little bit less than perfect in appearance, but has the same taste, flavor and nutritional values?

Obviously, I don’t have all the answers. Many factors could have affected the outcome, such as how attractive the packaging was, what educational tools the supplier offered to inform consumers, where the product was displayed, pricing strategy and supply consistency, just to name a few.

In doing some research for this blog, I uncovered this interview with crop scientist Sarah Taber, entitled “A scientist on the myth of ugly produce and food waste.” If you have time, I encourage you to take a few minutes to read her point of view; she calls bullshit, by the way.

Why do I think ugly and imperfect produce is being taken off the shelves of conventional supermarkets? Ugly produce looks great in highly curated shots on social media, but the far real version found on store shelves just doesn’t have the same appetite appeal. Consumers still shop with their eyes, which means it will take longer than four to five years for this to catch on. A program like this will require the supermarket industry to be patient rather than cater to the instant gratification consumers expect with new programs.

These imperfect produce companies are most likely ahead of their time. Based on my company’s 57 years of experience introducing new fruits and vegetables to American consumers, I know, for a fact, that it takes around 15 to 18 years for a new product to catch on. Think kiwifruit, dragon fruit and even kale. I spoke about the life cycle of new product introductions in my speech at trend conference #BittenLA in 2016.

I believe alternative channels need to be developed for less-than-perfect-looking produce. Why not sell that product to food processors or restaurant suppliers who are going to chop it up anyway? Trying to get conventional supermarkets to retrain their quality control inspectors, produce managers and management on what is acceptable condition is an unlikely recipe. Why not develop relationships with markets that are already selling cheap produce that doesn’t always look perfect? I recognize that it takes extra time to develop relationships with these alternative channels, but they seem the most practical path for getting imperfect product to consumers.

I predict that some companies will pull back from offering ugly produce, creating a dip in the product life cycle, but the desire for developing alternative markets to move less-than-perfect produce will continue. Call me in 10 years and I think you’ll find a whole new supply chain has been created and we have significantly less food waste.

And that’s a goal we can all support.

Karen

 

I think everyone can agree that walking on the treadmill (or using an elliptical trainer or recumbent bicycle) can be boring. After all, you are basically going nowhere. And the view can be pretty mundane, unless you are exercising next to a friend and can talk to each other.

So when my doctor told me I needed to step up my cardio exercise routine to eight days a week, I kind of freaked. I mean, it is so boring. He told me I need to do cardio exercise between 30 and 75 minutes a day.

Fortunately, that evening I was at a dinner party with a few friends. I was lamenting my newest assignment from my doctor. It must have been evident that I was trying to sort things out.

Thank goodness, my longtime friend Sue Parks was at the dinner. She pulled me aside and reminded me that she started the company WalkStyles, which offers integrated wellness programs to busy people who work for corporations.

Sue told me, “Don’t think of your doctor’s edict that you work out every day as a death sentence. Think of ways to make it fun!” I said, “Fun?” She recommended I get my iPad (I found it buried inside my home office desk) and download Netflix. (I have subscribed to Netflix for years, but honestly had never watched anything.)

She said to find a show or two or three that I like, then make my visit to the gym an opportunity to watch one or two shows from my favorite series.

OMG—I think I hit the jackpot with Sue’s suggestion.

I had already found a new, clean, modern gym at the beginning of January. Like many people, I find the fitness chains too crowded and not especially appealing. My new gym, Olympix in Long Beach, is right on the beach, which will be great in the warmer months. A large variety of equipment and plenty of open space sold me on it. Also, everyone working out there is serious, meaning they’re not sitting idly on the equipment texting or reading their emails.

So, the day after my doctor appointment, I took my iPad, along with my new wireless Apple AirPods (that offer incredible sound quality!) to the gym, opened Netflix and started watching shows. So far, I’ve watched “The Office,” “Grace and Frankie,” “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo and “Parks and Recreation.”

Apple AirPods in their case, charging.

Sometimes I literally lose track of time. And even when I have a late night at work (after 6 p.m.), I actually look forward to my 15-minute drive to the gym to hop on the treadmill and watch the next show in my queue.

I never realized how the workout venue, its location and how crowded it is can affect how motivated I am to work out. Picking a brand-new gym, having a purpose (my doctor’s order) and some entertainment have actually made my workouts enjoyable.

And the benefits are showing. I’m sleeping better, losing a little weight and feeling less stress.

I would love to hear what motivates you to get your workout done!

Karen

It used to be if you wanted to get ahead in the corporate world and learn the ropes that you would find a mentor. Some (mostly larger) companies have formal mentoring programs, with detailed roles and responsibilities, programs and processes. You might be in a management training program. Or just new to a company. And if a formal mentoring program was in place, you might be assigned a mentor.

Or you might be a member of an organization where more senior members of your industry offer to mentor you (i.e., help you navigate your way up the corporate ladder).

For myself, when I first started in the produce business working for my mom, there were no formal mentors. My mom, who was my boss, was too busy running her company to formally mentor me. I watched how she handled things and followed suit.

A few years after I joined the company, I was fortunate that one of my clients took a special interest in me. He decided he was going to be my mentor. Dick was an executive with a large retailer and had a huge span of responsibility. In fact, he was one of my biggest clients and we talked every day.

I’m not sure how it happened, but he started to mentor me. I would ask his opinion or advice on certain situations. Sometimes I didn’t even ask for his advice—he would just give it. I feel very fortunate that he was there to help me navigate the produce industry. And over the years, as it turns out, both Dick and I have continued to mentor young people coming up in the business.

As I was sitting at a produce conference in Berlin, Germany, last week, I realized that mentoring has changed. It no longer makes sense to me to have a single mentor. Instead, what you really need is a personal board of directors.

Think about it. Does it make sense to rely on one person to give you advice about your entire career path?

Or is it more logical to think about those areas in which you want to grow and the variety of contacts you have available or need to meet in order to make progress?

For example, in the produce industry, there are so many things to learn. If I were a young person just entering it, I would want to have a “kitchen cabinet” of advisors, friends and mentors to share their expertise and opinions with me. I would not want to meet with them all at once, but I would want to check in with them periodically.

And I wouldn’t ask someone, “Will you be my mentor?” Instead I would say: “I am putting together a personal board of directors to help hold me accountable to my commitments and progress. You have expertise in XX, and I would like to touch base with you periodically to share my goals, ask you questions and get your insights.”

In my own company, I’ve had team members periodically schedule time with me (usually about 20 to 30 minutes) to get insights into ways they can grow professionally. I let them drive the agenda and it’s not usually about their current role. They are looking for suggestions on how they can make a difference, both in their personal and professional lives.

So next time you are thinking about looking for a mentor or being a mentor, try using the phrase “personal board of directors” and see if it changes the conversation.

Karen

It’s easy to determine your Chinese zodiac sign for Lunar New Year!

February 2019 (Los Alamitos, CA) – With Lunar New Year and the Year of the Pig approaching, there is lots of buzz around Chinese zodiac signs. If you’re wondering what yours is, Frieda’s has created a guide to help you determine it. The Chinese zodiac runs on a 12-year cycle, with each year represented by a different animal. Each animal was selected based on its importance in Chinese culture and comes with its own list of unique traits.

“Lunar New Year is a super exciting time of the year, and we wanted to have some fun with it,” says Alex Berkley, sales manager at Frieda’s. “I was born in the year of the snake, which is known for intelligence, sympathy and wisdom.”

Chinese Zodiac Chart

Call your account manager at Frieda’s for additional signage opportunities and merchandising recommendations today to become the go-to destination for shoppers!

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.

Give your shoppers easy and stay-in-worthy dessert ideas in the produce aisle with a crêpe display

Los Alamitos, CA (January 2019) – With economic uncertainty driven by the recent U.S. government shutdown, shoppers may be looking to dine at home this Valentine’s day instead of going out.

“Here at Frieda’s, we are hearing a lot about consumers tightening their belts, like eating in more and dining out less,” said Cindy Karas Sherman, director of marketing at Frieda’s. “But staying in does not mean having the same old boring meal when it comes to Valentine’s Day. You can still have some fun with it and make a dessert that wows like Berry Champagne Crêpes or Chocolate Almond Mousse Crêpes with Strawberries.”

Frieda’s instant display unit holds four 12/5 oz. cases of the shelf-stable, ready-to-eat French-Style Crêpes. The display and packaging feature a bright, fun design that attracts impulse shoppers, especially millennials, and includes how to prepare crêpes in three easy steps. Frieda’s also offers single cases of ready-to-eat crêpes packed 12 packages per case.

To make your crêpe display a dessert destination in the produce aisle, you can place it by the berry patch and merchandise the surrounding space with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and glaze.

Call a Frieda’s account manager today for sweet deals on these crêpe displays and other Valentine’s Day promotion ideas.

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.

It seems like every day when I open up The Wall Street Journal or listen to the news on my drive to work, I hear something about Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Jerome Powell and interest rates. I always take a personal interest in it because I was a director of the Los Angeles branch of the 12th District of the Federal Reserve Bank from 2005 to 2007.

I have written before about how I became a director. It was an amazing time of my life and meeting then-Chairman Alan Greenspan at a cocktail party at the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C., is definitely near the top of my incredible experiences list. Greenspan made the words “irrational exuberance” famous.

During that visit, I sat in the office of Ben Bernanke, then a member of the Fed’s board of governors, and asked him about a book I saw on his bookshelf, “The Federal Reserve Bank for Dummies.”

It was during that time that Janet Yellen, Ph.D., was selected as president of the 12th District. I saw her twice during periodic board meetings held in San Francisco. Dr. Yellen was appointed by President Barack Obama in early 2014 to succeed Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, admittedly one of the most powerful and influential positions around.

So, I was very excited to learn that she would be in my area this week, as a speaker at City National Bank’s 2019 Economic & Investment Forum. Of course I wanted to hear all of the speakers at the forum, but I really wanted a chance to say hello in person to Dr. Yellen.

After securing a spot at the event, I had to decide how I was going to meet up with her to have a personal conversation. If you know me at all, you know I am determined. And I was definitely determined to be up close and personal with Janet Yellen.

The first thing I did was to arrive early for the event. I heard they were having more than 500 people in attendance, so I wanted to get a good seat. After getting my name tag, I immediately went inside the conference ballroom. At first it appeared that all the front-row seats had reserved signs on them. But because I went all the way to the front of the room, I was able to locate a partial row that somehow had no reserved signs. I plopped down my purse and scarf to save three seats for my colleagues and me. Right in the front row.

I then went on the hunt for the chairman of City National Bank, who would be introducing Janet Yellen. A longtime banker friend pointed him out to me and I made my way to him. I had not seen Russell Goldsmith for at least eight years since we ran into each other on a plane, but I pretended we were old friends and he played right along. I told him how good it was to see him, reminded him that he and I served on the Federal Reserve Board together and that I had actually corresponded via email with Dr. Yellen a few years ago and wanted to be sure and say hello to her.

Well, Russell was more than helpful and he told me how I could meet her. He told me that as soon as she exited the stage, to jump up and say hello. He pointed to the area directly in front of where I was sitting. Bingo!

So I listened and waited for two hours. I heard City National Bank’s experts in housing, internet research and media research talk about their favorite stocks and recommendations. I listened while Russell masterfully asked Dr. Yellen what she thought about the growing deficit, unemployment, China and the apparent new normal for interest rates. And finally, the event was coming to a close. As Janet smiled, waved and walked off the stage, I jumped up and almost raced up to see her.

It was like we were old friends. She remembered me and my family produce business. I asked about her husband and her son. She told me they were now living in Washington, D.C., and gave me her email address. After we hugged and took a photo together, I turned around to see dozens of people from the audience lined up to meet her. I smiled. She had to keep walking to catch her flight.

Sometimes it takes determination, planning and a laser focus to get what you want. Have you ever felt that way? You really, really, REALLY want something. And even if it seems impossible, you know deep inside that the only way you will get it is if you use focused determination.

Well, I got to see Janet Yellen. I wonder what else I can accomplish with that same determination. And you?

Karen

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!

Karen

 

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?

Karen

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.

Citrus

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.

Karen

 

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.

Chinese New Year

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.

I’ve been an Amazon shopper for many years. At first I really didn’t order anything but books, but when my daughter, Sophia, was in college and told me about the benefits of Amazon Prime, I signed up and started using Amazon more often.

It’s so easy. I might be sitting at home in the evening and feeling lazy, not wanting to drive to a bookstore, supermarket or electronics store. With a couple of clicks, I can order almost anything I want. However, over time, I started to notice a few cracks in the armor.

First of all, when I misplaced the charger for my iPhone a few years ago, my friend Michael surprised me by shipping me a new one via Amazon. I noticed it wasn’t made by Apple, but I thought, “What the heck.” I figured it didn’t really make much of a difference. That was until I tried using the charger in a rental car. My phone didn’t charge and I got a message on the dashboard letting me know my charger wasn’t working properly.

Since then, I’ve made certain to purchase official Apple charging cords. I couldn’t find them on Amazon, so I resorted to going to an Apple store.

Most recently, I purchased my favorite brand of shampoo and conditioner on Amazon. It was so easy to place my order at night on my computer and have it simply arrive at my home a day or two later. I thought: No more errands to run. Amazon will save me so much time.

But then I received the shampoo and conditioner, and started using it. I noticed the viscosity of both had changed. They were kind of runny. I really didn’t think much about it until I went to get my hair cut. I mentioned it to my stylist, who is fully trained in all things hair and a great resource for product recommendations. She pointed out that most brands of hair products have a shelf life. The benefit of purchasing products at a hair salon or beauty supply store is that they get rotated frequently, assuring that the product is fresh. Product does not sit on shelves for months. She said she had recently told many of her clients NOT to purchase hair products on Amazon, as there is no guarantee of their freshness.

So, of course, I purchased fresh product at the salon and used it when I got home. What a difference an expert’s opinion makes.

Have you had this experience with Amazon or any other third-party seller? If the product has some sort of perishability, you really can’t be sure it is fresh unless you purchase it directly from the manufacturer or in person. That’s just one of the reasons I started purchasing many products directly on a manufacturer’s website or at a store.

Who knows, maybe Amazon will start listing shelf-life or guaranteed manufactured dates on their website. But until then, I will be spending a little more time running my errands.

Happy New Year!

Karen

About four years ago after filing for divorce, I started seeing a therapist. Sometimes we need help sorting through big changes in our lives.

One day I was sitting on my therapist’s couch and I was visibly uncomfortable. My jacket didn’t feel right. Lois noticed it right away. She said, “You look uncomfortable. Why don’t you take off your jacket?” So I took off my jacket. Then my high-heeled shoes were uncomfortable. So she suggested I take those off too.

She asked me what was going on. I told her I had a lot on my mind at work and was super busy and preoccupied. Then I randomly made this comment to her, “You know, I always feel like I get more done when I wear my jeans and dress casually at work.” She asked me the obvious next question: “So why don’t you wear your jeans every day to work?”

I told her I just couldn’t. Honestly, I told her that I was the CEO of my company and CEOs don’t wear jeans to work. She, of course, pointed out the obvious examples of Steve Jobs and John Mackey. Then, my next line of defense was that I had a closet full of expensive dress suits, skirts, and high heels, so I would look the part of a CEO. I had to wear them.

She looked me straight in the eye and told me, “I want you to wear jeans to work every day. Period. You must wear jeans to work and dress casually every day until I see you in two weeks.” Yes, ma’am!

So I wore jeans to work every day. I wore jeans to work even when I met with a big client. (Admittedly, I am in the agriculture business, so it’s not a big stretch to wear jeans to a client meeting).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I went back to see Lois two weeks later, I was able to report to her how much more productive I was at work. I felt like a wave of freedom and flexibility had come over me. Not surprisingly, a few months later, I changed the dress code at my company, going from casual summer dress to casual dress all year long. I think everyone at my office was instantly more relaxed and productive.

Then last summer, I went to get my color wardrobe palette done. About every 10 years, I see Jennifer Butler (www.jenniferbutlercolor.com) to make sure the color and style of my clothes are most complementary to my eye color, skin tone, and hair color and texture. As we grow older, our colors become more muted and evolve. During this session, my colorist noticed a slight curl in my hair. She asked me about it and I revealed that I had naturally curly hair but had straightened it for the last 30 years or so. Jennifer suggested that I might want to wear my hair “natural,” i.e., curly, and darken it to my natural color (instead of having it highlighted)—to be more authentic.

I told her I just couldn’t. Honestly, I told her that I was CEO of my company and CEOs don’t have curly hair. I mean, people wouldn’t take me seriously if I let my hair go curly. (I had secretly hated my curly, frizzy hair since I was a child, so when the Brazilian straightening technique came out, I was hooked.) Well, Jennifer pointed out the obvious example of Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal“ who rocks curly hair 24/7.

So I took a couple of deep breaths and decided to see what it felt like when I wore my hair naturally curly. The next day I came into work with my hair curly (some coworkers didn’t recognize me!), and it felt great. I’ve never looked back. I forget about it when I run into a friend or business colleague I haven’t seen in a couple of years. More than one was startled as they didn’t realize it was me. I just fluff my curly hair and say, “Yeah, I went back to my natural hair.”

I am sharing these two stories because I think there are other people out there who are afraid to reveal their real selves. Their authentic selves. There are so many stereotypes of how we should look, how we should act, how we should be. So we develop this habit of being—imposters.

That’s what I felt like. I felt like no one would take me seriously as a CEO if I didn’t look and dress the part. And then I decided to be the real me. The casually dressed, curly-haired me.

And the most interesting thing happened.

Many, many women are now wearing their hair naturally curly. It’s like they were hiding before and now they’ve all appeared at once.

I also noticed that, at many business and social events, people were dressing in jeans, creating a more casual vibe. It’s a lot less stressful.

So, if you ever get that feeling of not being comfortable in your skin (or your dress), I can assure you that no one will judge you as an imposter. It’s much easier to be the real you. So try it!

Karen

Inspire your shoppers with creative and colorful produce in the new year.

Los Alamitos, CA – (December 2018) – January is always a time when shoppers are looking to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in their diets. According to a recent Wakefield Research survey, 87 percent of consumers are interested in making small diet changes, such as eating more fruit and veggies, as part of their diet in the new year. Make it easy for your shoppers by inspiring healthy everyday eating through unique and colorful produce.

Colorful Produce

“Consumers want colorful and different produce items to shake up their healthy eating habits in the new year,” said Alex Berkley, sales manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “They’re looking for recipes that make healthy eating fun and delicious to help kick off 2019 right.” In fact, 78 percent of millennials are looking to discover new food favorites through recipes, according to Wakefield Research.

To help consumers jump-start their New Year’s resolutions, Frieda’s suggests making it easy for them to find healthy and enticing meal ideas like Chickpea-Stuffed Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes, Watermelon Radish Avocado Toast, and Turmeric-Colored Cauliflower Tacos. Juicing is trending for January too and our Blood Orange and Ginger Juice will help get their morning started off right.

Frieda’s can help you inspire your shoppers with merchandising, signage and recipe solutions that will make produce the star of their plates. 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.

I thought I had always taken good care of my teeth. That included going to see my dentist twice a year to check for cavities and have my teeth cleaned by a hygienist.

But a few years ago, after I decided to use Invisalign® to get my once-straight teeth re-straightened, I started to see a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in gums. My periodontist is Oscar Valenzuela. I see Oscar once a year and he takes measurements of the gum line on each of my teeth to determine if I have unusual recession of my gums. I know some recession is normal with age, but I learned that my over-zealous brushing technique actually caused additionally recession.

I remember my first visit to him. “Do you floss your teeth?” I said, “Sometimes.” Then I asked him, “So, how often should I be flossing?” He responded with: “You should only floss your teeth on the days you want to keep them!”

Got it. So I started flossing my teeth every night before I went to bed, right after I brushed my teeth.

That began my love affair with Oscar and his dental hygienist Mylene. After my first time cleaning by Mylene, she told me that she wanted to see me back in three months. Three months? It felt like punishment. She said that plaque builds up quickly and based on what she saw on my teeth, she wanted to see me every three months. I asked her if there was anything else I could do to reduce plaque.

She asked, “Have you ever considered using an electric toothbrush?” (I didn’t tell her that once I had a boyfriend who gave me an electric toothbrush for Hanukkah. When we broke up, I gave away the toothbrush.)

I asked her more about using an electric toothbrush. She said it was more consistent in applying pressure while brushing. Plus, some models have a timer on them, which ensures you brush for a full two minutes (30 seconds on each section of your teeth: upper, lower, inside, and outside). Two minutes of brushing your teeth with a manual toothbrush seems like forever.

So, I went to Costco and bought an electric toothbrush (the brand Mylene suggested, Philips Sonicare). When I started using it, I could not get over the super clean, smooth feeling of my teeth. They felt completely different, as compared to when I was using a regular manual toothbrush. Here are some toothbrush options.

Three months later when I went to see Mylene, she noticed the improvement. Nine months later, when Oscar re-measured the recession on my gums, he told me they had stabilized and improved. Within a year, I had graduated to visiting Mylene every four to five months.

And with all I have been learning about Alzheimer’s, there appears to be some sort of potential link between “plaque” in our teeth and “plaque” in our brains (which is what causes Alzheimer’s). Just today, I learned from my coworker Cindy that in her previous job at Wrigley’s gum, they had done research showing a link between gum health and heart health. Personally, I don’t chew gum for other reasons, but there are gum types which can help reduce plaque.

So, my recommendation is:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big smiles!

Karen

Los Alamitos, CA – (November 2018) – Frieda’s has been selected as one of the specialty produce suppliers for Sysco Corporation’s innovative e-commerce platform, Supplies on the Fly (SOTF). Sysco is the global leader in selling, marketing and distribution of food products to restaurants, healthcare and education facilities, lodging establishments and more.

SOTF is Sysco’s customer exclusive online ordering platform for foodservice operators. The site offers over 170,000 different restaurant essentials including heavy equipment, tableware, disposables, kitchen supplies and specialty food and beverages, and more. Grounded in convenience, this platform was created to help make foodservice operators more efficient by delivering items straight to their door.

Through this partnership, Frieda’s is the preferred provider of over 150 specialty produce items helping to elevate foodservice operations, restaurants and menu’s across the United States. “We are thrilled to provide Sysco with our products for their Supplies on the Fly online ordering platform. This platform directly connects Frieda’s to chefs & food service providers all over the country, so that together we can inspire new food experiences,” says Karen Caplan, President and CEO of Frieda’s.

“Sysco is excited to welcome Frieda’s Specialty Produce into our Supplies on the Fly e-Commerce platform,” said Brian Todd, senior vice president of merchandising for Sysco. “We are proud to partner with Frieda’s, a women-owned, family-run business that has inspired new food experiences for over 50 years. This partnership further expands Sysco’s portfolio of innovative and on-trend products and provides customers with an opportunity to differentiate their menus and businesses. We look forward to working with Frieda’s and continuing to be our customers’ most valued and trusted business partner.”

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.

Specialty Produce trendsetter makes predictions for 2019

Los Alamitos, CA – (November 2018) – Frieda’s Specialty Produce, known for spotting trends like plant-based protein and turmeric, has released their predictions for 2019 to help retailers make room for what’s hot.

Frieda’s trendologists have had a high rate of success when predicting trends. “We are in the fields with our farmers and in the kitchens with our chefs,” according to Cindy Sherman, Director of Marketing & Innovation, “Fads become trends when they resonate with consumers beyond their 15 minutes of fame. We overlay consumer sentiment to predict what will really stick.”

Frieda’s trend predictions can be found below:
Trend Report 2019

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.

3rd generation family member is tapped to head sales function

Los Alamitos, CA – (November 2018) – Frieda’s is thrilled to share the promotion of Alex Berkley to Sales Manager, responsible for the sales function of the specialty produce company.

The eldest daughter of Frieda’s Specialty Produce CEO Karen Caplan, and the granddaughter of founder Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, Alex Berkley joined the company in 2011 after graduating from George Mason University, making Frieda’s a three-generation family-business success story.

Alex started in the Frieda’s marketing department before moving into the sales department in 2014 as an account manager, and was promoted to Assistant Sales Manager in 2017. At age 24, Alex was the youngest produce professional to be accepted into the United Fresh Leadership Program Class. That same year, Alex earned a certificate of Produce Executive Development from Cornell University’s Food Industry Management Program.

“Alex brings her deep knowledge of the produce industry and experience in both sales & marketing to this leadership position. She uniquely bridges the older and younger generations of produce, making her a perfect fit for the job. We can’t wait to see her impact”, says Karen Caplan, Owner and CEO of Frieda’s.

In 2017, Alex was named one of the “40 Under 40” by Produce Business Magazine for her success and leadership in the produce industry.

Alex served as a member of the Produce Marketing Association’s Women’s Fresh Perspectives Advisory Committee and was co-chair from 2015 to 2017. She also served on the Board of Trustees of the Westerly School of Long Beach, a California K-8 non-denominational private school.

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 we are now a week from Thanksgiving and finalizing exactly what we are going to cook and feast on for the holiday of thanks (myself included), I can’t help but share what I plan to serve for dessert at my Thanksgiving dinner.

First, a little background.

Obviously, I love vegetables. In fact, for a few Thanksgiving dinners in the last decade, I prepared and served more than 10 (yes, 10) different vegetable dishes. Admittedly, 10 was probably a bit much.

In the last few years, my daughters, Alex and Sophia, have joined me in my cooking adventure. So it’s become quite fun to hang out in the kitchen while preparing dinner. Each year we make a few family favorites—roasted root vegetables and Stokes Purple® sweet potato salad with chipotle dressing always make the list. And I always try a new way to make Brussels sprouts as they are the preferred green veggie at my house.

But dessert has always been a challenge. I’m not a big pumpkin pie fan, and frankly, everyone seems more interested in how many bottles of wine we drink (we line the kitchen counter with empty bottles and do a count at the end of the evening). But this year, my daughter Alex announced to me that she is making dessert.

Stokes Purple® sweet potato pie!

Admittedly, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes are one of the top-selling items at Frieda’s. And as we were developing new recipes for them this year, we noticed that pies were really trending. So our chef said, “Let me give it a try.” She created a colorful and seriously delicious Stokes Purple® sweet potato pie.

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As you can see, it is colorful. And it’s a nice change from the conventional pumpkin pie. So I am happy to share the recipe with you and secretly hope you’ll try it for your family celebration next weekend. I would love to hear how it goes over.

Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato Pie Recipe:

Ingredients

1 9-inch frozen, pre-made pie crust, thawed

Filling:
2 large, baked* Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes (5-6 inches long), peeled and roughly chopped
3/4 cup coconut milk (from 15-ounce can full-fat coconut milk)
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Seeds from 3-inch piece vanilla bean (or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract)

Topping:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Seeds from 1-inch piece vanilla bean (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Pecans, whole or crushed

Steps

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pie crust 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in blender container or food processor, blend sweet potatoes, coconut milk, butter, egg, cinnamon, allspice, sea salt, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. If too thick to blend, add 1-2 teaspoons coconut milk.

When crust is done, increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Transfer pie crust to wire rack; carefully pour in filling. Smooth out top with spatula. Put pie back in oven and bake 15 minutes. Then, decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake additional 15 minutes. When done, crust should be barely golden and filling should look set. Remove pie and allow to cool to room temperature on wire rack. Cover and place in refrigerator to cool overnight.

Chill whisk and bowl from stand mixer (or regular bowl and whisk) in freezer at least 10 minutes. Pour heavy whipping cream, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt into chilled bowl and whip on high until peaks form, about a minute. It’s better to under-whip than over-whip! Store whipped cream in refrigerator up to 4 hours.

Before serving, allow pie to come to room temperature. Just before serving, whip topping by hand to make it extra fluffy. Top pie with maple whipped cream and pecans. Slice and serve.

*Note: For extra-creamy sweet potatoes, wrap in foil and bake the night before making pie. Store in refrigerator, still wrapped in foil, and use in recipe as directed.

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Wishing you and your family a holiday filled with gratitude, kindness and generosity. And plenty of leftovers.

Karen

This past Monday evening, my sister, Jackie, and I accompanied our mom, Frieda, to an event hosted by UCI MIND, the UC Irvine Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders.

Attending this event were more than 150 people in the Orange County community—most of whom would definitely be considered “seniors” (that would be over 60 if you attend the movies).

But, first, let me go back almost three years. My mom and I attended a talk at UCI, as part of a professional women’s weekend retreat. I had to attend a meeting during one of the talks. When I returned, my mom told me that she had decided to donate her brain to UCI MIND, when she passes. (Both my parents had decided many years ago to donate their bodies to science after their passing, in hopes they could provide insight into aging, etc.)

I have to admit that I teetered between feeling a bit surprised and not being surprised at all, as my mom has always been philanthropic and community-minded, with a lot of foresight. What she learned at that presentation was that UCI MIND was one of only 30 facilities in the country doing research to find a cure for Alzheimer’s.

In addition to looking for funding, UCI MIND was looking for volunteers for a longitudinal study. The team planned to study the brains and capabilities of people who were still alive, track them over time, then study their brains after they died. At that time my mom was 92 years old and in fine shape (both physically, and more important, mentally), so she would be a rare and special candidate for this study.

So, the team from UCI MIND came to our offices in Los Alamitos and disclosed to Mom, with Jackie and me in the room, what was involved. She would have to go in for a battery of tests every year. In addition to the normal cholesterol, blood pressure, EKG, and other tests, she would take a multi-hour test of her cognitive abilities. “Sign me up!” Mom said.

After that initial round of tests, Jackie and I accompanied Mom to UCI to hear the results. Frankly, Jackie and I both looked at each other, questioning how we would do on some of the memory tests. That’s when I learned the importance of getting at least seven and a half to eight hours of sleep a night. The tests explained for Mom what causes her, on occasion, to have trouble remembering names. We also learned that, for people her age, she performed above average in the professional decision-making arena.

Turns out our mom is in excellent health overall. Jackie is her testing buddy, so goes with her for the annual tests. Jackie is also interviewed to share her observations.

At one joint session with the UCI MIND team, I asked if they had done a video or commercial on the program. I mentioned that Mom was excellent on camera and very experienced. I thought her story would be compelling.

A few months ago, they contacted us because they wanted to interview and tape Mom as she explained why she decided to participate in the study for a video presentation. They did the taping the week Mom turned 95.

That’s where we went on Monday—to watch the screening of this testimonial video, which will be part of a call to action for the community.

Leaving A Legacy with UCI MIND: Frieda Caplan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: youtu.be; UCI MIND Website: mind.uci.edu UCI C2C Registry: c2c.uci.edu

In addition to seeing the video for the first time, we heard from Joshua D. Grill, Ph.D., the director of UCI MIND. Dr. Grill was so compelling! When asked how far along they were in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, he compared the research being done to that for HIV/AIDS. He said the first few drugs that were discovered in trials decades ago did not make a significant improvement in the lives of HIV/AIDS patients. But over time, as more drugs were proven in trial, they were able to combine them into cocktails (multiple drugs used together). Now, in 2018, HIV/AIDS have gone from being a death sentence to being medically treatable conditions. Not curable, but people can survive for a long time.

Dr. Grill said Alzheimer’s treatment is moving in the same direction. That’s why they are looking for funding and people to participate in trials.

His expertise is in designing trials and the ethics of trials. He said if the trial’s design is flawed, the results will be flawed and useless.

I couldn’t help but think about how that applies to my business. How many times has someone had a “great idea” at my company and wanted to rush it through? The possible obstacles are not fully considered or we push through a project just to get it off our plate, rather than going through the details and having a cross-functional team to shoot holes in it. We all know how that ends.

So, back to UCI MIND. If anyone in your family has been affected by Alzheimer’s or dementia and they have an interest in possibly supporting or participating in the studies, I hope you will contact UCI MIND.

Our mom, Frieda, has always been a trailblazer in the produce industry. And now she is a trailblazer in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. Pretty amazing, I would say!

Karen

 

Last week I wrote about my two-week vacation in Tuscany. What I didn’t mention was that a few days after returning, I left for a 10-day trip to Florida to attend two conferences.

My challenge was reengaging at work without causing frustration for me and my coworkers after almost a month’s absence.

If you work in an office or as part of a team, I’m guessing you have probably experienced this to some degree. You go on vacation and a lot of stuff happens while you’re gone. When you get back, you are either in the dark or feel out of touch and frustrated. And it is probably frustrating for your coworkers, too.

 

So I thought I would share what I did to make my reentry smoother:

  1. I returned to work on a Monday. So the Friday morning before, I sent an email to all my direct reports and asked them to email me by the end of the day a topline recap of what happened while I was gone. I wasn’t looking for a play-by-play, but rather enough information such that when I went into a meeting, I would feel caught up. I read the emails over the weekend.
  2. Sunday evening, I went through my emails (more than 600 of them), sorted by sender, then deleted all newsletters because many newsletters cover the same things from week to week. I deleted at least 50 percent of the rest because they were part of threads or I was copied on them. I’m still not caught up, but I know what’s in there. I got those 600 emails down to about 150 that need some action on my part.
  3. I got two good nights of sleep over the weekend (7.5 to 8 hours a night). I find I feel so much better and am in a better mood when I have enough sleep.
  4. When I got into the office, I made a point of checking in with everyone with whom I work with directly. The investment in a quick 5- to 10-minute conversation, asking, “Anything I need to know about?” and “Anything you need my help with?” brought most issues to the surface.

Spending that much time away from the office (only monitoring my emails, but not being obsessive about them) really cleared my head. I got a lot of sleep while I was gone and I feel as if I emptied all the “trash” from my brain.

Even though it is sometimes hard to disengage and take off time because you have so much work to do, I feel much more productive now that I’m back at work.

Maybe it’s time for you to start planning your next vacation.

Karen

Innovative, vegetable-driven party recipes can be a focus for the produce department

Los Alamitos, CA – (November 2018) – While preparing for the holidays, don’t forget about providing a delicious and inspired approach to New Year’s Eve entertaining for your shoppers.

A recent Wakefield Research poll shows that 85 percent of consumers plan to attend a holiday celebration this season, and New Year’s Eve parties and New Year’s Day brunches are great ways to celebrate. Furthermore, 97 percent of consumers plan to shop for produce to fuel their holiday celebrations, according to the same study.

“At Frieda’s, we have partnered with chefs Heather and Emily from Botanica Restaurant in Los Angeles, which was named one of the Top 10 new restaurants in 2017 by ‘LA Magazine,’” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager for Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Their recipes fit in perfectly for New Year entertaining, while inspiring consumers to try new dishes.”

“We love working with the Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes from Frieda’s,” said Chef Heather Sperling. “They’re so versatile and have a place at every table—from morning though night! Purple Sweet Potato Fritters with Green Tahini is a dish that’s as ideal as a passed hors d’oeuvre as it is as a dinner party centerpiece. Garam Masala Purple Sweet Potatoes with Garlicky Yogurt is a vibrant, unexpected side dish that will definitely be on my holiday table. We love riffing on hummus, and one of our new favorites is Spiced Purple Sweet Potato Hummus, ideally served on a crudité platter with roasted purple asparagus, charred orange cauliflower, crunchy jicama, and mini sweet peppers.”

“We are all about inspiring new food experiences and that is something we share in common with Botanica,” said Berkley. “There is no better way to ring in the New Year than by introducing your friends and family to new, delicious foods.”

Call your Frieda’s account manager today to help plan your New Year’s Eve displays with products like Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, purple asparagus, colored cauliflower, Meyer lemons, jicama, elephant garlic, and mini sweet peppers.

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 created my bucket list about 10 years ago. It has over 50 items on it. A lot of travel is on that list.

So, when my longtime friend, Paula Lambert, founder of the Mozzarella Company in Dallas, invited me to join her on a seven-day culinary tour of Tuscany, I had to pause. I asked myself, “What am I waiting for?” I checked my calendar and found that the end of September fit my schedule perfectly. I took a deep breath and mailed her a deposit check. That was almost a year ago.

Because of my busy work life, I didn’t give it a lot of thought until a few weeks before I left. It turned out I would be traveling with eight other people; I would only know my travel guide Paula. I decided to extend my stay in the Florence area to meet up with close friends who would be there. And I found a friend to help me plan what to pack.

My good friend Paula Lambert and me.

After seven days with complete strangers, two days with friends, and five days alone, I reflected on the trip while flying home. One thing I discovered, somewhat unexpectedly, is that it’s not that hard to travel alone. I do it all the time for business. Turns out it was quite fun to be on my own. I could set my own pace and it allowed me to meet some interesting strangers, who are now friends! And although I used to be one of those people who travel at an aggressive pace—you know, like five countries in six days—I now have a new philosophy on travel: Go deep into an area to get to know the people, the food, the environs, and the culture.

My culinary tour group enjoying dinner on our first night.

Here are some of the lessons I learned while in Tuscany:

We did a tasting on our first night of Laudemio Olive Oil of Tuscany.
Raymond Lamothe and his companion Anarita. She was an amazing cook and charming guide!
There are human size Black Roosters throughout the Chianti Region.
Giacomo and Albano (left to right).

It’s been two weeks since I returned, yet the slower pace of Tuscany is still with me. I’ve noticed that I am not so impatient when I am waiting in a supermarket line. I take the L.A. traffic in stride. And when I dine with friends, I am not anxiously awaiting our next course or our check; last night, dinner with three friends lasted four hours.

Although I was ready to come home after two weeks in Tuscany, I am already thinking about my next trip. Perhaps Sicily or Sardinia?

Ciao!

Karen

PS My favorite photo was of this door, during a walking tour of the historic village of Certaldo.

Painting to showcase 95-year-old produce icon

Los Alamitos, CA – (October 2018) – The Ball Design booth at the PMA Fresh Summit 2018 will take a unique approach to the company’s newly minted tradition of featuring an oil-painting portrait demonstration in the booth. This year the portrait will honor produce trailblazer Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan in celebration of her 95th birthday.

Frieda's Painting

“At the time of deciding who I was going to feature for our oil-painting demonstration, we were blessed to receive a press announcement regarding Frieda Caplan’s 95th birthday,” said John Ball, owner of Ball Design. “It was an instant realization of who better to feature than a true icon of the produce industry, Frieda Rapoport Caplan. Frieda’s famous captivating smile and the twinkle in her eye made the decision all the more easier.”

The portrait subject matter has typically been of farmers or husband-and-wife pairings. “It is a nice change to use a woman as subject matter instead of all of the old guys that we have done in the past,” said Ball. “This will be our first woman-only portrait.”

The subject of the 2015 documentary film “Fear No Fruit,” Frieda was the first woman in the U.S. to own and operate a produce company on the all-male Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. She started with unusual and new-to-market specialties, including the successful introduction of kiwifruit to the American market in 1962. Frieda and her company would go on to inspire new food experiences for chefs and home cooks by introducing more than 200 exotic fruits and vegetables to American consumers over the years. Just a few are Sunchokes®, dragon fruit, habanero peppers, jicama, and Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes.

Ball Design partnered with Legacy Ranch Heirloom Portraiture to showcase the 24-by-30-inch portrait at the trade show. Nic Lacovetti is the artist. The painting demonstration of Frieda’s portrait can be seen in the Ball Design booth (#637) at the 2018 PMA Fresh Summit in Orlando.

Legacy Ranch specializes in fine portrait oil paintings of beloved patriarchs, matriarchs, and leaders in the produce and food industries, both past and present.

Ball Design, based in Fresno, California, has been a leader in produce and food marketing design for over 30 years.

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.

New holiday must-haves plus old favorites lead to incremental sales

Los Alamitos, CA – (September 2018) – Consumers are craving new tastes and flavors at this year’s holiday table. In fact, according to Wakefield Consulting, 59 percent of holiday hosts are looking to serve something new at Thanksgiving this year.

“Now more than ever, consumers are interested in sharing new holiday recipes with their family and friends,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “They’re looking to try new holiday food experiences, without losing sight of their favorite classic dishes.”

Items like Frieda’s Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, colored cauliflower, pine nuts, elephant garlic and rainbow carrots all offer the color varietals of traditional items, but with a twist for the new holiday table.

Even Berkley plans to update her family’s menu this year. “At our house, we’re planning to serve something new, Stokes Purple® sweet potato pie, an updated version of a beloved tradition. And, of course, it would not be Thanksgiving without our traditional honey-roasted rainbow carrots.”

With 69 percent of hosts planning to buy their holiday produce from their standard chain grocery stores and 81 percent of them looking to purchase additional items outside of their lists, we expect an overall increase in consumer spending for the holidays. So make sure your holiday resets are stocked and ready with items by mid-October because today’s host is planning early and comfortable experimenting in the kitchen.

Call your Frieda’s account manager today to pre-book your holiday produce essentials.

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.

Though I wasn’t able to watch Tiger Woods surprise the whole world by winning his 80th championship in Atlanta, the lessons from his journey have not been lost on me.

Tiger started young, learning to golf at the Cypress, California, golf course, which is only 50 yards from my office building. To say Tiger was a child prodigy would be an understatement.

From a young age, he became an athletic sensation and then he became overconfident, cocky, and eventually hit a brick wall.

I am a firm believer that what’s happening in your life can manifest itself in your body. So, if you’re thinking a lot, you might get a headache. If you are feeling a lot of pressure at work, you might start to have poor posture and “feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

So, I wonder if the troubles that Tiger had in his personal life manifested in his physical maladies.

After reading about his win on Sunday, I surmised these lessons:

  1. When you want to accomplish a goal, the most effective way to achieve it is through laser focus. Professional athletes like Tiger practice every day, at least eight hours a day, and have coaches to advise them (even when they are champions). Practice makes permanent.
  2. Don’t be overly confident to the point of arrogance. Winning easily doesn’t guarantee future success. Don’t assume your current success will continue forever. Being humble is a great attribute.
  3. Your professional success does not mean you automatically will have success in your personal life. It’s imperative to give the same attention to your personal life as you do to your professional life. (Many of us stumble in our personal lives simply because we don’t put the same type of energy and hard work into it.)
  4. Sometimes you must hit rock bottom before things turn around. Really rock bottom. Think of the personal and physical pain that Tiger suffered. Not to mention the public scrutiny and embarrassment. Most of us don’t have our lives played out and examined like Hollywood stars or athletes do. But we can hit rock bottom, just the same.
  5. When a goal or accomplishment is critically important to you, even after you’ve hit rock bottom, go back to No. 1 above.

Whether or not you play golf, have a lucky shirt color, or have had a physical or mental brick wall you’ve come up against, there are always lessons to be learned from other people’s experiences.

I took up golf about 18 months ago and I wrote about it in May and November of last year. I never appreciated that the game was not really played on grass. It is played in your head. And it really makes you think.

Karen

Prepare your produce department for shoppers seeking stranger things

Frieda's Spooky Foods

Los Alamitos, CA – (September 2018) – Excite shoppers in the produce department with an offering of “Spooky Foods” to bring more fruits and vegetables to this sugary treat-filled holiday. Traditional fall pumpkins and squash with a Spooky Foods destination display will inspire shoppers to take home some nutritious treats that are also fun for kids to play with and try!

“Halloween is the perfect time to showcase the weirdest tropical fruits and specialty vegetables that you offer,” says Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager of Frieda’s. “Shoppers will be picking up their Halloween essentials during their regular shopping trip, so take advantage of their time in the produce department and build Halloween sales.”

“Build out your Spooky Foods displays with eye-catching items like Jackfruit and Kiwano, and keep shoppers exploring the display with Rambutan, Buddha’s Hand, Fresh Ghost Peppers, and Dragon Fruit,” added Berkley. “Why should the center aisles have all the Halloween fun?”

Call your Frieda’s account manager today to help you pre-book your Spooky Foods essentials.

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.

Recently I met Dan Buettner, the New York Times best-selling author and National Geographic writer of “The Blue Zones of Happiness.” I have since become fascinated with his discoveries for living a longer life.

In case you aren’t aware, blue zones are regions of the world where people live much longer than average (usually to over 100). The term first appeared in the November 2015 National Geographic  magazine cover story “The Secrets of a Long Life,” which Dan wrote.  He identified five geographic areas around the world where people live statistically longer: Okinawa (Japan); Sardinia (Italy); Nicoya (Costa Rica); Icaria (Greece); and among the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California. Based on empirical data and firsthand observations, Dan offers an explanation as to why these populations live healthier and longer lives.

