The History of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is synonymous with celebrations around food and sharing the bounty with friends and family. It is believed that the first Thanksgiving occurred in 1621, a three-day feast between Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians to celebrate the bountiful corn harvest that year. It was celebrated on and off after that but it wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving Day be held each November.

This first Thanksgiving meal may have included fowl and deer on the menu, although there is no record of what the actual menu was. Historians believed that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. However, the Pilgrims had no oven and there was little sugar available, so it’s likely the menu did not feature desserts or sweets.

Today, Thanksgiving feasts look very different although they still focus on cooking and sharing the bounty with others. Turkey has become a staple item—nearly 90% of Americans eat it in one preparation or another. Popular sides may include cranberry, chestnut stuffing, mashed potato, greens and of course, pies. With the merging of various cultures, “traditional” Thanksgiving dishes continue to change and evolve. No matter the dish, there’s no denying that Americans love to cook on this holiday—make sure you’re stocked and ready!

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple

We’re at the peak of the season and you’ll see no fewer than 30 varieties on our list, including heirloom options. Our selection constantly changes as we bring to you new varieties when they become available. Check out our apple guide for a complete breakdown of our apple listing. We’re seeing sharp pricing on locally grown bags of Fuji, Gala and Pink Lady. There is also competitive pricing on early Fuji bins from Cuyama Orchards. These taste great and will keep you well stocked through the holiday rush.

Avocado

California grown Hass is expected to continue for a few more weeks. Larger sizes are becoming very limited. #2 fruit is steady; mostly small sizes are available. A growers strike in Mexico is impacting prices and availability on Mexican grown fruit. Overall, market prices are expected to increase and may last through November and December. Rumors are that California grown Bacon avocado will start in a few weeks

Berry

Tis the season for cranberries! Supply is plentiful and should continue steadily through December. Shoppers will be looking for this key holiday ingredient. Stock up for Thanksgiving festivities. Raspberry and blackberry supply from Mexico is not consistent but should be steady. Local strawberries are still going for a bit longer. We’ll supplement with fruit from the Oxnard region in Southern California and eventually Baja, California towards the end of the month. There should be no gaps in supply. Blueberry supply from California is limited, but imported Chilean blueberry supply is expected to improve.

Citrus

California lemons have good volume. Meyer lemons are steady. California limes from biodynamic grower, Beck Grove are plentiful. This small, family-owned farm in San Diego County grows some of the best citrus in the state! Navels have started; the fruit is clean. California Valencia are just about done. We’ll see early Mexican grown Valencia next week. Cara Cara will be coming on at the beginning of December. Satsuma tangerine are in good supply and tasting great. We’ll see more growers come on mid-month or later.  Grapefruit remains steady.

Grape

With the rain holding out, the grape season is continuing a little longer. Some growers are winding down but we still have supply of seedless red, black and some green. The last of the Concord are here; grab some of this flavorful grape before it’s done for the season!

Kiwi

California grown kiwi is steady. The green kiwi is the very popular Hayward variety. We love the sweet tangy flavor and vibrant green flesh. Gold kiwi is also readily available. This variety is trademarked by the grower, Wild River Fruit, as Tropikiwi (you may see this name on the box.)  Although the flesh is not as golden-yellow as the name implies, due to young vines, the flavor is sweeter, slightly tropical and less tart than green kiwifruit. The gold also has less fuzz on the outer skin than green kiwi.

Mango

Tommy Atkins are here and available. Ataulfo has good availability. Fair Trade Ataulfo is also available—let your Account Manager know if you’re interested.

Melon

Watermelon, honeydew and mixed melon from Mexico are trickling in. The full season will ramp up mid-November.

Persimmon

Fuyu season is in full swing. Supply is readily available. Hachiya is just starting up. Do you know the difference between the two varieties? Fuyu are short, squat and non-astringent. They can be eaten when firm and crisp. Fuyu are round, elongated and astringent. The high levels of tannins makes the Hachiya unpalatable it eaten before completely ripened. Fully ripe, they are creamy and very sweet.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate have strong supply. Many sizes are available, including bins! Arils are readily available in different pack types—this is a great grab-and-go item to stock for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Specialty Fruit

Passionfruit is continuing with steady supply. Red dragon fruit is available. Look for more white dragon fruit coming soon. Yuzu is available for a limited time. This traditional Japanese citrus is used almost exclusively for its aromatic rind. Quince is readily available.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Artichoke supply is strong from local growers. Pricing is competitive. Volume deals are available; talk to your Account Manager if interested