I became aware of the “Blue Zones” book when we started marketing and selling our Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes in 2011. We started getting an overwhelming number of emails and phone calls from consumers who were going crazy to find our purple sweet potatoes. They told us that purple sweet potatoes were highlighted in Buettner’s book as the food people in Okinawa ate that helped them to live significantly longer lives.

Well, my dream came true when I met Dan in July. He spoke at the Organic Produce Summit in Monterey, California. I snuck my way into the green room before his presentation to say hello and tell him the impact his book had had on our company.

Then I heard him speak. He started his presentation by asking the audience to answer “yes” or “no” to the following nine questions. At the end, he asked us how many we answered “yes” to:

  1. Do we do some sort of exercise daily? It could be as simple as a neighborhood walk. The world’s longest-lived people are constantly moving. Every trip is an excuse for a walk. For example, taking the stairs vs. the elevator.
  2. Do you have a sense of purpose? Do you live for something beyond work? For example, do you have a purpose for waking up in the morning?
  3. Do you have a way to de-stress? The long-lived people have routines to shed stress. It might be meditation or prayer. Or napping.
  4. Do you eat until you are “almost full?” Okinawans remind themselves to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full.
  5. Is your diet mostly plant-based? Many centenarian diets are mostly plant-based with beans as the cornerstone of the diet and relatively small amounts of meat.
  6. Do you drink wine regularly? People in all blue zones drink alcohol moderately—one to two glasses a day with friends or food. Moderate drinkers tend to outlive non-drinkers.
  7. Who is in your tribe? Social circles support healthy behaviors. Okinawans create groups of five friends (“moais”), who are committed to each other for life. He showed photos of them sitting around a table, catching up with each other nightly.
  8. Do you have a faith? Not only having a faith, but attending a faith-based service four times a month, adds four to 14 years to life expectancy. The choice of denomination doesn’t seem to matter.
  9. How is your family relationship? Centenarians tend to put their families first, investing time and love in them. And they take care of their elders.

As Dan asked us all to raise our hands, many of us commented to each other about how we should rethink or modify some of our current behaviors.

I recalled that earlier this year I had changed my diet to mostly plant-based, using seafood and egg whites as my protein source (no red meat or poultry). I started a daily meditation practice a year ago and added hot yoga to my weekly routine this year. I recently reconnected with many of my close friends and make a concerted effort to allow time for my family every week. (I am quite lucky that I work with both my daughters, who indulge me with a morning hug each day.)

If you are curious about what it would take to modify your lifestyle (diet, exercise, etc.) to live a longer life (of over 100 years), National Geographic just issued a special publication entitled, “Blue Zones: The Science of Living Longer.” Part 1 is information on the five blue zones around the world and what foods and lifestyles are enjoyed there. Part 2 is how to create your own blue zones. Part 3 is about cooking in the blue zone with recipes and shopping lists. I purchased my items at my local grocery store.

I don’t know about you, but every year around my birthday, I think about my own mortality. This also makes me reflect on the lifestyle changes my parents made as they got older, and, for my mom, as she continues to get older. When I was young, like most people, I was more reckless and felt immortal.

Now I’m mindful of the choices I make and what impact they may have on my mortality: better-for-you food choices; more rest; more exercise; more enjoyment; less stress; smaller meals; sipping red wine; and enjoying long conversations with friends and family.

I plan to continue to make mindful choices to help create my own blue zone. Perhaps you will, too.

Karen

This week, Jewish people around the world are celebrating the new year, Rosh Hashana. It’s a big food holiday, and even bigger for the fruit business, as I learned a few years ago. Most observant Jews, especially in the New York  metro area and other big cities, strive to serve a new fruit on their holiday tables in the new year. It’s actually a biblical tradition.

Think about it. A new fruit? Yes, many of the kosher grocery stores in Brooklyn call us every year, trying to top each other with the selection of exotic fruits they feature during the two weeks before Rosh Hashana. It’s kind of fun. Two years ago, even the Wall Street Journal wrote about this phenomenon.

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

So, while most of us might think about serving peaches, grapes, berries, apples, or watermelon for a fruit dessert, observant Jews are looking for persimmons, dragon fruit, feijoas (aka pineapple guavas), and starfruit. And if they really want to go all out, they might share a jackfruit with the whole family—a jackfruit party!

For virtually all Jewish holidays, food is at the heart of the celebration. For Hanukkah, we serve fried foods like latkes (fried potato pancakes) and fried jelly donuts. For Passover, freshly grated horseradish is a must-have for the traditional Seder dinner.

But in just a week is the one holiday when we don’t eat. As a matter of fact, we fast from sundown the night before until sundown the next day, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. On Yom Kippur, you literally atone for your sins. I am not always good at fasting for Yom Kippur, but when I do, it allows me to be reminded of those who have suffered without food or other conveniences.

What I find most interesting about this time of year is the 10 days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. That 10-day period is one of prayer, self-examination, and repentance. We make amends with anyone with whom we have a disagreement. During this time, I consciously reach out to friends I may have had issues with. Maybe a family member that made me mad. Or have dinner with a long-lost friend. Sometimes I choose to email or text them to reach out. And just touching base is all it takes.

Even if you aren’t Jewish, have you tried reaching out to people you no longer talk to?

Wouldn’t it be kind to consciously think about those you don’t have the best relationships with and just reach out? Say hi. Meet for a glass of wine. Or have a phone conversation. Tell them something you like about them or what made you think of them.

So, on Sunday night for Rosh Hashana, I went to temple for the first time in a while. It was good to see so many old friends. The service is short, with many beautiful songs sung, the same songs that are sung at every Jewish synagogue around the world celebrating Rosh Hashana.

And when the service was over, as we exited, large platters of sliced apples with bowls of honey greeted us. Apples and honey. Did you know that is a tradition, too? Yes, for Jews whose families came from Eastern Europe, dipping a slice of apple in honey expresses hope for a sweet and fruitful year.

And I think all of us want that. A sweet and fruitful year.

So, to all my Jewish and non-Jewish friends, I wish you a l’shana tova (a good year) or l’shana tova u’metukah (a good and sweet year).

Karen

 

Shoppers’ favorite purple sweet potatoes are the new holiday table must-have

Organic Stokes Purple Sweet Potato

Los Alamitos, CA – (September 2018) – Purple is the new orange…at the holiday table! The new crop of shoppers’ favorite Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes will start shipping in September, just in time for holiday ad planning and pre-book.

Exclusively distributed by Frieda’s Specialty Produce, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes stand apart from other purple sweet potatoes with their vibrant color, smooth texture, balanced sweetness, and more antioxidants than blueberries. And shoppers love them.

“Our Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes sales volume has gone up nearly 30 percent since 2017, and there is no sign of slowing down,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s. “According to Google Trends, ‘purple sweet potato’ search has spiked every year around Thanksgiving for the past five years, and we’re expecting the spike to be even bigger this year.

“Today’s shoppers are literally looking for visually pleasing foods to serve at the holidays. They are more comfortable in the kitchen than ever before and not afraid to put a new twist on their traditional holiday menus with sweet potato pies and other Instagram-worthy dishes for their friends and family,” said Berkley.

Frieda's Stokes Purple Sweet Potato Pie
Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato Pie. Click for recipe.

Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes are not only gorgeous on the plate, they look wonderful in ads. “Purple stands out from the sea of orange and brown for the fall, and pops against the red and green of the holiday season.”

Pre-book Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes with a Frieda’s account manager today and explore other items for the new holiday table, such as colored cauliflower, rainbow baby carrots, celery root, and Cipolline onions.

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.

Last week was our August National Sales Meeting. A couple of times a year, we bring in our outside sales team together with our inside sales team, buying team, marketing team, and finance and management teams to share ideas and learn new things. We also do some fun things in the evening. One night, we went bowling—randomly selecting the teams so everyone had a chance to get to know employees from other departments.

During the three days, we had various presentations from clients and industry experts. We always ask for suggestions for topics to cover and training ideas. One of the members of the sales team suggested the topic of “growth mindset.”

What’s that? I really had never heard of it, so I started to do some research.

Essentially, having a growth mindset means that, with learning and dedication, you can be or do anything. In a growth mindset, “people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point,” according to Carol Dweck of Mindsetonline.com. “This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.”

The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset.

The old adage “You can’t teach the old dog a new trick” is what sums up the fixed mindset. People with a fixed mindset believe that they cannot change, that “their basic abilities, intelligence, and talents are fixed traits,” says Dweck.

You can imagine that having a growth mindset would be key to growing in one’s career and growing professionally in a company like ours, where one of our core values is “Staying Curious.”

Our guest speaker started the day by asking our team: What do you think is a growth mindset? We went around the room and people shouted out their ideas:

When asked if attitude, skills, and knowledge were required to be successful within these qualities, our group said, almost 100 percent of the above qualities required a good attitude.

And that’s when I realized how brilliant my coworker was when she suggested the topic.

If everyone at our company realized it was within their own control to achieve their goals, with simply a change in attitude, or by having a growth mindset, the sky would be the limit.

Of course, we have heard sayings like “Attitude is everything” or “Visualize the glass as half-full.” But it came alive for me and everyone in our training room that day as our speaker took us through several group exercises. Who are the most successful people in their careers? Those with a positive attitude, a can-do attitude.

So, instead of talking about having a “positive attitude,” I’m going to start saying, “Great job of having a growth mindset!”

Love of learning and resilience can really create a mind shift. And sometimes, that’s what we all need.

Karen

The trending, sweet and tangy citrus is available from Frieda’s earlier than ever

Los Alamitos, CA – (August 2018) – Fresh from Chile are in season starting in late August to fill the demand for the popular tangy and sweet, bite-size citrus.

“Shoppers are asking for kumquats year-round, not just in the winter anymore,” said, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Even Oprah recently mentioned her kumquat trees and sharing the fruits with her friends.”

Kumquats are trending. “When there’s a wide gap between awareness and trial, we know that item is getting ready to take off,” added Berkley. According to a Datassential report, 62 percent of the U.S. population know about kumquats and 23 percent have tried them.

Frieda’s worked with its grower partners in Chile for several years to develop production that is permitted for importation into the U.S. market. Chilean kumquat season now accounts for 25 percent of Frieda’s kumquat sales in volume. This percentage increases year-over-year as retailers and foodservice companies learn about the Chilean season, and as Frieda’s grower partners plant more fruit to meet the demand.

“Thanks to the contra-seasonal production from the Southern Hemisphere, we are able to fill the supply gap when California kumquats are not in season, making them more accessible to retailers, as well as foodservice providers,” said Berkley. “Retailers who take advantage of our Chilean kumquat season will see the incremental sales lift. We will have Chilean supplies from late August through December.

“We offer the same pack sizes for our Chilean as our Californian crop: 10-lb. bulk and 12/8 oz. branded pouch, which is easy for merchandising and ringing up. Our retail clients love our pouch pack, as it increases the sell through while reducing ‘shopper grazing’ shrink.”

In addition to kumquats, Frieda’s offers extended season and availability from grower partners around the world for many specialty citrus items to answer shoppers’ demand, including blood oranges, Meyer lemons, and more. Call a Frieda’s account manager today to have fresh citrus specialties available year-round.

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.

A few weeks ago, I was having coffee with a friend, and she said to me, “I sure hope all these good deeds I am doing come back to me in good karma in the future.”

I was kind of puzzled by that comment because I think it’s important to be authentic when you do good deeds, not because you hope you will get something for doing them.

That is the essence of being authentic: Doing good because it’s the right thing to do.

Have you ever done that? You see someone who would benefit from your help, whether it is helping them unload their grocery cart at the checkout (because that giant bottle of water looks a bit too heavy for them to lift themselves), or giving some money or food to a homeless person. Have you helped a fellow businessperson connect with someone you know who could help them without getting anything out of it?

 

Have you had the chance to do a good deed lately? Or, were you in too much of a rush, working through your things to do or running errands?

I have found in this dog-eat-dog world, where everything seems to happen at warp speed, that there is even more satisfaction when you do something nice for someone with no expectation of recognition or reward.

It’s refreshing to think about others instead of yourself for a while.

So, when you are feeling stressed or rushed, why not take a deep breath, and do something good for someone else, even a complete stranger. You could be the person who makes their day a little bit better. And you may get that warm fuzzy feeling in your heart.

It’s called “kindness.” And I think we need a lot more of it this world.

Karen

With all my travels and running my business, I’ve tried a lot of things when it comes to physical relaxation. (And it seems I’m not the only one.)

Of course, I get massages. In fact, I used to ask my masseuse, Aaron, to text me on the first of every month to remind me to schedule a two-hour deep tissue massage. With long flights, walking through airports and standing in security lines, different hotel beds and pillows, a massage sometimes makes all the difference in the world for my stiff muscles.

I’ve also tried craniosacral therapy, which involves applying gentle pressure and manipulation to the joints in the skull, spine, and parts of the pelvis. From “Your Inner Physician and You,” I learned how proper alignment of the spine can help create a more relaxed and centered self. In fact, when a good friend of mine was having headaches and tension, I recommended she go to my CST therapist, Katja, for some relief. My friend now sees her on a regular basis. She said, “Even though I didn’t feel bad per se, I feel so much better after the therapy.”

When I was in Hawaii a couple of years ago, I tried Reiki (pronounced RAY-kee). Reiki is a healing technique based on the principle that the therapist can channel energy into the patient by means of touch to activate the natural healing processes of the patient’s body, and restore physical and emotional well-being. I like to say that my Reiki practitioner “moves the energy” in my body, focusing on whichever of my seven chakras needs attention. Sherrel rarely touches me, but I always find myself going into an almost meditative state during our hour-long session. I get up feeling mellow, calm, and centered.

And of course, almost a year ago, I started meditating daily. The 20-minute guided meditation each morning really grounds me for the day. As I have heard from other meditation practitioners, when you meditate regularly, you experience the ability to listen better, to be more present, and to find an inner peace.

OK, readers, if I haven’t lost you by now and you’re not thinking I’ve gone cuckoo with all this “woo-woo” stuff, I’d like to share my latest discovery with you.

Rolfing.

A few weeks ago, my good friends Mark and Vicky introduced me to Christopher, their Rolfing practitioner, whom they have been seeing for over 10 years. Rolfing is a form of deep tissue massage that helps realign your muscles to improve movements and posture to relieve aches and pains, and creates an overall sense of well-being.

So, this past Monday, I went for my first session. Christopher asked me if anything was bothering me that day. I told him my left ankle seemed out of sorts. He worked on the muscles all over the left side of my body. My forearm. My calf. My rib cage (which was apparently out of alignment). I wore a sports bra and yoga shorts so he could see my breathing and my muscles. He did a little work on my right side, but said it is part of Rolfing to do small areas at a time, so the body can adjust.

Christopher told me that many people describe Rolfing as body muscle sculpting. Through soft tissue manipulation and movement education, Rolfers affect body posture and structure over the long term. Unlike massage, which often focuses on relaxation and relief of muscle discomfort, Rolfing is aimed at improving body alignment and function.

The results: I find myself standing straighter and taller. Breathing seems easier. All the tension is gone in my shoulders and neck. And of course, my ankle does not hurt.

The only limitation after the Rolfing treatment is no weightlifting for 24 hours. I’ve scheduled my next appointment for next Monday. I’m looking forward to another session of getting in alignment.

If you travel a lot like me and want to get rid of the aches and pains, you’ll do whatever it takes to feel well. I hope you’ll give these alternative therapies a shot. You might find just the right touch and come out feeling amazing.

Karen

Join Frieda’s Specialty Produce in celebrating on August 10 with #ThanksFrieda

Los Alamitos, CA – (August 2018) – Frieda’s Specialty Produce will celebrate the 95th birthday of its founder and produce industry pioneer, Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, on Friday, August 10.

Despite the company’s birthday paid time-off policy, Frieda plans on coming in to the office on her birthday anyway. “I already have Thursdays off, that’s enough PTO for me,” she said.

The subject of the 2015 documentary film “Fear No Fruit,” Frieda became the first woman in the U.S. to own and operate a produce company on the all-male Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. Starting with the unusual and new-to-market specialties including the successful introduction of kiwifruit to the American market in 1962, Frieda and her company would go on to inspire new food experiences for chefs and home cooks by introducing more than 200 exotic fruits and vegetables to American consumers over the years, including Sunchokes®, dragon fruit, habanero peppers, jicama, and Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes.

In 1979, Frieda was the first woman to receive The Packer’s “Produce Man of the Year” award, which she handed back to the organizer. The award was soon renamed “The Produce Marketer of the Year,” and she received a new plaque with that title. In 1990, the Los Angeles Times’ “A Dozen Who Shaped the ‘80s” featured Frieda alongside Steve Jobs, Michael Eisner, and Jane Fonda.

Frieda has received numerous awards and honors for her achievements over the years, including an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from CSU-Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for her achievements as one of the nation’s most successful female entrepreneurs.

Currently, Frieda serves on the Board of Dramatic Results, a nonprofit agency that solves educational challenges by providing integrated arts programs to students and teachers in over 40 public school campuses in California, Oregon, and Alaska.

Wish Frieda a happy birthday or share your favorite Frieda moment or how she has inspired you on social media on August 10, using hashtag #ThanksFrieda.

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 don’t know about you, but for me there sure seems to be a lot to worry about these days.

To start with, I worry about getting through my things-to-do list, preparing for my upcoming meetings, if I’m getting enough sleep, and if am I doing enough for the people on my team. On a larger scale, I worry about global warming, politics, and the Supreme Court. All of these can be a bit stressful and, at times, overwhelming.

That’s one of the reasons I enjoy listening to audio books while I drive. I’ve written before about how Audible has become my best friend and how I love to read, or rather, listen to, autobiographical, self-improvement, and business books, and occasionally a novel. Listening to audio books transports me to a different place even on my short 15-minute commute home each day.

So my friend Tristan asked me if I had read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. I admitted that I had heard of Eckhart Tolle, but I had not yet read the book. (In 2008, a New York Times writer called him “the most popular spiritual author in the United States.” So, there you go.)

“Whatever book you are reading right now, put it down. You have to read “The Power of Now” right now! It is incredible,” she said.

On to Audible I went. Eckhart actually narrates the book himself, and that’s always a special treat when the authors do their own reading, to hear all of the personality and memories through their voices!

Eckhart opens the book by telling his personal story of his struggle with depression until the age of 29 when he had a spiritual awakening. Born in Germany, Eckhart is a spiritual teacher living in Canada. He is not identified with any particular religion, but he has been influenced by a wide range of spiritual works.

After his personal story, the book is a Q&A between the publisher and Eckhart. I think the idea is that the questions which are asked are the same questions you might ask yourself.

I have to admit, Eckhart has an interesting voice and style. I had to turn up the volume in my car, since he speaks so quietly, with a mild accent. I replayed some of what he read many times as it was so thought-provoking for me.

So, I wanted to share one line that really got my attention:

“Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the Now.”

I played that over a few times.

Source: Flickr @ I Woz Ere

Think about it. Everything happens in the now. So why worry about the past or the future? Stay in the now, and enjoy the moment. It takes away a lot of the stress.

For example, this morning, instead of stressing about my to-do list as I walked up to the office, I slowed down to notice how beautiful the morning was and that we had new plants added to our water-wise landscaping. I felt much calmer. Or when I started to get anxious about not hearing back from a contact, I refocused on what I was working on, rather than worry about getting a response as it is literally not up to me. I had almost forgotten about my earlier concern when I got that response back.

We all really should stop and smell the roses. We’ll all be a lot less stressed if we do.

Karen

Hatch Chile promotions are kicking off as early as August 4 with Frieda’s partnership

Los Alamitos, CA – (July 2018) – The world-renowned Hatch Chiles are coming back in season, a few weeks ahead of the usual mid-August start date, and Frieda’s Specialty Produce is kicking off the season with strong supplies and high-quality product.

The authentic Hatch Chiles are available from Frieda’s in a new Frieda’s-branded 25-lb. case and an 8/2-lb. retail pouches in mild, medium and hot heat levels. The pouches help cashiers to accurately ring up the product and retail buyers to track sales.

These special, fresh, zesty green peppers are only available from New Mexico in August and September. Hatch Chile festivals and promotions are being planned around the country to celebrate this unique pepper and its robust flavor. Dedicated fans of the peppers drive across town—and state lines—to get their Hatch Chiles by the case.

“Hatch Chiles are exclusively grown in Hatch, New Mexico, and are beloved by native New Mexicans, foodies and ‘chile heads’ around the country for their limited availability and addictive flavor,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s. “The season is starting up earlier this year, and it’s the perfect opportunity to boost summer sales.”

Today’s shoppers, especially millennials, experience “fear of missing out,” aka FOMO, which drives them to stores for exclusive or limited supply items. (A recent Eventbrite survey says 69 percent of millennials get FOMO when they can’t attend something friends or families are attending.) Much like the pumpkin spice craze in the fall, the annual Hatch Chile season is a part of this phenomenon.

“Frieda’s has organized in-store Hatch Chile roasting events and promotions since 2011. We see the increase in popularity with shoppers year over year, which motivates retailers to execute their annual Hatch Chile promotions,” added Berkley. “Chile heads always come back, and curious shoppers with a touch of FOMO want in on the action, then become chile heads themselves, returning the next year.”

Fresh Hatch Chiles also have a significant halo effect at the retail level for the majority of the summer. There are opportunities to cross-promote with the entire store from meat and dairy to Hatch-flavored items in the center aisles like potato chips, sauces, salsas and even alcohol.

Frieda’s works closely with its grower partners to ensure excellent quality and strong supply through September. Call Frieda’s team today to pre-book the ever-popular Hatch Chiles!

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.

Two days ago, I got a text from my sister, Jackie, who runs our company operations.

“We started the day with a major water leak in the men’s bathroom; we ended the day with a pipe breaking in the other side of the office. I checked, and I should have known, Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow.”

Mercury retrograde began July 26 and will end on August 19.

For longtime readers of this blog, you know all about my experiences with Mercury in retrograde in 2014 and 2017. Long story short, because of its orbit around the Sun is faster than ours, three or four times a year the planet appears to move backwards in the sky for about three weeks. According to astrology, Mercury is the planet of technology, equipment and communications, and when it goes into retrograde, everything seems to go out of whack.

Have you been experiencing any odd happenings within the last few days? Computers not working? Things breaking around the house? Poor communication between you and co-workers or your spouse? Contract negotiations not going well? That could be because Mercury is doing a moonwalk.

Jackie and I try to mark on our calendars when Mercury is going retrograde. During those times, we avoid computer upgrades and installing equipment, and are extra careful with communication. We have come to expect flight delays, dropped calls and miscommunication. We have learned to be more patient and forgiving when people around us are short-tempered during the following few weeks.

But what’s unique about this particular session of Mercury in retrograde is that Mars is also in retrograde! Mars is the planet of energy, action and desire. It went retrograde on June 26 and it will continue through August 27. Thankfully, it only goes retrograde about once every two years.

Now when Mars goes into retrograde, your plans may go a little haywire or your romantic life is unsatisfying and you feel like you can’t get anything done. Any time any planet goes retrograde, you might ask yourself, “How much is this going to mess up my life?” Well, with both Mars and Mercury in retrograde, the answer is “moderately to intensely.”

If you are curious at all about how the cosmic vibes affect you, I’d encourage you to see how these two retrogrades are affecting your astrological sign at the moment. And if you think the whole thing is hooey, that’s ok too. I’m not going to disagree with you while Mercury and Mars are in retrograde.

During this period of great tension all over the planet, perhaps it’s a good time to take deep breaths before reacting. To anything.

Oh, and my text back to my sister was:

“No surprises there. And Mom had a water leak at her house today too! Things happen in threes, right?”

Karen

Ever wonder what it takes to launch an app? Or what the inspiration is for someone’s idea for an app?

Well, I got to hear firsthand how it all happened when I was attending my sister Jackie’s birthday party last month.

I was seated next to Conrad, a friend of Jackie’s from Texas, and he enthusiastically told me about an app he launched just three days earlier. It’s called Wait Check.

The Inspiration

Conrad and his girlfriend went to their favorite nightclub in Austin, hungry and ready to boogie. But the club was at capacity, and they had to stand in line, 30 people deep. They would only let people in as people left. In his low blood sugar state of hunger, he fantasized about an app that would have allowed him to check with people already at the club or in line to see how long the wait was.

His girlfriend responded, “Great Idea! Now just pitch it to someone you know personally, trust with your idea, and who has the entrepreneurial skills to make it materialize!”

The Trusted Partner

Conrad knew immediately whom to ask: his friend Javier, a local successful businessperson. Javier was on board as he related to the frustration of waiting at restaurants and saw how an app would be the simple solution. They agreed that to meet the market’s need the app should focus on restaurant wait times, but include nightclubs’ too. It would be real-time and exclusively customer crowdsourced. It would be like “WAZE for GRAZE.” Let’s outsmart restaurant traffic together!

This is what Javier shared with me about his thought process:

“When Conrad approached me with the original idea, I thought it had some merit. But I thought that app would only be useful for the segment of people who regularly go to clubs. If we expanded the app to focus on restaurants, we would have a much broader audience. And if we could send those people a push notification once they entered a restaurant, we could prompt them to share wait times with other users.

“So I did some research to see if there were any other restaurant wait time apps on the market, and there were some but none that worked very well. Most of the existing apps are subscription-based and require member restaurants to enter wait times. The primary problem with that model is that very few restaurants participate and the information is not always accurate or in real time. None of them crowdsource for the actual wait time. So for various reasons, people really don’t seem to be using those apps. If we could also design a simple user interface and an app that was easy to use, we thought we might have a winner.”

Search for Developer

Javier set up meetings with three different app development companies in Austin.

App Company No. 1 had a lot of impressive terminologies and a slick presentation, but with a ridiculous price tag that would have to be doubled for each Apple and Android platform.

App Company No. 2 was super exciting because the owner/developer really listened to their concept and even added to it by suggesting estimated wait times based on existing Google datasets. Also, the developer loved the idea so much he said he was interested in developing the app for a stake in the business!

App Company No. 3 was full of vague, opaque explanations with nothing concrete to back up claims.

Surprise! They chose the second company.

Concept to Beta

Conrad got the idea in June 2017 and spoke to Javier within the week. After selecting the developer, they were able to do beta testing in March 2018 and did a soft launch on June 6, 2018—just last month!

My Takeaways

Of course, I’ve downloaded the app and started using it! But I’ve learned so much more than just finding out about a nifty app:

  1. Your original idea may not end up being your final idea, as it is important to brainstorm with others to figure out what the real need is and how big the market is.
  2. The idea person (right-brained) should not be afraid to partner up with someone with business experience (left-brained). Someone who runs a business probably knows the ins and outs of contracts, negotiations, and strategy, a complement to the idea person.
  3. It takes a while to go from idea to launch. It’s always better to take time to beta test (even if the idea isn’t technology-based) and work out the bugs. That’s why so many companies do “pilot tests” or market research. When you think you have a fantastic idea and want to launch it right away so you don’t miss the opportunity, a year can seem like a long time. Over 90 percent of new products fail, so testing is useful.

I want to say, “And the rest is history,” but we’re not quite there yet! I know Conrad and Javier are doing marketing and figuring out ways to monetize their app. They would love your feedback. Feel free to reach out to them at info@waitcheck.com.

Karen

Tart and tangy tropical pods take off with home cooks for summer entertaining

Los Alamitos, CA – (July 2018) – Tamarind is in! Already a staple in Latin and Asian kitchens, the tart and tangy pods are trending up with shoppers nationwide with the rising popularity of agua fresca (a fruit-infused beverage) and Indian cuisine.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Tamarind

“Tart tamarind is not only an everyday item in Hispanic market areas, both ‘agua fresca’ and ‘tamarind’ have been trending up steadily in Google Trends, especially during the summer months,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “This is in line with what we’re seeing with consumer trends on Indian flavors and fruit-infused or flavored water.”

Frieda’s works with its growing partner in Thailand to bring in volume of the tart tamarind, which is currently shipping nationwide.

“Retailers caught on to the tamarind trend last year when we started importing directly and they are now taking advantage of our strong source of supply with our 10 lb. pack and our 12/12 oz. clamshell,” said Berkley.

Frieda’s clamshell is the first package on the market to educate consumers on how to use tamarind. America’s diverse population is familiar with this item, however there is more to learn about how to use this versatile tropical fruit.

Tart tamarind is used for cooking all across the world including Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines. Chefs have also been featuring the unique flavor in glazes, sauces, and cocktails. In Latin America, the tart tamarind is used in candies, popsicles, and agua de tamarindo, a refreshing beverage made with tamarind pulp and sugar.

Retailers should merchandise tamarind with other global cuisine ingredients or fresh spices like ginger and turmeric. It is also relevant when merchandised with tropical fruit.

Call Frieda’s today at 714-733-7676 to add zing to your summer sales with tamarind and other summer top sellers such as Nicaraguan red dragon fruit, rambutan, and young coconut.

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.

Ask for what you want: That’s one of my favorite pieces of business advice. In fact, I use it often when I give speeches or mentor people. It actually applies to your business life and to your personal life.

Just last week, I was on the phone with a colleague who works at a local university. We were brainstorming ideas to get younger alumnae involved in the dean’s advisory council. So I suggested that we ask for what we want.

In the quarterly university magazine, why not run an ad?

Are you an alumnae? Are you under 50? Is your area of interest agriculture, fashion, or architecture? The Dean’s Advisory Council would love to talk with you about joining us.

My colleague’s comment was: Wow, I never thought of asking directly for what we want.

How many times when you deal with a vendor or a customer (or in your personal life, with your significant other) do you hope they’ve taken that “mind-reading” class? I mean, you know what you want, but you hesitate to ask directly for it. Or actually, you never even think of asking directly for it.

I’ve used this piece of advice so many times that it’s not unusual for me to get an email from someone that starts with: “I know you believe in asking for what you want…”

And if you’re on the other side of this conversation, it’s kind of refreshing to have someone ask you directly for what they want, instead of wondering where the conversation is going.

Another approach I often use is: “It never hurts to ask.” This is a great one to use when you want to try something new.

For example, in business, perhaps you are thinking about asking for a price increase, free samples, or a special discount. The last time I used this was when I was at a local running store. It advertised a 15 percent discount on shoes. After I selected a pair to buy, I happened to comment on the Garmin watch the sales rep was wearing. It turned out it had the features I was looking for. He told me the price.

And then, I asked for what I wanted: “So, do I get the same 15 percent discount that I am getting on the shoes?” He told me “no,” the discount didn’t apply to that.

And then I asked, “Well, do you think I can get the friends and family discount?”

Well, guess what? He gave me a 10 percent discount!

If you think this doesn’t apply to you or would never work, I’d also like to remind you about the time I asked my friend about going to the Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders’ meeting, which I did get to attend. And when I asked another friend about becoming a director of the Federal Reserve Bank, which I did become in 2005.

Remember, not only should you ask for what you want, but you should be mindful that it never hurts to ask!

Now, you all know about my bucket list item of meeting Nike founder Phil Knight

Karen

Shoppers continue to drive pepper demand from mild to super spicy

Los Alamitos, CA – (July 2018) – From flavorful Shishito peppers to the coveted super spicy Carolina Reaper, chile peppers are spicing things up for summer from the grill to homemade margarita mix.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Hot Peppers

“Shoppers continue to have fun exploring the different varieties of chile peppers the world has to offer,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “For summer entertaining and cooking new cuisines at home, all heat levels of fresh peppers are finding their way into the grocery basket.”

Frieda’s is seeing the pepper sales growth first-hand. “We have been supplying Shishito peppers for over 10 years with sales spiking over the last three,” said Berkley. “Frieda’s eye-catching 8-ounce retail pouch bag has grown in sales 88 percent over the last 12 months, and our customers see the same growth at the register.”

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Shishito Peppers

With the Netherlands’ super hot pepper season in full swing and continuing through November, Frieda’s is currently offering good volume of fresh Carolina Reaper, Trinidad Scorpion, and Ghost peppers in 8/50 gram clamshells to satisfy the demand. “The clamshell program educates shoppers on how to use these fiercely hot peppers and protects them from touching these peppers with their bare hands.”

Other Frieda’s top-selling peppers include grilling essentials jalapeno, poblano, and mini sweet peppers, and salsa staples like red fresno, de arbol, and habanero. Call Frieda’s today at 714-733-7676 to make your summer sales sizzle with a pepper program.

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 think we all know that when we pull an all-nighter or don’t get sufficient sleep (fewer than five hours), our performance and decision making the next day are not up to par. Some of us walk around feeling tired pretty much all the time, while saying, “I can sleep when I’m dead.” Well, lack of sleep is more harmful to your health than the day-to-day results.

Three years ago, I learned about the link between getting enough sleep and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease during a meeting at the University of California, Irvine. The presentation highlighted the work being done at UCI MIND: Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders.

UCI Mind is doing research which involves testing and monitoring people of all ages to see how their memory changes over time. This extensive research maps the participants’ brains and brain functions.

In one of the presentations, a doctor who is doing the primary research told us it is important that people get at least seven and a half to eight hours of sleep each night. Why that number? That is the amount of time it takes for the human brain to “clean out” amyloid plaques. In lay terms, amyloid plaques are goopy stuff in the crevices of our brains. When we go to sleep, our bodies naturally clean out all the goopy stuff, effectively clearing the toxins from our brains. And that takes about seven and a half to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. If we do not get enough sleep to complete the “cleansing cycle,” then the goopy toxin remains. And it is that buildup of amyloid plaques that causes the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Click to read more about how our brains “self-clean” during sleep every night.

 So you can imagine what I did immediately after I listened to that doctor.

Yep, I decided to begin monitoring my sleep. I started going to sleep earlier each night. Early enough that it allowed me to set my alarm for eight hours after I went to bed.

It was an adjustment. No more late nights watching television. I put on my orange sleep glasses, do my reading, and get a good night’s sleep. I moved many of my early morning meetings back an hour or two, so I could complete my sleep cycle.

And you know what happened? I started feeling better, sharper when I first woke up, and I had more consistent energy all day long.

When I was younger, it was always fun to brag about how I burned the candle at both ends. I would stay up late and get up early. Sometimes I would exist on three to four hours of sleep. If you’re one of those people who almost wears as a badge of honor how little sleep you can function on, I would encourage you to read this.

It is doubtful that adequate sleep will eliminate the chance of memory issues. There are many other factors like genetics and inflammation in your body. (I will share some insights on this in a future post.) But the number of hours of sleep you get is 100 percent within your control. I encourage you to start monitoring your sleep. Go to bed earlier and feel better.

Good night!

Karen

Peak season of shoppers’ favorite, high flavor, red-fleshed dragon fruit begins in early July

Los Alamitos, CA – (June 2018) – Enter the red dragon…fruit! Grown with care in Nicaragua, this flavorful red dragon fruit is two weeks away from its high-volume launch in July, and will be available through November.

“Our grower continues to focus on the best, most flavorful varieties of red dragon fruit and we are expecting excellent volume this season,” said Allen DeMo, director of procurement and sourcing at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “The season is just starting, and we will have several large flushes of fruit late June through July, which will give retailers the opportunity to build large displays.”

This non-irradiated dragon fruit is grown in rich, volcanic soil and is known for its sweet, flavorful, deep magenta flesh.

“We receive requests daily from shoppers asking for red-flesh dragon fruit because they have seen them on Instagram in smoothie bowls and beverages,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s. “We have developed new tools to help retailers build large displays that move volume. We also know that sampling will make a huge difference for red dragon fruit sales. Showcasing the bright color will create impulse sales.”

Call Frieda’s sales team today at 714-733-7676 to slay your summer sales.

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 attend a lot of events each year. Big events. Small events. Events in an auditorium. Events in a classroom setting. Events with a keynote during a meal. And I’ve seen a lot of masters of ceremonies, moderators, panelists, and speakers. All with different speaking styles and public-speaking skills.

Nothing drives me crazier than speakers who are ill-prepared. And I don’t mean just scrambling to get their speech together at the last minute. I’m talking about people who know they have to give a speech and yet do not put in the work to learn anything about public speaking.

You know the signs. Mumbling. Speaking softly. Monotonous. Rushing through things. A lot of “ums.” Reading the notes instead of speaking. Not making eye contact with the audience. Using jargon not familiar to the audience.

Not doing your homework about your audience, not practicing beforehand, or just plain ol’ not learning how to publicly speak before your speech: To me that is an ill-prepared speaker.

I would like to offer what I’ve learned over the years, as both a trained speaker and a member of the audience, on how to get the most bang for your buck at your next speaking opportunity.

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen Caplan - Bitten LA
Me speaking at Bitten LA conference

Nail down the time

Pro tip: It’s never “as long as you want,” even if that’s what they tell you. Ask the organizer differently: “What’s the optimum amount of time? Five minutes? Fifteen minutes? How long did your best speaker ever talk?”

Know your audience

Get clear on your topic and who the audience will be. Are they C-level executives? What is their job function: buying, selling, HR? Is it a mixed group? Maybe you’re there to speak as a sponsor of the event. If you talk about your new product, does that even apply to your audience? Is anyone present the decision maker on buying your product?

Practice, practice, practice!

First, outline what you are going to talk about, then fill in the blanks. Time yourself while saying it out loud, preferably in front of a mirror, multiple times. If you are given 15 minutes, don’t ramble on for 20 minutes. Edit your remarks until you are a little under your time limit.

You can use your notes while you practice. I type out every single one of my speeches, no matter how short it may be. I use at least a 14-point type, triple spaced, and I number the pages. These steps make it much easier to rehearse and give my speech. When you have that down, practice in front of a few people and get their feedback.

Slow down, pause, and breathe

Speak more slowly than your normal speed. You may think you’re not going that fast, but in public speaking, you probably are. Slow it down so your audience can absorb what you are talking about.

Also, pauses are not a bad thing. Don’t feel the need to fill the silence. Take a beat at the end of sentences and breathe. Not only does it calm your nerves, but it gives the audience a moment to catch up and pay attention as well.

Don’t skip the sound check

Get to the venue early to do sound and technical checks before guests start arriving. That’s when you stand at the podium you are going to be presenting from and adjust the microphone so you can be heard. Get the host or a coworker to stand in the back of the room to verify that you are loud and clear. If you’re using a PowerPoint presentation, make sure you run through every slide.

Smile and stick to your script

Give the presentation or remarks that you rehearsed. Don’t ad lib! You got this.

Take a few deep breaths before you begin, find someone in the audience to make eye contact with, and smile. Smiling at your audience will make the audience smile back at you, and you can connect with them that much more.

Follow these steps, and you’ll get compliments on your presentation, and reduce the number of people texting or reading their emails during it!

I didn’t make up all these pointers on my own. Early in my career, I met the late Judith Learner, a former newscaster from Milwaukee and a professional speaking coach. I hired her to work with me for over a year. She videotaped me multiple times while giving presentations and I had to watch myself during the playback. Nothing breaks you of bad habits—flipping your hair, adjusting your shoulders, filling the silence with “ums”—better than seeing yourself on camera! Plus, I had a professional right there pointing out every one of my flaws and opportunities to be more polished.

I used to get so nervous before I gave a speech. Now, I actually look forward to it, thanks to Judith for having been a great teacher and mentor.

I hope that my pointers can help you the way Judith helped me. I’d love to hear whether these suggestions help you with your next speech. Good luck!

Karen

So, the first question is: Who needs business cards? The second is: When should you carry your business cards with you?

The answers are: everyone and everywhere.

Two groups of people look at me cross-eyed when I say this—students and the recently retired. So I have a few recommendations for both.

Students: If you are looking for a job or an internship, how is your potential employer going to get your contact information so they can offer you a job if you don’t have a business card? They are not going to write it down. And they may not want you to text it to them as that would mean giving you their cell phone number.

Recently retired: It cracks me up when I ask you for your business card, and you look at me like I’m crazy, and say, “But I‘m retired. I don’t need a business card.” How are people going to reach you? We don’t have your personal cell phone number or email address because we’ve only used your work contact info, even though we’ve become personal friends.

Both of you: Order yourself a stack of business cards. Vista Print has business cards for just $10. You can also pop by your local office supply store or even Costco. (Students: If you want something with more creative flare, try Moo.)

Make sure the font is easy to read. Include your cell phone number and email address. Students don’t need to include a mailing address, but the recently retired should.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate? - Business cards

And both groups need to have a respectable Gmail address like firstname.lastname@gmail.com or something that matches your professional personal brand. You can have that email address forwarded to your current, not so professional, email address if you don’t want to give up your old accounts. (Students: Definitely let go of your SoccerSux@hotmail.com or QTPie1994@CableProvider.com type of email addresses.)

Another email address option is a forwarding address offered by your college. Many offer one free so you can put yournamehere@alumni.yourcollege.com on your card with pride.

And, yes, take your business cards everywhere.

I cannot tell you how many times in the last month I have been at a social event, or even a work event, and I’ve met someone I want to be in touch with. You wouldn’t believe how often I’ve heard: “Oh, crap. I don’t have my business cards on me!” So I give them my card and they promise to send me their contact information, which they do about 50 percent of the time.

Just imagine: You are at a social event and you meet someone who would be a great contact for your next career move, for your business network, or who could support a charity that you love. And, oops, you don’t have any business cards on you. How disappointed would you be to miss that connection?

I always have at least three to four business cards in my wallet and in just about every bag I use—even a tiny evening clutch. Keep a few in your cell phone case. Leave some in your car. These cards have never failed to come in handy. You never know when you will meet someone interesting!

Next time you are getting ready to leave your house for anything, even a grocery run, check your wallet for business cards. You will thank me later.

Karen

This hulking tropical fruit continues to smash sales records nationwide especially on the East Coast

Los Alamitos, CA – (June 2018) – Jackfruit is gaining popularity nationwide as it is becoming more familiar to mainstream shoppers, especially on the East Coast.

“Who knew you could sell so much jackfruit in upstate New York?” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “What we have now is the perfect storm of demand from the growing Asian population, from vegetarians and vegans seeking a meat substitute, and from shoppers who now have heard enough information to give this big fruit a try. Retailers realize they can capitalize on such demand, and start to stock jackfruit.”

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Jackfruit

New York-based Tops Friendly Markets is one of many retailers answering the demand. Working with Frieda’s team, Tops produce managers are trained on the secrets of selling jackfruit. One Tops location is selling 100 cases of these tropical giants per week!

“Shoppers have been asking for fresh jackfruit for quite some time, and once we started to stock them, they were flying off the shelf,” said Scott Tyo, Category Business Manager for Tops. “Our overall sales have gone up with jackfruit as the main draw in the produce department. Curious shoppers are also drawn to the fragrant, giant fruits on display, and with Frieda’s label and signage, they have enough information to take the fruit home to try.”

Berkley adds, “Summer is the perfect time to promote jackfruit for backyard barbecues, luaus, and tiki parties. Shoppers have heard about jackfruit ‘pulled pork’ sandwiches and tacos, so you can merchandise with barbecue sauce and salsa, or make it the center of your tropical fruit display.”

Call your Frieda’s account manager today to learn about ways to smash your summer sales with jackfruit and other tropical favorites like dragon fruit, lychees, and rambutans.

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.

About four years ago, I stopped watching the nightly news.

It seemed like no matter what channel I turned on, the only news was about the floods, the fires, the murders, corruption, and bad behaviors. It was just so depressing.

And the news magazines and papers I used to pick up at airports when I traveled weren’t much better.

While still keeping up with daily news briefs, I started reading more books, listening to most of them on Audible, and I still subscribe to a few magazines that keep me current on innovation and thought leadership.

Once in a while, on a whim, I pick up a few new magazines during my travels. They provide a bit of balance to my “always reading work publications” credo. This time around, I ended up subscribing to O, The Oprah Magazine.

The June issue arrived with the headline, “Are you ready for some good news?” I was intrigued enough to turn the pages.

The opening paragraph really got my attention because it felt like the author was in my head.

“If you’re feeling like the world is tilting on its axis, like the center cannot hold, like this country is hell-bound in the proverbial handbasket, you’re not alone.

But is it possible that reports of our impending doom have been greatly exaggerated? Why, yes it is!

In the interest of helping you sleep better tonight, we’re about to debunk a few of your most urgent worries…and give you…hope.”

Some of the issues explored in the multi-page article:

Yep, that pretty much sums up many of the things on my mind, and on the minds of many people. But to my delight and surprise, the information I read shed a positive and hopeful light on every one of those subjects.

What would happen if more networks, newspapers, and publications spent more time talking about how we can fix things, or make positive change, vs. fearmongering, or telling us about all the terrible things going on?

If they don’t or won’t change, then we have to find publications or media that will do that, and stop supporting the ones that won’t.

If you want to read about and hear good news, you can find it, but you may have to look in new places.

And that’s the positive change I chose to make. Many others have as well, which is probably why so many people are sharing positive messages on social media.

Positive messages make us feel good. They make us do good. And they promote more kindness in the world.

Let’s do more of that.

Karen

With fresh produce sponsored by Frieda’s Specialty Produce, the vegetable-driven culinary event raises funds for Girls Inc. and James Beard Foundation women’s leadership programs

Frieda's Specialty Produce -LA Food Bowl Plant Power the No Beast Feast
Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill speak to the crowd, including Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold and members of Girls Inc.

Los Alamitos, CA – (May 2018) – Over 250 hungry foodies turned up to support LA Food Bowl’s “Plant Power: The No Beast Feast” on May 19 at the Border Grill in Downtown Los Angeles. Hosted by chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of the Border Grill, this culinary event showcased vegetable-focused cuisine from a curated, international lineup of prominent female chefs. All proceeds went to Girls Inc. and the James Beard Foundation women’s leadership programs to support the advancement of young girls and the empowerment of women in the hospitality industry.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce donated all the fruits and vegetables used in food and beverages, plus the stunning, must-see produce and floral wall, popular with attendees for photo ops.

Frieda's Specialty Produce -LA Food Bowl Plant Power the No Beast Feast
Three generations of women, who lead the female-founded, 100-percent female-owned Frieda’s Specialty Produce. Pictured, left to right, are Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager; Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, the 94-year-old founder of Frieda’s Specialty Produce; her daughter Karen Caplan, president and CEO; and Sophia Jackson, marketing associate.

“Fresh ingredients are very important to Thai cooking, and what Frieda’s provided to us were some of the best-looking produce I’ve seen in a long time,” said Jazz Singsanong, chef and owner of Jitlada, a celebrated Thai restaurant in Los Angeles. “We put a lot of love into our food, and it looks like Frieda’s puts a lot of love in their products and services as well. It was a pleasure to work with the Frieda’s team.”

Frieda's Specialty Produce -LA Food Bowl Plant Power the No Beast Feast
April Bloomfield, chef of The Spotted Pig and Los Angeles’s new The Hearth & Hound, grills a Romanesco for a hearty dish she created for LA Food Bowl’s ‘Plant Power: The No Beast Feast’.

Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s, said, “What you see on the plates at this event represents the best of Frieda’s. We have been inspiring chefs and home cooks for over 50 years, focusing on new varieties of products with superb flavor like that of Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes. It’s amazing to see our produce so deliciously and gorgeously on the center of the plate.”

“Frieda’s is always a step ahead,” tweeted Milliken. “I’m inspired!”

Besides Milliken, Feniger, and Singsanong, participating chefs include cookbook author Nadine Redzepi (Noma), Monique Fiso of New Zealand (Hiakai), Akasha Richmond (Akasha), Antonia Lofaso (Scopa Italian Roots), April Bloomfield (The Hearth & Hound), Brooke Williamson (Playa Provisions), Dahlia Narvaez (Mozza), Dakota Weiss (Sweetfin Poké), Niki Nakayama (n/naka), Nina Curtis, Nyesha Arrington (Native Santa Monica), Roxana Jullapat (Friends & Family), Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson (Kismet), Sherry Yard (iPic Theaters), Shirley Chung (Ms. Chi), Tanya Holland (Brown Sugar Kitchen), Valerie Gordon (Valerie Confections), and more.

Frieda's Specialty Produce -LA Food Bowl Plant Power the No Beast Feast
Dakota Weiss, Sweetfin Poké and La Estrella’s executive chef and a former contestant on “Top Chef”, mixes up a batch of her Sunchoke Carrot Poké, a featured dish at LA Food Bowl’s ‘Plant Power: The No Beast Feast’.

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.

Like everyone in America, I was deeply shocked, saddened, and devastated last Friday to hear the news that there was yet another shooting at a school. This time in Santa Fe, Texas, where 10 students were gunned down and 13 more were injured.

The news took the wind out of me. I don’t know about you, but I felt helpless.

Two days later, with the shooting still fresh in my mind, I attended the annual Women Against Gun Violence luncheon, just as I have for almost 20 years. Founded by my friend Ann Reiss Lane, a former commissioner of the Los Angeles Police Department, WAGV was celebrating its 25th anniversary at this event.

As she tells it, Ann was inspired to start WAGV while serving as a police commissioner after she received a call from feminist Betty Friedan, asking, “What are YOU going to do about the NRA’s campaign to sell guns to women?”

In response to Betty’s call, Ann and a few of her L.A. friends gathered acquaintances, family members and others for a three-day conference to examine the sale of guns to women, and so much more. They ended up starting WAGV to reduce gun violence in Southern California.

These luncheons are always filled with surprises and inspiration. I remember the WAGV luncheon I attended when then L.A. Police Chief Bernard Parks got up to tell the story that every time someone was killed in Los Angeles while he was chief, he got a personal phone call. One morning his phone rang. He told us what it was like to learn that a very young girl had been shot and killed. That young girl was his granddaughter.

At this year’s luncheon, I was surprised to see a 9-year-old girl go up to the stage with her father.

Her name is Madison Rude.

Madison takes the stage

Madison told the story of when she and her dad, Steven, were at Barnes & Noble bookstore a few months ago. Passing by the magazine rack, she noticed more than 20 magazines promoting guns, photos of guns, guns sales, etc. She asked her dad why Barnes & Noble was selling gun-oriented magazines and displaying them at eye level where young children could see and pick them up. He didn’t have an answer.

A slide from Madison’s presentation

So they discussed it, and when they got home, Madison wrote a letter to the CEO of Barnes & Noble asking him to move the magazines. And then she waited. She never got a response. She actually called and emailed his office multiple times over the next few weeks, but never heard anything back.

But when they went back to that very same Barnes & Noble several weeks later, Madison noticed that almost all of the gun-oriented magazines had been moved to another display area out of the sight of young children. She asked the manager why the magazines were moved. The manager didn’t know.

At this point in the presentation, Madison told the audience that there were postcards at each of our tables pre-addressed to Demos Parneros, CEO of Barnes & Noble. She encouraged each of us to take one, sign our name, and mail it to Mr. Parneros.

When Madison got up in front of over 360 people at the WAGV luncheon, I was inspired and moved beyond measure. I realized instead of being scared and doing nothing, she took action and spoke up.

I think that’s called being an activist.

I’m sure that everyone in the audience that day was thinking the same thing I was. The same thing they thought when they saw Emma Gonzalez, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, speak at a rally following the senseless shooting at her high school.

These young people will speak up and fearlessly confront the most difficult issue with courage and conviction.

Watch out world. They’re coming to change everything.

Karen

Madison and Steven

Three weeks ago, my youngest daughter, Sophia, and I took a trip to New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia. I had a conference in Melbourne to attend May 2 to 4, so to maximize that long distance, I added about 10 days of holiday time to the trip. And it was her birthday, so it was the perfect birthday gift.

Kia Ora, Auckland!

(Kia ora means “hello” in Māori.)

We only had five days in New Zealand. The last time I was in Auckland was in 1991. The country was in a deep recession, and Auckland was quite a sleepy town. My, how times have changed! Auckland is now quite crowded, yet still very clean, and it seemed as if there was construction everywhere.

Also everywhere were these big owls! “The Big Hoot” campaign is a street art and fundraising project for New Zealand’s Child Cancer Foundation. Custom-painted owl sculptures are installed all over the city, telling unique and meaningful stories from the New Zealand community. At the end of this month, they will be displayed together one last time before being auctioned off to raise funds for the foundation.

By the way, the owl happens to be Sophia’s favorite animal!

After two days in the city, we were off to explore the north island. The most fun we had was our day trip to Hobbiton. If you are a fan of “The Lord of the Rings” or “The Hobbit” books and movies, then you will recognize these photos. This is the set where Lord of the Rings was filmed, about two hours southwest of Auckland. It was a rainy day, which made the place even more magical.

G’Day, Melbourne!

Only a four-hour puddle jump from Auckland, we landed in Melbourne, Australia. We quickly learned why Melbourne has been voted “The Most Livable City in the World” for seven straight years. The city is extremely walkable. The people are incredibly friendly. And it is refreshing that there is no tipping (gratuity), so good service is the norm!

We did a few tourist things like visit the botanical gardens and take the hop on-hop off bus around town. But my favorite thing was trying to decipher what people were saying to me.

An Australian accent is one thing, but Aussie slang is a whole other language!

After our afternoon meeting, our hostess said, “It’s time to frock up!” Frock up? Apparently, that means dress up. And then, when they were referring to other parts of the country, I heard “Tassie,” which is short for Tasmania, and “Brissie” for Brisbane.

When I got home, I did some research because I’d heard so many new words! Here are some of my favorites:

So, listen, mate. Sophia and I had a bloody good time Down Under. Our days were chockers and we didn’t get bitten by any mozzies. We were quite stuffed by the end of our 12-day trip, and I didn’t have a chance to crack onto any blokes.

Good on ya, mate!

Karen …& Koala

Karen's Blog - Karen Caplan - Melbourne - Koala

 

In my job, I travel often. Mostly cross-country, for a few days at a time. Adjusting to the time change from West Coast to East Coast is not usually a big deal. I can get by with a little less sleep and a lot more coffee during my trip.

However, when I travel out of the country, I am always a bit stressed about how I am going to adjust when I arrive at my destination, so that I’m fully functional. And then of course, I have the same concern when I return home.

A few months ago, I realized that I was going to travel to South Africa and Dubai in mid-March, then head to New Zealand and Australia in late April. On previous trips, Advil PM was my friend, and I took a pill when I boarded my flight to ensure a good, restful trip. I oftentimes took one each night I was gone to be sure I slept.

However, I’ve read lately about the negative effects of Advil/ibuprofen (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or NSAID) and decided I was no longer going to take them. So, what was I going to do instead, since both these trips were certainly going to challenge my ability to adjust quickly to a 9-hour and a 19-hour time change?

I had heard that many people take melatonin to assist them in adjusting to time changes when traveling. Melatonin is a natural hormone made by the body’s pineal gland. It helps your body know when to sleep and wake up. I had taken melatonin capsules before, but they never worked for me.

But I was determined to use a natural method to assist me with my sleep management. So, off to the natural food store I went. Sitting right next to the capsules were melatonin drops. I remembered hearing that when you let drops sit under your tongue, the body absorbs the active ingredient more quickly.

So, I bought a small bottle of melatonin drops. Then I remembered my orange-tinted, blue-light blocking glasses. One of the ways to wind down at the end of the day is to wear the glasses for about an hour before bedtime. When I’ve done that, I’ve found myself getting drowsy rather quickly.

So, that’s what I packed on my first trip to South Africa. And they worked like magic. When I was ready to sleep, I put a few droppers worth of melatonin under my tongue, put on my orange-tinted glasses for about 30 minutes, and I quickly fell asleep. On my flight, I actually slept for seven hours! Each night during my stay in Capetown, I followed the same routine and I slept great the entire trip. I returned from Melbourne, Australia, this past Sunday morning feeling fully rested as I used the same routine during that trip too.

In case you’re wondering if this might work for you, I shared my routine with my co-worker Allen before he left on a business trip to Thailand. I checked with him when he returned and he was thrilled with what a difference it made in allowing him to sleep during his flights and adjust to the time change.

With so many of us exploring our bucket list by traveling around the world, I encourage you to order some orange-tinted glasses and get a bottle of melatonin drops. They will make your travels so much more enjoyable.

Bon voyage!

Karen

The specialty produce company will provide fresh produce for the world’s top female chefs to create vegetable-centric dishes at the renowned culinary event

Los Alamitos, CA – (May 2018) – Chefs Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of the Border Grill are hosting “Plant Power: The No Beast Feast” as part of Los Angeles Food Bowl, a month-long food festival taking place across the Los Angeles area. This event, on Saturday, May 19, in Downtown Los Angeles, will showcase innovative vegetable-driven cuisine from a lineup of prominent female chefs paired with fine wines, beers and handcrafted cocktails from female winemakers, brewers and distillers.

“All of the fruits and vegetables featured at this plant-powered feast are generously provided by Frieda’s Specialty Produce, a powerhouse in the produce world,” said Feniger. “We’ve known and been inspired by Frieda [Rapoport Caplan, founder of Frieda’s] for more than 30 years, and we’re proud to have Frieda’s as a partner for this delicious event that celebrates female empowerment.”

Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s, added, “These chefs are trailblazers and innovators, and we are delighted to supply them with produce that will inspire new food experiences for guests attending this culinary event.”

All proceeds from the event will be donated to Girls Inc. and the James Beard Foundation women’s leadership programs to support the advancement of young girls and the empowerment of women in the hospitality industry.

“We’re also proud to support these great causes to help girls become strong women and help strong women achieve their full potential,” said Berkley. “That is the spirit of ‘Inspire. Taste. Love.’”

Plant Power: The No Beast Feast begins at 6:30 p.m. Guests will be treated to a variety of vegetarian and vegan signature bites and an interactive dessert bar. Tickets are available now from Border Grill and LA Food Bowl.

In addition to Milliken and Feniger, participating chefs include cookbook author Nadine Redzepi (Noma), Monique Fiso of New Zealand (Hiakai), Akasha Richmond (Akasha), Antonia Lofaso (Scopa Italian Roots), April Bloomfield (Hearth & Hound), Brooke Williamson (Playa Provisions), Dahlia Narvaez (Mozza), Roxana Jullapat (Friends & Family), Shirley Chung (Ms. Chi), Dakota Weiss (Sweetfin/Estrella), Jazz Singsanong (Jitlada), Niki Nakayama (n/naka), Nyesha Arrington (Native Santa Monica), Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson (Kismet), Sherry Yard (iPic Theaters), Tanya Holland (Brown Sugar Kitchen) and Valerie Gordon (Valerie Confections).

Los Angeles Food Bowl brings together L.A.’s best bars, cafes, hotels, markets, restaurants and the world’s top chefs for hundreds of extraordinary events. Help raise awareness and funds to fight food waste, hunger, food insecurity and promote sustainability.

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.

The specialty produce company and first-time exhibitor will showcase its popular two-tier display unit

Los Alamitos, CA – (May 2018) – Frieda’s Specialty Produce is set to make its debut at the West Coast Produce Expo on May 12 in Palm Desert, California, featuring its traffic-stopping two-tier display unit and a line of tropical fruits to gear up for summer.

Known for its innovation and above-and-beyond customer service, Frieda’s is bringing a display solution to the expo. “Our display unit is designed according to input from produce managers and merchandisers,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s. “It stops traffic in the store and encourages shoppers to try something new.”

The two-tier display unit is perfect to draw attention in limited space. The colorful design appeals to shoppers’ curiosity, and the compact size is perfect for a specialty program.

Stop by booth 712 to chat with Frieda’s team about fresh, new ideas for your specialty produce program.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - 2-tier display

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.

Director of Procurement and Sourcing sets record time for opening a young coconut at the company’s first-ever young coconut challenge

Los Alamitos, CA – (April 2018) – #ReadySetCoconut! To celebrate the first shipment of young coconuts from its new grower partner in Thailand, Frieda’s Specialty Produce Sales, Marketing, and Sourcing teams competed in the first-ever young coconut opening challenge on Thursday, April 19, 2018, at the company’s headquarters.

In a bracket-style tournament, Frieda’s team members faced off, using any tools of their choice from knives to a special coconut opening tool to open the young coconuts. For the finals, only knives were allowed.

Allen Demo, Director of Procurement and Sourcing, shocked the crowd when he opened the coconut in eight seconds with a single blow of a chef’s knife. He went on to win the competition.

“Allen has just returned from Thailand after a visit with our grower partner and touring the coconut groves, so I’m sure they taught him a few tricks,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager, who lost to DeMo in the second round. “Was it an unfair advantage that Allen was trained by Thai farmers who trim coconuts for a living when the rest of us are taught by YouTube? Maybe.”

A few audience members were splattered with coconut shells and coconut water, but there were no injuries reported other than a slightly bruised ego of the second-fastest young coconut opener Matt Hubbard, Account Manager, who opened a young coconut in 10 seconds with a coconut opening tool.

[youtube=https://youtu.be/HnkyVxbO8lA]

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.

About four months ago, I received an email from my daughter Alex:

The son of a friend of a friend is a third-year medical student who has a one month rotation at our local Los Alamitos Hospital. Do you know of a place where he could rent a room for a month?

As I pondered the email, I thought to myself—I live by myself in a multi-bedroom home. I’ve had interns stay with me before. Should I open up my home to a complete stranger?

After all, if my child were a third-year medical student and needed a place to stay, I would think it was awesome if a friendly family offered a rent-free home to stay in.

It took me just a few minutes to decide to offer that Nathan stay at my house.

We texted a couple of times and spoke for a few minutes the weekend before he moved in. Up until that point, I had never met him in person.

What a nice guy, and what an awesome experience for both of us!

Nathan

Nathan is 25 years old and studying to be a doctor of osteopathic medicine at Western University of Health Sciences. In their third year, medical students do month-long rotations at various hospitals to experience a variety of medical fields. His first rotation while living with me was in internal medicine. He actually ended up staying another month to complete his next rotation in surgery.

I haven’t lived with anyone for a few years, so it was interesting to get up in the morning and have someone join me for coffee and breakfast.

The best part is when we meet at home in the evening and talk through our day. I find his stories about various patients interesting. During his current rotation, his descriptions of surgeries he’s witnessed intrigue me.

During the last two months, we’ve also talked about how important bedside manner is. And how you talk to a family after someone passes away (fortunately, he is quite empathetic). And how frustrating it is to work with a doctor who is ridiculously impatient and demanding.

Nathan will be moving out this weekend; I think we are both a little sad. He is paying for his entire medical education himself, so he has expressed immense gratitude for his stay at my house gratis. For me, it was a gift to spend time with a young person at the very beginning of his career, and to be reminded of the fun of having a housemate for a short period of time. (I still appreciate my solitude, which I use to breathe deeply and decompress from my daily toil.)

If you ever have the chance to host a student for a few weeks, I highly encourage it. In addition to helping them by providing a safe, clean, friendly place to stay, it is a way for you to step outside your normal schedule and circle of friends.

In August, I will be hosting up to four students for a week, while the International Maccabi Youth Games are held in Orange County! I’m excited to have the energy of students in my home again.

Karen

Cross-merchandising complementary items with produce encourages impulse buy and increases basket ring

Los Alamitos, CA – (April 2018) – Make it easy for shoppers looking to make a memorable Mother’s Day dessert by adding top-selling, value-added Frieda’s French Style Crêpes to your fresh berry display.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - French Style Crepes - Berries

“Shoppers picking up strawberries can be enticed to also pick up the ready-to-eat crêpes displayed nearby and vice versa,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Mother’s Day is a special occasion and shoppers are always looking for an easy option for something special to make an impressive meal.”

To boost berry sales, Frieda’s offers a shelf-stable display box of 12/5 oz. French Style Crêpes, plus an attractive, self-standing display shipper, which holds four cases (48 packages).

“Our display unit is designed to showcase the crêpes without interfering with other items,” said Berkley. “The display unit’s bright color and attractive design draw in shoppers to the area.”

While crêpes are a perfect complement to fresh berry displays, Frieda’s also recommends adding whipped cream, Nutella, and nuts for a complete dessert idea.

Frieda’s is now taking pre-bookings for these crêpes shippers. Call today to take advantage of this Mother’s Day opportunity.

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.

“The coolest thing is that after more than 50 years, the business remains family run,” said David Whiting in his March article in the Orange County Register.

It was a pleasure to have David and Cindy from the Orange County Register spend the day with Frieda and the Caplan family!

 

The specialty produce company welcomes former Starbucks executive to the family

Los Alamitos, CA – (April 2018) – Frieda’s Specialty Produce proudly introduces Cindy Karas Sherman as its new Director of Marketing and Innovation.

With 16 years of experience in Marketing Strategy, and Marketing Management and Innovation, Sherman has innovated for Consumer Packaged Goods companies such as PepsiCo, Wrigley, and most recently, Starbucks, where she launched—in the grocery aisle—Starbucks Plus K-Cup Coffee with twice the caffeine and managed the Teavana Hot Tea business within Starbucks retail stores. Sherman has deep innovation experience, having built new product pipelines across the coffee, confections, snacks, and juice categories. She applies her background in design thinking to all of her innovation and marketing challenges.

“We are thrilled to welcome Cindy to the Frieda’s family,” said Karen Caplan, President and CEO of Frieda’s. “Her entrepreneurial spirit elevates our innovative culture and her CPG experience gives us a fresh perspective to improve how we can go above and beyond for our clients.”

Sherman has a bachelor of science in Marketing from Rutgers University and an MBA from Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley. She relocated from Seattle, Washington, to Long Beach, California, with her family in March.

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.

In the summer after my sophomore year in college, I was working on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market for my mom. Early one morning, this guy came by with a group of Japanese visitors. He told me that he had a tour set up of the market, but the tour guide never showed up. So, he decided to direct the tour himself! When he came to our stall, I didn’t know who he was, so I tried to sell him some kiwifruit!

It turns out that guy, David, was a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, in the Agricultural and Resource Economics department. That was the same college I was attending in the same major.

That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between David and me. When he graduated from UCD, it was I who drove him to the train station so he could ride the train across the country to catch a ship in New York and sail across the Atlantic to England for his post-graduation trip through Europe.

David ended up moving to Seal Beach, California, a few miles from where my parents lived, and we would occasionally have dinner together. Then he started an insurance agency and over time, he became our company’s insurance broker.

When he got married, I was at his wedding. (His wife’s name is Karen, so I would always be known as “the other Karen.”)

As we had children, our families spent Memorial Day together each year. And whenever David came to my office for our annual insurance renewal, we always went to the local Original Fish Company restaurant, often discussing politics. He was the only person I ever openly talked politics with.

A little over two years ago, David called to let me know he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Ever the optimist, he told me his prognosis was good. Over the months, we checked in via phone or email for updates on his treatment.

Eight months after his diagnosis, he was ecstatic that he and his youngest son were able to attend my daughter Alex’s wedding. It seems like David was always at our family’s life-cycle events, bat mitzvahs, a wedding, fundraising dinners, birthday parties, and more.

About 10 days ago, David and I spoke on the phone. He told me “he was running out of runway” and we reminisced about our fun conversations over the years. I could tell he was in a lot of pain. When we hung up, I had tears streaming down my cheeks, as I knew that was our last conversation. And this past Saturday evening, I received a message from his family that he had passed away at age 65.

I have never experienced the death of a close friend before. So many of us will experience this more and more, so I wanted to share a few of my revelations and learnings:

I know each person reading this will experience the passing of a dear loved one in the future. We all experience death in our own way. My memories are filled with happy thoughts of our first meeting back on the Los Angeles Produce Market and our silly conversations over the years. Although tears may be running down my cheeks, my heart is happy knowing that I made the time to have that last conversation and nothing was left unsaid.

As a Jewish saying goes, may his memory be a blessing.

Karen

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

The specialty produce company is set to wow attendees with attention-grabbing display unit

Los Alamitos, CA – (February 2018) – Frieda’s Specialty Produce is bringing innovation to the table at SEPC Southern Exposure expo booth 205 on March 3 with its traffic-stopping, three-tier display unit and sampling of Frieda’s flavorful varieties of dragon fruit.

Frieda’s three-tier display unit is easy to set up in the store and takes up very little space. The bright colors and attractive design draw in curious shoppers. Frieda’s also offers a customized “Pick of the Month” program to help retailers make the most of the display.

“Produce managers tell us these displays are a definite traffic stopper,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s. “Shoppers love to check out new produce being displayed on the unit.”

At its booth, Frieda’s will also be sampling high-flavor red and white pitaya from Ecuador and Israel. As one of the nation’s largest direct importers, distributors and shippers of dragon fruit, the company offers the best variety options with almost year-round supply from all over the world—Vietnam, the U.S., Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Israel.

“There are many options for dragon fruit (aka pitaya) and we offer the most extensive selection that consumers are looking for,” said Berkley. “With our suite of great tasting fruits to choose from, retailers can keep dragon fruit sales going year-round at low retail prices.”

Stop by Frieda’s booth 205 to taste the differences, and chat with the sales team about the specialty programs.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - 3-Tier Display

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.

This past weekend, I attended TEDxRiceU, an independently organized TED event at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

If you’re not aware, TED is a nonpartisan nonprofit started in 1984 and devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. Smaller, local events have sprung up all over the country as the TED organization shares its name and guidelines so others can put on TED-type talks, each of which is called a “TEDx.”

Why did I go to TEDxRiceU?

My friend Lisa Helfman was one of the speakers. Lisa’s day job is as the director of real estate for a large Texas-based grocery chain. Like many of us, she is also a mom (of two young boys, ages 9 and 12) and is constantly balancing the demands of her career and her home life. But her talk was about Brighter Bites, the nonprofit she founded, and how it’s gone national.

Lisa and Dr. Shreela Sharma, co-founder of Brighter Bites

Lisa told the captive audience that before starting Brighter Bites, her body was completely out of balance despite her healthy and happy appearance. She was throwing up daily from stress headaches, eating bad food, and drinking so much Diet Dr. Pepper that she convinced her firm to add it to the soda fountain offering.

So she joined a co-op to add more fruits and vegetables to her diet. As she started to eat more fresh produce, her kids did as well. And she did start to feel better and less stressed. One day, at a birthday party, her son said, “Mom, do I have to eat that cake? It’s too sweet. Do they have grapes or blueberries?” True story!

That conversation with her son inspired her to start Brighter Bites in Houston in 2012.

The mission is to create communities of health through fresh food. As a nonprofit, the company delivers fruit and vegetables into families’ hands through their kids’ schools, while teaching them how to choose and use a different kind of fast food. Brighter Bites now receives funding to serve families and schools not only in Houston but also in Dallas, Austin, New York City, Washington DC, and Southwest Florida.

That was indeed a great story. But that’s not the whole story.

Lisa’s TEDx message was titled “The Virtuous Cycle of Caring.” She spoke about how by caring for herself, it inspired her to care for others. And caring for others, telling her story every chance she gets, and listening to the stories of the beneficiaries of Brighter Bites caused her to feel better physically and mentally. Lisa was actually caring for herself more, as a result of caring for others.

You would think that because it was her story, one she is incredibly passionate about and knows intimately, she could easily do an extemporaneous 18-minute talk from a few bullet points on an index card.

Wrong.

You see, Lisa had set a personal goal for herself three years ago to be invited to do a TED talk.  She dreamed about it. She talked about it. It was on her goal list. Then, without her knowledge, Lisa’s staff submitted an application and nominated her to give the TED talk!

When Lisa was invited in November by Rice University to give one of only seven TEDx talks at the event, she got very serious about it.

First, Lisa brainstormed with her management team and board of directors at Brighter Bites on the right story to tell. Should it be about how her personal journey inspired her to start a nonprofit? How almost every single person she told her idea to connected her to potential sponsors, donors, and supporters? How she was introduced to one of the country’s leading epidemiologists who does research on how food consumption can change behavior and health, and ultimately help control and reduce the country’s obesity epidemic?

Then Lisa worked with her marketing agency to put together her slides and hired a speech coach to work on her delivery. She practiced multiple times a day for weeks, making small tweaks as she went to perfect the talk.

You may think that her preparation was overkill, but that’s because you don’t know Lisa like I do.

Have you ever felt like you practiced too much for a presentation to a client or for a speech? I doubt it. Most of us wish we had more time to practice! We especially wish we had a co-worker or colleague who would sit in front of us and critique our message, our style, and our slides.

I can tell you after watching Lisa’s delivery on Saturday afternoon that her preparation paid off. People queued up afterward to tell her how inspiring she was!

Not only has Lisa done a great job of taking care of herself and her children, and recognizing that she could leverage her passion to start a nonprofit that would benefit other families, but her intense professional approach to her once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a great first impression has helped spread her story across the U.S.

Lisa at TEDxRiceU. I’m so proud of my friend!

I admire Lisa for creating her own Virtuous Circle of Caring through Brighter Bites. And I’ve been inspired by her willingness to “date TED exclusively for six weeks” so she could be the most memorable and polished presenter.

We should all be a little more like Lisa.

Karen

P.S. TEDxRiceU recorded all the presentations and they will be made available on Facebook within a few weeks.

A few months ago, I shared my latest obsession with Audible, which offers an alternative to reading paper books. Essentially, it’s the most recent version of “books on tape.”

I have loved reading since I was a child. In fact, my first paid job was as a page in my local library! But as my life got busier and the time available to actually read (without falling asleep) diminished, I was ecstatic to be introduced to Audible as a way to use those long commutes up and down the Southern California freeways in a positive way.

But what to “read?” I am not a great fan of mysteries, and I did not want to listen only to motivational messages and self-help books. So I asked my friends for their recommendations and started paying attention to book reviews.

To be honest, biographies and autobiographies have always been my favorite kinds of books. To get inside the head of someone I admire or to learn about their lives from the inside out has always intrigued me.

I have listened to 15 books since I first subscribed to Audible last September, and I have found that when authors narrate their books, it’s as if you are truly inside their heads. The way they read their books, the inflection of their voices, and how they pause make the book feel like you are one-on-one with the authors.

So, let me tell you about my two latest findings.

First, spaceships. Or rather, the International Space Station. I was flipping through my Costco magazine a few months ago when I noticed that an autobiography of an astronaut was featured: “Endurance” by Scott Kelly.

Scott literally “talks” about his life’s journey, bouncing between the past and the present in alternating chapters. For example, as a boy, he was not the best student. But after reading “The Right Stuff” during college, he became determined to become an astronaut. Of course, he talks about his 340 days aboard the International Space Station—and his twin brother, Mark Kelly (whose wife, politician Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in Arizona in 2011), who is also an astronaut.

Scott’s book is captivating and eye-opening. He shares his innermost thoughts and feelings about his marriage, his kids, his family, NASA, Russian cosmonauts, you name it. Scott tells it like it is, complete with swear words!

And now, tennis shoes.

I haven’t always listened to my mother, but like me, she is a voracious reader. A few months ago, she said, “Karen, you MUST read ‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. It is the best book I have ever read!”

I thought, really mom? The best book ever? I think you’re exaggerating. But she kept saying it. Since I had run out of books to listen to, I thought, what the heck, let’s give it a go.

The introduction was read by Knight, but the rest of the book was read by two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz. And boy, he sounds almost as if he has become Phil!

For me, this book had everything going for it. It was an autobiography. It was about a business person. There were plenty of challenges, inspiration, and conflict, plus many business lessons. It was a love story. And sadly, at the end, when Phil writes about losing his oldest son during a diving incident, there was extreme sadness and raw emotion.

What did I enjoy most about Phil’s story? He was passionate about running (he ran track in college), then he took that passion and turned it into a business idea—distributing running shoes manufactured in Japan. No matter what obstacle he faced—lack of money, need for personnel, challenging and lying competition, creating a new market that hadn’t existed before—he ignored them. (Gee, doesn’t that sound like somebody we know?)

Coincidentally, Phil turns 80 next week; he is ranked by Forbes as the 28th richest person in the world. He is humble and passionate. His willingness to share his story was probably cathartic in some ways, but for me, it was truly inspirational.

By the way, “Shoe Dog” may be the best book I have ever read. You were right, Mom.

Karen

P.S. Meeting Phil in person is now on my Bucket List!

Capitalize on the shift in shoppers’ behavior during 40 days of Lent

Los Alamitos, CA – (February 2018) – The start of Lent on Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day this year for the first time in 73 years. While some shoppers will be reaching for chocolates and filet mignon on February 14, Lent-observing shoppers will give up other food indulgences during this 40-day period. It’s a great opportunity to promote a variety of healthy and wholesome fresh produce to fill up their baskets.

Twenty-six percent of Americans observe Lent and abstain from meat on Fridays when they traditionally enjoy seafood from Ash Wednesday through Thursday, March 29. Some go meatless the entire time.

“Produce departments should capitalize on the shift in shopping behavior by stocking up on a wide variety of fresh produce and meat substitutes during this time,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “One of our largest retail clients, with a significant Hispanic shopping base in its region, promotes Frieda’s Soyrizo™ for the entire Lent period.

“With the majority of the Hispanic community observing Lent, it is important that retailers are also ready with Latin produce,” said Berkley.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Lent Matters

Frieda’s recommends building larger than normal retail displays to feature top Latin seasonal sellers such as cactus pads (nopales), fresh Poblano and Anaheim peppers, and dried peppers like Guajillo, Ancho Mulato, and Pasilla Negro. Other popular items that complement the surge in seafood sales include shallots, ginger, fennel, key limes, and Meyer and pink lemons.

For more merchandising suggestions, 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.

Frieda’s versatile egg-free wrappers are popular with shoppers

Los Alamitos, CA (February 2018) – Egg roll and wonton wrappers have always been top sellers year-round, but demand has been going up over the past few years as shoppers discover new ways to cook with them. Frieda’s impactful packaging also attracts Millennials and food lovers everywhere.

“Egg roll and wonton wrappers provide everyday meal time solutions for shoppers because they are so versatile,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “With available online tutorials and recipe videos, shoppers have the confidence to work with these wrappers, and they’re putting their own spin on how to prepare them beyond Asian cuisine. In fact, Frieda’s most-viewed Facebook video features four different ways to fold wontons.”

Beyond the traditional preparation of egg rolls and wontons, these wrappers can be used like fresh pasta sheets to make lasagna, ravioli, and tortellini. They can be baked into cups to hold salads and other fillings, or baked flat for mini pizzas and appetizers.

In addition to its bright and cheerful packaging, Frieda’s egg roll and wonton wrappers have the added appeal of being egg-free.

“Shoppers with egg sensitivities are seeking out our egg-free wrappers in their local supermarkets—they don’t want to drive across town to find a specialty market to get them,” said Berkley.

Wok this way, retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice providers! Take egg roll and wonton wrappers beyond Chinese New Year promotions and make them a permanent part of your refrigerated case. Frieda’s account managers are standing by to help you build a successful program.

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.

A few weeks ago, I was in Hawaii on vacation. One of my great pleasures on the islands is tasting all the tropical fruits grown there. Although I sell tropical fruits for a living, the truth is that nothing tastes like a ripe fruit, right off the tree.

So, after a lunch in Hilo, we decided to walk through the local farmers market on the main street through town. In California, when I go to a farmers market, I see lots of strawberries, tomatoes, citrus fruit, and avocados. In Hilo that day, I saw mounds of starfruit, guavas, lychees, chayote, rambutans, and, alas, one of my favorites, mangosteens.

Mangosteen in Hawaii

I have such fond memories of mangosteens. When I was in high school, my mom imported the first mangosteens from British Honduras, now called Belize. I remember taking some samples of the dark purple, hard-shelled fruit to school; everyone looked at me like I was crazy as I showed them how to “squeeze” the hard shell and the amazing white flesh appeared. It was like a soft, tender fruit salad. After that first imported shipment, the USDA announced that the fruit could no longer be imported due to agricultural restrictions; many tropical fruits pose a threat to California agriculture as they are hosts to damaging pests.

Currently the only fresh mangosteens we get on a consistent basis are from Thailand and they have to be irradiated due to agricultural restrictions. Just recently we have been able to import them from Mexico.

But nothing rivals my memories of eating my first mangosteen back in high school. That was until my recent day in Hilo.

As we waited for our plane to arrive to take us to Maui, we tore through the bag of mangosteens. As you can see, we made a bit of a mess. A yummy mess!

Mangosteen in Hawaii

And in case you’re wondering about the medicinal qualities of mangosteens (aka the Queen of Fruits), it is the outside shell that is used for its possible curative properties. The shell is dried and ground up to use as a supplement. Personally, I am satisfied with just the amazing flavor.

Next time you are in Hawaii, I encourage you to buy a dozen or so fruits. You will be surprised at how sweet and refreshing they are. But don’t try to bring any home to the mainland as there are strict penalties for smuggling fresh produce to the mainland U.S.!

I guess I’ll just have to go back to Hawaii soon for my mangosteen fix!

Aloha,

Karen

I’m sure I am not the only person who feels like her email inbox is being flooded daily with an overwhelming number of solicitation, informational, and junk emails, interspersed with important email communications from clients, suppliers, friends, etc.

And let’s add in there all the newsletters and media sources that feel like they need to keep us up-to-date on the latest “breaking news” multiple times a day.

For me, it’s over 200 emails a day.

Which is probably why “sort by sender” and “delete” are my two most used functions in Outlook.

Sometimes there is information I want to know about. But honestly, I don’t have time to read every single email I receive. And I just hate leaving items in my inbox, in the hope that I will go back and read them, because as my inbox continues to fill up, I ultimately, eventually delete all those “really wanted to read, but didn’t have time” emails.

Enter: Paper newsletters and magazines.

Or rather, “RE-enter.”

Remember when magazines, newspapers, and newsletters were the way we got all of our information? This was before the internet and emails, before Huffington Post and BuzzFeed. We read the daily paper newspaper from our community or region. We subscribed to magazines like Time, People, and Sunset.

And then, as the digital world expanded, the end of the paper-based news economy was predicted. There would be no newspapers and magazines would disappear.

That kind of happened for a while. But now, it seems to me that “everything old is new again.”

With the digital flooding in my inbox, I now look forward to the real paper magazines, newspapers, and newsletters I receive. I can read them at my own pace, whether on a long flight, at the nail salon, or on a leisurely Sunday morning with a cup of coffee.

And I don’t think I’m alone. In my own (produce) industry, I’ve noticed that while I continue to receive dozens of emailed breaking news items daily, it is the paper monthly magazines that get my attention the most. The glossy, color periodicals that arrive on my desk are the ones that I am able to thumb through when I am on hold. If an article is interesting and I want to share it―I rip it out and route it to my colleagues.

So, if you do any kind of communication for your business, social club, or church, I’m not sure you should have a 100-percent digital strategy. Perhaps you should consider the old-fashioned way of keeping people in the loop and send a paper newsletter. You might be surprised at how many of your customers, friends, and colleagues find it refreshing.

Comic from Poofytoo.com

Who would have thought that paper would ever be a challenge to digital? I’m sure other surprises are coming too.

Karen

On the last day of my week’s vacation on Maui, as I was getting ready for my morning walk, the Emergency Alert went off on my phone at 8:05.

I glanced at the message, and heard the echo of the alarm going off on every cell phone of the hundreds of people, attending a medical trade show, who were in the same outdoor lobby area as me.

It became surreal when I read the words, “Ballistic Missile Threat” and “this is not a drill.”
Almost immediately, my cell phone rang. It was my daughter, Alex, calling me from our hotel room on the ninth floor. “What do I do, Mom?”

“Get your clothes on and take the stairs next to the elevator and I will be standing at the bottom of the stairwell.”

The only thing that went through my mind at that moment was September 11, 2001. What did the people who survived do if they were in the Twin Towers? (They immediately made their way to ground floor of the building.)

She was down the stairs and next to me in what seemed to be seconds.

I’m sure you’ve seen the posts on Twitter, Facebook, and in the news. Actually, we both were checking Twitter constantly to get some sense if this was really happening.

We were with hundreds of people on the bottom floor of a very large hotel. There was no screaming, no rushing, no panic. We saw young moms and dads holding their infants tight, with bottles and diapers in tow. We saw people struggling to get their pants on, as many rushed out of their hotel rooms with their clothes in hand. We did see people crying and many people calling their families and loved ones. The hotel staff directed us into ballrooms, which were large and “safe” (still not sure what that means). Everyone stayed amazingly calm.

So, what do you do when you learn that a ballistic missile is headed toward you? As it turns out, not a whole heck of a lot.

It’s not like you can go to higher ground, like when there is a tsunami warning. And none of us was aware of any shelter-type areas in the hotel (although I figured the stairwell would be the safest and most secure).

It was over in about 20 minutes when the hotel staff announced that they had checked with the Maui Police Department and there was no missile threat. About 15 to 20 minutes after that, we got an Emergency Alert text telling us there was no missile threat and it was a false alarm. Those first 20 minutes flew by. Our hearts were pounding.

But most interesting was what I observed after the “all clear” sign was given.

All the business people went back to work. Our hotel was the home base for a medical trade show, so everyone went back to their booths.

I took a walk along the beach path and walked by four or five hotel pools, which normally would be surrounded with people sitting on beach chairs. There was no one at first. Then, within 45 minutes, all the chairs were filled. I overheard parents talking to their young children, saying things like, “it was OK to be scared.”

I also noticed for the rest of the day that there was an air of calmness, civility, and patience. I realize that I was in Hawaii, where everything is usually calmer than on the mainland, but even the tourists were nicer.

It’s like what happens at Christmastime…everyone is just nicer to one another. All of us strangers had faced a seemingly dire situation together that morning; it had bonded all of us on the island. So everywhere we went, people were nicer, patient, and considerate.

When Alex and I were driving to the airport, we debriefed on our morning. These are the things we discussed:

What I learned? Life is short. Do the things you want. Tell the people you love and care about that you love and care about them.

And, yes, I do plan to return to Maui later this year. No threat of a ballistic missile is going to keep me away from the beautiful skies, the warm beaches and ocean breezes, and the amazing food.

Aloha,

Karen

Alex and me on our way to Maui

Boost February impulse sales by cross-merchandising fresh berries with shelf-stable, ready-to-eat crêpes

Los Alamitos, CA (January 2018) – Boost berry sales by cross-merchandising with top-selling, value-added produce items like ready-to-eat French Style Crêpes available from Frieda’s Specialty Produce. Historically, the biggest sales period for crêpes is from Valentine’s Day through Mother’s Day in May.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - French Style Crepes - Berries

Frieda’s newly designed instant display unit holds four 12/5 oz. cases of the shelf-stable, ready-to-eat French Style Crêpes. The display and the packaging feature a bright, fun design that attracts impulse shoppers, especially millennials, and includes how to prepare crêpes in three easy steps.

“Our top retail clients suggested that we design these space-saving display units,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s. “We also found that the stand-up displays draw attention to other produce around the area and not just to the crêpe packages themselves. They definitely work well with berries and also with tropical fruits and citrus.”

These displays are also great for center aisle promotions with jams.

Call a Frieda’s account manager today for sweet deals on these crêpes displays and other Valentine’s Day promotion ideas.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - French Style Crepe Display

 

 

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 I am writing this, I am aboard a flight from Houston, Texas, back to Orange County, California. My first business trip of the year started on January 2 and took me to Ohio, where the temperature each morning was 4 degrees. Thankfully, my gloves and thick winter coat kept me insulated from the freezing cold.

Sometimes, the dramatic change in the weather from one place to the next when you are traveling on business can affect your attitude. You know what I mean—you can be a little testy, grouchy, and not a lot of fun to be around.

Can you imagine what it must be like for flight attendants—especially during this first week of the year when non-business travelers are making their way back from their holiday vacations, and students are headed back to college, and one of the worst storms of the decade is blasting the Midwest and East Coast?

So, as I made my connection in Houston and boarded my flight home to Orange County, I did what I always do when I board the plane and said hello to the flight attendant. I could tell she wasn’t having a great day. Many flights had been canceled. When I jokingly asked about getting coffee, she let me know right away that she hadn’t even set up the galley yet.

Based on her response, I wasn’t expecting a lot on this flight home.

As the flight attendant came down the aisle shortly after the flight took off, I asked for her name.

“Althea,” she said.

“That’s a beautiful name!”

She then asked for my name, which kind of surprised me.

About 30 minutes into the flight, I was startled out of my reading when someone said, “Karen, did you say you wanted some coffee?” I mean, who knew my name on this flight?

It was Althea.

“You caught me off guard, Althea!” She giggled, and she had that smile on her face for the rest of the flight.

We connected just by knowing each other’s names. And that is all it took to change someone’s attitude.

How often do you sense that someone you are interacting with is having a bad day? Like a server at the restaurant, a checker at the grocery store, the person parking your car, or even a complete stranger in line ahead of you who is grouchy or grumpy. Do you check them off as being rude and act grouchy right back at them?

The next time you encounter those people, I would encourage you to stop for a moment and perform a small act of kindness. I’m not talking about things as dramatic or expensive as those “SoCal Helpful Honda People,” springing acts of kindness across the region from giving away free pumpkins for Halloween to helping a military member get home for the holidays. (They talked about some of these acts on their radio spot. I think it’s a brilliant marketing campaign!) I’m talking about just simply treating everyone as a person. Look them in the eye, smile, say, “have a great day,” and mean it. Find out their name. Pay them a sincere compliment or thank them for their service.

These days, there are a lot of angry, grouchy people out there. People who are having a bad day for a variety of reasons—and it’s not just the weather. I do know that being kind and making a personal connection with a complete stranger can be a game changer for them and for me.

The Dalai Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” So, why don’t we start the new year with being kind, and making it our New Year’s resolution? Smile at everyone you see even if you don’t know them. Ask strangers their names and make them feel important.

Oh, and Althea did get me some coffee after all!

Karen

Shoppers seek out fruits and vegetables to boost brain health and as alternative to carb-heavy ingredients

Los Alamitos, CA (January 2018) – Brain foods and carb alternatives are two of the hottest healthy eating trends for 2018, and shoppers will be looking in the produce department to find what they need.

“Shoppers are always trying to make healthier choices at the beginning of the year, which includes seeking out fresh produce they read or hear about in the food trend lists,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Retailers must be ready to meet the demand.”

Many health publications, including “Today’s Dietitian” magazine, point to brain foods as one of the top trends for 2018. These are foods that help with cognitive function, memory, and alertness. Some brain-healthy foods include fresh fruits and vegetables high in anthocyanin, the antioxidant in blue-purple foods like blueberries, purple grapes, and Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes.

The National Restaurant Association and Natural Grocers see a trend in vegetables as carb substitutes―from spiralized vegetable “noodles” for pasta to sweet potato slices as “toasts.” Adding vegetables to unexpected dishes like oatmeal, smoothies, and desserts to add nutritional values, colors, and flavors is also a trend to watch for.

“The Stokes Purple® sweet potato is on those lists as a hip and healthy food to eat in 2018,” said Berkley. “In addition to being a source of brain-healthy anthocyanin, Stokes Purple® sweet potato fans have been adding them to everything from breakfast burritos to brownies.

“Retailers can tie in the ‘Power of Purple’ with Ultra Violet being 2018’s color of the year for their promotions,” added Berkley. In December, Pantone, the global authority on color, announced Ultra Violet as the color of 2018 that will be seen everywhere from fashion to food.

Call Frieda’s account managers today to kick off your “Power of Purple” program and start 2018 off right.

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.

Take egg roll and wonton wrappers beyond Asian cuisine

Egg rolls and wontons have never wandered far out of the American culinary purview.  After all, Chinese cuisine is one of the most popular ethnic foods in the U.S.

However, we have seen surge in popularity with egg roll and wonton wrappers in recent years as more people are cooking at home. Home cooks are wrapping and rolling fearlessly with all the video tutorials out there to guide them along the way, and with the wrappers being readily available at supermarkets.

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

But egg rolls and wontons have come a long way from the traditional filling of meat and vegetables and deep frying. Have you tried the Tex Mex, avocado, or salmon egg rolls at the Cheesecake Factory? Or perhaps the chicken wonton tacos at Applebee’s?

Clearly, these little pastry sheets are definitely meant for so much more than just egg rolls and wontons. They’re just waiting for you to unwrap and unleash a delicious culinary world beyond the traditional Asian applications.

Applebee's Chicken Wonton Tacos

Wok, away, grasshopper! Here are three creative ways to use egg roll and wonton wrappers.

Meal In a Cup

Eggroll wrappers fit perfectly into standard muffin tins, and smaller wonton wrappers are adorable in mini tins! After a quick trip to the oven, these pastry cups are ready to be filled with just about anything from sweet to savory.

How to: Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil, then fit one wrapper into each cup. Depending on a recipe, you may fill them and bake them off all in one go, or you may have to bake the cups first, fill them, then bake again. Either way, the results are the same: delicious, bite-size morsels!

With what do you fill them? Anything you heart desired! You can just spoon in some Chinese chicken salad, or take a southwestern turn and fill with black bean salad with avocado. For a hot meal, try ricotta cheese with meat sauce topped with mozzarella for a lasagna cup, ground turkey taco filling topped with cheese and tomatoes, or jalapeno poppers like this one below.

[youtube=https://youtu.be/wVQiP5kvomM]

Fresh Pasta Stand-In

No time to roll out fresh pasta? Egg roll and wonton wrappers to the rescue!

Use egg roll wrappers as lasagna sheets. No need to pre-cook the noodles! Just layer them in as you would with your regular lasagna application. Cover and bake until the noodles are cooked through, then you can bake a little longer or put the lasagna under the broiler if you like that brown and melty, cheesy crust.

As for wonton wrappers, they are just the right size for making ravioli. Fill these sheets with anything from simple ricotta (and bake for appetizer) to the show stopping raviolo al uovo with ricotta and runny egg yolk center.

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

Sweet Sensations

The sky’s the limit when it comes to using egg roll and wonton wrappers for desserts! Make the dessert cups by brushing on melted butter instead of non-stick spray. Sprinkle on some cinnamon-sugar for a perfect ice cream vessel (hm…dulce de lechce ice cream…), apple pie filling, or cannoli cream.

You can also make traditional shaped egg rolls and wontons that are crispy on the outside and filled with oozy, gooey, yummy sweet fillings like fried chocolate hazelnut banana raviolis, or S’more egg rolls filled with chocolate and marshmallow fluff.

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

And by the way, these egg roll and wonton wrappers freeze really well. Pack unused portions into a zip top back, squeeze out all the air, and pop them into the freezer. They’ll keep for at least two months. Just thaw them out in your refrigerator overnight before use.

But seriously though, with all the things you can make with these wrappers, we doubt you’ll have them in your freezer that long.

Peak season citrus and fresh vegetables play major roles in this food-centric lunar festival

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Hang the red lanterns, gather your citrus fruits, and cook your noodles. On February 16, it’s time to welcome the year of the Dog!

Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) is the most important traditional Chinese holiday, and is celebrated around the world. The celebration starts on the second new moon after the winter solstice, which is on February 8, 2016, and goes on for 15 days. During this time, also known as the Spring Festival, those who celebrate visit temples to pay respect to their ancestors and pray for good fortune in the coming year. Small red envelopes of money are given to children as a token of good luck and prosperity. And, like most any family-centered holiday, everyone gathers around for a family feast, making Chinese New Year one of the biggest food holidays of the year.

Food is definitely a focus of Chinese New Year celebration, but it’s more than just nourishment. In Chinese traditions, foods served during the festival have auspicious meanings. Chinese traditions are rich with 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 or Asian Radish. In one Chinese dialect, the word for radish is a homophone for “good fortune.” This is why the savory radish cake is traditionally eaten during Chinese New Year celebration. But Daikon is more versatile than that. It can be added to soups and stews, steamed, or eaten fresh, chopped up or thinly shaved into salads.

Daikon could be a part of the mixed vegetable dish that represents family unity. This typical stir-fry is made with a touch of oyster sauce for business success and a mix of vegetables like Shanghai Bok Choy for close family ties, and Woodear and Shiitake Mushrooms for longevity.

The ultimate longevity blessing, however, comes from the noodles. Long and uncut, they symbolize long life. While Chow Mein is a traditional choice, other Asian noodles like Yakisoba are used for pan-fries and stir-fries, and Udons are used in soups. Shrimp may be added for liveliness and pork for abundance of blessings.

One of the many Chinese New Year wishes translates to “May your happiness be without limit.” With good eating like this, it definitely is the beginning of a very happy year!

Kung Hei Fat Choy! (Happy New Year and be prosperous!)

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I don’t know about you, but this year just flew by for me. Thankfully, the great thing about being a blogger is I can recall most of the things that were on my mind this year as I wrote them all down!

Looking Back

It has been gratifying to see people’s reaction and responses to my posts here. And when I repost on LinkedIn, I get a real-time sense whether what I am writing about is relevant.

To Hug or Not to Hug” is my most read and shared post of 2017. Soon after that post, the big Hollywood misconduct story broke, and people who discovered my post later were surprised that I would write about that in this climate. When I wrote it, I wanted to talk about how important personal, and sometimes physical, connection has become in this age of impersonal communication technology. Interesting turn of events, isn’t it?

Another interesting and controversial topic I wrote about last year is The Unexpected Question About Cannabis. It’s the hottest California crop right now and a very timely subject to discuss because it’s going to be legal in California in just a few days.

Even more polarizing was my recent post about Non-GMO Madness. It’s good to understand different points of view and get all the information we need to make an informed decision.

The next popular post was Lessons from Billionaire Stewart Resnick. My key takeaway from Stewart is that you have to spend time on things you don’t like in order to do the things you really love. It is clear that this message resonates with many of you.

It also became clear to me that we are all getting bored with our fitness routines when I posted Why I Quit My Gym. Just so you know, I’m still changing things up as I go.

I’m also thrilled that I got to share one of my all-time favorite books with you. I hope The Five-Second Rule That Changes Everything is also now one that you follow.

Looking Forward

As we reflect on the past year and give some thought to what we want to do in 2018, I am happy to share what I’m thinking for the new year:

Spend time with my top 5 people. As my dear friend Jack Daly advised, think about the top three to five people (besides your family members) who you spend the most time with. Are they “upping your game, adding to your life?” Or does hanging out with them feel like an obligation? I’ve decided to only spend time with people who are positive, add to my life, and I truly enjoy. No more obligations!

See the country…and the world. I already have trips planned this year to visit the Grand Canyon, Maui, South Africa, Australia, Panama, and Italy. There is no time like the present to work on that bucket list!

Golf more. I have been enjoying golf since I picked up the clubs earlier this year, so I want to do more of that. And the best part is being outdoors and being with friends.

Hug! You already know that I’m a hugger. And I will keep hugging people when I see them!

Allocate some private time for myself every day. Whether it is first thing each morning when I meditate or when I journal at the end of the day, making quiet time for me is an important part of work/life balance.

Source: Woodbourne Designs LLC on Etsy

Happy New Year, and may 2018 be the best ever!

Karen

I noticed a dramatic decrease in the number of holiday cards I received at work this year. This could be due to people trying to be more mindful of the environment by using less paper, trying to save money, realizing that sending out cards en masse for business may be out of date, or all of the above.

Whatever the reason is, I’m happy fewer cards are sent. Let me tell you why.

In business, I do not understand sending a holiday card to a supposedly important client, when there is nothing personal about the card. You know what I mean.

The inside of the card is pre-printed with the sending company’s name or logo, which may or may not include the names of the owners or the employee who sent it. And don’t get me started on adding digital signatures!

Although mail-merged, printed address labels are obviously impersonal, I can understand the efficiency of that method. But digital signatures?

If I’m an important client of a company, how important do I feel if I get a pre-printed card that looks like it was ordered from a card company from 20 years ago with a digital signature and no personal message? Not at all, that’s how I feel.

There is no personal relationship here with this card someone picked out of a catalog from a greeting card company they’ve been buying from for years. Nobody stopped to ask, “Does this still make sense to send these cards?”

Going with digital cards doesn’t make it much better either. A “happy holidays” email blasted out to a mass email list may have a clever image of the staff or product, but it doesn’t have a personal note from whoever is sending it. Just what I need for the holidays, another impersonal email taking up space in my inbox.

These days, people want a personal connection. In today’s world, where we can be overwhelmed and deluged with mass emails and robo-calls, it’s nice to receive a personal message, especially during the holidays.

Everyone should make their own decision on whether they want to invest the time and money to send out holiday cards. My only request is to think about what message you are sending with your holiday greeting choices.

For me, it has always been that personal touch. For business, I send my contacts personalized emails, one person at a time. If it’s a close relationship, I text them and sometimes we end up chatting on the phone after.

As for my personal greeting cards, I’m old-fashioned. I hand-address my holiday cards. Yes, I could have printed labels, but it’s important to me personally to address them myself because as I address them, I think about each person and send my loving thoughts to them. It’s an intention I make with each and every card I send.

If you do decide to send out a holiday card or email, consider adding a special touch to your greeting by making a donation to a charity in honor of your friends and colleagues. It could be to their favorite charities or a cause of your choice that you know they’d support.

Keep it real this holiday season!

Karen

Non-GMO vodka? Really?

When I saw this ad, I realized it’s finally time to blog about GMOs. I have been putting off writing this post for many years because GMOs are a controversial subject. And that is mostly because many people do not know the facts about GMOs. So I will share some of what I know and what I’ve learned so far, in hopes that you will be more enlightened to make your own decision about them.

First of all, what is a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) when it comes to crops? GMOAnswers says this:

Genetic engineering, also referred to as biotechnology, allows plant breeders to take a desirable trait found in nature and transfer it from one plant or organism to the plant they want to improve, as well as make a change to an existing trait in a plant they are developing. Some examples of desirable traits commonly transferred include resistance to insects and disease, and tolerance to herbicides that allows farmers to better control weeds.

Clearly, GMO is a scientific term, stating exactly what it is—a genetically modified organism. I’m sure a roomful of scientists didn’t think that one day the term GMO would be used when referring to consumer goods, especially food.

The words “genetically modified organism” sound scary from the get-go. So it does not surprise me that most people react negatively to the term, even if they don’t know what GMO stands for. (“Something that has to do with genetics?” is what I usually hear.)

Furthermore, it didn’t help that in the earlier days of GMO science, there were stories going around about scientists putting the genes from fish into vegetables, causing concern for people who have fish allergies. Some of those stories are still going around today.

Here are some facts about GMOs.

Currently only 10 crops in the U.S. have been genetically engineered (using precise plant breeding) and are commercially available. They are corn, soybeans, cotton, canola, alfalfa, sugar beets, one papaya (the rainbow variety from Hawaii), some squash, one potato (less-browning), and one apple (non-browning Arctic variety). Some of these items only have one cultivar, like the Arctic apple, which was created using genetic engineering, meaning that the rest of the varieties were not genetically modified.

What bothers me most about the term GMO is that an entire industry has sprung up around the frenzy, such as the Non-GMO Project, which claims to verify products for being non-GMO even when, in fact, those products don’t include any of the 10 crops listed.

A prime example is the vodka shown above in the ad. While some vodka is distilled from potatoes, Ketel One is made with wheat. Oh, excuse me, it’s “non-GMO grain.” Since wheat is already a non-GMO crop, this really isn’t anything to write home about. Yet, the company decided to jump on the non-GMO bandwagon and make a claim that makes the consumer wonder about other brands of vodka.

I personally don’t think that’s right.

Even though our media seems to thrive on scaring viewers, or inciting worry and filling people with doubt, I get mildly annoyed when I see “Non-GMO Verified” on foods that are simply outside of that category.

Now, the website GMOAnswers I cited from earlier is supported by many seed companies that fund research in seed production, which may include genetically engineered products. I also know that there are many forms of breeding, of which genetically engineered is just one. There are old technologies like natural breeding, and some very new technologies like gene editing with CRISPR/Cas9.

I know that the technological advances being made in food production and agriculture can help us grow more food to eradicate hunger on the planet, producing plants that are disease-resistant or drought-tolerant, or plants that can thrive on over-salinized soil or that contains additional nutrients. For example, Golden Rice is genetically-modified to contain beta-carotene to fight vitamin A deficiency in south and southeast Asia. And with the way that the Cavendish bananas we know and love are suffering from a catastrophically devastating disease, GMO may be the only way to save the world’s crop.

In contrast, there is an ever-growing movement toward nutrient-dense foods, dealing with mineral depletion in our diet, and more organic food production, which is wonderful and affordable for first-world countries that have plenty of disposable income.

So, what can you do? Educate yourself. Know that just because you read it on the Internet does not make it the truth. In doing research for this post, I found websites that had clearly incorrect information on them, information that was written with a hidden agenda to promote their products, their brands, and their lifestyle.

Next time you see “Non-GMO Verified” on a product package, I hope you will see if the product is one of the 10 crops listed above.

Also, by definition, anything that is USDA-certified Organic cannot use GMO crops.

Disclaimer: I am not unilaterally for or against GMOs. I am in favor of knowing all the facts from both sides of the conversation and forming one’s own opinion. Eyes wide open.

Karen

Frieda’s Specialty Produce offers special training and programming to help retailers ring in Year of the Dog

Los Alamitos, CA (December 2017) – Draw in shoppers to your store with the unique food experience of a Chinese New Year promotion. Frieda’s Specialty Produce offers special support to customers who book a Chinese New Year promotion by January 10; it includes a holiday promotion playbook, team training, point-of-sale support, and key merchandising recommendations to create a successful program.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Chinese New Year 2018 - Year of the Dog

Chinese New Year (also known as “Lunar New Year” or “Spring Festival”) is one of the biggest food holidays, and is celebrated across the country and around the world. The Year of the Dog begins on February 16, but the celebration starts a few days before and continues for 15 days afterward with feasts focusing on fresh produce, meat, and seafood.

Since the number six is considered lucky in Chinese tradition, here are six reasons retailers need Chinese New Year promotions.

1. Boost Winter Sales

Other winter promotions like the Big Game and Valentine’s Day promotions do not always translate into bigger sales in the produce department. However, the Chinese New Year celebration is all about fruits and vegetables, and it goes beyond just the one day.

“The celebration may begin a few days before the actual new year’s day on February 16, but the key to success is to have your stores ready to go with full displays starting in early February and continue promotions through the end of the month,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, assistant sales manager at Frieda’s.

2. Unique In-store Experience

According to SupermarketGuru’s 2018 trends forecast, shoppers will be looking for a multi-sensory food experience—they want to interact with foods. “Chinese New Year is a great opportunity to engage in-store shoppers with an experience they can’t get from shopping online, and that definitely will set your store apart from the competition,” said Berkley. “Make an event out of the holiday with sampling and cross-promotions with other departments.”

3. Produce Showcase

Traditional feasts feature top Asian sellers such as ginger, daikon radishes, and Shanghai bok choy. “Create a destination with a refrigerated Chinese New Year spot display with Asian staple vegetables and complementary items such as wonton and egg roll wrappers, edamame, and kimchi,” recommended Berkley. “Specialty citrus such as kumquats, pummelo, and mandarin oranges are used as gifts, so a bountiful citrus display will not go unnoticed.”

4. Halo Effect

Shoppers buying produce items for Chinese New Year will also purchase seafood, meat, floral arrangements, and other center-aisle Asian grocery items. “The promotions can span the store through collaboration with other departments to further boost sales,” said Berkley.

5. A Food Holiday for All

This promotion is not just for Asian shoppers who celebrate the holiday. “Chinese New Year is a foodie holiday!” said Berkley. “After all, Chinese food is one of the top three most consumed ethnic foods in the United States. Shoppers are looking for ingredients to make authentic meals at home. This promotion is the perfect opportunity to showcase your Asian produce selection to all shoppers, a key to remaining competitive.”

Asian cuisines and flavors have been trending for the past few years, across all regions of the U.S. A Chinese New Year promotion gives retailers the opportunity to feature their specialty offerings so shoppers will return for their Asian grocery needs throughout the year.

6. Attract Growing Asian Population

“With a Chinese New Year promotion, retailers can start building a relationship with the growing Asian demographic,” said Berkley.

According to a Nielsen report, Asian-Americans are the fastest growing population with significant buying power. Asians of Chinese ancestry represent about 20 percent of the group. Asian-Americans purchase 72 percent more fresh vegetables and 29 percent more fresh fruit per household than does the total U.S. population.

Frieda’s has a proven, nearly 45-year track record for helping produce retailers create successful Chinese New Year programs. Get ahead of the pack and call Frieda’s account managers today to book a Chinese New Year promotion. Also find more inspiration here.

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.

Bring the Color of the Year into supermarkets with vibrant purple produce

Los Alamitos, CA (December 2017) – Purple still reigns, according to Pantone, the global authority on color, announcing “Ultra Violet” as the 2018 Color of the Year. Pantone’s selection comes on the heels of a report by Frieda’s Specialty Produce naming colorful produce (including purple) a 2018 food trend.

Each year, Pantone chooses a color that symbolizes design trends and the cultural mood. “Inventive and imaginative, Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come,” according to Pantone’s website.

“The description of Ultra Violet hits home with us because purple has been our color from the very beginning,” said Alex Jackson Berkley of Frieda’s. “My grandmother, Frieda Rapoport Caplan, opened the business with a purple sign in 1962. She was the first woman to own a produce business and purple became a symbolic color for the company’s passion and innovation.”

Since 2012, when Frieda’s launched their “Power of Purple” program, they have been helping customers create exciting in-store experiences around this popular color.

“The popularity of purple produce shows no sign of slowing as more shoppers are discovering the nutritional values of purple produce and the photo-friendly color it adds to their plates,” said Berkley. “With Pantone’s latest news, we are already creating some new promotions and programs to increase the customer experience in store. Stay tuned for our announcements in the near future.”

As the purple produce experts, Frieda’s team is at the ready to help produce merchandisers bring #PurplePowerToThePeople by creating bountiful purple displays showcasing purple cauliflower, asparagus, baby potatoes, kohlrabi, and baby carrots, along with passion fruit, eggplant, radicchio, Treviso, and shoppers’ favorite Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes.

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.

Contra-seasonal availability creates hot holiday sales opportunities

Los Alamitos, CA (December 2017) – The Southern Hemisphere is lighting up the Northern Hemisphere with supplies of fresh lychees for the holiday season. Starting in now, Frieda’s offer South African-grown lychees to customers in 10-pound bulk cartons and 12-ounce clamshells, which reduce shrink and leakage.

Fresh lychees have traditionally been available in spring and early summer from the Americas, so contra-seasonal availability has opened up additional sales opportunities for retailers during the holiday months. Since South African lychee import to the U.S. was permitted in 2015, Frieda’s has distributed increasing volume and expects this season to be the best yet with supplies through January.

The Asian demographic has traditionally been the top purchasers of lychees in the U.S. and they tend to buy in bulk. Since Chinese New Year starts on February 18, stocking up on lychee in January will help create more sales. Furthermore, the fruit’s popularity has grown in recent years, expanding the demand to culinary enthusiasts and millennials who are more likely to purchase the product in a clamshell, helping to reduce shrink for the retailer.

“Getting lychees this time of year is an absolute treat and they will be quickly snapped up by shoppers as an impulse buy,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, senior account manager at Frieda’s. “And because they tend to be a limited-supply and hard-to-find fruit, shoppers do not mind paying a premium for them, especially during the holiday season.”

The renowned lychee has rough, bumpy skin with a juicy, grape-like flesh and one large inedible seed. Lychees feature a fragrant sweet-tart flavor profile. Frieda’s recommends displaying fresh lychees under refrigeration to extend shelf life.

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’m a coffee drinker. Actually, in some ways I am a bit of a coffee snob. At home, I’ve switched from my beloved Peet’s coffee (which I have brewed every morning for at least 15 years) to my new favorite, Lavazza Classico medium roast. It’s not quite as strong as Peet’s, yet very rich-bodied.

But occasionally, especially in the evenings, I like to have a cup of tea. Especially when I am cold.

I’m pretty boring with the tea—Lipton’s black tea and hot water.

But last week, while visiting a tea-drinking friend, I was introduced to a much more sophisticated form of the home tea experience.

Enter the Breville One-Touch Tea Maker.

You can watch a four-minute YouTube video about how the One-Touch Tea Maker works.

Here is a quick recap of what I learned about tea: Different types of tea (black, green, or herbal) require different temperatures of water and lengths of time for steeping. Who knew?

 

As someone whose tea experimentation has revolved around ordering Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea when I am out and only drinking Lipton’s when I’m home, I was intrigued with what is known as “The Art of Tea.” I never considered that different tea types might have optimal flavor when brewed at difference temperatures. Or that steeping time would have such a tremendous effect.

But then again, I am a coffee drinker. I do understand the difference between Robusta and Arabica coffee beans and that you grind them differently depending on whether you have a drip coffee maker, French press, or pour-over cone.

I actually do have a Nespresso machine, a large French press, and my tried-and-true Capresso coffee maker, all sitting on my kitchen counter. And an electric kettle that I bought last year for making my evening tea.

But now, after watching the One-Touch Tea Maker, with its basket being slowly lowered into perfectly heated water, I can see how tea drinkers would enjoy their own specialty tea-brewing accessory to make their tea experience as enjoyable as my early morning coffee-brewing ritual.

So, if you have a close friend or loved one who just loves tea, you may want to splurge and get them a One-Touch for Hanukkah or Christmas. Or maybe for yourself!

Happy tea drinking!

Karen

Specialty produce trend-setter forecasts five fresh fruit and vegetable trends

Los Alamitos, CA (November 2017) – Supermarket shoppers will be perusing the produce aisles in search of new flavors and food experiences in 2018. Brick-and-mortar retailers with the right item mix can take advantage of this experiential path to purchase in ways that no online shop can offer.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce calls out five items that can add value to produce departments by attracting those key consumers who seek experiences in food and like to travel with their taste buds.

Jicama

Frieda's Specialty Produce -Jicama

“I believe 2018 will be the year of jicama,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s, who noted that more retailers are offering fresh-cut jicama sticks than ever before. “It has only taken 45 years for jicama to become a household name since Frieda’s introduced it to produce retailers in 1972!” The Whole Foods 2018 trend report also called out shaved jicama as a vegetable alternative to grain-based taco shells.

Frieda’s also sees jicama in a position for growth in the super-foods category, thanks to its excellent nutritional value, which includes a high level of vitamin C and gut-friendly properties. San Francisco-based food development firm Mattson identified healing foods as a trend from the 2017 Natural Products Expo East. The natural sugars and fiber in jicama are considered a prebiotic for the digestive tract, meaning it helps create the right environment for good bacteria (probiotics) to flourish in the gut.

“With all the research and development in the field of the gut microbiome, I believe that produce like jicama and Sunchokes® will continue to be in high demand for 2018 and beyond,” Caplan said.

Dragon Fruit/Pitaya

Now available in a rainbow of colors, mainstream U.S. consumers are really catching on to dragon fruit, also known as pitaya. They have seen dragon fruit in flavor and fragrance marketing, and frozen in smoothies, and now they are finding it fresh in their supermarkets as multiple countries are supplying the U.S. marketplace with various skin colors, varieties, and internal flesh colors. For example, Israel exports several different varieties, including a unique desert-grown type with a pine cone-like shape and high flavor. Nicaragua exports a rounder-shaped, deeply pigmented, red-flesh variety. And Vietnam exports a large white-flesh variety with high visual appeal and long brachs (leaves).

[youtube=https://youtu.be/N9GCh-CNowU]

“With several 2018 food trend forecasts pointing to Instagram-ready colorful cuisine and upscale non-alcoholic cocktails, the vibrant magenta-colored dragon fruit is poised for a big year,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, senior account manager at Frieda’s.

Jackfruit

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Jackfruit

The mother of all tropical fruits has attracted quite a fan base over the past two years, thanks in part to its use as a meat texture substitute, similar to pulled pork, when unripe and green. However, Frieda’s “trendologists” believe the sweet, complex flavor of the ripe jackfruit has yet to be discovered by the masses.

“Ripe jackfruit is enjoyed in Asia as a snack or dessert. It has a delicious sweetness reminiscent of Juicy Fruit gum,” said Berkley. “In 2018 we expect to see more savvy retailers offering ripe jackfruit sections, overwrapped, in their fresh-cut coolers.

“We also discovered that the jackfruit’s large seeds are edible when cooked, and may be ground into a flour to use in baking,” Berkley added. Frieda’s expects to see more exploration in the use of jackfruit seeds, as it aligns with two emerging food trends: alternative flour sources and root-to-stem cooking.

Purple and More

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Purple Power - Retail Display

“Whole Foods called the purple food trend in 2017, but Frieda’s has been promoting the purple produce movement since 2012, and we believe it’s still trending up,” Berkley said.

More consumers are learning about the role of anthocyanins—the natural purple pigment found in produce—and other micronutrients in their health. Frieda’s Stokes Purple® Sweet Potato is one example of a vegetable loaded with anthocyanins, while purple-skinned fruits, such as concord grapes, share a similar benefit.

The Packaged Facts 2018 food trends forecast also claims, “Color is the new sugar,” pointing to naturally vibrant foods like beets that act like eye candy. In addition, Packaged Facts identifies sweet potato as a 2018 culinary star and another way to add color to vegetarian and vegan plates.

Frieda’s also expects to see fresh cut food processors adding more purple-hued produce to their veggie noodle product lines in 2018.

Fresh Turmeric

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Turmeric - Fresh & Trending

Still on the rising trend train for 2018, turmeric has caught on with early adopters for its anti-inflammatory health benefits. With the increase in supply to the U.S. market from growers in Jamaica and Fiji, more supermarkets are stocking this healing root.

“We continue to see fresh turmeric as an ingredient in fresh-pressed juices and smoothies, and even lattes,” Berkley said. Roots like fresh turmeric and ginger have been prized for centuries for their medicinal properties. “With the rise in the #selfcare movement, this buzzword often equates to people turning to natural remedies and fresh whole foods,” she added.

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.

One of my goals this year has been to see if I like playing golf. (I wrote about this in an earlier blog.)

I found an instructor, bought a set of clubs, and have been periodically going to the driving range to practice. For some reason, I had it in my head that I needed to keep practicing for a while, before I should head out to play actual golf on a golf course.

And then my instructor had to take a break from teaching, and I got busy with other things. So it’s been a couple of months since I’ve hit the ball. But last weekend, I went to visit friends in Prescott, Arizona, and when they heard I had taken up golf, they arranged for us to play a round.

Needless to say I was a little nervous. In addition to the fact that I hadn’t hit a ball for two months, I also had never played a full round of golf before. Thankfully my friends were easy going, and we didn’t have to keep score.

At the end of the afternoon, as we were heading off to the last hole, I realized I had gained a few insights:

  1. It’s a good idea to take a practice swing before hitting the ball. It loosens you up and helps set the pace for your next swing (the real one). This is the same as other parts of your life, sales, for example; it’s always a good idea to practice your sales pitch before your actual presentation to get the right pace.
  2. Don’t wait too long between your practice swing and the actual swing – if you stand there too long, you will tense up, concentrating and thinking so hard. The same thing can happen in sales. If you are concentrating too hard to make a sale, or give a sales pitch, you can cause tension in yourself. It’s better to breathe deeply, relax, and do a quick run through before your presentation. Then, with the same rhythm, speak to your actual client.
  3. If you only practice (like go to the driving range) and never jump in and play (a round of golf), you won’t fully appreciate the entire golf experience. In sales, I would equate this to the person who spends an enormous amount of time preparing for a sales presentation, tweaking every slide, considering every possibility that will come up in the conversation, rather than using the information she has and enjoying the sales conversation.

In life, and in sales, just like in golf, there are hills and valleys in the conversation, sand traps, fast greens, and trees in the way. But the key is to use all the clubs you have in your bag, admit when you’ve lost a ball, enjoy the scenery, and at the end of the day, be grateful, not frustrated with the experience.

Thanks to my friends David and Paula Lund for so many life lessons on the golf course.

Happy golfing and Happy Thanksgiving!

Karen

My friends David and Paula
My high school friend, Paula and me

I attend a lot of events. Many are for business, like the one I attended in San Francisco earlier this week—#BrandStorm. About 200, mostly strangers, gathered in a giant ballroom listening to interesting speakers and then moving to meal functions and breakout sessions over two days.

Just before the second day’s morning session, many people were taking their seats around the room, arranging themselves at the round tables for 10. And I noticed something. I immediately put my things down, grabbed my coffee, and started moving around the room, saying hello to a few industry friends and familiar faces. If I didn’t know someone at a table, I smiled, and then introduced myself and asked them to do the same.

But what I noticed was that no one was doing the same thing. No one.

Flickr_Gauthier DELECROIX
PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr/Gauthier Delecroix

I realize I am an extrovert, and a morning person, so this kind of thing is kind of in my genes. But it really struck me that not a single other person in a room of about 200 was introducing themselves. Everyone seemed to be checking their email or looking over the program. And this was a marketing conference, so it would make sense that people would be introducing themselves and getting to know others. And that’s when it hit me. “Networking” has almost become a bad word.

It used to mean a way you meet new people, but now it’s become work. Like, it takes a lot of effort and you may have to try really hard. It may not seem natural or authentic. You may appear to be working the room.

My blog post last week, “To Hug or Not to Hug,” received almost 8,000 views on LinkedIn alone, more than three times as many as most of my blogs. I sense that the message of physical touch really resonated with people.

The lack of networking at #BrandStorm and the reaction to that blog have made me realize that in this day of email overload, the need to be available 24/7, and our apparent inability to “unplug,” people really do want connection. Physical connection. Personal connection. Emotional connection. We crave them all.

So, I’ve decided that instead of using the word “networking” and having that visual image of working the room, we should call it “connecting.” Connecting makes you feel differently. It’s not work. It’s personal. It’s satisfying. It’s sincere.

As we move into the holidays and attend many social events, keep in mind that you will be able to connect with people. And hopefully that will bring a smile to your face!

Karen

Flickr_GreentechMedia
PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr/Greentech Media

Plan now to take advantage of good quality and steady supply from California

Los Alamitos, CA (November 2017) – California citrus season is underway, and Frieda’s Specialty Produce offers selling solutions and a suite of products for a successful winter citrus program.

“Frieda’s is bringing on more citrus growers each season to increase our volume and variety of products,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, senior account manager at Frieda’s. “Not only are we able to offer a reliable source of supply, we are also able to provide solutions for easy selling at the retail level.”

Frieda's Specialty Produce - California Citrus

Frieda’s offers a special program set for January through March, featuring top sellers such as “adorable” kumquats, key limes, and Meyer, pink, and seedless lemons in easy-to-merchandise pouches. Along with blood and Cara Cara oranges, mandarin varieties, pummelos, and Ugli®/uniq fruit, Frieda’s has a line of unique citrus items like Buddha’s Hand citron, sweet limes, limequats, and calamondin (calamansi) that are growing in popularity in the culinary world.

“Citrus is a category that provides inspiration for consumers during the winter months,” says Berkley. “With a limited season and many options, you can keep consumers on their toes with citrus.”

Call Frieda’s account managers today to pre-book and plan your winter citrus program.

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.

Have you noticed that it is not entirely unusual for people in business to hug each other when saying hello or goodbye? Back in the day, when we had a business meeting, we were all very formal, and shook hands before and after meetings. We would never think of hugging someone we do business with. Hugs were reserved for family members and very close friends.

But I’ve noticed that it has become OK to hug people in business and I think it says a lot about what’s going on in the world today.

I think all of us need a hug every once in a while. In this time of being Facebook “friends” or LinkedIn “connections,” it’s hard to know who is really your friend and who is just a connection (formerly referred to as an acquaintance). With so many people in business working remotely or from their home offices, it’s hard to feel connected to your work colleagues. And if you travel a lot, or just have a long commute, it’s equally as hard to feel connected to your family.

So what do you do?

One of my coworkers, Oakley, used to ride a commuter bus to work in downtown Los Angeles. Five days a week, she rode on the bus with the same group of strangers. Over the years, they got to know each other. Now, many years later, they have all changed jobs multiple times. And they have an annual reunion dinner because they became actual friends! Their bond? Riding the bus together, first as strangers.

For me, I’ve noticed some unintended consequences of connecting with industry work colleagues via Facebook. As I see photos of their family vacations, life cycle events, or personal challenges (like running a marathon), I feel more connected to them. Now when I see them at an industry event, I know quite a bit about them (based on their posts) and suddenly there is a personal connection. Instead of shaking their hands, I find myself hugging them and asking about their family, their new child or grandchild, or home. It’s amazing how connected you feel when people open up and share what’s going on in their personal lives.

Flickr/Kashmut
Photo Credit: Flickr/Kashmut

I still do shake hands with new business colleagues or acquaintances. But after a nice meal together, I find myself saying goodbye with a hug, more often than with a handshake. And I’ve noticed the same thing happening with both women and men. I see a lot of guys do that “chest bump” hug that doesn’t look entirely sincere, but provides the same affectionate bonding.

How do you feel about this? Do you find yourself only shaking hands with people you meet, or have you found the same thing going on? That a hug is more satisfying? It provides a different kind of connection, one we all need.

So, in this day of pervasive working remotely, commuting two to three hours a day, or finding your closest friends are your Facebook friends, I give you permission to hug people, instead of just shaking their hands.

I think you will find, like I have, that the personal, tactile connection is deeply satisfying and grounding. And helps you get through the day.

Hugs,

Karen

Popular purple tubers and other purple produce are in demand for holiday feasts

Los Alamitos, CA (November 2017) – Everyone is looking for these Instagram-famous Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes for their fall feasts. Draw shoppers in to your produce department with a big, beautiful sweet potato display featuring these purple-skinned tubers.

“Our retail partners say the best time of year to promote Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes is the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, senior account manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “With sweet potatoes remaining a trendy and staple produce item, and shoppers looking to add color to the Thanksgiving table, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes will sell out for the holiday.

“Conventional Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes can be merchandised with other sweet potatoes, and the organic ones can be in the organic section,” said Berkley. “Purple deserves a place at the holiday table.” Add purple cauliflower, purple asparagus, baby purple potatoes, and radicchio to round out the holiday purple vegetable set.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Purple is the New Orange

Other popular volume holiday items from Frieda’s include fingerling and baby potatoes, Frieda’s Star Spangled Spuds, ginger, shallots, blood oranges, Fuyu persimmons, and Green Dragon apples.

(Turkey) Trot over to the phone and call a Frieda’s account manager to book your holiday orders 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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Last Saturday evening I was invited to a gratitude party for L.A. Compost. “Gratitude Party.” What a great way to thank your supporters in a non-pretentious way. And the price of entry? Make a donation of an amount you feel comfortable with to support L.A. Compost!

Getting there was a bit of a driving adventure as it was located in a warehouse/gallery in a small neighborhood near Dodger Stadium (Go, Dodgers!). Even though it was only about 20 miles from my house, it took an hour to get there, weaving through the neighborhoods of South Central L.A. It actually wasn’t too far from Chinatown and DTLA (downtown LA), and the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market where I worked after college.

The founder of L.A. Compost, Michael Martinez, greeted the small group of 80 people shortly after I arrived. His story was so inspiring. Originally from Los Angeles, he ended up as a Teach for America school teacher in Miami-Dade, Florida. During his time as a teacher, Michael was astounded that the young people he worked with didn’t know where their food came from. He helped the students, their families, and the community create communal gardens at the school. He remembers the kids getting so excited to see broccoli and other vegetables growing that they actually fought over who would get to eat the food!

Me with Michael of L.A. Compost

When he relocated back to Los Angeles, and with the passion that obviously percolated while working for Teach for America, he decided he wanted to make a difference here in SoCal. So he founded L.A. Compost, a nonprofit that began by working with four schools to lead students in composting waste from cafeteria kitchens. Michael also oversees compost and garden hubs at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and the University of Southern California, where he runs school and community workshops.

L.A. Compost has grown and now helps set up composting hubs around the greater Los Angeles area.

The gallery where the event was held was filled with various pop-up displays demonstrating how composting works and highlighting a few other organizations. Two of the pop-ups really caught my eye.

Imperfect Produce offers home delivery of misshapen fresh fruits and vegetables that would normally not make its way to consumers. Its business model is, essentially, to seize the rejects! Imperfect Produce, an actual company, and other organizations are finding ways to reduce the amount of wasted food by making it “sexy” to be ugly, misshapen, and dimply. (Conventional supermarkets and club stores typically insist on consistently sized and pristine-looking produce, and will reject it for blemishes or marks that really have no effect on the eating quality.)

Next to Imperfect Produce was a pop-up for L.A. Kitchen, which was started in 2015 by Robert Egger (who also started the famous DC Central Kitchen). Robert created a teaching kitchen, reclamation center for wasted food, and feeding facility for low-income senior citizens all rolled into one. It’s really brilliant. Gather up the food that would normally go to waste and give it to the hungry.

What was so interesting about these two organizations is that they explained to me how they find themselves working together. If Imperfect Produce has fruits and vegetables it does not get orders for, it is donated it to L.A. Kitchen, which then processes the fresh produce into food and meals for the hungry. And if L.A. Kitchen has excess fresh produce, it oftentimes allows Imperfect Produce to market it.

If you’re reading my blog, chances are you have never known hunger. However, whether you know it or not, you probably live in a city or county that does have extreme hunger. Many times it is camouflaged. People are ashamed to say they are hungry. Through my work with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, I have learned that even in my own county thousands of people (many of them young children, entire families, and seniors) experience food insecurity every week.

Many of us do what we can to help alleviate hunger. We provide canned food during a food drive or we write checks to food banks and other organizations who provide food to the hungry. We may volunteer at a food kitchen during the year or during the holidays.

But how many of us will make it our personal mission, our career or avocation, to find solutions to help feed the hungry? To educate people on how they can personally make a difference? To literally walk the talk?

I say that Michael Martinez is a pretty amazing guy to find such a holistic way to create and promote healthier lifestyles. He has partnered with existing organizations (like Imperfect Produce, L.A. Kitchen, and others) and continues to use his training as a teacher to educate young people on how to make healthy choices and create a healthier planet.

Like many, I recycle at my home and in our office. I’ve thought about composting at my house, but was talked out of it by friends who said, “It can be smelly.” After attending Michael’s gratitude party, I think I need to do further investigation into composting. Perhaps that will help me with my next big project: a home garden!

Karen

Good fall supply from the Southern Hemisphere to smooth transition to strong California season

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Winter Citrus

Los Alamitos, CA (October 2017) – It may be getting cold outside, but produce sales can stay hot with winter citrus. Shoppers will be looking for the sunshiny color and bright flavor of citrus, from tiny kumquats to giant pummelos.

“We have good supplies of citrus from the Southern Hemisphere already coming in, and California has just started,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, senior account manager of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “It’s never too early to start planning your specialty citrus program for the winter months.”

Top citrus sellers include Cara Cara and blood oranges; Meyer, pink, and seedless lemons; and mandarin varieties.

“The items that create excitement are our high-flavor citrus varieties like Tahitian pummelos, sweet limes, and mandarinquats,” said Berkley. “We’ve noticed shoppers are more informed about unique citrus varieties—it’s so much more than navel oranges and lemons now.”

As a trends spotter, Frieda’s team predicts a slight bump in demand for blood oranges. “Our phones have been ringing with consumer magazines looking for blood oranges for their winter issues. October through December is the time to make sure you’re always well stocked with blood oranges.”

Call your Frieda’s account managers to book your citrus program 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.

In May, I attended the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. It was exciting to watch and listen to the Oracles of Omaha (Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger) answer questions about their investment decisions.

But even more exciting and intellectually stimulating was what I experienced the day before when I attended an invitation-only meeting of global business leaders. There were about 100 of us in the hotel meeting room and during the course of the day, a variety of participants got up and talked about trends, leadership, their life’s journey, and more. They came from all over the world: Oman, Australia, California, Iowa, and Switzerland, to name a few.

At the end of the day, our host and facilitator stood in front of the room and asked people to share their main observations: takeaways and “aha”s.

Meditation was on the top of the list.

Yes, meditation had been mentioned by many of the leaders and CEOs in our group. Honestly, I was quite surprised to learn that so many of the world’s business leaders practice meditation. Common threads in their comments were that it was a way to create calm in the day, to give them time to get centered, and to get rid of distractions, and it helped create some inner peace.

After I traveled home from Omaha, I kept thinking in the back of my head—I really want to learn to meditate.

A few months ago, one of my personal advisors suggested I take at least 10 minutes every day to sit still and be quiet. Like many of us in business, I feel like I am constantly on the hamster wheel of life and the only time I stop is when I roll into bed at night. Go-go-go. That’s what it’s always felt like. It was nearly impossible for me to think about sitting still for 10 minutes and not doing anything. But I did try it. I was inconsistent, but I started to do it on the weekends when I was home alone. And sometimes when I got home at night, I would make a conscious effort to sit quietly in a dark area of my house and do nothing. It felt weird at first, but then it got better.

Then, about a month ago, a friend of mine told me she had started meditating. And I said, “Oh, I’ve always wanted to meditate.” She said she uses an app on her phone and she shared it with me (there was a free trial).

So, I downloaded the app, got up a little earlier the next morning and listened to the guided meditation (for 20 minutes total). What I liked about this guided meditation is that Oprah gives a 1- to 2-minute overview, then Deepak Chopra shares a 2- to 3-minute insight. Then he gives you a specific mantra and peaceful music plays for 13 to 14 minutes as you repeat the mantra to yourself.

And then I would start my day.

So, I’ve been meditating for four weeks and this is what I’ve learned:

  1. I actually look forward to my meditation time. I used to be rush-rush-rush in the morning, but now I take my time. The meditation actually sets my intention for the day.
  2. I’ve noticed that I feel more calm and clear at work. More focused. Not so distracted.
  3. I am sleeping better at night.

A couple of days last weekend, I had the time to meditate a second time in the afternoon. I re-listened to the same meditation as in the morning. I felt energized and clearer. I found myself getting excited just thinking about meditating a second time on the same day.

In casual conversation with two male acquaintances over the last few weeks, both told me they had been thinking about meditating as well. I shared the link above and both of them, business executives, are trying it out.

Many Fortune 500 CEOs use this mindfulness practice: Rupert Murdoch, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Ford, and Arianna Huffington, to name just a few. Harvard Business Review published this article about the trend in 2015.

Many meditation apps are available. Check out headspace.com and calm.com for starters. If you’re wondering if meditation is for you, just think about it. And if you already meditate, I would love to hear from you.

Namaste,
Karen

October 5 was National Kale Day! Woo-hoo!

Last year, I wrote about National Kale Day and about how it started. And how it seemed that everywhere you turned, you would see kale being featured as the new “it” food. It’s an ingredient in salads at fast casual restaurants like McDonald’s and Chic-Fil-A. And all sorts of snack companies, like Brad’s Kale Chips, have popped up.

I attended an industry luncheon this week where kale was a featured ingredient in the salad. Honestly, a salad made with just chopped kale, diced beets, and feta cheese left me a little cold (and hungry). I found it unappealing. And I’m in the industry!

I’m guessing that many consumers are feeling the same way when food companies take a popular food and try to insert it into their menus every way possible.

What was appealing about kale in the first place? It was the dense nutrient content (vitamin A and fiber), plus the natural healing properties of cruciferous-type vegetables. But no one really wanted to EAT kale—because it’s so fibrous and chewy—so they juiced it.

And I think that’s what started the “kale craze.”

Photo: Flickr/Noelle

My first real exposure to the health benefits of kale was when I watched this TEDx talk by Dr. Terry Wahls at TEDx Iowa City 2011. The talk is entitled, “Minding your Mitochondria.” In a nutshell, Dr. Wahls was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2007. She quickly declined, began taking doctor-prescribed medicine, and did chemo, but she declined further to the point that she was wheelchair-bound and could barely move on her own. Thankfully, due to her curiosity and her research training, she found a different way to treat her MS. In fact, if you take the 18 minutes to watch to her TEDx talk, you will see the role that kale (and other nutrient-rich greens, berries, vegetables, plus grass-fed meats) played in her almost 100 percent recovery.

Yes, you read that correctly—her almost 100 percent recovery.

If you are concerned about food allergies (including dairy and gluten), arthritis, asthma, fibromyalgia, dementia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s, to name a few, then I highly recommend watching this 18-minute, life-changing TEDx talk.

After watching it multiple times, I am more compelled than ever to have a kale-based green drink every day and to increase my consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. For my health and vitality.

So, yes, this week we celebrated National Kale Day! Do yourself and your family a big favor, and have some kale.

Karen

The specialty produce company brings new produce ideas to the table

Frieda's Specialty Produce - PMA Fresh Summit 2017 - Jackfruit

Los Alamitos, CA (October 2017) – Frieda’s Specialty Produce is bringing innovation to the table at PMA Fresh Summit booth 1207 with jackfruit selling solutions.

“At Frieda’s, we know jack…fruit, and we know how to make it sell at retail,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, senior account manager of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Jackfruit has become one of the most asked-about and sought-after tropical fruits, a natural star for your tropical program. You cannot miss a pile of jackfruit at retail—it’s definitely a ‘wow’ item that sets stores apart from the competition.”

Jackfruit is one of the biggest (literally) trends in produce today. The sheer size of this fruit (8 to 24 pounds) catches the eye, but it’s the label and point-of-sale merchandising that close the sale for shoppers, by offering them the information and inspiration they need to make a confident purchase.

“There’s no better time to talk to us about jackfruit and our full line of tropical fruits than at PMA Fresh Summit,” added Berkley. “Our jackfruit selling solution is just one of the ways we go beyond what is expected at Frieda’s.”

With more than 55 years as specialty produce trailblazers, Frieda’s knows what’s new in specialty produce and what’s trending with shoppers to keep its customers relevant in the produce space.

“Our mission is to inspire new food experiences for consumers and we are always looking for ways to partner with clients who understand that education is key for moving these lesser known and unusual fruits and vegetables,” Berkley said.

So, pull up a chair at booth 1207 or call a Frieda’s account manager today to learn more about the company’s fresh brand, shopper-friendly packaging, and unique product mix that make life a lot sweeter for retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice providers everywhere.

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 am a lifelong learner. I love to attend seminars and workshops, and read online content about self-improvement, marketing trends, entrepreneurs, business, food, and all sorts of things. And I’m a magazine reader, but for some reason I had gotten out of the habit of reading books.

Actually, I do have a book on my nightstand, but it’s like a sleeping pill. I start reading with great intent, and within five to seven minutes, my eyelids get heavy and I find myself dozing off.

But it has been frustrating for me because I have always liked to read. Actually, my first job when I was 15 was in our local library; I filed the books back onto the shelves when they were returned by the library patrons. I recall checking out two to three books every week; they all looked so interesting.

I even joined a book club about 10 years ago, but found that most months I wasn’t able to read the entire sleeping pill, I mean book, and eventually I quit the club.

But I still love books!

People have always talked about “books on tape,” but since my commute to work is 4.4 miles, I didn’t think they would work for me.

And then I discovered Audible, an audio subscription service from Amazon. My coworker Hazel had mentioned Audible to me, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around listening to books on my short drive each day.

Then, I was taking a class and my instructor assigned a book for us to read. It was only available on Audible as it is out of print. So I went online, subscribed to Audible, and downloaded the app. I was thrilled that my first book was free, and the monthly subscription is less than $15. You can download one book of your choice each month.

I figured that one book a month was more than plenty and perhaps it might help me read the stack of books I have on my list.

Was I wrong! I didn’t realize exactly how much I do drive, and I went through that first book within a day (it was only an hour long). I then downloaded a fiction book I had missed reading in my book club a few years ago, a Pulitzer Prize winner that everyone had raved about. Even though it was more than 10 hours long, I found myself spending a few extra minutes parked in my garage each day listening to the end of the chapter. Finished that book within a week.

Now, I’m hooked! In the last six weeks, I have listened to five books (some fiction, some self-improvement). Whereas I used to dread those long drives by myself to meetings in downtown L.A. or south Orange County, I find I now look forward to having an hour or more to listen to my books.

Occasionally Audible sends me access to free best sellers and other promotions. As I think back to my treks to the local Barnes & Noble bookstore, I recall my great intentions of reigniting my voracious reading habit, only to have that stack of books on my nightstand grow. I also lost interest in lugging those heavy books on business trips (I fall asleep faster on airplanes than I do at home, so it was a lose-lose proposition for me).

If you love to read, or used to love to read, and the thought of not having a crook in your neck—from looking down at a book or a small screen—is appealing, I encourage you to try Audible (or podcasts or Spotify, and there are others). It changed my life. And it may well change yours!

Karen

Plan now for must-have holiday display builders from Frieda’s Specialty Produce

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Pearl Onion Display

Los Alamitos, CA (September 2017) – Prepare for the holiday shopping season by booking all the essential complementary items for your holiday produce sets.

“For your holiday resets and department walk-throughs, include these complementary and specialty items so your shoppers have everything they need in the produce department,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, senior account manager of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “The top sellers each year are shallots, elephant garlic, specialty onions (pearl, boiler, and cipolline), pine nuts, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and mulling spices.”

Additionally, there are big sales opportunities on Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, fingerling and baby potatoes, variety hard squash, and sweet crab apples.

“These are all items that consumers use in their holiday menus. It’s important to have them available in store by mid-October to maximize your holiday impulse sales,” said Berkley.

Call your Frieda’s account manager today to pre-book your holiday produce essentials.

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.

Blue Apron. Hello Fresh. Purple Carrot. Plated (as of this week, now owned by Albertson’s). These are just a few of the meal kit companies that have created a new business model.

What is a meal kit? A meal kit is all the fresh ingredients and seasoning you need to make a meal, all measured out exactly to the recipe provided. Everything is in one box, delivered to your door on a schedule of your choosing. Depending on the service, you can choose the menu you want to cook or you can request a surprise menu.

Basically, you are ordering all the ingredients to make a good tasting “gourmet” meal, except you don’t have to go shopping or even leave your home or office. Every single ingredient is individually packaged with the exact amount the recipe calls for, so there is no buying four ounces of fresh dill when you only need one small sprig. Everything is pre-measured, eliminating the risk of over-seasoning your meal or forgetting a spice.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate? - Blue Apron
A Blue Apron meal kit

It sounds kind of fun, right? I think so too, but I have never ordered any of the meal kits because of my busy travel schedule.

Fortunately, a few weeks ago, I ran into Terri Langhans, a high school pal who is also a world class speaker and author. Terri has tried several of the meal kit services, so I asked her about her experiences so far.

My first meal kit wasn’t mine. It was my neighbor’s, and she dropped it off on her way to the airport to attend a family funeral. Inside the big box were three smaller boxes, about the size of skinny shoe boxes, each containing the ingredients for a meal that would serve two people. It was like unpacking a box of birthday presents from Grandma, before Amazon was invented.

“How great is this!?” I thought.

Answer: Very.

For me, a focus group of one, meal kits aren’t about eating healthy, controlling portion size, discovering new recipes or being able to recycle the packaging. It’s all about less stress and more fun around meal planning and preparation.

After a day of dealing with a never-ending To Do list, I doubt that I’m the only one who dreads having to answer the “what’s for dinner?” question. Even when I’m the one asking. What do I have in the fridge? Something from the freezer? Nah, no time to defrost. Are there any leftovers that haven’t grown fur? I don’t want to stop at the store. Isn’t today Meatless Monday? How much is left of that salad bag from Costco? Popcorn’s a vegetable, isn’t it? I guess I better go to the store. Yikes, I need gas. And wine.

I can certainly relate to that!

Open the box. Read the recipe. Follow the directions which have been simplified for even the newest of cooks can follow. For example, the recipe card doesn’t assume you know what sauté means. It would more likely say, “While the vegetables roast, heat a pan on medium heat. Add olive oil (already pre-measured in a packet). When the oil shimmers, add chopped shallots and cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Do not let them brown.”

All that detail means that not only does everything come out cooked perfectly, to temperature, but everything comes out at the same time. Again, less stress, more fun.

The next night, I arrived home to find hubby and two of our friends assembled at various “work stations” in our kitchen. They were wielding a spatula, a chef’s knife or parchment paper, according to which section of the two remaining two recipe cards they were assigned. The oven was pre-heating, everything was in its place, including an open bottle of wine.

“Hi, sweetheart!” hubby said, handing me a glass. “We’re having a dinner-making party.”

After the meal, we went online and created two new accounts, ordered our menus and made a date for the next dinner-making party. This time it would be BYOB. As in Bring Your Own Box.

After reading Terri’s comments, I’m seriously planning on ordering a meal kit next time I have a few friends over for dinner. And to make it even more fun, I think I’ll ask them if they want to help cook!

Karen

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It’s an auspicious week.

At sundown on Wednesday, September 20, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, will begin. The celebration of the Jewish New Year is observed for 10 days and will culminate with the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, starting at sundown on Friday, September 29, and ending the next day. Right in the middle is the autumnal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere on September 22. That is the day that the daylight and night hours are virtually equal.

Several traditions surround the Jewish New Year.

One of my favorites is the tradition to try a new fruit in the new year. That tradition is never more evident than in New York and Los Angeles, where large neighborhoods of Jewish consumers clamor to buy the weirdest and most unusual fruits they can to help bring in the new year. My company, of course, has great fun with this, as we ship huge truckloads of exotic fruits to New York City every year in anticipation of the holiday shopping rush. Last year, the Wall Street Journal even did a story on this, including this video.

This year, some of the top sellers have been:

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Jackfruit
Jackfruit
Frieda's Specialty Produce - Red Dragon Fruit
Dragon Fruit
Frieda's Specialty Produce_Dragon Fruit
Cactus Pear
Frieda's Specialty Produce - Kumquats
Kumquats
Frieda's Specialty Produce - Kiwano - Horned Melon
Kiwano (Horned Melon)
Frieda's Specialty Produce - Cape Gooseberries
Cape Gooseberries

Another tradition is that those 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a time for reflection and forgiveness. I always interpreted it to be the time to reconcile any differences or disagreements and to settle any issues with friends, family, or coworkers. Even if you’re not Jewish, it’s a great time to make peace and settle any issues and make amends.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a day of fasting, so Jews around the world choose to take the time from sundown to sundown to be humbled and appreciate all the suffering and sacrifice that our ancestors went through during difficult times. Even if we are not able to fast completely, many of us spend the day at our temples or in a quiet place. My favorite part of the day is the break-the-fast dinner, usually hosted at a friend’s house. We all bring our favorite dishes and break bread together. It’s the perfect way to finish the celebration of the new year—with close family and friends.

Autumnal equinox is a special time as well. It signals the official beginning of fall, when the leaves outside are turning from green to orange and red. We decorate our homes with dried corn and gourds, and the weather cools down. With cooler weather, we start baking squash in the oven and cooking root vegetables for meals, instead of serving spring and summer asparagus, and cold salads.

Even when you walk into your produce department, you’ll see the difference. Produce managers across the country do their fall resets right after Labor Day, building big displays of hard-shelled squash; peaches and nectarines are replaced with even bigger displays of apples and pears.

As you enjoy this time of year, whether you are officially celebrating the Jewish New Year of 5778 or just want an excuse to try some new fruits, it’s a great time to pause, reflect, and set your intentions for a time of prosperity, peace, and friendship.

L ’Shanah Tova (that’s “for a good year” in Hebrew),

Karen

Prepare your produce department for shoppers looking for stranger things

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Spooky Foods

Los Alamitos, CA (September 2017) – Summon shoppers to the produce department with a “Spooky Foods” display featuring out-of-this-world fruits and vegetables, along with traditional fall pumpkin and squash.

“Halloween is the perfect time to showcase your tropical fruits and specialty vegetables as shoppers will be looking for unique, spooky items for their Halloween celebrations,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, senior account manager of Frieda’s Specialty Produce.

“Build out your ‘spooky foods’ displays with creepy-looking fruits and vegetables on both dry and refrigerated cases, and have fun with it,” added Jackson. “Why should the center aisles have all the Halloween fun?”

New #spookyfoods favorites include jackfruit, organic finger limes, colored cauliflower, and “scary hot” ghost peppers. Other Halloween classics include Buddha’s hand citron, Kiwano® horned melon, dragon fruit, rambutan, red cactus pears, and blood oranges.

Call the spooky foods specialists (aka Frieda’s account managers) today to help you put together a “scare-tastic” product selection.

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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A few months ago, I decided I couldn’t be the only person on the planet who is mystified by these two terms: “Bitcoin” and “Blockchain.” So I started doing some research by asking some of the geeks and nerds I meet to explain them to me in layman’s terms.

I’ll start with Blockchain. I was at an AgTech (agriculture technology) conference two months ago and was chatting with a millennial attendee. Seena Amidi of Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play Tech Center, which is billed as the world’s largest startup accelerator and corporate innovation consultancy, seemed pretty savvy, yet down-to-earth. So I asked him, “Can you explain Blockchain to me—in English?”

Without skipping a beat, he explained it like this:

He said Blockchain is a 100-percent secure way to store information (kind of like encryption, but it connects all pieces of related information). Pieces of information are stored in individual blocks; once entered into the block, it cannot be altered. It is time-stamped and linked to the previous block. It’s almost impossible to hack. Multiple people can add related information in a new block.

I asked him what the applications might be.

He gave me the example of a company like mine, storing the names of vendors and the food safety information associated with each individual vendor. As part of a Blockchain, we can share select parts of the information with customers when needed. For example, we can let them access the food safety information on our suppliers, but they can’t access other, proprietary information that is stored in the Blockchain.

Well, that totally makes sense in the business world. All businesses have many types of information to store. Depending on who they need to share the information with (vendors, customers, the government), using Blockchain could save time and prevent redundancies (having to enter information in multiple places).

For non-business users, a perfect application is a person’s medical records. Multiple doctors can enter information into the Blockchain; it is time-stamped and cannot be altered. The patient can access the information, but it is completely secure. An article in Forbes Magazine earlier this year has an excellent explanation of Blockchain.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Zach Copley

Bitcoin is actually a digital currency. I know it’s hard to imagine a currency that does not have paper bills or coins, and exists only on the Internet. But that is the essence of Bitcoin. And a lot of people think it is worth something and could be a big part of the future. I found some pretty interesting articles about it. Here is one of my favorite articles. The value of Bitcoin is determined by how much people are willing to exchange it for. There are already many businesses around the world that accept Bitcoin, including a Subway restaurant in Pennsylvania!

So, how do you buy, track, store, and spend Bitcoin? Blockchain. When Bitcoin was conceived, a secure way to record the transactions on a “ledger” was needed to eliminate the chance of redundancies or double entries. Thus, Blockchain came into being.

So, now you probably know just about enough about Blockchain and Bitcoin to carry on a conversation at a cocktail party. And just in case you are wondering, the way the Bitcoin system was set up, there can never be more than 21 million bitcoins and the current value of one bitcoin is $4,493.99.

There you go!

Karen

Capitalize on the demand for exotic fruits during the September Jewish holiday

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Rosh Hashana 2017

Los Alamitos, CA (September 2017) – Prepare your produce department for the mad dash for exotic fruits as shoppers look for “new fruit” to celebrate Rosh Hashana, aka Jewish New Year, beginning at sundown on September 20.

It is a Jewish tradition to try a new fruit during Rosh Hashana to celebrate a “sweet” new year. From tiny cape gooseberries to the giant jackfruit, shoppers rush the stores during the holiday to purchase the newest, most exotic fruits possible—so much so that it caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal last fall. (Subscription is needed to view full article.)

“Premium pricing on exotic produce is not an issue for shoppers during this holiday,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, senior account manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Retailers need to make sure they have a wide variety of fruits available for the 10 days leading up to the holiday as shoppers are looking for the newest—and sometimes weirdest—fruit for their celebrations.”

Don’t miss out on this fall tropical-selling opportunity. Call Frieda’s sales team today to prepare for the rush with “weird” favorites such as dragon fruit, kiwi berries, organic finger limes, cherimoya, and Kiwano® horned melon. The team can also help you find out which of your stores have a high percentage of Jewish clientele.

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.

During this past week, I attended two Farm to Table dinners. After reading about Farm to Table dinners and writing about them and never having the opportunity to attend one, it was interesting to attend two in one week. And they were so completely different.

The genesis of Farm to Table dinners is an extension of the popularity of local farmers markets. Consumers love connecting to the growers of their food. It humanizes the eating experience, which is why consumers will pay more money for produce with a shorter shelf life.

It’s about the experience, not the efficiency or convenience.

My first Farm to Table experience was at a fundraiser at Rancho Los Alamitos, a local historic site in Long Beach, to benefit its educational programs. Several ranchos (or homesteads) in and around the Long Beach area of Southern California have been preserved as historical landmarks. Much like the 21 historic California Missions that span the entire coast from Basilica San Diego de Alcala in San Diego all the way up to Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma, the Ranchos are a big part of the history of the early California settlers. As you can see, it was a beautiful evening in a delightful setting.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate? - Rancho Los Alamitos
Photo: Jennifer Herbig

The chef of the evening was Paul Buchanan of Primal Alchemy, who is completely passionate about discovering local farms and foods and creating masterpieces that his clientele can enjoy. Paul has an impressive resume, having worked in some of the best known kitchens in Southern California: Campanile, Wolfgang Puck, Water Grill, and Pascal’s in Orange County, to name a few. As you can see from the photos of the evening, our dinner was set outside on the grounds of Rancho Los Alamitos, where 300 patrons dined at long, glorious tables, draped with white linens, and decorated with bouquets of fresh herbs and russet potatoes with small flags inserted in them as table signs.

Every course was served family style. And between the salad course and dinner, Russ Parsons, former food editor of the Los Angeles Times (whom we refer to as the “Mayor of Long Beach” as he knows E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E), did a quick interview with Chef Buchanan.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate? - Rancho Los Alamitos
Photo: Jennifer Herbig

The food had amazing flavors and it was dazzling to have all this food come out at perfect temperatures arranged perfectly on platters. The long tables were conducive to easygoing conversations and a leisurely pace. Quite different from a normal dinner at a restaurant where we always seem to complain about the pace of the meal, or lack of it.

My second Farm to Table dinner was held at an outdoor restaurant, The Farmhouse in Corona del Mar. It is a new, on-site restaurant at the famous Southern California landmark, Roger’s Gardens. If you enjoy gardening and landscaping, this is the most inspirational place ever.

The occasion for this dinner was because my friend and favorite Southern California chef, Alan Greeley, recently closed his landmark restaurant, The Golden Truffle. All the local Orange County chefs, who were mostly trained and supported by Alan during the last 30 years, got together to have a “Bon Voyage Celebration.” As a testimonial to Chef Alan’s popularity, an email went out to his patron list and within two days, the dinner for 150 was sold out! In fact I had to pull a few strings and text Alan to get a ticket for myself!

When I arrived on Monday evening, it was a who’s who of the Orange County culinary scene with famous chefs, and food writers and journalists.

Alan Greeley dinner
Photo: OC Weekly

Chef Alan’s friends prepared an incredible four-course meal which was more like eight courses since every course included two dishes! Thai goat curry. Grilled Wagyu beef wrapped in gem lettuce and carrot kimchi. Coos Bay silver point oysters. Watermelon radish carpaccio. Seared ahi tuna. And so much more. Dessert was over the top with three options for everyone.

The menu (front and back) from Chef Alan’s celebration dinner at Farmhouse

Just like the first Farm to Table dinner I attended, white linen tablecloths and family-style seating and serving plates abounded. The simplicity of the décor was magical. The Farmhouse overlooks the entire Roger’s Gardens property, so it felt like we were in a forest.

Vegetable carpaccio
Photo: OC Weekly: Vegetable carpaccio

What I learned most about the Farm to Table experience is that it is all about the food and the farms and ranches it comes from. The location, ambience, and décor all contribute to telling the story, connecting you to the foods you eat and the people who lovingly produce them.

And it couldn’t get more farm-to-table than dining al fresco with trees as your awning and a cool evening breeze as your soundtrack.

Even though a Farm to Table dinner might have a heftier price tag than a conventional dinner at a restaurant, and it might take a few hours from start to finish, I would encourage you to put the experience on your bucket list. It certainly made me slow my pace and take in the entire experience.

Bon appetit!

KarenSave

It all started when I gave a speech last month to a group of local women entrepreneurs. Whenever I speak to an all-female group, I feel comfortable sharing one of my “secret weapons,” as women seem super-interested and open to it.

And that is my color palette.

I’ve written before about how I have been working with a colorist since the early 1980s. Jennifer Butler’s expertise is in helping people look their best by wearing the colors, patterns, and textures that make that person look their best. In her studio in Los Angeles, she has more than 10,000 color swatches that she uses to select the perfect colors and textures to match a client’s eye color, hair color and texture, and skin tone.

Over the years she has also added the dimensions of personality and energy to her color consultation, which give insight to her clients about their season. (In personal color analysis, people are often assigned a “seasonal” color palette, meaning a particular group of colors related to that season.)

For the last seven years (since I last had my color palette done), I’ve been a “Tawny Spring.”

So, after my speech, I thought it might be a good time to revisit Jennifer to see if there have been any changes to my color palette. That Saturday morning as I was getting ready to drive to her house, I had second thoughts. Maybe there was no reason to see her. I was certain that there really hadn’t been any major changes in my coloring. But I did have a gnawing feeling about the fact that during the past couple of months, each time I went shopping and tried on colors and styles that were on my palette, they no longer felt good to me.

So I walked into Jennifer’s house a few minutes before our consultation. She was just concluding a workshop with other clients, but I saw her when I walked in and smiled at her. I could tell from the look on her face that she didn’t recognize me. Once I said my name, she caught herself and said, “Welcome.” After we chatted for a few minutes, we moved into her studio. That’s when she shocked me.

“Karen, you have become a Summer,” she said. “And actually I did not recognize you―you have changed so much.”

Now that may not sound like a big deal, but when you have been dressing like an energetic, cheerleader-type Spring for a long time, hearing that you are now a “twilight, full of grace” Summer is quite a shock.

For the next three hours, I watched Jennifer select an almost completely different color palette for me. My eyes had darkened. My skin was pinker. She encouraged me to darken my hair back to its original color, so it would complement my skin and eyes.

Here is my former palette, when I was a Spring. You can see that the colors are brighter.

Here is my new, Rose-Bronze Summer palette.

As she selected my new colors, Jennifer noticed a few hairs around my face were a bit curly and asked me about that. That’s when I reminded her that I have naturally curly hair, but have been straightening it and blow-drying it straight for more than 30 years. I told her that when I was a young girl, people made fun of my curly hair; they called me names. There were no happy memories associated with curly hair.

That’s when she made a life-changing comment: “It seems that you are in a period of personal transformation and authenticity. Perhaps you might want to consider wearing your hair natural.” That was a pretty heavy thing to hear. But since my divorce was final seven months ago, I’ve felt like I’ve been in a period of self-reflection. And I could not get the thought out of my head about what it would be like to be the real me. Curly hair and all.

So, I took a deep breath on Monday morning and went to work with my naturally curly hair, dressed in colors from my new palette. People in the office did not recognize me. They asked me what I did to my hair; my answer was “Nothing. This is my natural hair!”

As a matter of fact, since all three of our summer interns have naturally curly hair, we had a Curly Hair Day in the office. It was empowering for all of us as we gathered for our photo!

It’s been more than two weeks now since I decided to be me. The real me. The authentic me.

I’ve had friends comment: “You look fantastic, happy, and like a different person.” Other friends, when they see me, say nothing. (I think they are in shock that I have dared to go natural.) Just this morning, several of my work colleagues commented that I look so happy, thinner (that was a plus!), and more calm, like a totally different person.

Are you asking yourself, “Am I wearing the colors and styles that make me look my best?” Or are you thinking, “I can’t afford to have my colors done. I’ll have to get rid of so many of my clothes.” I encourage you to check out the videos, before-and-after photos, and information on Jennifer’s website.

While it can be scary to buck fashion trends and peer pressure, finding out what your palette is and dressing accordingly can be an amazing thing for your self-esteem, your personal confidence, and for your success in your career and personal life. Being authentic in how you present yourself makes a phenomenal difference.

Left: Me, dressed as a Spring, being someone who I am no longer. Right: Me, dressed as a Summer, my authentic self.

Karen

 

Book now for the popular California-grown purple sweet potatoes, exclusively available from Frieda’s Specialty Produce

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Organic Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes

Los Alamitos, CA (August 2017) – Shoppers’ favorite Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes are back in season and ready to ship on September 6. Plan your ads now and pre-book the trendiest item in the sweet potato category from Frieda’s Specialty Produce.

According to recent research from Welch Foods, shoppers are seeking health benefits from colorful foods, especially antioxidant-rich purple.

“Shoppers have been contacting us wanting to know when the season will be starting. The Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes definitely have a cult-like following,” said Alex Jackson Berkley, senior account manager of Frieda’s. “Purple foods continue to be a hot trend, and purple is definitely the new orange when it comes to sweet potatoes.”

“Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes are a must-have item for retailers to include in their fall table resets,” said Berkley. “Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes are also ideal to promote pre-Thanksgiving, winter holidays, the New Year, and Easter/spring.”

Organic and conventional Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes are available from September through May in 15 lb. and 40 lb. cartons. Every potato is labeled to reduce front-end checker error. An organic 12/3 lb. bag is also available.

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.

OK, we’ve all read about the solar eclipse coming up on Monday, August 21. It will be the first time in 26 years that a total solar eclipse has been visible from the United States.

Many people are flocking to Portland, Jackson Hole, and St. Louis to experience the moments of daytime darkness in person. For me, I know I can view it online, and that will suffice.

What’s really on my mind is to share some insight I’ve gotten into why so many people, including some heads of state in particular, are acting so darned weird right now.

Here is the context, thanks to Gahl Sasson of Cosmic Navigator, a good friend of mine:

A lunar eclipse, the most recent of which happened on August 7 in Aquarius, is kind of like an Old Testament version of Valentine’s Day. It’s a great day to spend with friends and lovers. It’s also the time to end a relationship that isn’t working and to say goodbye to a personality trait in yourself that you don’t want anymore. “Overall, since it is an eclipse and lunar, you might feel [overly] sensitive and emotional,” Gahl says. “The werewolf in you might come out, so please be careful with your reactions.”

Mercury is in retrograde until September 5, mainly in Virgo (Read more on my previous blog about Mercury in retrograde). “Right between the eclipses, when the energies are the most intense, the planet of communication and negotiation is going on a vacation,” Gahl says. He warns of unnecessary perfectionism and criticism, and recommends not signing legal documents, making big purchases, or starting important projects.

Monday’s solar eclipse takes place in Leo. Gahl says “something significant” will happen in the U.S. with “long-lasting effects… Most likely it will quicken the fall of political leaders, CEOs, and other powerful leaders. You can say that the biggest economy [on] the planet is going through an open heart surgery.” On the other hand, it’s a good day to start something related to “love, children, happiness, sports, and entertainment,” he says.

This all makes perfect sense to me as I’ve been reading the news of companies replacing their leaders (Wells Fargo Bank, Uber, and Mondelez, for example) and potential changes in countries’ leadership around the world. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

But then, I had a feeling this was coming. I believe that the change in energy in the universe has an enormous effect on everyone. So, if people are acting a bit tense, moody, or it seems like your communication’s been haywire since last week, you can just blame the cosmos!

Karen

P.S. It seems obvious, but  do you really understand the difference between a lunar and a solar eclipse?

In a lunar eclipse, the earth casts a shadow on the moon. At least two lunar eclipses happen every year.

Credit: NASA

In a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow on the sun. And of course, even during a solar eclipse, we should never look directly at the sun. Solar eclipses happen once every 18 months.

Credit: NASA

The specialty produce company partners with wholesalers and foodservice distributors to inspire new food experiences for children nationwide

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Back to School FFVP 2017

Los Alamitos, CA (August 2017) – For wholesalers who supply school districts, planning begins now for the coming school year! Frieda’s Specialty Produce can help its customers get to the head of the class by offering exotic fruits and vegetables for the school snacking program and the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP).

“We offer customized programs with fun and exciting fruits and vegetables like starfruit and watermelon radishes. They can really set our customers and their school districts apart,” said Jeff Kelly, sales manager of Frieda’s. “Thanks to our unique product selection and our team’s expertise with FFVP, we know what a school district needs and we can help win the bids.”

The FFVP grants funds for elementary schools to offer free fresh fruit and vegetable snacks, helping kids learn to make healthier food choices. “We’re making an impact on America’s future and our growers’ sustainability in the industry,” said Kelly. “Kids love to try new things, especially when it’s colorful, flavorful, and fun; specialty produce gets them excited about fruits and vegetables.”

Wholesalers and foodservice distributors interested in including specialty produce such as rambutan, cape gooseberries, baby bok choy, and organic finger limes in their FFVP 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.

Last month I visited some dear friends on Bainbridge Island in Washington. Each morning, my friend Liliana would make us breakfast. Before breakfast, we would sip our coffee, sitting around in our bathrobes and chat about the day.

But I noticed that before she had her cup of coffee, she sipped on a mug full of something else. I was curious, so I asked her about that practice.

She told me she drinks a cup full of hot bone broth every other day, first thing in the morning.

Bone broth?

Liliana assured me that there are some health benefits to bone broth. So I decided to do some research on my own.

According to this article in Shape magazine, drinking bone broth can help with joint pain; create a healthier gut and stronger bones, hair, and nails; improve sleep; and more.

In researching a little further, I found even more information from one of my favorite spiritual and healing authorities, Louise Hay. Wow―who knew?

It is starting to make sense to me. What’s the classic “bone broth?” Homemade chicken soup. When we get sick with a cold, that’s the classic dish we’re told to consume. Perhaps that’s why some refer to chicken soup as “Jewish penicillin.” Supposedly, sipping on hot chicken soup, the homemade version made by simmering the bones and carcass of a chicken, along with onions, celery, and carrots, will hasten your recovery.

By the way, broth and stock are essentially the same thing. Some describe stock as being more viscous from the collagen that seeps out of the bones during long-term cooking. Bone “broth” has become the trendy name, even though it might actually be closer to a traditional stock.

From healing your gut (something we should all be concerned with), to getting natural collagen to make us look younger, to the rich, satisfying savory flavor that comes from sipping the broth (or enjoying bone marrow spread on toast at a special dinner), I definitely am intrigued with my newest discovery.

It seems as if I learn something new every day!

Karen

I’ve noticed a lot of companies are updating the look of their packaging. Sometimes it’s the sign of a company truly trying to better resonate with consumers.

Driscoll’s old label (left) and new label (right)

Other times, I wonder if they got a new marketing agency that said, “It’s time for a brand refresh,” but it didn’t make a discernible difference.

Or an already successful brand has new features and benefits to highlight.

Angie’s old branding (yellow) and new (purple)

And other times, some old-school brands say, “What the heck, we’re staying with what we have.” Which I respect.

So when I saw the trade ad for Bragg organic dressings and marinades, it caught my attention.

I’ve written about Bragg before, as its apple cider vinegar has become quite the popular ingredient in the latest elixir, a healthy “cocktail.”

And I love Bragg’s products. And they definitely stand out at the grocery store, not because they are attractively packaged with the latest graphics, but rather because they are unique-looking. Distinctive.

And that distinctive look is also authentic.

I did a little digging on the company’s website, which resembles its packaging, and the story of Paul Bragg and his daughter Patricia is filled with passion, conviction, and a genuine concern for health. It was refreshing to read their homey stories and testimonials from ordinary people, peppered with endorsements from Katy Perry, Clint Eastwood, and a few others.

So next time a marketing agency or your new marketing person suggests you need to refresh your brand, redo all your packaging, or more, step back and think about the motivation behind that.

I think the authenticity of your brand is most important, even if you break all the rules with your look, like my friends at Bragg Products. Sometimes, just when you are getting tired of the look of your packaging or your logo, it’s about the time that consumers are starting to recognize it.

Karen

Latest trends article points to growers, distributors, and chefs creating the next ‘it’ vegetable

Source: Wall Street Journal

Los Alamitos, CA (August 2017) – What makes produce trend? Wall Street Journal writer Karen Stabiner sought out to answer that question in the newspaper’s latest food trend story, “Forecasting the Next Food Fad: Are ‘Kohlrabi’ and ‘Yacon’ the Next Kale?” published on July 27.

The author reached out to Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, as well as top-trending chefs and farmers, to report on the new urgency of fruit and vegetable trends and the increasing demand for the latest items at restaurants, grocery stores, and home delivery services.

“…Caplan has never seen anything like the current scramble for marquee produce. ‘Information travels at the speed of light’ in the Instagram era, she said. The next big thing gets a lot more exposure, and faces a lot more competition,” said the article.

Stabiner discusses the synergy between farmers and chefs with exclusive new vegetables, both on the small scale and larger scale, touching on items like kohlrabi, broccolini, escarole, and tropical root yacon.

Stabiner explains that national distributors like Frieda’s often take a more strategic approach to trend-building, requiring a product to have “volume and a decent shelf life.”

“For example, yacon was brought to our attention a few years ago,” added Caplan. “But the volume was limited and shelf life was just not viable for retail.”

Other trending items mentioned in the article include jackfruit and Frieda’s exclusive Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes—both with good shelf life, great volume, and stable supply to be available anywhere and almost year-round.

Watch Karen talks about how produce trends:

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoVqiE2ekRc]

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 don’t know about you, but I feel like everyone is throwing around the word “disruption”—it’s the newest buzzword. If you want to get someone’s attention in an interview, mention “disruption” and/or “innovation,” and you’ll definitely get it.

People use the words as if they are interchangeable, meaning the same thing. But they really don’t. They are related in that they are about change, the perception of change, and being open-minded.

What’s an example of “disruption?”

To me, the ones that we can all relate to are the iPad and iPhone, introduced by Apple. When they first came out, they revolutionized the mobile tablet and smartphone industries. I remember when my co-worker Todd was telling me that on his new iPhone he could use his fingers to enlarge an image. I recall thinking, “Why would you need to do that? Who would use that function?” Of course, now I use it all the time, especially with photos.

“Innovation” on the other hand is usually referring to something more incremental. For example, with each iteration of the iPhone, the camera quality has gotten better, you can self-edit, colorize, and etc., right on your iPhone. I would characterize that as innovation versus disruption.

But the real issue at hand is that every single industry is facing a constant stream of innovation. Of interruptions. And of disruptions. As a business owner, I can tell you that it’s kind of hard to keep up.

I know that in my own company, I am attempting to look into the future to provide tools and processes for my teams to help me explore what changes we need to make inside the company, and at what pace. I’ve always believed in the “Ready. Aim. Fire.” approach, as compared to “Ready. Fire. Aim.”

Here is some food for thought:

Speaking of iPhones and disruptive change, a few years ago, I read the biography “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. Although it is well over 500 pages, I found so much inspiration and information while reading that book that I could not put it down. Steve Jobs was so creative and an out-of-the-box thinker. And of course his management style was well-publicized.

A few weeks ago, I heard a speaker do a presentation on “The Lost Interview of Steve Jobs,” which was done in 1995 by Robert X. Cringely for the PBS documentary “Revenge of the Nerds.” Only 10 minutes of the 70-minute interview were used in the film. The original tapes were actually lost in shipping. It was not until 2011 after Jobs died, that the film’s director, Paul Sen, found an old VHS copy of the original unedited interview—in his garage.

I had the opportunity to view a few clips of the interview. Remember that in 1995 the internet was just beginning to be a household word. (I remember that, when my company launched our website in 1996, we were one of the very first in our industry to do so.) I highly recommend watching “The Lost Interview” (you can get it here). It’s a great place to get inspiration for your new innovative idea. You will see a completely different side of Jobs and hear him describe what has now become the omnipresent Amazon, iTunes, and other disruptors.

So back to the phrase, “disruption versus innovation.” I recommend you don’t use those words lightly.

And don’t forget, incremental innovation is oftentimes the most prevalent form of progress.

Karen

Leyla Acaroglu’s “Disruptive Design” e-book
Image from Leyla Acaroglu’s “Disruptive Design” e-book

The Caplan women discuss past, present, and future of the company

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Family Business Magazine July August 2017

Los Alamitos, CA (July 2017) – The Philadelphia-based national publication Family Business Magazine featured Frieda’s Specialty Produce in its July/August cover story, highlighting the company’s trailblazing history and continued success.

In “A Fruitful Female Partnership at Frieda’s,” author Hedda T. Schupak writes about Frieda’s family dynamics, work-life balance, current vision, and future plans for the specialty produce company co-owned by president and CEO Karen Caplan and vice-president and COO Jackie Caplan Wiggins.

“Sisters Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins have grown Frieda’s, the pioneering specialty produce wholesaler, since taking over from Frieda Caplan, their mother. Now that Karen’s daughter Alex [Jackson Berkley] has joined the business, they’re beginning to contemplate the next transition,” wrote Schupak in the introduction to her exclusive interview with the Caplan women.

“We’re in discussion now on succession planning…what our options are for leadership of the company,” said Karen per the article.

As a senior account manager, Berkley talked about her current position and working toward taking the over the reins in the future. “I’m on the path and would be good at it,” she told Schupak. But for right now, “I’m trying to grow the business and push our numbers forward and to be a good leader, family member, and employee.”

The current issue of Family Business is available via paid subscription, or pay-per-issue. Past issues are available for free.

The Philadelphia-based Family Business Magazine is the preeminent magazine and digital media publisher dedicated to multi-generational family companies, providing the latest news, trends and in-depth interviews, how-to articles and handbooks with more than 7,500 active paid circulation and 10,000 e-newsletter subscribers.

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 am a second generation Angelena, born and raised in Southern California. Even though I have lived here all my life, I discovered a part of L.A. that I never knew was there.

And that is the amazing Metro rapid transit system, based out of Union Station, in downtown L.A. (or, as it is now referred to, “DTLA”).

Even though the most frequent complaint about Southern California is our lack of a rapid transit system, you can see from this diagram that we apparently do have an amazing system. In fact, LA Metro is the third most comprehensive system in the country.

I was intrigued when I received an invitation to attend a Metro Art Tour this past Saturday. Apparently, in addition to six Metro rail lines and almost 100 separate stations, some real artistic treasures are contained inside the actual Metro stations.

So, off I went on Saturday morning to meet a small group at Union Station. For some historical context, the L.A. Union Station was built in 1939 and is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the western United States. It is widely regarded as “the last of the great train stations.” The station’s combination of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne styles makes it one of L.A.’s architectural gems. It has appeared in many films.

"City of Dreams, River of History" mural by Richard Wyatt, 1995, at Union Station
“City of Dreams, River of History” mural by Richard Wyatt, 1995, at Union Station

I’ve been to Union Station many times, mostly for events. But as a passenger, I was impressed with how clean the station is, and at 11 a.m. on a Saturday, just how many Angelenos use it. You can learn about the many well-known artists and the artwork they provided to the station here. If you’re an art student or art lover, you would have a field day walking through the station.

So, our group jumped on the Red Line and headed to Hollywood. After a 15-minutes ride, we got off at Hollywood/Vine (probably the most famous intersection for visitors to Hollywood). As we took the escalators up, we found ourselves staring at the famous Pantages Theatre and an impressive section of sidewalk filled with “Stars.” But it was actually the inside of the station that got my attention.

View of Pantages Theatre from Hollywood/Vine Metro
View of Pantages Theatre from Hollywood/Vine Metro

The walls contained tiles that made it look like a Hollywood stage with big, thick curtains. The large poles were decorated in tiles that made them look like palm trees. The ceilings were covered completely with empty film reels! They even had two movie cameras from another era on display! And of course some of the floor tiles were yellow (reminiscent of the Yellow Brick Road); on the walls were hand-painted tiles of characters from The Wizard of Oz.”

Interior of Hollywood/Vine Metro Station
Good Witch Glinda tile at Hollywood/Vine Metro

At the Vermont and Sunset Station, which is near many major hospitals and the famed Hollywood sign, the décor was enhanced with floor tiles highlighting medical and scientific symbols, and one wall showcased a particular astrological constellation.

“Ecliptic/Illume” installation by Michael Davis at Vermont/Sunset Metro Station

Although our tour was only of those two stations, our guide gave us a brochure that showcases all of the Metro stops. I am already planning to find an excuse to ride the Metro to get from Long Beach to DTLA to Santa Monica sometime soon.

If you happen to find yourself coming to Southern California, Metro Rail Tours are offered on the first Saturday, Sunday, and Thursday of each month.

While you’re parked at Union Station, I recommend that you walk across to Olvera Street, part of the historic district of El Pueblo de Los Angeles. The popular area has many mercados, restaurants, street vendors, and some of the most delicious and authentic Mexican food around.

Now I – and you – know how to bypass most of the traffic in L.A.! Take the Metro and catch an Uber, Lyft, or taxi to your destination.

Karen

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Shoppers’ favorite table grapes are in steady volume through August

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Champagne Grapes - Crushin' It

Los Alamitos, CA (July 2017) – California-grown champagne grapes have arrived and are in good supply from Frieda’s Specialty Produce in Frieda’s-branded 16/1 lb. clamshell. Book now to keep your summer sales fizzy!

“With summer entertaining in full swing, champagne grapes create excitement in grape merchandising as their small, snack-able size is perfect for charcuterie and cheese platters,” said Alex Jackson Berkley of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Merchandise two facings in the grape case or cross-merchandise with cheeses, wine, and champagne.”

“The weather got warmer earlier than anticipated, so the fruit will be ready to ship in volume this week,” added Berkley.

Frieda’s also offers seasonal California-grown specialty grape varieties such as Yellow Sweetie (16/1 lb.) and Thomcord (10/1 lb.), along with many other summer top-selling tropical fruits such as lychee, rambutan, cherimoya, and dragon fruit.

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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This week, I traveled to Portland, Oregon, because a friend of mine from the East Coast visits Portland each summer to teach a food industry business class at Portland State University. The added benefit to him is he gets to hang out in a super cool area for a couple of months. I usually only get to see him at industry events. Because it’s just a two-hour plane flight, a few weeks ago I proposed that I go up there to have dinner with him and his wife. He suggested I join him as a guest at his business class. So, it was a two-fer.

I didn’t really have any expectations of Portland, especially since I was going to be there for about 24 hours. Was I ever unexpectedly delighted!

The first thing I noticed were the greeters at the airport. These lovely people stood in the corridor as you transitioned between the arrival gates and moved toward the baggage claim. They were saying, “Welcome to Portland!” Obviously if you had a question, you could ask them. I then noticed signage as I exited the terminal: “Portland is rated Best Airport in the USA” since 2013.

As I arrived downtown at my hotel, I felt a little less stressed than usual. Everyone I had encountered seemed so pleasant and happy. And that experience continued throughout my stay.

It was a gorgeous, warm evening, so we dined outside in the courtyard of my hotel. And the next morning, as I drove around the city visiting a few grocery stores (of course I visited grocery stores!), and headed back to the airport, I found myself feeling “chilled out.”

I don’t watch much TV, so I have never seen “Portlandia,” but I am aware that Portland is a mecca of great food places, microbreweries, and lots of amazing wineries. I’ve always heard that Portland is a special place, but I didn’t expect to experience something so special during a 24-hour visit. I noticed a slower pace than L.A. and other cities. Lots of trees and greenery, and many small businesses.

Flickr_DavidWilson
Photo Credit: Flickr/David Wilson

I guess Portland just left me with a happy feeling.

What if every place you traveled to was welcoming and made you feel special…and ultimately happier?

And in the business world, what if the sole purpose of the company you worked for were to make its employees and customers happy? What would have to change? How would you have to change?

My experience in Portland actually reminded me of a recent book I read: “Delivering Happinessby Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com. (Read about my recent visit to its headquarters here.) At the end of the book, Tony writes, “Even though this book will serve as a handbook for future Zappos employees…I wanted to write this book for a different reason: to contribute to a happiness movement to help make the world a better place.”

It’s interesting how your attitude and expectations can affect your experience, whether traveling or working.

Karen

“My hope is that through his book, established businesses will look to change the way they are doing things, and entrepreneurs will be inspired to start new companies with happiness at the core of their business models…and more and more companies will start to apply some of the findings coming out of the research in the science of happiness field to make their business better and their customers and employees happier.” – Tony Hsieh, Zappos.com

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Get summer sales sizzling with Frieda’s new 2-lb. Hatch chile pouch and a successful Hatch Chile Program

Frieda's Specialty Produce -Hatch Chile Pouches

Los Alamitos, CA (June 2017) – Hatch chiles from New Mexico return in August and Frieda’s Specialty Produce is ready to turn up the heat with a new 8/2-lb. retail pouch.

“These pouches help retailers reduce shrink and increase sell-through at the register,” said Alex Jackson Berkley of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “With Hatch Chiles looking identical to Anaheim chiles, this bag will help retail buyers accurately track sales, and cashiers to accurately ring up product. Plus, the package educates shoppers on how to roast the chiles for ultimate flavor.”

Exclusively grown in the Mesilla Valley near the town of Hatch, New Mexico, and available fresh once a year, Hatch chiles are sought after by chile pepper fans everywhere for their zesty, bold flavor, especially when roasted over an open flame. Many retailers also host in-store chile-roasting events to build excitement and provide shoppers with an authentic New Mexico Hatch chile festival experience.

“August is the only time of year when Hatch chiles are available fresh for roasting, and serious Hatch chile fans go crazy for them,” said Berkley. “Frieda’s has organized in-store roasting events since 2011, and retailers see the Hatch chile halo effect through sales across all departments. Shoppers who buy fresh or roasted Hatch chiles will also pick up cheese, chips, and beer to enjoy with their chiles.”

“This is the perfect time to start planning for your Hatch program to increase summer sales,” said Berkley.

Weather is always a factor when it comes to Hatch chile supply.

“Our team just visited our partner growers in New Mexico last week and we learned that, while the recent heat wave affected the early crop, we are still on track for the August start,” said Allen DeMo, Director of Procurement and Sourcing at Frieda’s.

“The Hatch chile supply is looking good for the season,” he added.

Call Frieda’s team today to pre-book the ever-popular Hatch chiles, only from New Mexico and only for a limited time!

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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During a recent Agriculture Issues Center meeting at the University of California, Davis, (I serve on the center’s advisory board) I was fascinated with a short presentation about bees by one of the Davis ag researchers. She and her graduate student gave a short synopsis of their work and then asked for questions.

I couldn’t get my hand up fast enough. I asked what I thought was the most obvious question:

“What about colony collapse disorder? You didn’t talk about the bee shortage.”

Their answer was a bit shocking to me: “There is no shortage of bees.”

What? With all the press over the last 10 years, I really couldn’t believe what they were saying. So, after the meeting, I did some research and spoke to the director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center, Dr. Daniel A. Sumner. A highly respected researcher and spokesperson, Dan has been quoted numerous times in the Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and dozens of other publications.

Dan started by telling me that he continues to work on this issue because the news media (and even some of the scientists) have gotten the broad supply-and-demand story so mixed up. He told me the number of bees has gone up not down in the past 10 years. The cost of pollination has fallen, while demand has gone way up (with more almond acres). Demand up but price down is a sure sign that supply is now much more available than a decade ago.

I also learned that much of the supply of bees is trucked around the country to move from growing area to growing area, as most of the bee population in the U.S. is used to pollinate crops (with almonds being one of the top users). Very few are used for producing honey. During the short presentation, I learned that many bees start out in North Dakota, are trucked to California for almond pollination season, then are moved to other parts of the state and country, depending on the need for bees.

Here is a chart showing the types of crops that use bees for pollination, with the time of year and pricing.

If you’d like to know a lot more about “bee-conomics,” here is a recent article published by Dr. Sumner and the professor who spoke to us, Dr. Hyunok Lee.

So what did I learn from this experience?

Well first of all, I learned that just because something is reported in the news or is on the internet, it does not make it true. We all know that the news media is oftentimes looking for sensational stories that pull at our hearts or make our stomachs turn. I learned the importance of asking questions and doing more investigating.

I was also reminded of how interconnected and resilient agriculture is. The fact that almonds are one of the fastest growing crops in California is no secret. But all I ever heard was how much water it takes to grow almonds (the drought, water shortages, etc., have been hot news topics for years). But who knew that it takes an average of two hives per mature acre of almonds and there are now almost a million acres of mature almonds in California.

It’s good old supply-and-demand economics (which I studied in college). And that’s where the resilience comes in.

With constant talks of drought, water shortages, urban sprawl, Amazon buying Whole Foods, Walmart buying Jet.com, and McDonald’s relevance in the future, I know for sure that our industry is resilient. Farmers will always produce food. They will always find a way to fill the demand and the fact that we now enjoy a global economy just gives us more opportunities and options.

As for the bees, it was good to know that there is no bee shortage. I wonder what else isn’t true that is reported by the press?

Karen

Summer is ripe for dragon fruit promotions

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Red Dragon Fruit - Nicaragua

Los Alamitos, CA (June 2017) – This is the perfect time to really drive retail sales for red-fleshed dragon fruit with a lower retail price point. Nothing adds color and excitement like this eye-catching, pink-skinned, magenta-fleshed fruit.

“Summertime is peak season for dragon fruit, and the prices are very reasonable,” said Alex Jackson Berkley of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Dragon fruit is one of the top-selling and trending tropical fruits, and also resonates with Asian and Hispanic shoppers.

“Build a big, beautiful dragon fruit display with signage about the different varieties, as shoppers may want to try all the colors and flavors. Merchandise other tropical fruits along with the dragon fruit to make the display a truly exotic destination,” said Berkley.

Nicaragua Dragon Fruit

Available from June through November, Nicaragua red dragon fruit has a rounder shape—like a pink softball—with a deep magenta flesh and better flavor than the mild Vietnamese variety. Frieda’s ships Nicaragua fruit from both Miami and Los Alamitos, California, in pallet or truckload volume.

In addition to Nicaragua, Frieda’s supplies dragon fruit from several other growing regions to offer year-round availability on this trending fruit:

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Dragon Fruit Varieties

Vietnam Dragon Fruit

Available in white and limited red flesh, this top-selling variety boasts a beautiful appearance and is available year-round. (It’s also the only dragon fruit that has to be irradiated.)

Israel Pitaya

Available from July through March, the non-irradiated Israeli crop has multiple colors and appearances, from white flesh, to red flesh, to the popular yellow skinned fruit with white flesh. Some varieties feature curly “leaves,” while others may have a more unique pinecone-type shape.

USA White and Red Dragon Fruits

Similar in appearance to the Vietnam fruit, they’re grown in Florida and California, and available from June to August.

“We always get asked the difference between dragon fruit and pitaya. The names can actually be used interchangeably!” said Berkley. “The key is to have the fruit properly labeled with a PLU—which we do on all the fruit we ship.”

From super-trendy pitaya bowls and smoothies to tropical fruit platters for summer entertaining, red-fleshed dragon fruit is the hottest fruit of the season. Retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice providers interested in growing their tropical fruit program 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.

Last weekend, I attended a cooking class conducted by my favorite longtime local chef, Alan Greeley. Alan is well known in Orange County as the chef-proprietor of The Golden Truffle restaurant in Newport Beach. Earlier this month, he announced that after 37 years, he is closing up shop in August. Turns out he is moving to Sarasota, Florida, to start a new chapter in his life. The local paper did a nice story on Chef Alan and the history of The Golden Truffle. (Alan also helped us develop our favorite recipe for our Stokes Purple Sweet Potato a few years ago.)

The first time I dined at The Golden Truffle, I noticed all the framed photos of Alan with Elton John. I learned that Alan was once invited to make dinner at a local executive’s house. He rented a giant tub, filled it with ice, and created an amazing display of fresh seafood, plus prepared some amazing dishes. Turns out the guest of honor that evening was Sir Elton John, and a lifelong friendship was born. Rumor has it that whenever Elton John is in SoCal, he has Alan deliver some of his famous curried pies, always quite popular with the British.

So, when I received an email that Chef Alan was conducting his last ever Father’s Day Barbecue Cooking Class, I signed up immediately. I got there early, walked straight to the back of the restaurant, and found Alan. After a big hug, all I could say was, “WTF?” (You have to know Alan…the “f” word is one of his favorites. He frequently peppers his conversations with it, so it was quite natural for me to say that.) He let me know that his longtime love, who worked by his side for many years, had moved to Florida, and it just wasn’t as much fun without her. So he’s moving to Florida to be with her.

When the class started, there were about 50 of us there, all longtime restaurant patrons and friends of Alan. We were all poured a lovely glass of Listel Rosé and Alan started talking. He often referenced his favorite barbecue cookbook.

He started the class by explaining the difference between barbecue and grilling. According to Alan (and I took this verbatim from his notes):

Barbecue is a whole day social event. You show up early, light the fire, start drinking, gambling, playing cards, be sure you have a case or two on ice, do more drinking, a little nooky if you can pull it off, take a small nap, shower to wash off the smoke, prep the food, have a fresh drink, and it’s time to eat.

Grilling is a 1-2-3 hour affair. Pour yourself a drink if no one does first (if you invite the right guests, they will pour it for you). Light the grill, add some asparagus, steak, fish, etc. No clean up, no hassle. Eat.

As you can tell, Alan is a lot of fun and has a great sense of humor.

I also learned a lot of helpful hints from him during the hour he spoke to us:

■ He said not to barbecue in linen or cotton clothes because you will never get the smoky smell out of them.

■ The best barbecue is a Weber because you can control the air flow. He said it’s all about air flow (with a Weber, you don’t have air leaks). He said the Big Green Egg is a Weber on steroids.

■ He told us that the reason you need to allow a whole day (and lots of alcohol) when you barbecue is that the key is not to rush it. It takes time. He laughed while recounting some of his friends calling him during a barbecue and complaining to Alan that “the food wasn’t done yet. It didn’t cook fast enough.” Alan says you cannot rush barbecue. It’s all about heat, smoke, and going slow.

■ He talked a bit about cold smoking (Scandinavian style), and how to brine meat or poultry. I learned that while adding salt to veggies (like eggplant) will leach out the liquid, when you brine meat, it actually causes it to absorb liquid, thus making it more tender.

He did tell a few barbecue jokes; here’s the only one that was G-rated:

The definition of Tennessee BBQ: Chase a pig up a hickory tree. Light the tree on fire. Have dinner.

After an hour of sharing his secrets to great barbecue and giving us a behind-the-scenes tour of his custom-built smoker (outside behind the restaurant), we all sat down for a lovely lunch of brisket, pulled pork, barbecued potato salad, smoked salmon, cherry tomatoes with dill, and peach melba for dessert. And lots of Listel Rosé.

I know I have about six more weeks before the restaurant closes and Alan drives across the country. So I’m sure I will be back a few more times to share a glass of wine with him and let him decide what I will have to eat. It was at my first meal at The Golden Truffle over 15 years ago that I experienced not ordering off a menu, letting the chef decide what was best.

If you find yourself in Orange County soon, I highly recommend a meal at The Golden Truffle. Bon appetit!

Karen

Chef Alan Greeley and me

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McCormick’s Flavor Forecast 2017 points to the produce department

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Grilling Trends 2017

Los Alamitos, CA (June 2017) – From perfect-for-grilling baby potatoes to specialty peppers and fresh Asian flavors, the produce department is where it’s at for summer grilling essentials.

The recent McCormick & Co.’s Flavor Forecast 2017 “5 Hot Ideas for Summer” includes grilled potatoes, Korean barbecue flavors, and fruity, sticky sweet, and spicy glazes.

“These grilling trends resonate with shoppers seeking new food experiences for summer grilling, and they can go to the produce department for it,” said Alex Jackson Berkley of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Merchandise specialty produce alongside conventional ones to inspire shoppers. Retailers can get creative with in-store displays and signage, suggesting new ways to use produce for summer grilling.”

Here are some merchandising suggestions to complement each grilling trend:

Bring on the heat

Complete your pepper display with a wide range of heat level from mild mini sweet peppers to grilling favorites like poblano and serrano, all the way to the super-hots like ghost, Trinidad Scorpion, and Carolina Reaper.

Grilling potatoes

Display fingerling and assorted baby potatoes like Frieda’s Star Spangled Spuds with russets and Okinawan sweet potatoes with orange sweet potatoes.

Korean barbecue flavor center

Add daikon, napa cabbage, and Shanghai bok choy to your Asian vegetable display and make sure to have kimchi in the refrigerated case.

Frieda’s also suggests adding these grilling favorites: shishito peppers, jicama, radish varieties, baby pineapples, summer squashes, mini graffiti eggplants, baby Japanese eggplants, and pearl, boiler, and cipolline onions.

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.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYCn4Wix6dw]

Our president and CEO Karen and our company were featured on Intel’s #SheOwnsIt series which spotlights women small business owners and their journey of success.

“It is an absolute requirement to be fearless when you run a business. Sometimes you’re going in a direction no one else has been before. And the leader has to be leading the charge.”

And we’d follow her anywhere.

Like many, I had developed a regular workout routine, which involved going to my local gym, open seven days a week. With that came a regular annual or monthly fee.

The gym also offered classes (which I admit I tried on occasion), including cycling, Zumba, yoga, aerobics, etc. It also has a large variety of weight machines, free weights, racquetball courts, a steam room, etc.

And that worked great for me for many years.

Except when it stopped having an appeal for me. I started to dislike the stinky smell, the old equipment, the marginally motivated people who were in the gym, and honestly, I felt surrounded by staleness. I wanted to try something new―mix it up a bit.

A few years ago, my co-worker Bailey started talking about Orangetheory Fitness, a new workout place she’d found. Classes are one hour long, you wear a heart rate monitor, and your heart rate, along with calories burned, is displayed on multiple computer monitors on the walls. A coach guides you through a combination of high intensity cardio and weight training, while fast paced music plays. It sounded way more fun than trudging into my local gym with that awful smelly sock aroma, surrounded by a mix of other people with mixed agendas for their workout plans.

So I tried it. And, I have to admit, since I’m a pretty social person and am energized by being around younger people, it actually made it more fun for me to work out in this environment. I also found I was getting a much better workout. Plus, everyone there seemed as motivated and energetic as I was.

You may have heard of other exercise options that are now available, such as Peloton, which allows you to have a “private indoor cycling” studio in your home, and connects you to Peloton’s content and user network via Wi-Fi.

Welcome to the new economy and yet another disruptor to an existing business model.

We all know it’s important to have a healthy lifestyle, which includes exercise, healthy eating choices, plenty of rest (I now strive for at least seven and a half hours of sleep a night), and reducing stress.

The great thing is that there are many options available for us to create a customized healthy lifestyle. My healthy eating choices can come from the conventional grocery store or I can subscribe to Blue Apron or Purple Carrot and feel like a gourmet cook.

And I can do my exercise in the comfort of my home with a virtual class (Peloton), or take a walk on the beach or on a hiking trail in the local mountains, or step up the intensity at a local fitness venue like Orangetheory. Or if I choose, I can stay with an older business model and join my local gym.

That’s the great thing about the new economy; there are so many options available to us. For everything we do.

For me, I chose to quit my local, conventional gym and try something new. I attend Orangetheory classes three to four times a week, am trying out a local yoga studio, and take an occasional hike in the mountains. And who knows, in a few months, I may want to change it up again. But the great thing for me is that I have broken out of my rut of the same-old, same-old and feel more inspired and energetic.

You may want to consider quitting your gym too!

Karen

P.S. Here is a photo of two of my favorite coaches from Orangetheory, Kristian and Megan.

For years, I have fantasized about learning to golf. But I never had time. So, whenever I attend a produce conference and there is a golf tournament, I always feel a little regret in that I cannot participate. Golf in business is a great way to spend quality time with others, including customers.

So this year, I decided there are a few things I want to do now that I am an empty nester. On top of that list was to see if I like golf.

I was careful to set my intention to find out if I liked golf vs. deciding to absolutely learn it.

So, a couple of months ago, I was at breakfast with a produce friend and I casually mentioned that this year I wanted to see if I liked golf. He immediately told me that we have a mutual friend, who recently retired from the produce industry and is a great golfer. As a sideline, he is teaching golf! He shared his contact information with me.

Shortly afterward, I was on a business trip and had the opportunity to play nine holes with a few colleagues. Turns out, I can hit the ball (apparently, that is not always normal during your first-ever round). And, as luck would have it, one of my co-workers had a brand-new set of golf clubs his wife had never used, and he gladly gifted them to me.

So, I was set. I had a set of clubs. An instructor. All I had to do was buy a golf glove!

I’m not very far into learning golf: I’ve had a couple of lessons and hit about 500 balls at the driving range.

But my biggest learning thus far is that there are many parallels between golf and work:

Golf Clears Your Head 

Golf is time-consuming. It can take 5 to 6 hours for a full round. While some people complain that golf takes too much time, I see these hours as a time to myself to get away from the daily grind. Sometimes you need to step away from your work to clear your head. That “white space” of not thinking about work helps us be more focused when we return to our desks.

Concentrate on the Game

Just like in business, whether you are in sales, finance, operations, or marketing, when you are working you need to not be distracted by non-business things or it affects your performance. You must leave your personal issues at the door. When you are getting ready to hit the ball, you cannot be thinking about anything else but the game at hand.

Get a Grip

Literally! During my first two lessons, my instructor spent a lot of time reiterating how important it is to correctly grip the club. Not too tight. Hands in the correct position. In business, do we have the right tools and are we using them correctly? Or do we take shortcuts? Do we prepare for meetings in the same disciplined manner each time, or do we rush through (because we’ve done it many times before)?

Find a Coach

I knew when I wanted to learn golf that I needed a good teacher. I interviewed a few people, and price was not the deciding factor. I wanted someone with experience, who was patient and had a track record of coaching other players. All great athletes have a coach. Just because they have won or have a lot of experience, that doesn’t stop them from hiring the best coach possible. It should be the same in business. I recently hired a business coach to help me be a better CEO. Having a coach helps (especially if you are open to brutally honest feedback).

Practice Really Does Make Perfect

I guess this is kind of obvious in golf. Practice, practice, practice! But how many of us practice at work? If we are in sales, is the first time we give a presentation in front of the customer? Or do we practice ahead of time? It doesn’t really make sense to practice on the customer, does it?

As I continue my golf journey, I’ve noticed that I get frustrated with my performance sometimes. And it’s usually because I am not concentrating on my game. Or I was not visualizing what I want to happen. Or I got distracted by something around me.

And I sometimes get frustrated at work. It’s usually because I am not concentrating. Or I am not visualizing what I want to happen. Or I get distracted by something around me.

I’ve decided I do like golf. And the lessons I’ve learned are some that I did not expect.

Karen

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen Caplan Golifing
Here is me golfing on a recent business trip.

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Last week I was fortunate to spend time in Stockholm, Sweden. I was attending a global conference of women leaders from around the world.

Although it was not possible to meet all 650 women personally (although I did my best), I did have a chance to interact with many of them. Several sessions updated us on Africa, the United Nations, Populism vs. Nationalism, and much more, but the most interesting session for me was on unicorns.

In addition to being a mythical animal, I learned that the term “unicorn business” refers to start-ups with a value of more than US $1 billion. When Cowboy Ventures founder Aileen Lee coined the term as a label for such corporate creatures in a November 2013 TechCrunch blog post, just 39 of the past decade’s venture capitalist-backed U.S. software start-ups had topped the $1 billion valuation mark. Now, Fortune counts more than 80 start-ups that have been valued at $1 billion or more by VCs.

The unicorn session was a panel made up of four CEOs of start-up organizations in Sweden. So the first discussion item was answering the question: Why are there so many tech start-ups in Sweden?

Sweden is second only to the Silicon Valley with innovation per capita (and more unicorn companies per capita) than any place in the world. The panelists talked about a few factors influencing this phenomenon:

It kind of makes you want to move to Sweden, right? Well, one of the downsides to Sweden is its location: there’s a lot of darkness when it’s not summer (in winter, some days only have six hours of light). This might be one cause of Swedes’ high depression rate.

One of the panelists talked about the Swedish Startup Manifesto she had written with a dozen other entrepreneurs, which was quite intriguing.

So, why did I find this panel so interesting? Because I know that the future of business, of invention, of innovation—or survival—will be due to new thinking. Twenty-five years ago, who would have thought that today’s innovation in the automobile industry would be driverless or electric cars? Or the impact on adjacent industries? Driverless cars will have a significant impact on the auto insurance business; electric cars will affect the oil industry and the power concentrated in OPEC.

In my business, most retailers (who currently control about 50 percent of all food purchases) probably thought the future of food would be to build better, bigger (or smaller) supermarkets. And build more of them.

Enter Amazon. Blue Apron. Farmers markets. Grubhub. Soylent.

Think about it. What are you doing to explore what the future holds? Maybe a trip to Sweden is in your future.

Karen

P.S. Here are some examples of a few of the amazing women who attended the conference in Stockholm:

Frieda’s Specialty Produce offers shoppers’ favorite tropical fruits in easy-to-merchandise, protective clamshells

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Rambutan - Lychee

Los Alamitos, CA (May 2017) – The popular lychee and rambutan are back in season with lychees beginning now and rambutan in late May. Frieda’s Specialty Produce offers this dynamic duo in bulk or in protective clamshells to help with merchandising, reducing shrink, and attracting shoppers.

“Despite their weird looks, both lychees and rambutan are quite delicate. Our clamshells help protect the fruits, extending the shelf life, and make them really easy to merchandise,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Shoppers often confuse the lychee and the rambutan—they’re both red tropical fruits of roughly the same size and similar texture. Our clamshells with bright, colorful labels reduce the confusion.

“Sampling of these often-confused tropical fruits may also help increase basket rings,” said Caplan. “And they’re really easy to sample—just peel and enjoy!”

The renowned lychee has rough, bumpy skin, while the rambutan has thicker skin covered in soft, hair-like spikes. Both fruits have juicy, grape-like flesh with one large inedible seed, but the flavors are completely different. Lychees are fragrant with a strong, sweet-tart flavor. Rambutan are more subtle with their sweetness.

Frieda’s “Luscious Lychees” from Mexico are available now in 10-lb. bulk and 12/12 oz. clamshells. “Rockin’ Rambutan” from Guatemala are set to start late May, and will be available in 5-lb. bulk and 14/12 oz. clamshells. Rambutan are also available from Vietnam and Mexico.

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.

One of the speakers at our daylong business conference in Omaha last week did not talk about corporations or investments. He talked about high performance, stress management, better eating choices, and getting a good night’s sleep.

Actually, when Andrew Herr got up in front of the room, I thought he resembled Christopher Reeve, aka Superman and Clark Kent.

Little did I know that the results of his research about high performance and stress management could indeed allow people to increase their personal performance to a Superman-like level. You can read about his work in Wired magazine and Ivy Magazine. As you’ll see, he’s a pretty remarkable guy—especially since he is only 33!

Frieda's Specialty Produce_Andrew Herr_Helicase

But what piqued my interest most was his discussion of the blue light effect on our ability to get a good night’s sleep. Andrew said it’s the blue light from the sky (after the sun comes up), which actually causes us to know it’s time to wake up. So when the sun goes down, it is only natural (with the absence of blue light) that we start to think about going to sleep. But since the advent of smart phones and our tendency to check them almost continuously, they may cause difficulty in falling asleep and having a restful night’s sleep.

Enter: Orange-tinted glasses.

Frieda's Specialty Produce -What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Orange Glasses

 

Andrew told our group that these $10 plastic glasses, if worn for a period of time before going to bed, actually block out the blue light (from regular light bulbs in our houses and from our smart phones and computer screens), thus signaling to our brains that it’s time to wind down.

The way he explained it to me was:

“Blue light, which comes from our overhead lights, phones, TVs, etc., tells our body to stay awake. We have special receptors in our eyes that our body uses to tune our circadian rhythm, our day/night clock, and blue light activates these to prevent melatonin production.

“Melatonin is a natural hormone that tells our brain it’s time to go to sleep. It may also have other benefits as an anti-inflammatory compound. So, when you wear the orange glasses, it blocks the blue light. Then your body starts producing melatonin naturally, and you fall asleep more easily and sleep better. Because we start to get drowsy naturally from the melatonin, hopefully this also prevents us from playing on our phones too long and keeping our brains alert and expectant too late, which also can disrupt sleep. So, overall, wearing the orange glasses for 90 minutes (at least 60, or you can wear them for a couple hours also) before you go to sleep should make falling asleep easier and the sleep more restful.”

I did a little research online when I got home and found an article in Popular Science magazine sharing the experiment done by a neuroscientist. I found it fascinating.

So, if you’re one of those people who has a hard time falling asleep at night or you wake up in the morning not feeling very rested, you may want to order a pair of these orange-tinted glasses and try them for yourself. (I found a wide range of orange-tinted glasses on Amazon. Search for “blue blocking glasses.”)

Andrew was kind enough to give me a pair before we left Omaha, and I have been wearing them every night since I got home. Funny thing, I have been waking up before my alarm goes off, feeling very rested each day. Not sure if it’s the effects of the glasses or that my body is so happy to be home, sleeping in my own bed.

If you try them out, be sure to let me know how they work for you!

Karen

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I spent last weekend in Omaha, Nebraska. That is, of course, the home of Berkshire Hathaway, the company that Warren Buffett (and Charlie Munger) are famous for. I am not a shareholder, but was fortunate to be invited to attend its annual shareholders’ meeting, always held in early May.

Advice I often give is: “Ask for what you want.” Well, while attending an agribusiness seminar a few months ago, I overheard a friend of mine talking about attending the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting last year. He mentioned that he was invited to attend by our mutual friend, Ejnar (pronounced eye-nar).

That sounded like something really interesting to do. So, at dinner that evening, I arranged to be seated next to Ejnar. And I asked for what I wanted. I half-jokingly said, “I’d like to come to Omaha.” And he, in all seriousness, said, “You are invited! And bring your daughter Alex.” Ejnar owns a private investment firm, and each year invites about 100 business colleagues to Omaha for a day of business presentations and the following day, they all attend the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders’ meeting. He encourages people to bring their children, so they can start to learn, at an early age, about investing and business.

So last weekend, Alex and I flew to Omaha and spent the first day with 100 total strangers from the dairy, grain, and indoor farming industries, plus many financial advisors and investors and more. Two people traveled all the way from Oman (in the Middle East), just to join this meeting. And several attendees came from Europe and Australia, too.

On Saturday morning, we were all up at 6, so we could be at the Century Link Arena when the doors opened at 7. We lined up, along with 40,000 shareholders. It was kind of crazy! We were lucky to get seats in the stadium. You can see from this photo that we’re in the “nosebleed” seats.

Frieda's Specialty Produce_BerkshireHathawayMeeting

What is so unique about this annual meeting is that Warren Buffett, age 86 (on the left), and Charlie Munger, age 93, sit on the stage and answer questions from the audience from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (with an hour break for lunch). They do not know the questions in advance and the questions are from regular folks.

Warren_Buffett_and_Charlie_Munger_YahooFinance

(In case you’re wondering, the box of See’s Candies’ peanut brittle is on the table for two reasons: They own See’s Candies and it is Charlie Munger’s favorite, so he munches on it during the entire meeting.)

You can read the transcript of the annual Berkshire Hathaway (B-H) meeting, but these were some of the high points for me:

  1. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of young people (under 20) were in the audience. I met a 24-year-old who attended his first B-H meeting when he was 10! It made me realize that it is never too early to start talking about financial investment decisions and business with your children. And when one of the young folks asked Warren and Charlie a question, they were treated with the same seriousness as those asked by older adults.
  2. Warren admitted that he is not a tech guy and that he really missed out on many tech stocks, like Amazon. B-H only invests in companies and industries that they understand. It was pretty amazing to hear their honest and authentic answers about their misses. (I don’t think Warren missed much, as his net worth, over $73 billion, is more than Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s).
  3. They talked about how important culture is in a business they invest in. That’s why they spend so much time studying businesses before they buy an interest. I’ve heard they may only make one new investment a year.
  4. They have a lot of cash on hand (over $90 billion right now). That tells me they are patient, thorough, and in no rush to invest if they don’t feel ready. How many of us could learn from that?
  5. When talking about their investment strategy, Charlie said, “Remember, the first rule of fishing is to fish where the fish are. The second rule of fishing is to never forget the first rule.”
  6. Berkshire Hathaway never misses an opportunity to promote the companies it owns. In the lower level of the arena, a giant trade show displayed products from many B-H companies. You could buy See’s candy (which I did), Fruit of the Loom underwear (with B-H logos), and stickers from Oriental Trading Company, plus get SWAG from Coca-Cola (B-H owns 9.4 percent of the Coca Cola Company, or 400,000,000 shares). No opportunity was missed to highlight their holdings.

Overall, it was a mind-expanding weekend and I hope to be invited back next year. Shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock are $245,000 per share (they have never done a stock split). I was happy to know they have Class B (non-voting) stock that goes for about $160 per share. I think that’s the only way I’m ever going to be a shareholder.

Karen-Caplan_Warren-Buffett

Here I am at the Coca-Cola booth with “Warren Buffett.”

Karen

P.S. Here are the 9 best Warren Buffett quotes from the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, from Fortune.

Shoppers are looking for something new to grill this season, including tropical fruits, specialty citrus, and fresh spices

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Grilled Tropical Fruit Kebabs

Los Alamitos, CA (May 2017) – According to an April 2017 report by the Institute of Food Technologists, three-quarters of U.S. homes own a grill and millennials are by far the most likely to grill. From grilled salads to vegetable-centric main courses to charred fruit sangria, millennials are looking to the produce aisle for something new to serve in the summer.

“According to a 2015 Mintel survey, millennials want meals to be social, healthy, and delicious. And grilling satisfies all of that,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “It’s all of their favorite activities rolled into one—healthy cooking, experimenting with food, and sharing the experience in real life as well as online.”

It’s not just millennials, either. The Mintel survey also said that more Americans are pairing grilled meats with grilled fruits and vegetables more than stove-top or oven-baked side dishes like baked beans or potatoes.

“Grilled vegetables are becoming the norm, but grilled fruits, especially citrus, are trending with millennials and gaining popularity,” said Caplan. “Create signage to encourage shoppers to try grilling citrus and other tropical fruits.”

To help shoppers grill something extraordinary, Frieda’s recommends tropical fruits such as dragon fruit, cape gooseberries, and rambutan, and specialty citrus, such as pink and seedless lemons, and Cara Cara and blood oranges. Exotic aromatics like turmeric, ginger, and lemongrass are also used for marinades and glazes.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Thai Grilled Turmeric Chicken

Contact Frieda’s account managers today to get started on the perfect summer grilling product mix for your produce department, such as summer grilling favorites like Shanghai bok choy, baby pineapples, watermelon radishes, and pepper varieties from shishito and mini sweet to serrano and habanero.

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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I’m a foodie! (Gee, no surprise there.) My exposure to innovative chefs has been mostly from dining at restaurants, watching them on TV (think “Chopped,” “Top Chef,” etc.), and seeing them at food events. So I was excited to learn about two different approaches to getting that awesome chef-food experience.

The first came to me in an unusual way. I was interviewing Darlene, a potential employee, whom we have since hired. As I was reviewing her resume, I noticed she spent most of the last year working for Outstanding in the Field. So I asked her about that.

Darlene told me that Jim Denevan and his food-loving group of friends started out at a vegetable farm near Santa Cruz, California, offering a dinner made with only local ingredients. That was in 1999.

In the last 18 years, Jim’s company and his farm-to-table dinners—always held right on a farm—have expanded so they are now held across North America, and even in France, Argentina, and Japan. Outstanding in the Field puts on 87 events each year and every single farm dinner is sold out in advance!

So get this: Once spring starts (and vegetables and fruits are ready for harvest), Jim’s team of cooks, servers, and foodies loads up a bus, trucks, and vans with people and props, and starts the journey across America. At each stop, publicized on Instagram, Twitter, and Outstanding’s website, the crew arrives at a field. Some of the crew then set up a long table and chairs for all the guests. In the field. Everyone else is cooking, oftentimes working directly with the farmers and local chefs until the guests arrive.

Each meal is based completely on locally sourced ingredients. That means the menu changes every time. Everyone in the crew of a couple dozen people does multiple jobs (whatever it takes), from prepping food and serving to answering questions about the food and menu. And they do this over and over, across the country, every few days, for months at a time.

After almost two decades, it’s exciting to know that Jim still has passion for celebrating the people whose hard work brings good food to the table, aka, all the people that are “Outstanding in the Field.”

I was fascinated with this model of true word of mouth (WOM) marketing. I cannot wait until I can coordinate my schedule to attend a dinner later this year.

The second innovative chef experience brings chefs to your home. This enterprise, MiumMium (French Canadian for “yum”), was started by a professional chef and entrepreneur, Chloe St-Cyr.

Her foodie-rewarding version of Uber connects potential customers with professional, and sometimes “damn good” amateur, chefs. The mobile culinarians go right into gourmands’ homes with all the food they need to prepare memorable dining experiences. And not just in the U.S. There are more than 11,000 chefs from around the world registered with MiumMium.

The way it works is kind of like other shared economy enterprises, one of the best being Airbnb. In an interview with Specialty Food Magazine, St-Cyr said that Uber and Airbnb are “monetizing an unused asset…there are millions of chefs around the world, why not create a platform where they can market their skills and earn some extra cash?”

So, chefs advertise their menus at prices they set on Chloe’s digital platform and MiumMium promotes the chefs’ work on the website. Consumers browse to select a location, menu, and chef that they want. And the food is expertly prepared by the chef in their home.

Can you imagine? If you want to have a few friends over for a chef-quality gourmet dinner, but don’t want to slave away in the kitchen all day, all you have to do is go on the website, find the chef you want, the menu you like, and pre-pay with your credit card. Then the chef shows up at your home at the appropriate time and prepares an amazing meal!

Last year meals cost about $48 per person, on average, including everything but the tip.

All I can say is, if you are a foodie or a wannabe foodie, many options are available for the food experience you’ve dreamed of. Uber meets Airbnb meets farmers market meets chef-prepared dinner. I’m already planning my next food experience. What about you?

Karen

This week I joined 250 other women in the produce business for an annual conference in Miami, Florida. Like many industries, fresh produce has long been male-dominated. As a matter of fact, my mother, Frieda, was regarded as the first woman business owner in produce when she started our company back in 1962.

Women’s Fresh Perspectives was started by our industry association as a way to reach out, encourage, train, and mentor the many women who have joined our industry. This was the conference’s 5th annual meeting. I found it exciting that for about 50 percent of the women there, it was their first time attending.

We had many speakers and breakout sessions over the three-day conference. One stood out for me—Mel Robbins, a CNN commentator.

MelRobbins

She walked onto the stage with her white, paper Starbucks cup in hand. She wore big, black, blocky eyeglasses. She spoke in a deep, matter-of-fact voice.

Mel warmed us up with this line: “First things first: I got my skirt at Anthropologie, and you can order my glittery Converse tennis shoes online.” If you’re not a woman, this probably doesn’t make sense to you. But most women, when they see another woman wearing something attractive or cute, will ask, “Where did you get that?” So, basically, Mel had us at hello.

She then told us about some crappy times she and her husband had in their professional careers back in 2011. Basically, they both lost their jobs at the same time. Unfortunately for Mel, she was on television and her firing was public.

So, not a surprise, she started to drink, got depressed, and every day was pretty much a pity party for herself. Her husband also got fired and decided to start the pizza restaurant he’d always wanted. With three kids, it was definitely a challenging time.

Her presentation to us was about how she discovered the way to jump-start her life and basically get off her ass. When she discovered the Five-Second Rule and started applying it and seeing the results, she started telling people about it. She was encouraged to give a TEDx talk about it. And in fact, at the end of this post is her 18-minute talk, “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over,” which has become one of the most globally praised TEDx talks ever.

So here’s the definition of the Five-Second Rule:

If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within five seconds or your brain will kill the idea.

For example, if you have a goal of gaining more respect in the workplace, you have to raise your hand the next time you’re in a meeting and you have a great idea. If you have a goal of losing weight, you can take action right now by researching healthy meal options and setting daily reminders on your phone that will prompt you to go to the gym.

Whatever your goals are, show the world, and yourself, that you’re serious by taking action, RIGHT NOW, however insignificant that action may seem. Because when you physically move, your brain starts to build new habits. When you do something you’re not used to doing, you are in the act of building new habits and erasing existing ones.

And that’s the Five-Second Rule. Mel told us that when we have an idea and hesitate, our idea will never happen. But if instead, when we have an idea, we count out loud or in our head, “5-4-3-2-1-GO,” and actually move, our chance for success is amplified. She calls it “activation energy.” (You can read more about how this works on her website.)

I know it sounds simplistic that saying, “5-4-3-2-1-GO,” to yourself will change things. But I have found myself thinking a lot about it the last two days. For example, I wanted to speak up during a conference session and I hesitated. Afterward, I regretted not participating and sharing my comments. If I had used Mel’s insights to take action, I might have gotten even more out of the conference. And I know I am not alone. I sat next to a Walmart executive during Mel’s talk; she basically told me she did the same thing. She didn’t speak up. And she wished she had.

So, think about it. What is it you want to accomplish? Do you know exactly what you want to do? Do you know exactly where you need to start? Is it the momentum to move forward NOW that is preventing you? Well, use that Five-Second Rule and see how that works.

5-4-3-2-1-GO!

Karen

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Produce organizations and professionals join Frieda’s Specialty Produce in honoring supermarket produce staff on social media

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

Los Alamitos, CA (April 2017) – Produce organizations and professionals joined Frieda’s Specialty Produce in celebrating Love Your Produce Manager® Day on April 2 online and in stores by using hashtag #LYPM on social media to salute the hardworking men and women in supermarket produce departments.

“ShopRite retail dietitians work closely with our produce staff, and we’re happy that we get to show our appreciation on Love Your Produce Manager Day,” said Ashley Cully, MS, RD, retail dietitian manager at ShopRite of Marlton, New Jersey, whose store acknowledged the day on social media. “Produce managers and their teams provide invaluable services to us by bringing in the freshest fruits and vegetables, creating beautiful displays, and helping us guide our customers on their healthy eating and wellness journeys.”

Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s, said, “We’re ecstatic about all the produce professionals engaging with Love Your Produce Manager Day this year. Retail dietitians and produce staff themselves are involved in the celebration, not just the organizations. And that shows the awesome culture and passion of those people, companies, and our industry as a whole.”

Love Your Produce Manager Day participants included:

• AGF.nl (Netherlands and Belgium produce publication)
• And Now U Know
• Arctic Apples
• Brookshire Brothers
• Cal Organic Farms
• Corrigan Mist
• FMI
• Fresh Plaza
• Grimmway Farms
• Grocery Headquarters
• Harris Teeter
• HEB Careers
• Westlakes Hy-Vee
• Lexington Co-Operative Market
• Lunds & Byerlys Woodbury
• Marsh Grocery
• National Mango Board
• Onion Business Magazine
• Perishable News
• Piece of Cake Wellness (Cierra Robbins, RD)
• Produce Marketing Association
• Produce Retailer
• Progressive Grocer
• Quebec Produce Marketing Association
• Russ Davis Wholesale
• ShopRite of Lincoln Park
• ShopRite of Marlton
• ShopRite of West Chester
• ShopRite of Whitman Plaza
• SmartBrief
• Sunripe Produce
• United Supermarkets
• Vince & Joe’s Gourmet Market
• Vermont Hydroponic

In honor of Love Your Produce Manager Day, Frieda’s made a donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, a member of the Feeding America national network, on behalf of the above produce organizations and professionals who recognized their produce managers.

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’ve noticed that many universities and colleges have found an interesting way to expand their community outreach and donor base. They host CEO summits, speaker series, and economic forecast events to appeal to local business owners and hook them on supporting educational institutions.

Earlier this week, I attended a speaker luncheon at one of California’s finest public colleges: Cal Poly Pomona. (Full disclosure: I am a member of the dean’s advisory committee.) As one of two California Polytechnic Universities—the other is located in San Luis Obispo—it is known for “Learn by Doing.” In contrast to most public schools, which teach primarily from theory or research-based curriculums, at Cal Poly, the real world application, internships in the student’s field of study, and on-campus labs and off-campus experiences dominate.

In that spirit, the College of Agriculture at Cal Poly Pomona invited the undisputed most successful grower/marketer/entrepreneur in California, and perhaps one of the preeminent grower/marketers in the U.S., to speak: Stewart Resnick. Stewart’s company, The Wonderful Company, owns many well-known brands: Fiji Water, Wonderful Almonds and Pistachios, Halo Tangerines, Pom Wonderful Juice, and Teleflora.

Stewart Resnick visits Cal Poly on Monday, April 17, 2017.

I’ve known Stewart and his wife, Lynda, (who is a brilliant marketer) for many years. But I’ve never heard Stewart speak at an event. So my observations of him and my learnings from his comments were a bit of a surprise to me.

I was struck by how low key and matter of fact he was. He had been on a tour of the campus before the luncheon, so I wasn’t totally surprised that he was in jeans and a plaid shirt (in California, wearing jeans and a plaid shirt is now considered chic and trendy). And he seemed sincerely interested when I introduced him to a large carrot farmer. (Turns out the farmer’s cousin is Stewart’s real estate broker!)

Stewart Resnick visits Cal Poly on Monday, April 17, 2017.

When Stewart got up to speak, he had no notes, took the microphone, and spent about 10 minutes telling how he got into agriculture. He grew up in New Jersey, then went to UCLA for undergraduate studies and law school. To pay his way, he started a janitorial service (yes, he started by scrubbing toilets), which he eventually sold. He parlayed the profits from that to buy the Franklin Mint, then started buying land. Of course, many years later, he and Lynda are now some of the largest landholders in California and are on Fortune Magazine’s list of billionaires.

During the Q & A session, his comments had some real nuggets of lessons learned:

  1. In the beginning, he didn’t like about 80 percent of the work he did, but loved the other 20 percent. As his career progressed, he spent more time on the things he loved and less time on the things he didn’t. He said he now loves 80 percent of his work, and he knows that the 20 percent he doesn’t like is necessary so he can do what he loves.

Lesson: You have to spend some time on things you don’t like, but that allows you to spend more time on what you love. Manage that time ratio.

  1. The Resnicks’ firm is well known for its marketing and its huge advertising budgets. Stewart said their strategy is to only invest marketing dollars in those things that they have dominant market share. He knows, for example, that in the U.S., they dominate the production of almonds and pistachios, so they’re not afraid to advertise heavily. Since both nuts basically need a desert with access to water, he doesn’t see competition coming easily.

Lesson: Know your competitive advantage so you can leverage it.

  1. In physics, he said, everything is basically an experiment. So when something he tries in business fails, he says, “That was a good experiment.”

Lesson: Everything you do teaches you something, even if it is that you don’t want to do it anymore.

  1. When asked by a (millennial) student in the audience for advice about starting a professional career, he said, “You have to work hard. There are no silver bullets.” He also commented that the leaders he has hired and promoted in his many companies succeeded because they worked hard and contributed. They remained relevant to the business.

Lesson: There is no shortcut to moving up in your career. You have to pay your dues and work hard.

Since everyone was asking Stewart questions about work, I asked him a personal question about what he does for fun. Besides cycling, traveling, and enjoying wine, he said he really has a pretty simple life. He likes his work. He likes making deals. And he seems sincerely curious.

He also made us laugh, with his final comment about why he likes agriculture: “Farmers are nicer to work with than investment bankers.”

As I drove home, I realized that I still have to spend time on things I don’t like doing, but that investment allows me to spend more time on the things that I love. I will continue to manage that time ratio for myself.

Karen

Stewart Resnick visits Cal Poly on Monday, April 17, 2017.

The specialty produce company shines a spotlight on the trending purple yam

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Purple Sweet Potato Guide

Los Alamitos, CA (April 2017) – Prepare your produce teams to answer one of the trickiest questions in food trends: do you sell ube (pronounced “OO-beh”)?

The internet is buzzing with images and stories of purple-tinted desserts made with the elusive purple yam, which is difficult to find fresh in the U.S., and, at the same time, perpetuating misinformation about what fresh ube looks like. The specialty produce experts at Frieda’s Specialty Produce want to demystify common confusion about ube and other purple sweet potato varieties so retailers are ahead of the game on this popular trend.

“Because fresh ube is rarely available in the U.S., most people don’t know what it looks like,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s. “They often mistake Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and Okinawan sweet potatoes for ube because of the purple flesh. Even the internet is confused about that!

“Shoppers may think they are looking for fresh ube, but oftentimes we find they really want a purple sweet potato. We want our customers to be knowledgeable about all of the trending purple tubers, so they can better inspire new food experiences for their shoppers,” added Caplan.

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Also known as a purple yam, fresh ube has brown, bark-like skin, and flesh that ranges from white with purple specks to lilac. This tuber is a staple of the Filipino kitchen. It is well loved all over Asia as a dessert ingredient for its sweet and nutty flavor. However, in most cases, ube desserts are made with either grated frozen roots, powder, flavor extract, or jam (ube halaya), which are all available in Filipino or Asian markets.

Purple sweet potatoes, however, are more commonly available to most consumers. Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes have purple-tinted skin and violet-purple flesh; Okinawan sweet potatoes have beige skin and lavender-purple flesh.

“What Is (or isn’t) Ube?” 1-minute video and a written companion piece, “The Ultimate Purple Sweet Potato Guide,” are now available as a part of the company’s ever growing specialty produce information library. From “Quick Bite” recipe videos to the classic “Produce 101” series, and extensive recipe and product information database, Frieda’s is the go-to resource for specialty produce information.

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.

If you work in an office, you probably have one coworker who has snacks at his or her desk. You know, when you get the munchies, and just want a little something, you go to their desk to get a small snack.

For me, that is Becky. She is a member of our sales team and has been at Frieda’s for more than 20 years. She has a drawer filled with healthy snacks, and some mornings I just need a fix to hold me over until lunch. Usually it’s Trader Joe’s Simply Almonds, Cashews, and Cranberries Trek Mix.

A few weeks ago, I stopped by for my snack and her drawer was empty. She was out of trail mix. I was devastated and potentially hangry.” (Yes, it is one of the new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary recently.)

So, the ever resourceful Becky, said, “Why don’t you try these?”

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Skippy P.B. Bites

I had no idea what she was handing me, but she started rattling off some of the virtues of Skippy P.B. Bites:

Being the marketing person that I am, I was fascinated with this new product. And I was curious about when it was introduced and the innovative process behind it.

As it turns out Hormel Foods (the owner of Skippy, which it acquired from Unilever in 2013) is well known for innovation. The founder, George Hormel, said it best: “Innovate, don’t imitate.” In 2015 Hormel launched Skippy P.B. Bites, part of its $3 billion pipeline of new products launched since 2000. At that time, the company formed a corporate innovation team to develop “game-changing product innovation that often involves proprietary technology.”

According to one interview, the Bites were inspired by the recent success of unwrapped miniature morsels from top candy bar brands (think mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in a bag).

I was so excited about these P.B. Bites that I went right to my local grocery store to look for them. And I found them on the shelf beside regular peanut butter. I was fascinated by Hormel’s adorable television commercial for the Bites aimed at kids, who are the biggest consumers of and love peanut butter. So cute and relatable:

[youtube=https://youtu.be/eCN46QYeuV8]

However, I think Hormel has missed an opportunity to go after another market. And that’s adult peanut butter lovers, who are also calorie counters. And adult snackers.

As much as I like these Skippy P.B. Bites, I do check in to see that Becky’s stash of Trader Joe’s trek mix is well stocked. Because no one wants me to be hangry at my office!

Karen

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Becky with her Skippy P.B. Bites
My co-worker Becky with her Skippy P.B. Bites

Last week I went to Las Vegas. Does it surprise you that it was a business trip? I was invited to speak at the first Vegas Food Expo. My topic was “How Produce Trends Happen.” It’s always fun for me to demystify how kale or kiwi appeared on the produce scene. “Gradually and then suddenly,” I always say.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Las Vegas and for a few years now, I’ve had something on my bucket list. And that is to take a tour of Zappos headquarters. My dear friend Jack Daly, who is an author and does sales training for a living, has talked about the tour for years. So, with an extra half day available to me, I went online a month ago and booked a tour for Friday morning.

When most people think of Zappos, they think of buying shoes online, free shipping both ways, and founder Tony Hsieh selling the company to Amazon for $1 billion. That is all true.

But the reason the tour is so popular is to learn about the company’s secret sauce, its real competitive advantage. Zappos is known for its culture.

From the moment I went on the website and signed up (and received regular reminders about my upcoming visit), and then as I walked through the front doors, I could tell there was something very special about the place. First of all, everyone is unbelievably happy and friendly. It didn’t seem like they were working. It seemed like they were just hanging out. After signing in, I was offered water, snacks, storage for my luggage, and shopping time at the Z Boutique (the store with promotional merchandise, or  “swag”) located right off the lobby.

Since I arrived early, I wandered into the swag store just to see what they had besides the normal hats, T-shirts, etc. That’s when I met Lindy. She was running the store that day. Actually, she seemed almost too happy to me. But I could tell it was completely sincere, especially since I asked her how she came to work at Zappos. I noticed how naturally she engaged with me, didn’t put any pressure on me to buy anything, and wasn’t in any rush. Of course I had to buy Tony Hsieh’s book, “Delivering Happiness,” plus a T-shirt and shot glasses. (More about shot glasses later.)

IMG_7196
Lindy at the Zappos gift shop

Just before our tour, a few tour guides ushered us into a large alcove, where they played several videos, which clearly demonstrated their culture.

The first video was about how a customer service rep from Zappos really connected with a customer who called to buy tennis shoes for a run she was participating in. As it turned out, the customer was battling breast cancer and this was a big run for her. The customer service rep felt so connected after the call that she wanted to do something to make the customer feel special. So she sent her flowers! And then, through one of Zappos’ funds, Zappos and the rep arranged a party for the customer a few months later to celebrate her birthday! Yes, you are reading this correctly. All the customer did was call in to buy a pair of shoes. And the customer service rep was empowered to “delight” her in any way she saw fit. Talk about winning a client for life! (As you know, they’ve already won over my daughter Alex.)

A second video was about how Tony Hsieh started his company, including how he got the name Zappos. His partner, Nick, suggested they call the company “Zapos,” as a nickname for the Spanish word for shoes, “zapatos.” They added an extra “p” because it looked better and the name “Zappos” was born. I found it super interesting that Tony graduated from Harvard in 1995 and sold his previous company, LinkExchange, to Microsoft for $265 million, which provided the startup money for founding Zappos.

Zappos has a team of six full-time tour guides; that is their full time job at Zappos. Our small group of five had an hour-long tour with our two guides. The facility is the former city hall of Las Vegas. Sadly, it’s a concrete building with not a lot of natural warmth. Our guide, Ryo, told us that they moved there in 2013 and it is much nicer than when they moved in. But Zappos is continuing to remodel to make it feel like home.

IMG_7191
Entrance to the Zappos headquarters

Here are some of the highlights of the tour and things I learned:

I could go on and on about the tour and Zappos. But I think the best thing is if you are intrigued and planning a trip to Las Vegas, go online and book a tour. It’s $10 and well worth the 90 minutes.

Oh, about my produce trends talk. Did you know that kale and kiwifruit have something in common (besides the letter “k”)? Both took about 18 years from the time they were first promoted to them appearing ubiquitous.

Here’s a photo of me in the lobby of Zappos. They have a throne…it truly made me feel like royalty!

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Karen Caplan at Zappos Tour

Karen

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As shoppers trade in hearty winter dishes for lighter, warm-weather fare, produce departments must stock up on spring favorites to meet demand

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Spring Produce Display

Los Alamitos, CA (April 2017) – The cold winter is thawing out and shoppers are trading in winter stews and roasts for light and refreshing vegetable-centric dishes. As retailers get ready to shift from winter to spring merchandising, they can attract shoppers with bountiful and colorful displays of Instagram-perfect spring vegetables like purple asparagus, watermelon radishes, heirloom cherry tomatoes, specialty radishes, and fennel.

“The change of season brings the change in what shoppers want to cook and eat. Warm weather means light, crisp, refreshing food—maybe even grilled,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Spring also provides great opportunities for retailers to promote key drivers starting with fresh horseradish root for Passover, artichokes and colored cauliflower for Easter, and rhubarb and berries with value-added specialties like ready-to-eat French style crêpes for Mother’s Day.”

Frieda's Specialty Produce - French style crepes

Additional spring top-sellers include Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, baby beets, endive, mini sweet peppers, radicchio, Shanghai bok choy, fava beans, sugar snap peas, and English peas.

Call Frieda’s account managers today to help select the best spring product mix to increase basket rings.

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.

Many applications only have a place to check boxes or fill in basic information, like your name, address, previous jobs, etc. You really don’t have the opportunity to be creative when you are applying for a mortgage or a new job; you just fill in the blanks.

But last week, I had the opportunity to see some very creative applications, as I was one of several judges for the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards, a business awards competition in Santa Barbara. This is the second year I was asked to review the awards packets for businesses that were either nominated or self-nominated for the prestigious awards for women business owners in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

I don’t live in Santa Barbara, so last year I was a bit perplexed why they asked me. As it turns out, to eliminate any bias, they only use judges from outside the geographic area, so no judge will know the nominees or be prejudiced in their judging.

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards 2017

So last weekend, I sat in my office, opened my Dropbox account, and started perusing the applications. I had 24 applications in four categories to review. Here’s my methodology: First I read through all the applications in a category, then I go back and read them a second time, doing the scoring.

And that’s when I made an observation about the process. I realized that judging the applications was not completely about the business or the business owner. And believe me, there were a lot of amazing and deserving applicants. It was also about how careful and diligent the business owners were in completing their applications.

I could tell that some people took great care and put a lot of thought into completing the application. They were neat, with no typos, and a lot of detailed, thoughtful explanation about the candidate and her business. Others, I could see, were a bit hastily filled out. They were handwritten, not in complete sentences, and did not appear as if the applicant took it seriously.

That’s when it hit me. I recalled when I nominated a friend of mine for an award a few years ago. I was up against a deadline. I rushed to complete the application and didn’t take as much time as I should have in gathering research and background. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when my friend didn’t win.

As per usual, when I least expect it, I learn an important life lesson.

How many times have you turned in some information and done it in a hurry? You didn’t take the time to prepare, to do your research, and to thoughtfully complete the assignment. Whether it is filling out an application for an award or a scholarship, or preparing to give a speech, a sales preparation, or even for a meeting at work, the time invested in advance, to prepare, is the most important part of the process.

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Apply

It took me several hours to review all 24 applications twice and to do the scoring. I took my time and made sure I thoughtfully considered each application. That is an important part of the process too: not jumping to conclusions quickly, and being thoughtful and considerate when evaluating.

I won’t be able to attend the awards ceremony this year, so best of luck to all the women nominated for the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards! Starting and owning a business is hard work and, many times, a labor of love.

Karen

P.S.  I did attend last year’s ceremony where I was happily surprised to run into a produce friend of mine, Chef Sarah LaCasse!

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Chef Sarah LaCasses and Karen Caplan
Chef Sarah LaCasse and me

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Frieda’s Specialty Produce offers extensive fresh pepper varieties for spring and summer entertaining

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Fresh Chile Peppers

Los Alamitos, CA (March 2017) – Consumers are demanding a wider selection of fresh chile pepper varieties as part of their grocery shopping experience, and there’s no better time to stock up produce departments than Cinco de Mayo. Retailers and wholesalers can look to Frieda’s Specialty Produce as their comprehensive source for all their fresh chile pepper needs.

“Frieda’s has expanded our fresh pepper program to new growing partners in multiple growing regions to offer year-round supply on many fresh pepper varieties, and we offer them in multiple pack sizes for our customers,” said Allen DeMo, director of procurement and sourcing at Frieda’s. “Many buyers have told us they didn’t realize just how competitive Frieda’s could be and that our quality really measures up.”

Frieda’s is a one-stop pepper shop for:

“Fresh peppers are key ingredients to essential Cinco de Mayo dishes from salsas and guacamole to main dishes, and even infusing into beverages,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s. “This food-centered holiday kicks off the summer party season and sets the tone for summer selling. We want to help our customers keep their sales sizzling as we roll into summer grilling season,” added Caplan.

Call your Frieda’s account manager today to ask about its extensive fresh chile pepper selections and other Cinco de Mayo favorites like jicama, tomatillos, key limes, seedless lemons, Soyrizo®, and dried peppers like ancho mulato and pasilla negro.

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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It all started on the golf course. Early last year, I attended the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. As I was wandering around the clubhouse, I ran into Mark Brian Smith, the filmmaker who produced and directed “Fear No Fruit,” the documentary about my mom and our family business. He had with him a longtime personal friend Simon, a banker. As per usual, we shook hands and exchanged business cards.

So I guess I was a little surprised when six months later I received an email from Simon, who had changed banks, inviting me to be the keynote speaker at a CEO summit. As it turns out, his new bank, Union Bank, is a sponsor of the CEO Summit at the University of La Verne and he is on the steering committee. After seeing the movie about our company, he thought our story would be great for the summit’s audience of 150 to 200 local CEOs.

So last week, I drove 30 miles to La Verne and spent a few hours there. We took a quick walking tour and La Verne President Devorah Leiberman shared some pretty impressive information with me. The university is recognized amongst the country’s leading schools. U.S. News and World Report rates La Verne’s undergraduate online degree offerings as No. 1 in California (and 24th best in the country). The university has four colleges: Arts & Sciences, Business & Public Management, Education, and Law.

University of La Verne

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised how many of the deans and associate deans from the four colleges listened to my presentation. One in particular stood out to me—Rita Thakur, associate dean of the College of Business & Public Management. We sat at the same table during lunch and had a lovely chat. She was born in India and you can read her story here. She struck me as kind of quiet, so I was trying to imagine her as the associate dean. But I quickly learned that her mild-mannered demeanor was simply her way of charming people and accomplishing her goals. She drilled me about the internships at my company. During my speech, I had said,  “Ask for what you want.” She did just that, saying, “I want you to give one of my students an internship this summer!” That’s chutzpah!

During our conversation, I learned about a program she created at La Verne that is the only one of its kind in the country. It’s called “The Rita Thakur Skills for Success Program.” For all four years that students are in the College of Business & Public Management, they are required to enroll in the program. It teaches both life and professional skills that students just don’t get anymore! Things like: etiquette, how to do introductions, how to make sure your resume gets to the top of the pile, interviewing techniques, etc. As they progress through their undergraduate education, the students continue to get professional mentorship, consulting opportunities, and training for soliciting a loan, selling a product, and developing a business plan.

I was so excited to learn this.

University-of-La-Verne

It was even more timely when I read The Wall Street Journal on March 20. The headline on the Personal Finance section was “Should College Students Be Required to Take a Personal-finance Course?” I vote “YES.” I know what it’s like for a twentysomething new hire who doesn’t know how to choose a health insurance plan or what questions to ask about the 401k plan.

One of the biggest challenges millennials and others who enter the workforce have is lack of training in those life skills. It was awesome to see that a single person like Rita Thakur recognized the opportunity and created a program that will give thousands of students at the University of La Verne a better chance of success in the business world. Perhaps other universities and colleges will embrace the practical needs of today’s workforce and give students similar training.

I get a lot of speaking requests during the course of a year. I accepted this one because I could tell that La Verne has something special to offer, not only to the community with the CEO Summit, but as I learned, to their students. If you should have the opportunity to speak at a local college or university, whether it is about your own business or career, or as an opportunity to mentor and give back, I hope you will make the time to do it.

It’s always good to pay it forward!

Karen

Inaugural event connects emerging food producers with retailers and foodservice distributors

Vegas Food Expo

Los Alamitos, CA (March 2017) – Thirteen of America’s top food executives and entrepreneurs in fields from aquaponics to hospitality services will speak at the inaugural Vegas Food Expo on March 30 and 31 at the Gold Coast Resort and Casino, Las Vegas. The expo will also connect more than 130 innovative food and beverage brands to retailers, distributors, and foodservice providers.

Expo attendees will have a chance to interact with artisanal food makers and learn from innovative food executives during speaking sessions scheduled on both days of the expo.

Speakers have been selected by Brett Ottolenghi, founder of the Vegas Food Expo and owner of Artisanal Foods in Las Vegas, for their leadership, tenacity, creativity, and influence in the food world. The lineup includes Zingerman’s Co-owner Paul Saginaw, TAO Group Managing Partner Louis Abin, “Made to Stick” co-author Chip Heath, Bitten food conference Founder & CEO Naz Riahi, and Frieda’s Specialty Produce President & CEO Karen Caplan.

“Staying on top of food trends and being able to spot what’s coming next are important for ideation,” said Caplan. “It’s imperative for us at Frieda’s to know what’s happening so we can provide what our foodservice clients need to stay current and for our retail clients to be aware of what shoppers are going to come looking for next. Las Vegas is at the forefront of food innovation, being the city of renowned chefs, up-and-coming culinary talents, and creative food start-up companies. This is the expo to be at if you want to know what the next hot trends are.”

Speaking on “Tapping into Fresh Trends in Produce,” Caplan is scheduled to take the stage at 1:40 p.m. on Thursday, March 30.

March 30 is exclusively open to buyers, and March 31 is open to the ticket-holding public. For tickets and more information, visit here.

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 attended a produce conference last weekend in Orlando (I know, I lead such an exciting life). Sixteen hundred of my closest produce friends and I hung out at the Disney Dolphin Resort for three days of meetings, workshops, a trade show, plus an evening gala.

When I say “my closest produce friends,” I really mean that. The unique aspect of the produce industry is that because we spend so much time together at various shows and events each year, many of us actually do become close friends.

As my daughter Alex and I were walking through the lobby, we came across two of our longtime retail clients from North Carolina.

We stopped to say hello and catch up. It wasn’t even one minute into the conversation when Dick said, “I just cannot believe how much fresh turmeric I am selling these days!” In my head, I was thinking, “His stores are in some rural areas of North and South Carolina; I wonder how much turmeric is ‘a lot?’” So I asked him to tell us more.

As it turns out, it started with one store in coastal North Carolina. They kept ordering so much turmeric that his warehouse could not keep it in stock.

Like me, Dick was curious why the sudden surge in demand. He found out there is a popular recipe for an elixir featuring Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, fresh turmeric, lemon juice, and honey that is circulating and that’s why his stores can’t keep it in stock.

With the help of Google, here is the recipe. And here’s another one.

Bragg-Organic-Apple-CIder-VinegarI’m not implying or endorsing any health claims, but it sounds like this natural “tonic” promises extra energy, improved mood, stabilized blood sugar, lower LDL cholesterol…the list goes on.

I told Dick that turmeric has been a trending ingredient for two years due to its anti-inflammatory properties. We have also noticed on a national basis the surge in sales of both fresh turmeric and fresh ginger, as more people are discovering these roots to make their own teas, tonics and juices.

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

It was quite exciting to see that consumer demand coming from the coastal region of North Carolina. Most of us think that trendy foods are more popular in big metropolitan cities, like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. I guess, as people retire or want a more relaxed lifestyle, they are taking their eating and shopping habits to places like North Carolina (where several of my friends have now moved).

That’s exciting news. Because that means more and more stores across the country will be offering their shoppers all those hard-to-find ingredients. And if you’re one of those people who have moved to a new area, don’t be afraid to ask your produce manager to order any fruits and veggies you are looking for which aren’t on display. Otherwise, your produce manager will not know that you—and others—want them!

Karen

P.S. My team and I had a little fun at this produce conference. The theme was “The Magic of Produce” and we dressed in the theme of “Frieda’s School of Purple Magic”…à la Harry Potter.

Frieda'sSchoolofMagic

Join Frieda’s Specialty Produce in saluting produce department heroes

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

Los Alamitos, CA (March 2017) – April 2 is the 6th annual national Love Your Produce Manager® Day, a day to show appreciation for supermarket produce managers. Frieda’s Specialty Produce invites industry participation in saluting the hardworking men and women in supermarket produce departments, both in stores and over social media with hashtag #LYPM. For each industry organization that shares the hashtag or mentions Love Your Produce Manager® Day in its communications, Frieda’s will make a donation to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, a member of the Feeding America national network.

“The produce department is the heart of the supermarket, and produce managers keep it ticking,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s. “According to United Fresh Produce Association’s 2016 year in review, 33 percent of all fresh grocery sales comes from produce. And these men and women contribute to that success with their beautiful displays and excellent customer service. Their passionate work helps put more fruits and vegetables in the shopping basket, boosts produce consumption, and inspires new food experiences for shoppers.”

Industry companies and organizations that would like to participate can find shareable graphics here. Love Your Produce Manager® Day messages must be posted by 11:59 p.m. PST on April 3 to be counted for the donation. 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 28 through April 4.

In 2015 more than 40 organizations participated in LYPM online activities. Frieda’s made a donation on their behalf to United Fresh Produce Association’s “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools” initiative.

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

As featured in Chase’s Calendar of Events since 2012, Love Your Produce Manager® Day aims to honor exemplary customer service in U.S. supermarket produce departments. Frieda’s created the holiday on the occasion of the company’s 50th anniversary to acknowledge the produce manager’s key role.

“Conversations that produce managers have with shoppers pave the way for us to bring to market unique and exciting products like Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, jackfruit, and fresh turmeric root,” Caplan said. “Without the help of a Salt Lake City produce manager listening to a single consumer’s request in 1962, kiwifruit may not have become the well known and loved fruit it is today.”

The importance of produce managers is also highlighted in “Fear No Fruit,” the documentary chronicling the life of Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, as a contributing factor in her success as the first woman entrepreneur on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market in the 1960s. “Fear No Fruit” is available on DVD and digital streaming platforms (iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Instant Video). The film is also available for group and educational screenings by contacting Kino Lorber EDU.

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.

For the last 11 years, I have attended the biannual University of California, Davis, Agribusiness Seminar. The three-day gathering includes 90 agribusiness executives from across the ag supply chain: egg farmers to cattle ranchers, grape growers to bagged salad producers, investment bankers to consultants and people in the food business. Ninety percent of the attendees are from California and some repeat attendees have gotten to know each other pretty well over the years.

This year we read, studied, and discussed seven case studies about other companies that were willing to open their business to the case writers (usually university professors and professional case writers). The cases are confidential.

Each year I attend, I learn so much that has helped me grow my business and refine my approach as a business leader. I am fortunate to be a member of the steering committee, so I had some input into the programming. The cases usually focus on a business challenge the company is facing. Our discussions revolve around us developing alternative strategies. When the case is actually presented, the company executive responds to our insights and questions, and tells us what the company ultimately decided to do, and why. It is super interesting!

This year, we had a keynote speaker who flew in all the way from New Zealand. As it turns out, our speaker, Michael Henderson, is a corporate anthropologist. In my opinion, he is part psychologist, part therapist, and mostly incredibly insightful. His company brochure says, “He has a degree in Anthropology and uses this unique skills set to support organizations to create high performance cultures.”

Michael-Henderson-500x500
Michael Henderson, corporate anthropologist

We received his latest book “Above the Line” a few weeks before he spoke and were expected to read it before we arrived. I admit when I saw that I had to read a binder full of cases, plus the book, I wasn’t sure I would get through it all. But once I started reading Michael’s book, I couldn’t put it down. I grabbed my highlighter and started marking it up; so many things resonated with me.

AboveTheLine_BookCover

What I learned from Michael was: “Company culture fundamentally does one of two things. It either makes your business money or costs your business money.” He told us that culture has proven to be eight times more influential to business performance than strategy. Eight times more! That definitely got my attention.

One of the biggest insights he shared is how companies approach culture incorrectly. Many companies think the company sets the culture. In fact, the employees control the culture. Michael suggested that, when you interview a potential new employee, instead of sharing your company culture, you should ask the candidates what their values are. And if those values are not in alignment with your company’s values, then you should not hire that person. Personal values determine compatibility; their personal values will not change. For example, if your company’s values include being goal-oriented and -driven, and the candidate values a low-key, non-pressure work environment, you can see how they might not fit into the culture (no matter how good their skill set is).

We asked Michael about acquisitions. Many companies attending this conference will be making acquisitions in the future. Statistics show that 85 percent of all acquisitions fail…mostly due to a lack of culture alignment. So what advice did he have? He told us that while most companies focus on doing financial audits of the company under consideration, what they really need to include is a culture audit. Such a great suggestion.

Michael also told us that if you want to change the culture, you need to be mindful of whom you promote in your company. Those who are promoted should have personal values aligned with the company’s values. It makes culture alignment so much easier and natural.

And if you are wondering if culture alignment can add money to the bottom line of a company, he gave us several examples. Two stood out for me: Coca Cola NZ added $30 million to its bottom line in one year; Z Energy (another NZ company) hit its three-year financial targets in 18 months. Both credit their culture as the major significant contribution to achieving these results.

“Great culture makes wealth. A toxic culture destroys wealth.” – Warren Buffett

I think Mr. Buffett said it succinctly.

Karen

P.S. During the agribusiness seminar, I was fortunate to receive an invitation to this year’s Berkshire Hathaway meeting in Omaha, Nebraska! I am beyond excited that I am able to attend and see Warren Buffett and Charles Munger in person. Stay tuned.

The specialty produce ‘faculty’ is ready to educate retailers on purple produce and other trending fruits and vegetables

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Frieda's School of Purple Magic

Los Alamitos, CA (March 2017) – Supporting the “Magic in Produce” theme of Southeast Produce Council Southern Exposure 2017, Frieda’s Specialty Produce is proud to invite attendees to “Frieda’s School of Purple Magic” Preview Day activities at Booth 620 on Saturday, March 11.

“Purple produce is a major 2017 food trend, and no one knows purple like we do. After all, we have been working with our clients on ‘Power of Purple’ since 2013,” said Karen Caplan, headmistress of Frieda’s School of Purple Magic (otherwise known as president and CEO of Frieda’s). “Shoppers really respond to a big, bountiful purple destination display. National media is buzzing with purple produce trends this year, featured everywhere from NBC’s TODAY show to Consumer Reports. Retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice providers must take advantage of this hot trend.”

Interested “students” will also discover top selling purple produce like Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes and other trending specialty fruits and vegetables at the booth. Call Frieda’s admission officers (also known as account managers) to learn more about current programs.

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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A few months ago, I joined the board of Second Harvest Food Bank, the largest food bank in Orange County and a member of the Feeding America national network.

Our company donates edible produce to the food bank each week. CEO Nicole Suydam and I have gotten to know each other over the past few years, and she slowly recruited me to join the board, made up of about 20 community leaders, entrepreneurs, and corporate executives.

After I had joined the board, Nicole let me know that I was expected to attend a four-hour board orientation session at the Second Harvest offices, located 30 miles from my own office. To be honest, I was completely annoyed when I learned this.

Although I am very committed to being an active board member, I’d already attended two board meetings and several events, and I couldn’t understand the need for a four-hour orientation.

Second Harvest Food Bank's mobile pantry
Me with the Second Harvest Food Bank’s mobile pantry

Let me describe the orientation:

The other new board member, Steve (a retail grocery executive), and I were seated in a conference room with Nicole. We were each given a binder containing supplemental information for all of the presentations we would be getting. Nicole then gave us an overview of the history of Second Harvest, reviewed the enterprise’s organizational chart, plus the committee assignments for board members, and then discussed the strategic plan.

The next three hours were spent having 20- to 30-minute presentations by the eight department heads within the food bank about their departments and their goals, with Nicole present the whole time to facilitate their presentations, ask for clarification, and give further explanations.

At the end of our four-hour meeting, Steve and I looked at each other, and then at Nicole, and commented that we both learned so much about Second Harvest. Both of us admitted to being skeptical beforehand about the need for such a lengthy and detailed orientation, but we agreed it gave us a fantastic historical perspective and a deeper understanding which would help us be better board members and supporters. I hope other volunteer organizations invest this kind of time in “onboarding” new volunteer board members. It will definitely pay dividends.

Nicole Suydam Second Harvest Food Bank OC
Nicole Suydam. CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County

So as I drove home, I started to think about my own company’s new hire orientation. Although we invest in orienting new employees, we don’t do it in the same way Nicole does. It struck me that I could take the best practices that I learned from the Second Harvest board member orientation and improve our onboarding experience for new employees.

Instead of having the new employee travel between departments and interrupt the workday of the various managers, I am seriously considering centralizing orientation and standardizing it. And by being present for each orientation, I will be able to add anecdotal and other insights that may be missed if I’m not there.

Frieda's
Some of the fun stationery we use at the office and provide new hires.

How many of you have started a new job and were satisfied with the orientation? Was it simply filling out a bunch of forms in the HR office and then you were shipped off to your department to start working? Especially if you work in a small- to medium-sized company, the resources are not always available to develop a robust onboarding process, so you may not figure out the organizational dynamics until weeks or months after you start.

My big takeaway from this experience was a reminder that no matter how annoying something may seem before you complete it, there is always a lesson to be learned.

What did you learn today?

Karen

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The Frieda Caplan documentary is set to inspire dietetic professionals

Fear No Fruit - Frieda Caplan - Quote

Los Alamitos, CA (March 2017) – The Central Valley District of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND) will host a screening of “Fear No Fruit,” the Frieda Caplan documentary, on Wednesday, March 8, in Fresno, California, to celebrate National Registered Dietitian Day and to raise funds for the Helena Kennedy Scholarship. The screening begins at 5 p.m. at Bitwise Industries.

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.

“Frieda’s determination gave Americans the opportunity to try fresh new produce by making exotic fruits and vegetables more accessible. And that makes our job advocating for more fruit and vegetable consumption easier,” said Carrie Der Garabedian, MBA, RD, CFPM, president of the Central Valley District CAND. “We’re excited to share Frieda’s story to help inspire others to follow their hearts and achieve their goals.”

“Dietitians face challenges similar to Frieda—encouraging people to try new foods and eat healthier,” said Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND, president of the California Academy. “‘Fear No Fruit’ is an inspiring, must-see film for dietetic students and professionals!”

The California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Central Valley District, represents registered dietitians in various job functions throughout Central California with the goal of optimizing health through food and nutrition. The Helena Kennedy Scholarship is established to honor the late Ms. Kennedy for her passion for nutrition and commitment to the community. The scholarship will be awarded to a California State University, Fresno, dietetic student.

Tickets are $10 and include dinner. Because seating is limited, advanced reservations and ticket purchase are required.

“Fear No Fruit” is available on DVD and digital streaming platforms (iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Instant Video). The film is also available for group and educational screenings by contacting Kino Lorber EDU.

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.

Spicy root is more than just a traditional staple

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Horseradish

Los Alamitos, CA – (February 2017) – Horseradish root is a must-have item for Passover, the traditional Jewish celebration beginning at sundown on Monday, April 10, and ending Tuesday, April 18. Retailers should now pre-book their horseradish orders in preparation for this important cultural holiday.

“Horseradish and parsley sales go through the roof the week before Passover as they are the most traditional produce items used for the holiday meal,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “In addition to Passover, fresh horseradish is also used as a condiment for fish and seafood during the Christian observance of Lent, which begins March 1 and ends on April 13. It is a great opportunity for retailers to increase basket ring.”

But this traditional root is actually gaining popularity as part of the growing weekend brunch trend, and as a key ingredient in bloody Mary beverages and other chef-inspired creations. In fact, the Baum + Whiteman Restaurant and Hotel 2017 trends report listed horseradish among the year’s buzzwords as the use of horseradish went up 29 percent last year.

“Weekend brunch has become a part of the culture, and the trend continues to grow. Fresh horseradish is going to grow along with it,” said Caplan. “Once shoppers experience fresh horseradish while dining out, they will try to replicate it at home.”

Call Frieda’s account managers today to pre-order horseradish roots, as well as other Passover essentials including parsley, beets and baby beets, fingerling potatoes, parsnips, parsley root, specialty carrots, and baby apples.

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 was surprised by the last question asked from the audience when I participated as a panelist at the THRIVE AgTech conference earlier this month:

“What do you think is the future of cannabis in California agriculture?”

I was even more surprised when the moderator turned to me and said, “Karen, why don’t you take that question, as I would consider cannabis a specialty crop, wouldn’t you?”

I smiled and jokingly said we could sell it in 1-ounce packages, like our other specialty items.

But seriously, I then mentioned my presentation at the food trend conference, Bitten LA back in October, where Jeff the Cannabis Chef did an entire presentation about his career cooking with cannabis. After all, cannabis edibles are very popular these days.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Do44xQVeooQ&feature=youtu.be]

Since then, I’ve done a little research. And in fact, I have had more than one industry person tell me it’s no secret that many hot house growers in California are looking at the financial returns on growing cannabis. The Orange County Register estimated the value of California’s marijuana crop in 2015 to be the number one leading agriculture commodity at $23.3 billion. Just for comparison, coming in second on that list is milk at $6.28 billion and almonds at about $5 billion.

 

With all of the buzz, pardon the pun, around the California cannabis industry, there are also some concerns that directly impact the produce industry. Would fruit and vegetable growers switch out edible crops to grow cannabis? Many experts don’t seem too concerned about the switch as there are more fees, regulations, and risks of property forfeiture that come with growing commercial cannabis. At least, for now.

And just last Friday, the International Cannabis Business Conference was held in San Francisco. So I imagine we are going to see a lot of information in the news in coming weeks.

So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when the latest edition of the newsletter Israel21C arrived with the following headline:

 “5 reasons Israel is dominating the cannabis industry”

The article highlights that Israel is more than 10 years ahead of other countries in terms of cannabis innovation. Whether it is in growing, processing, medical treatment, or venture funds (iCAN is an Israel-cannabis venture fund), a lot is going on in Israel.

But back to the question I was asked. In case you’re wondering, I don’t think you will see Frieda’s adding cannabis to our product lineup anytime soon.

Karen

Demystifying different types of purple-fleshed sweet potatoes, one tuber at a time

Stokes_Oki_Ube_Group

There is no doubt that purple sweet potatoes have gained popularity over the past year. But not all varieties of purple sweet potatoes are created equal.

Oh yes, there is more than just ONE purple sweet potato variety!

The three main types of purple flesh sweet potatoes consumed in the U.S. are Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, Okinawan sweet potatoes, and Ube (pronounced OO-beh). Consumers—and even food writers—often confuse these three because of skin or flesh color, different names, and even because the Internet shows confusing images. As a matter of fact, one of them is not even a sweet potato at all but a true yam. (And no, a yam is not the same as a sweet potato either, but that’s a whole other story.)

Follow us down the purple trail, friends.

Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes

Born in the USA, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes originated in Stokes County, North Carolina. They’re now grown commercially in the perfectly sandy soil of central California. Available from late August through early to late spring, these sweet potatoes have purple-tinted skin with bold purple flesh that intensifies when cooked.

StokesPSP_Shot_9-8-16-12

Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes have a drier, denser texture, and better-balanced sweetness than their orange counterparts. A good source of vitamin C, Stokes Purple® has the most anthocyanins, the antioxidant compound in the purple pigments, of all three purple sweet potatoes.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Stokes Purple Sweet Potato Mash

Because of their gorgeous color inside and out, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes are often mistakenly identified as either Okinawan sweet potatoes or worse, ube.

Okinawan Sweet Potatoes

The origin of the Okinawan sweet potato reads like an adventure novel. Believed to have come from Aztec South America with the Spaniards to the Philippines and China in the 1490s, the plant did not reach Japan until the 1600s. The initial planting was in Okinawa, the southern island of Japan, before they were cultivated all over Japan. Eventually, these purple tubers ended up in Hawaii and became a part of the native menu, where they are also known as “Hawaiian sweet potatoes.”

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Okinawan Sweet Potatoes

Beige on the outside and lavender-purple on the inside, these purple sweet potatoes are grown in Hawaii for the U.S. market. Blue-ish purple once cooked, they have a delicate, slightly sweet taste and a creamy texture that is on the starchy side.

Food52 - Purple Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie
Photo: Food52 – Purple Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie

Because Okinawan sweet potatoes originated from Japan, they’re often confused with Japanese sweet potato (also known as Murasaki sweet potato). It doesn’t help matters that the Japanese sweet potato variety has reddish-purple skin too, but the flesh is actually off-white to cream-colored. You know that reddish-purple potato emoji on your phone? ? This is a Japanese sweet potato!

Instagrammer @MackAnneCheese captures Stokes Purple® and Japanese/Murasaki side-by-side here.

A photo posted by Mackenzie Anne Smith (@mackannecheese) on


Ube (Purple Yam)

Ube is having a moment right now as dark purple donuts (made famous by Manila Social Club in New York City) and purple ice cream pop up everywhere. Also known as a purple yam, ube is a staple of the Filipino kitchen and is well loved all over Asia as a dessert ingredient for its sweet and nutty flavor.

A photo posted by Manila Social Club (@manilasocialclub) on

With all the attention on ube comes the confusion about this elusive yam. (Yes, a true yam!)

First of all, ube is rarely available fresh in the U.S. Many people would say that they indeed have bought some “ube,” but photographic proof usually shows they’ve bought either Stokes Purple® or Okinawan sweet potatoes, or sometimes even taro root.

This, folks, is a fresh ube.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Ube

Blame it on the over-eager Internet! Search for an image of ube yourself and you’ll understand the conundrum. Only when you search for ube’s botanical name of Dioscorea alata will you find ube’s true form: a tuber with brown, bark-like skin and flesh that ranges from white with purple specks to lilac.

Now, the ube that is used widely comes as a jam (Ube Halaya) or in a powder, extract, or frozen form. It turns out that preparing these true yams is labor intensive and that is why they’re commonly available in processed form.

ube_packaged

Let’s recap what we’ve learned so far.

And remember, Murasaki or Japanese sweet potatoes ? are only purple ON THE OUTSIDE!

Now, go forth and explore all the majesty of purple sweet potatoes!

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Anyone who knows me is probably shocked to see me writing about Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. It’s no secret that I don’t pay much attention to sports—but I love attending live sporting events. I haven’t been to a football game in a while, but I am well aware of the Super Bowl, which now seems better known for the commercials that show during the game than for the actual game. I did spend the afternoon at my daughter’s watching the game, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about.

I’m an avid reader of The Wall Street Journal and an article in the February 1 edition caught my eye: “Meet Tom Brady’s Shaman.” I was intrigued.

The article highlights Brady’s admiration for the book “The Four Agreements, a Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz.

fouragreements

I first became aware of this book when my longtime designer friends, Ted and Peggy, mentioned this Toltec shaman to me back in the 1980s. They traveled and studied with Don Miguel Ruiz, even before he wrote this book in 1997. And in fact, when I first got the book, I read the forward, and sure enough, I saw Ted and Peggy’s names listed with the acknowledgements.

The book is small and a quick read, and Don Miguel’s wisdom is so simple and straightforward.

Here are his four agreements:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

Many things have been written about Tom Brady. He’s 39, but looks 29. He takes perfect care of his body. He is very private and an amazing athlete. And now, we can add to that list “ardent student.”

Photo credit: Wikipedia/Jeffrey Beall

Although Brady went through a rough patch with Deflategate, it was nice to see that he has a more spiritual, grounded side. In a time when many athletes are not great role models for young people, with their foul language and poor behavior (both on and off the field/court), it was refreshing to see how he used The Four Agreements as his new compass. The Wall Street Journal article quoted Brady as describing the book as a “kind of a mantra for my life,” and indicated it helped him navigate the urgent intergalactic crisis that was Deflategate.

Each of us would do well to consider these four short sentences as a way to approach our work, our life, our friends, and our family.

I can honestly admit that I never thought the Super Bowl would inspire me to re-read a book. But after Brady, one of the best athletes of our time, helped win a fifth Super Bowl for the Patriots and I learned that he finds strength and vision in this book, I went home and picked it up again.

I suggest you consider doing that too. Remember, don’t make assumptions.

Karen

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Capitalize on the shift in shoppers’ behavior during 40 days of Lent

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Lent Matters

Los Alamitos, CA – (February 2017) – Lent-observing shoppers, especially Hispanics, change their shopping behaviors to accommodate going meatless starting on Ash Wednesday, March 1, and continuing through Thursday, April 13. Produce departments should capitalize on this shift by stocking up on specialty Latin produce and meat substitutes during this religious holiday season.

Twenty-six percent of Americans observe Lent and abstain from meat (except fish and seafood) on Fridays during this 40-day period. Some go meatless the entire time.

“Lent is becoming a big food holiday as the culture and demographic continue to shift,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “There is an opportunity here for retailers to offer authentic Latin produce and capture that Hispanic buying power during Lent and afterward.”

A recent Nielsen study shows Hispanics represent almost 18 percent of the U.S. population, and in 2015 they had $1.3 trillion in buying power. A Food Marketing Institute report shows 91 percent of Hispanic shoppers prefer stores where they can find Hispanic products.

Cater to the Cuaresma (Lent) crowd with seasonal popular items like Soyrizo™, SoyTaco™, cactus pads (nopales), fresh Poblano and Anaheim peppers, and dried peppers like Guajillo, Ancho Mulato, and Pasilla Negro. Other items that complement fish and seafood include ginger, fennel, dragon fruit, and citrus, such as key limes, Meyer lemons, and pink lemons.

Call Frieda’s account managers to optimize your product mix 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 was invited to be a panelist at the THRIVE AgTech Innovation Forum held last week in Menlo Park, California. After lunch, the program focused on what the consumer wants from the fresh produce industry and what insights that may provide for the technology business.

My fellow panelists included Gareth Keane of Qualcomm Ventures, Hank Giclas of Western Growers Association (a group of growers in California and Arizona) and Michael Teel, CEO of Sacramento-based retailer, Raley’s.

I was excited to meet Michael, as I had been following his career for many years. He is the third generation of the Raley family to own and operate the 82-year-old chain of 127 stores.

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Michael Teel

Michael started off talking to the standing-room-only audience of more than 200 people. To me, he “got naked” with the audience about his professional management philosophy and his business.

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Michael Teel - Jeff Rumans Photography
Credit: Jeff Rumans Photography

He told us that the way the grocery business works is that typically big food companies (consumer product goods or CPG companies) develop new products. They present them to retailers, along with financial incentives and support, so the retailers will stock and advertise them in their stores.

About two years ago, Michael started an initiative at his company that was pretty radical. He decided that his company would adjust some of the ways they received financial support from these CPG companies by focusing on what was right for his own customers. Raley’s would put its customers first when making decisions about product mix, marketing, and displays.

He referred to this entire initiative as being “purpose-driven,” meaning Raley’s’ higher purpose would drive everyone’s behavior and decision-making. And it was born out of his desire to improve the health of the families that shop in Raley’s. His vision is to “infuse life with health and happiness.”

In support of the initiative, Raley’s removed all tobacco products from stores in 2015. Last year private label sodas that contain high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colors and flavors, were discontinued. Check-stand offerings were improved by removing all artificially sweetened sodas and upgrading the selection of snacks and treats.

Then the most interesting thing happened—same store sales and customer satisfaction both increased. Prior to the initiative, same store sales had declined for a few years.

My first question to Michael after our panel was: “How did your buyers feel about your decision?” He said that at first they were a bit surprised and had some adjusting to do. But in the end, they welcomed the strong direction and support from their leader. The initiative made their decision-making a lot easier. To some degree, he infused their lives with health and happiness too.

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Michael Teel - Jeff Rumans Photography
Credit: Jeff Rumans Photography

I first became aware of purpose-driven organizations about 10 years ago, when I worked with a consultant named Paul Ratoff. He helped us redefine Frieda’s strategy and purpose over the next few years. Two years ago, Paul published a book, “Thriving in a Stakeholder World.” The tag line for the book is “Purpose as the New Competitive Advantage.”

Meeting Michael Teel and seeing how a purpose-driven organization can deliver better bottom-line results was exciting for me.

Can you think of other purpose-driven organizations? Many charities naturally come to mind. My prediction is that, with the increasing number of millennial entrepreneurs, we will begin to see more purpose-driven companies grow and thrive.

Karen

P.S. I was proud to have two other produce industry leaders on the stage with me that afternoon: Bruce Taylor of Taylor Fresh Foods (you’ve seen their packaged salads and veggies in your local supermarket) and Kevin Murphy of Driscoll’s (their strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are known worldwide for their amazing taste and quality).

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Bruce Taylor - Karen Caplan - Kevin Murphy
Left to right: Bruce Taylor, me, and Kevin Murphy

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Liven up citrus displays with California-grown exotic varieties

Frieda's Specialty Produce - California Specialty Citrus

Los Alamitos, CA – (February 2017) – California specialty citrus supplies are back after a few weeks of winter rainstorms. Cheer up shoppers with California-grown exotic citrus varieties like Tahitian pummelos, kumquats and other “quat” varieties, specialty lemons, and more.

“We have had an incredible specialty citrus season so far—these varieties really bring excitement to the citrus display,” said Alex Jackson, senior account manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “Winter doesn’t mean just apples and oranges anymore. A big, beautiful display of bulk and packaged specialty citrus will draw attention.”

Specialty citrus is not just great for retailers, but foodservice as well. “Mocktails and fizzy drinks are big this year, and specialty citrus is key to making things exciting at the bar as both ingredients and garnish,” added Jackson.

Start California dreaming, and contact Frieda’s account managers today to stock up on peak-season citrus such as Tahitian pummelos, kumquats, limequats, mandarinquats, pink lemons, proprietary varieties of mandarin orange, and organic mango oranges.

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.

When I see or hear the word “charcoal,” I immediately think of those black briquettes that are used for grilling (if you don’t have a gas grill). At one time, the only way to grill or barbecue was to buy charcoal briquettes, splash some lighter fluid on them, and light a match. Your food might taste a bit like kerosene, but, who cared?

Now here we are in 2017, and charcoal is one of the top food trends for this year.

And no, it’s not the same as the barbecue briquettes.

Also known as activated charcoal, this pitch-black powder is made from heated coconut shells (coconut anything is another big trend), which is harmless and different from consuming charred foods. If this sounds familiar to you, it is because activated charcoal is used in your water filter for purification and in your hospital for poison absorption. In fact, my daughter Alex told me she first got familiar with charcoal as an ingredient in facial masks that remove toxins and impurities from your skin.

 

As far as trends go, charcoal is everywhere from bread and baked goods to ice cream, and from juices and smoothies to cocktails. But I’m still skeptical.

Last week, Alex and I walked into my local Nekter Juice Bar after a hard workout. She pointed out, “Oh, look. They’re sampling charcoal juice! Want a taste?”

Did I want a drink of charcoal juice? Alex, you must be kidding!

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Nekter Charcoal Skinny Lemonade

After a bit of questioning, I tried a small sip of the blackish-gray liquid. It wasn’t so bad!

As it turns out, according to a March 2015 Time Magazine article and a September 2016 POPSUGAR article, not a lot of scientific research has been done on the health benefits of drinking charcoal drinks. But when mixed with other green juice drinks, it seems to be safe enough. Plus, the green drink cocktail masks the chalky, gritty taste of the charcoal.

When I went back to the Nekter Juice Bar last night for my regular green drink, I asked how the charcoal drink blends are selling. I was told that they are very popular and they were sold out!

Instinctively, it makes sense that, if you want to detox your body, a green drink with charcoal would help with detoxing. (You can even make your own!) But as one of the articles warned, don’t have a big charcoal drink within a couple of hours of taking medicine. Also, too much of a good thing might have the opposite effect on your digestion.

For me, I will probably just stick to “the Greenie,” made with a base of kale, parsley, cucumber, and celery with a little apple and lemon for flavor. My naturopath tells me I need to drink at least one green drink a day to help make my body less acidic (more alkaline). This will help reduce any inflammation.

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Nekter - The Greenie
That’s my favorite on the right, “the Greenie.”

For those of us who have recommitted to healthier habits in the new year, consider just making one small change at a time. So, one of my first commitments for 2017 is to eat more greens. And a green drink at my local juice bar requires no preparation on my part and tastes amazing.

As for charcoal juice, it’s not for me but that should not stop you. Try it and see!

Karen

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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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At this time of year, I spend a lot of time going to the movies. My daughter Alex and I have had that tradition for many years. It’s like a marathon for us: How many awesome movies can we see between now and New Year’s? It seems that many great movies come out the last month of the year as the rush for the Golden Globes and Oscars begins.

Last week I saw “Rogue One.” (I’m dating a Star Wars geek, so seeing “Rogue One” was mandatory.) Loved it! A few weeks ago, we saw “Doctor Strange”—loved, loved, loved the special effects.

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Jyn Erso from "Rogue One"
Jyn Erso from “Rogue One”

And last night, Alex and I saw “La La Land,” which was a complete surprise to me. Being from Los Angeles I recognized most of the quintessential L.A. landmarks that were in the film. So that was kind of fun and the music was spellbinding. I found myself downloading the “City of Stars” soundtrack first thing this morning and playing it over and over today. The film reminded me in some ways of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris.”

[youtube=https://https://youtu.be/je0aAf2f8XQ]

But really at this time of year, like most people, I end up reflecting on the year and what I loved and what I didn’t love about my life. And what I want to adjust for the new year.

What I really loved this year was writing this blog. I was told by my astrologer (yes, I have one) that I should write. Write a lot, he told me, advising me not to worry about what people think. And so I have written about things that interest me the most.

The topics seem to resonate with people.

Just in case you missed them, these were my most read posts of the year.

Top 5 blog posts of 2016:

  1. How to Survive your Daughter’s Wedding 
  2. How Do You Open a Young Coconut?
  3. 93 is a Magical Number
  4. What the Heck is Bibimbap?
  5. Jackfruit is the New Meat Substitute

My two favorite all-time posts:

From 2015: Demystifying Shishito and Padron Peppers  

From 2010: What it’s Like Working with my Sister

I would love your suggestions about other things for me to write about. Email me!

In the meantime, I wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday season!

Karen

What's on Karen's Plate? - Karen's Blog - Holiday sweater
My colleague Ray is “photobombing” me here at our holiday luncheon

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Ahh. The warm scent of cloves, allspice and cinnamon. Cooking with these spices fills up a room with a lovely, comforting aroma that always reminds me of the holidays. There’s no better time to brew up some hot mulled cider!

To make mulled cider or mulled wine, you can use any blend of spices you like, but typically, mulling spices include cloves, allspice, cinnamon and orange peel. Frieda’s mulling spices made it easy for you and pack all of the spices into a 3-ounce bag, ready to go.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Mulled Cider

The ratio of spice to juice is about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of spice to a half-gallon of juice. I didn’t have cheesecloth handy to make a spice sachet, so I just put the loose spices right into the pot with the juice.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Mulled Cider

I heated the cider in my slow cooker for 2 hours on low. The house smelled fabulous!

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Mulled Cider

I just strained the juice to serve. I also strained the remaining cider and refrigerated it for later enjoyment.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Mulled Cider

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Mulled Cider

Yum! If I had cinnamon sticks handy, they would have been perfect in these glasses with a wedge of orange or lemon. The perfect warming winter drink! (If you are feeling more naughty than nice, you can always add a splash of brandy to your mulled cider for a little extra warmth…)

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Mulled Cider

Cheers!

– Hazel

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Two popular mango varieties from Down Under are now available from Frieda’s Specialty Produce

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Australian Mangoes

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (December 2016) — Kensington Pride and R2E2 Australian mango varieties are available now from Frieda’s Specialty Produce in good supply.

These popular Australian varieties are sweeter, juicier, and more aromatic than most mangoes American shoppers are used to. The texture is silky with no stringiness, and they also have a great shelf life with beautiful blush on the skin. The Kensington Pride mango is medium size and oval in shape with a beautiful pink-red blush. The R2E2 is more round and a bit larger with a gorgeous, deep orange blush, and a high flesh-to-seed ratio.

“Shoppers are looking for enjoyable food experiences and many will pay extra for high-flavor produce,” said Alex Jackson, senior account manager at Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “These mango varieties meet the requirements: beautiful color, great flavor and texture. Shoppers will be looking for them.”

The Australian mango growers are excited to increase the volume of their imports to the U.S. this season, so Americans can experience the silky, sweet flavor the Aussies have been raving about.

“There are only a few importers of Australian mangoes and the demand for these varieties is high. It is best to pre-book now for the first of the year,” added Jackson.

Frieda’s will have volume of Australian mango varieties for ads starting January 2, 2017, through the end of March. Call your Frieda’s account manager today, mate.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-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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For many years, when my two daughters were younger and living at home with me, I wanted the three of us to spend Thanksgiving Day helping to feed the homeless or hungry. I remember calling multiple places to volunteer and I could not find a single place that was taking volunteers. (I’m guessing many people chose to do this during the holidays, so they didn’t have a need at that time.)

I didn’t get too discouraged, but it has always been in the back of my mind to do this.

So, when the opportunity presented itself to me a few weeks ago, I quickly signed up to help.

The story really began about five years ago, when Second Harvest, the largest food bank in Orange County, California, contacted our company, wanting to give us some recognition for being the top fresh food donor in our area. Most companies in the fresh produce industry donate unsaleable, but edible, food to a local food bank. It’s just the right thing to do, and all of us do it without any expectation of acknowledgement. If we can’t ship it to a customer, we don’t want it to go to waste.

So that’s how I first got familiar with Second Harvest. And last year, I met CEO Nicole Suydam, an incredibly passionate and driven woman, who spent many years at Goodwill Industries. A few months ago, she approached me about joining the Second Harvest Board of Directors.

secondharvestlogo

Hunger is prevalent in so many neighborhoods, even in Orange County (the home of the happiest place on earth, aka Disneyland), where thousands of children go hungry each day. I was excited to learn more about the organization and in September I attended my first board meeting. I discovered that Second Harvest is a member of the Feeding America organization and has goals about how many meals it will provide during the course of a year (almost 1 million for 2016). I also learned that Second Harvest and Feeding America have a Nutrition Policy—meaning their stated intention is to provide healthy eating options, not foods with high fat or empty calories.

I was intrigued at my second board meeting, when I learned that instead of having a holiday party, the entire board was invited to volunteer at a local church when food would be distributed to neighborhood families on a Saturday morning. This was the brainchild of a Second Harvest staff member and, as it turns out, we had excellent attendance with our board, as well as their family members.

As you can see from the photos, a mobile pantry (a large truck with access to both sides of the vehicle) arrived about 8 a.m., filled with all sorts of fresh produce—oranges, kiwifruit, broccoli, and lots of potatoes (I was in charge of baby potatoes). We fed more than 130 families. The mobile pantry is set up to preserve the dignity of patrons, as they are encouraged to “shop,” choosing the foods they want, like they would in a regular grocery store or farmers market.

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karen-2nd-harves

 

Although it only took about two hours of my time that Saturday morning, it filled up my heart for the entire day. I got to see firsthand the great impact my industry has on helping feed people, even with foods that cannot be sold in grocery stores. These shoppers were trying to fill their bellies and didn’t care if the potatoes were misshapen or the kiwis were a bit overripe.

As I looked around that morning, I was humbled that it took me so many years to find a way to truly give thanks. A way to help those who are hungry and less fortunate. A way to do more than “write a check.”

When I returned to work, I announced that we would be having a canned food drive at our office the following week. I wrote a personal note to all Frieda’s employees so they would know why this was important to me and should be to them too.

In this season of giving and giving thanks, I encourage each of you to consider sharing with those less fortunate. It will fill your heart with joy.

Karen

 

This week I was invited to give a keynote address to over 200 small business owners and entrepreneurs in Long Beach, California. They are all alumnae of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, based in Long Beach and Los Angeles. It is delivered locally and nationally, and coordinated by the very impressive Babson College.

Members of the audience had completed the four-month program, meant to help ignite their businesses. The luncheon and daylong follow-up session was created to continue their development.

Karen's Blog - Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

I was given only 15 minutes to share my thoughts. So I gave them six ideas to ponder from my own perspective as a longtime business owner:

1. Not telling the truth is hard.

I am occasionally asked about the most difficult thing I have to do as a business owner. And I’ve found that my answer never changes—it’s when I have to not tell the truth.

Such as: When I have to tell my employees, “Everything is going great” or I have to tell my friends, “Business is booming,” when in fact things are pretty crappy. (The audience really chuckled when I said this.)

2. Get involved outside your business.

It is dangerous for a business owner to only work in their business. It’s also important to work on your business. I have found that one way to do that is to work outside your business.

Get involved in some sort of organization outside your company, where your clients or suppliers hang out. You can find out which one is the best by asking your clients: “So what organizations do you belong to? Is there any organization that you belong to that you think I should know about?”

I have a national company, and I have clients all over the country. So I decided early on to get involved in my national trade association. If your business is more local or regional in scope, it may mean getting involved in a local chamber of commerce or a statewide trade group.

One of the most interesting experiences I’ve had that took me outside my business was when I served a term as a director of the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.

3. Keep your eye on the ball.

While it is important to work on your business, by getting involved in organizations outside of work, be careful to evaluate how relevant they are. It’s easy to really enjoy your outside-of-work involvement. And if you’re like me and get asked to serve in a leadership position, you could easily get distracted from focusing the necessary energy and time on your real business.

And, as with all charity or volunteer work, it’s tempting to overcommit your time or resources. As an entrepreneur and business owner, you should always be doing a mini-ROI in your head. Ask yourself, “How can I leverage this experience to grow my business?” It may even be as simple as mentioning to your co-volunteers that you are always looking for referrals and asking yourself, “Do they have any for me?”

4. Network like crazy.

You can’t just join outside business groups. You need to network when you join, which might mean volunteering for committees (I still volunteer to sell raffle tickets and help out at events in several organizations). That way, people get to know you.

Always carry business cards. Always. You never know when there will be an opportunity to hand one out. For example, last year I was at a special event at a local university. While networking at the cocktail party, I ran into a potential prospect. We exchanged business cards. Within a few weeks, he contacted me and suggested we talk further about a way to do business together! I could not have predicted that happening. But it did, because I hand out my business cards to everyone.

5. Speak, write, publish

Don’t be afraid to accept speaking engagements or requests to be on a panel. No one wants to do it, so why not you? Just think: if you are a speaker, you get your name and your company name out there with tons of free publicity. Also consider producing a newsletter, writing a blog, or writing a guest column for your industry paper. You can gain great credibility by being published.

6. Craft a plan to stay current.

What is your plan to stay current and inspired? There are many CEO and presidents’ organizations around. I belong to Vistage, a global network of over 20,000 CEOs who meet once a month. We actually meet in groups of about 15 in our own area. All groups are made up of CEOs from non-competing businesses and your group serves as your own private advisory board. Over time, other members get to know your business, your challenges, and your strengths, so you can bring your issues to the meeting to discuss and get advice.

I know it’s hard to break away from the daily pressures of running your business. But just like great athletes, we business owners need coaching, practice, more practice, and knowledge about the latest techniques in order to thrive in today’s economy.

Frieda was also in the audience during my talk. (Photo credit @DavePhillipson)
Frieda was also in the audience during my talk. (Photo credit @DavePhillipson)

Karen

Asian holiday promotions help build relationships with growing population of Asian-American shoppers

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Year of the Rooster

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (December 2016) — Retailers should take advantage of Chinese New Year promotions not only to offset winter sales slump, but also to build relationships with Asian-American shoppers, the fastest-growing population segment in the U.S.

Chinese New Year (also known as “Lunar New Year” or “Spring Festival”) is one of the biggest food holidays of the year. In 2017 it will begin on January 28. The holiday is celebrated in communities worldwide and goes on for 15 days. Fresh produce, meat, and seafood are the focus of holiday feasts.

“Asian-Americans are the fastest growing population with significant buying power and Asians of Chinese ancestry represent about 20 percent of the group,” said Karen Caplan, President and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “A Chinese New Year promotion is the opportunity for retailers to serve the Asian-American community, so retailers must have these traditional ingredients in store to attract Asian-American shoppers. Working with seafood, meat, and floral departments on Chinese New Year promotions will further boost sales.”

A recent study by Nielsen reports that, currently at 20.5 million strong, the Asian-American population is expected to grow to 25.7 million by 2019. The study also reveals that Asian-Americans purchased 72 percent more fresh vegetables and 29 percent more fresh fruit per household than did the total U.S. population.

“When we first introduced the concept of promoting Chinese New Year in product departments back in the 1970s, we saw it as an opportunity to introduce Asian fruits and vegetables to non-Asian shoppers. Now, promoting Chinese New Year will draw in Asian shoppers,” added Caplan.

Some of the Chinese New Year top sellers include traditional fresh vegetables such as ginger, daikon radishes, bok choy, gailan, Shanghai bok choy, Napa cabbages, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. For fruits, retailers should have a good supply of kumquat, mandarins, pummelo, Oroblanco, Buddha’s Hand citron, and persimmons on hand, to name a few.

For over 43 years, Frieda’s has inspired retailers on their Chinese New Year display programs. Call a Frieda’s account manager to start planning today.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-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.

You’ve probably passed by this item thousands of times in your supermarket’s produce department or baking aisle. Crystallized ginger – dried slices of natural ginger root, cured and coated in sugar. It sure sounds nice, but what do you use it for? Here we have 10 great ideas for putting this sweet, spicy and comforting ingredient to work in your kitchen:

1. Chop and add to batter for cookies, such as ginger snaps, or quick breads like gingerbread, orange bread or banana bread.

2. Chop and add to at pan with butter, fresh lemon juice and sliced green onions in a saucepan. Heat until melted and spoon over hot rice and serve with chicken or fish.

3. Finely chop and use as a finishing touch on apple pie a la mode or a whipped cream-topped brownie.

4. Chop and combine with nuts, brown sugar and spices for a baked apple or pear filling.

5. Roughly chop and add to a stir-fry for a sweet and spicy bite.

6. Dip pieces in melted chocolate. Let cool and serve as a special after dinner treat.

7. Roughly chop and add to water and sugar mixture to make ginger-infused simple syrup. Strain before adding to drinks, such as iced tea.

8. Finely chop and sprinkle into fruit salad for a spicy, zesty flavor lift.

9. Finely chop and add to a homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest.

10. Just snack on this sweet treat right out of the package. Crystallized ginger is especially helpful for calming the stomach while traveling.

Can’t have enough? Here are some more simple recipes:

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Every summer, we bring our entire sales, marketing, and buying teams together for a three-day meeting to talk about trends, do training, and of course conduct some team building. This past summer during one of our sessions, the subject of one of our hottest, trendiest items, jackfruit, came up. It’s actually known as the largest fruit in the world—one fruit can grow to be 100 pounds! (Most of what we sell are 10 to 20 pounds each.) Because they are so big, they are quite challenging to cut and serve.

Our entire group talked about the challenge of this enormous fruit; it yields so much edible fruit that it is often too much for one household. It’s really a fruit for sharing. And because of the time and effort required to open it up, remove the pulp, and extract the pods, it’s a lot more fun to get a group together to “process” the fruit and then send people home with their own bag of fresh and ready-to-eat jackfruit pods.

So we came up with the idea of having a “Jackfruit Party.” It was our way of making it fun to conquer a jackfruit.

If you’ve never seen how to open a jackfruit, watch this:

[youtube=https://youtu.be/CtlDOM3rfiY]

We knew from our own experience that jackfruit was definitely a trending fruit, and I wrote about it as a meat substitute in a past blog. Then a couple of months ago, the Wall Street Journal dubbed jackfruit one of the next hot trends in food.

Around the same time, the Wall Street Journal also published a story about the market for weird fruits during the Jewish New Year, also known as Rosh Hashanah. It is a tradition to eat new fruits for the new year. Many supermarkets often stock up on all the unusual tropical fruits during this time. Along with their story, WSJ showed a video of a New York City specialty market with huge tropical fruit displays that included giant jackfruits, selling for $79.99 each!

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

When I saw the video, I realized how scary the fruit looked, and at that $80 price tag, who would buy it? So that inspired me to challenge my team to figure out a way to begin labeling our jackfruit with information that shows shoppers what to do with this crazy fruit. If you are going to spend that kind of money on a tropical fruit, you want to know how to prepare it so you have the best possible experience!

And so, our jackfruit label was born just a couple of months ago.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Jackfruit

So if you see a ginormous jackfruit in your store (or possibly a half or quartered one), take that bold step and buy it—then have your own jackfruit party.

We are always looking for new ways to educate shoppers on the weird and wonderful exotic produce of the world. What tropical fruit would you be more willing to try if it had an informational label?

Karen

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Jackfruit

The company welcomes Director of Procurement and Sourcing

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Allen DeMo

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (November 2016) — Frieda’s Specialty Produce proudly adds Allen DeMo to its roster as Director of Procurement and Sourcing.

“We are excited to welcome Allen to the Frieda’s family,” said Karen Caplan, President and CEO of Frieda’s. “He will direct our buying and grower development team, nurturing our relationships with suppliers and growers around the world.”

DeMo has more than 25 years of experience in the produce industry, having had leadership roles at Green Thumb Produce, DiMare Fresh, Ready Pac Specialties and most recently DLJ Distributing. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Fresh Produce and Floral Council.

DeMo can be reached at allen.demo [at] friedas.com starting December 1, 2016.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-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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Let me start by saying that I host my family for both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah dinners. We usually have about 25 people at each celebration. Fortunately, my kids are at the ages (27 and 22) that they both help prepare the meal. It is a happy time of year for me because I get to entertain in my home and have my closest family members and a few friends near me. If I need help cooking, I ask for help, or ask people to bring along their favorite dish.

But I’ve learned that not everyone feels this way. For some people, the holidays (which encompass that five-week period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day) are not a time they look forward to.

I suspect that it may have something to do with bad memories. You know, the holiday meal or family gathering where everything did not go perfectly. People argued. They were in bad moods. Something went wrong or not as planned. You didn’t get the gift you expected. Someone didn’t like the gift you got them. Maybe a boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse acted up or broke up with you. Or your parents did something embarrassing. The list could go on and on.

So, when I read the following quote on my Instagram feed a few days ago, I thought about how to inspire more people to enjoy the holidays, in whichever form they come:

pastpresentfuture

How many of us lose the fun of the moment because we are worried about something that happened in the past? We are literally superstitious that history will repeat itself.

I just can’t live that way. Like each of you, I’ve had a few bad experiences in my life. Some of them around the end-of-the-year holidays.

But not that long ago, I decided I was committed to making new memories. I wasn’t going to filter my current or upcoming experiences with my paradigms of the past.

Would you be willing to try this too? If there is something you are dreading about the upcoming Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, or seasonal time of year, would you be willing to wipe the slate clean and say, “I’m going to have a fantastic, happy, and enjoyable holiday with the people I love and who love me.

Good – I knew you could you do it!

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving week!

Karen

Wow your friends and family with these unique and delicious holiday potluck dishes

Having friends over for Thanksgiving dinner instead of visiting family for the holiday is not a new idea. “Friendsgiving” is a usually potluck dinner with friends (aka “the family you choose”) which could be in addition to or instead of the traditional Thanksgiving feast with family.

That Thanksgiving potluck your office is having? That’s technically is a Friendsgiving too!

In the sea of sameness of traditional holiday dishes, why not bring a creative and adventurous dish so you’ll be remembered?

And because you’ll be using fresh ingredients that are bit off the beaten path, you won’t have to fight anyone at the grocery store for that last Russet potato or orange sweet potato.

We’ve gathered some great recipes for you here. You’re welcome. #GobbleGobble

Honey Roasted Cipolline

Frieda's Specialty Produce Honey Roasted Cipolline Onions
Honey Roasted Cipolline Onions

Sweet and savory, and looks impressive. Nothing at all like your grandma’s creamed onion! Recipe here.

Celery Root and Cauliflower Puree

[youtube=https://youtu.be/cwZO5-bSYAg]

Set those paleo, gluten-free, and/or low carb friends at ease with this delicious “mash.” Recipe here.

Heirloom Tomato Pudding

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Heirloom Tomato Bread Pudding
Heirloom Tomato Bread Pudding

A cross of stuffing and a pasta dish. Flavorful and definitely a showstopper. Recipe here.

Whole Roasted Purple Cauliflower

[youtube=https://youtu.be/F4Db2i_GJ4Q]

Actually pretty easy to make. You just need a little time! Recipe here.

Pear and Ginger Pie with Struesel Topping

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Pear and Ginger Pie with Strusel Topping

Warm your heart and soul with this fragrant and a little spicy departure from the usual apple pie. Recipe here.

Purple Sweet Potato Pie

Frieda's Specialty Produce Stokes Purple Sweet Potato Pie
Stokes Purple Sweet Potato Pie

Turn the whole season upside down by adding a purple pie to the table! Recipe here.

Shoppers look for ‘wow factor’ produce and special treats for the holidays

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Root vegetable display

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (November 2016) — Retailers can maximize the season’s produce sales by stocking up on trending holiday items like gourmet and specialty produce, artfully merchandised alongside proven staples. Shoppers want to impress their guests with “wow” items during the holidays, and they look to the produce department for fresh inspiration.

“Holiday shoppers are not just Boomers buying potatoes and green beans. Adventurous Millennials are shopping for their ‘Friendsgiving’ and holiday parties, as well,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “They’re seeking the season’s hottest food and flavor trends, and retailers who offer a wide variety of produce specialties are positioned for greater overall basket rings.”

A recent NPD Group study reveals that Millennials and Gen Zs are driving the growth in fresh vegetable consumption. With the cultural shift to flexitarian and plant-focused eating, vegetables are set to be the star of Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving tables this year.

Here are a few trends showing up on shoppers’ holiday tables:

Veg-centric Dishes

The root-to-stem trend is in full swing with whole roasted rainbow carrots, parsnips, and baby beets, plus sautéed greens on the side.

The New Classics

Holiday traditions get a modern twist for today’s healthier eaters, such as roasted pearl onions and cipolline onions instead of great-grandma’s creamed onion dish. Mashed potatoes get one-upped by celery root and cauliflower purée or roasted Sunchokes®. Fruit pies get a flavor upgrade with specialties like Green Dragon apples, quince, and fresh ginger.

Colorful Feast

The orange and brown autumn palette is getting a pop of color with vibrant veggies like whole roasted purple cauliflower, spring-green romanesco, mashed Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, and magenta slices of watermelon radish on crudité platters.

Make produce the hero of your holiday shopping baskets by calling a Frieda’s account manager today.

Get recipes

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-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.

Trending purple tubers add color break and draw attention to potato display

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Purple is the New Orange

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (November 2016) — Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes are having their day in the sun with foodies and trendsetters. From oatmeal add-ins to replacing bread for “toast,” savvy shoppers are looking for more than just orange sweet potatoes to add nutritional value and color to their meals. Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes, exclusively available from Frieda’s Specialty Produce, are the tubers they are looking for.

“This year’s shipments are up significantly from last year at this time, and we’re not even into the holiday season yet. That’s how strong the demand has been for these California-grown purple sweet potatoes,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s.

In general, sweet potatoes have come a long way from the marshmallow-topped holiday side dish. Their nutrient-dense nature makes them a hit with fitness enthusiasts and healthy eaters everywhere—as an energy and nutrition booster for oatmeal, smoothies, and even in baked goods and holiday treats. Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes give shoppers the color variety and vitamin C boost they crave.

“We’ve seen a considerable increase in website traffic and shoppers contacting us to find purple sweet potatoes over this past year,” added Caplan. “Shoppers, especially Millennials, are discovering these special tubers through social media like Instagram, where the vibrant purple hue makes for beautiful food photography, attracting more shoppers.”

The holidays are peak season for sweet potatoes, and Frieda’s recommends that retailers and wholesalers add some color and variety to their offerings. Purple inside and out, Stokes Purple® sweet potatoes stand out in the sea of brown and orange in any potato display, providing a much needed color break to draw in curious shoppers.

Talk to a Frieda’s account manager about these terrific tubers, as well as other popular holiday roots like Sunchokes®, celery root, and parsnips.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-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.

Don’t eat a jackfruit alone–call your friends and host a jackfruit party

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Jackfruit

So, you’ve always wanted to try fresh jackfruit, and your local supermarket finally stocks them. Upon seeing the fruit in real life, the sheer size of it scares you—weighing in anywhere from 10 to 20 lbs. What are you going to do with all that fruit?

You call your friends and family over for a jackfruit party, that’s what you’re going to do.

The jackfruit is truly a community fruit, a fruit worth sharing. The largest tree fruit in the world, jackfruit could grow to be 100 pounds. In Asia, the bounty of the fruit is usually shared among friends and family members. Seriously, fruits from one tree could feed a village!

Here in the U.S., you can still call up your “village” and share the jackfruit experience. Set up a jackfruit station where you can show your friends how to cut into the jackfruit. Hand everyone a quarter of the fruit, then have each person divvy up the sweet yellow pods so everyone can take some home. (The seeds are also edible once cooked.)

You can even build a luau or tiki party around a jackfruit. Forget the pig roast. Haul in a 20-pound jackfruit and use that as the showpiece! Make vegan Hawaiian kalua “pork” with jackfruit for dinner and serve up the fresh cut jackfruit for dessert.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Jackfruit Luau

If you can’t get a party together, lucky for you, jackfruit pods are also great for freezing. Lay those yellow pods on a baking sheet, freeze whole, then put them in zip-top bags for storage. You can even refrigerate a whole slice of jackfruit—skin and all—to process later too if you can’t do it all at once.

For fresh jackfruit pods, choose fruit that is fragrant with a golden brown skin that yields to pressure. Softer fruit means it’ll be easier to process, and the pods will be fragrant and  sweet too. If you need jackfruit for cooking like pork, you would want an under-ripe, green and firm fruit.

Watch this video below and follow our handy guide to processing jackfruit like a pro. You’ll master this giant fruit in no time.

[youtube=https://youtu.be/GCxBQCYrDH4]

To open a jackfruit, you will need:

Spray cooking spray or brush vegetable oil onto the knife to prevent sticking. Wipe down and re-oil the knife often so you don’t get stuck with all the sap at the end.

Quarter the fruit by first cutting crosswise, then lengthwise into quarters.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - How to open a jackfruit

Frieda's Specialty Produce - How to open a jackfruit

Cut out the core from each piece. You should be able to get to the pods more easily now.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - How to open a jackfruit

Using your hands or a paring knife, extract the yellow pods from the filaments and remove the seed from each pod. Reserve seeds if using, or discard.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - How to open a jackfruit

Frieda's Specialty Produce - How to open a jackfruit

Frieda's Specialty Produce - How to open a jackfruit

Rinse the pods in water, and they’re ready to eat. Pods can be wrapped/covered and refrigerated overnight or frozen whole. Wrap any uncut chunk(s) of the fruit in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze.

If the jackfruit leaves behind any gooey, sticky sap, clean up by rubbing the spots with cooking oil, and then hit it again with soap and water.

Have fun at your party!

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If I have learned anything from my mother, it has been to be open-minded.

So when I received an unsolicited email from Naz Riahi two months ago introducing herself and inviting me to speak at her food trend conference, #BittenLA, I tried to keep an open mind.

First of all, I had no idea who she was or how to pronounce her name (“nahz ree-ah-hee”), and I had never heard of her conference.

But I loved her friendly, warm writing style so I replied to her. And the following week we spoke on the phone and a few weeks later she flew from New York to visit me at work. It was love at first sight (for both of us)!

Turns out she was born in Iran and her family moved to the United States when she was young. She ended up getting her MFA from The New School in New York City (same school that my youngest daughter, Sophia, attended) and majored in creative writing (her BA is in journalism and Spanish). After a few stints at marketing agencies, she decided to launch her own business, specializing in branding and marketing. And because of her passion for food and her curiosity for how food trends happen, she really stepped out there and decided to create a different kind of food conference. She told me it was like a TED conference, except for food.

In my book, this 35-year-old woman is fearless, and I love to help other entrepreneurs, so I couldn’t resist saying “yes!” But… what did she want me to talk about?

Naz told me I had 18 to 20 minutes to talk about how produce trends happen.

Really? She wanted me to succinctly explain the last 55 years of my life and my work…in 20 minutes. Well, I took a deep breath. And then she said, “You must use PowerPoint slides and you cannot use any notes.”

Goodness!

I still said yes.

And that’s what is so great about being open-minded. Instead of thinking of every reason why I did not have time to write a presentation (I was traveling the two weeks preceding the conference), I thought: “I can do this!”

And then she emailed me the title for my speech: “From Kale to Cherimoyas: Making produce trend.”

And on Friday morning October 28, I ended up being the keynote speaker at the first BittenLA Conference. The vast majority of the audience were Millennials (20- and 30-somethings). It seemed that most were creatives (working in agencies), passionate about food and food experiences.

As I spoke about the confluence of the roles played by chefs, the media, and supermarkets in food trends, then layered over the notion of “food as medicine,” I saw a lot of nodding heads in the audience. They chuckled when I asked if everyone was “over” kale. Or if they felt that jackfruit seemed to be everywhere. (After all, it was featured in the Wall Street Journal just a couple weeks ago.)

But probably the best part of my experience was seeing how one person’s passion gets amplified when she is genuine and inclusive.

As Naz was starting off the morning, she thanked her sponsors and shared her complete joy and appreciation when each of them offered to write her a check to support her conference. Dozens of volunteers ran around setting up the tables for breakfast and lunch, and making sure every detail was attended to. Yes, I said “volunteers.” Many of the volunteers took time off work to support the cause of food, innovation, and breakthroughs. And many had never met Naz before, but had heard about Bitten and wanted to help.

I ended my talk with two quotes. First, one by Eleanor Roosevelt:

 “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Naz told me she was a little nervous when she took the bold step to launch her own marketing and branding agency, and then a few years later the Bitten Conference. And this past week, to bring her conference to Los Angeles. I’d say Eleanor Roosevelt would have been proud of her.

The second quote was our company motto:

 “Eat one fruit a day that scares you.”

Naz highlighted that new fruits and veggies should not be scary—they should be embraced!

I’m so glad my mother instilled in me that I should be open-minded. I hope you will be, too.

Karen

Bitten_Naz_Karen
Bitten founder Naz and me

 

 

 

 

Exotic on-trend varieties meet the growing demand for specialty

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Citrus Pouches

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (October 2016) – Winter is coming, and so are the specialty citrus varieties. Juice up sales by offering peak-season specialty citrus like organic finger limes and Tahitian pummelos to add variety to fall-winter produce displays and menus.

“This year is a good year for specialty citrus,” said Karen Caplan, president and CEO of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. “We have great supply of exciting varieties like deliciously sweet lemonade lemons and cocktail grapefruits, and top-sellers like kumquats and Meyer lemons.”

Specialty citrus is not only big with shoppers, but also prominent in foodservice. Lemon desserts and gourmet lemonades are popular menu items, according to the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2016” report. The ever-evolving mixology scene and rising tiki cocktail trend also demand colorful, flavorful citrus.

“Shoppers and diners want something outside of just typical fall-winter fruits of apples and ordinary oranges during the cold months. Specialty citrus fills that need,” said Caplan. “You can have a big, beautiful, fragrant display of winter citrus that draws in shoppers, and merchandise it along with juicing companions like ginger and turmeric, or even beer and wine pairing suggestions, for citrus-centric dishes.”

“Ap-peel” to shoppers looking for grab-and-go convenience with Frieda’s branded pouches for top citrus sellers like kumquats, key limes, Meyer lemons, pink lemons, and seedless lemons.

Retailers, wholesalers, and foodservice providers looking to juice up their sales should call a Frieda’s account manager and ask for the above varieties, as well as Buddha’s hand citrons, Ugli®/uniq fruits, calamondins, T’orange lemons, minneolas, centennial kumquats, limequats, mandarinquats, organic vaniglia oranges, and more.

About Frieda’s Inc.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce celebrates a 54-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.

Like most of us, each year when my birthday rolls around (as it did this past weekend), I reflect on the previous year, how old I am now, and ultimately how long I will live. It’s not a heavy-duty thought process, but as we get older and wiser, it’s normal to think such thoughts. And since I was vacationing on Maui, Hawaii, last week, I had plenty of time to contemplate.

While there, I was doing some research for an upcoming speech (which I will talk about in my next blog).

The research included a book published in 2015, “The Blue Zones Solution,” by Dan Buettner. The subtitle is “Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People.”

bluezonesbook

This book came to our attention because we have been deluged in the past year with consumers writing to us about our Stokes Purple® Sweet Potatoes and wanting to find them in their local supermarkets. Many of them mentioned this book and how it piqued their interest in the purple sweet potatoes.

The gist of the book reveals what the world’s longest-lived people have eaten over the past 100 years, with the goal of helping readers lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. That definitely got my attention.

In the chapter titled “A Diet From the World’s Longest-Lived Women: Okinawa, Japan,” one of the highlighted foods is the Okinawan Purple Sweet Potato. This potato is different from the variety we sell (ours are purple-skinned and purple-fleshed), but the benefits appear to be the same. Other top longevity foods from the Okinawan diet include: bitter melons, tofu, turmeric, garlic, brown rice, green tea, Shiitake mushrooms, and seaweeds (Kombu and Wakame).

friedasbittermelon
Bitter Melon
tofu
Tofu
friedasturmeric
Turmeric

Some other chapter titles are: “A Diet From the Longest-Lived Men: Sardinia, Italy,” “An American Blue Zones Diet: Loma Linda, California,” “History’s Best Longevity Diet: Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica,” and “The Secrets of a Mediterranean Diet: Ikaria, Greece.”

As I skimmed through the book, my biggest takeaways and conclusions were:

Nothing in the book was earth-shattering, but it reinvigorated my thought process on being more selective about what I choose to eat. A few years ago I was a vegan for 12 months and recalled how good I felt. At that time, by eliminating dairy (cheese, yogurt, ice cream, milk), all my aches and pains went away. I eventually went back to eating fish, poultry, and occasionally some meat because I was lacking energy. (I cannot eat soy.)

Now, I think it’s time to rethink my current food choices and make a few adjustments.

That’s what’s great about having a birthday. It’s a trigger to reflect on how the last year was and consider any changes we want to make in the coming year.

In addition to relaxing and doing some research while on Maui, I was able to enjoy a couple of meals with my favorite Hawaiian chef, Mark Ellman. I highly recommend all three of his Lahaina restaurants: Mala Ocean Tavern, Honu Seafood & Pizza, and Frida’s Mexican Beach House.

Frieda'sSpecialtyProduce_karenandmarkellman
Me with Mark Ellman

Mark grew up in Southern California and moved to Maui with his wife, Judy, almost 30 years ago. He is credited with inventing the local Hawaiian farm-to-market industry, and his food is always fresh, tasty, and inventive.

Do I want to live to 100? Do you want to live to 100? It seems possible and within our control.

Aloha,

Karen

 

 

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Produce industry leader Karen Caplan to speak at the first Los Angeles edition of New York food conference Friday

Bitten LA

LOS ALAMITOS, CA (October 2016) — The renowned New York event series “Bitten” comes to Los Angeles for the first time this Friday, October 28. Frieda’s Specialty Produce President and CEO Karen Caplan will be the day’s first speaker, the only produce industry professional among an impressive list of disruptors, innovators, and thought leaders in the LA food scene.

Bitten hosts a series of events in New York City, bringing people together to talk about the future of food, looking through the lens of creativity, art, trends, technology, and innovation. For “Bitten LA,” topics will range from food waste reduction to the science of flavor, from cocktail trends to the convergence of science fiction and food. Speakers include Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold and Nyesha Arrington, Bravo’s “Top Chef” contestant and executive chef at Leona in Venice, California.

“I’ve been enamored with the Frieda’s story since reading about it in David Sax’s book, ‘The Tastemakers,’ so I am thrilled to have Karen open our first-ever Los Angeles conference,” said Naz Riahi, founder and CEO of Bitten.

Join Los Angeles’ food trendsetters for a day of inspiration, connections, and good food at the Gallery Theater of Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywo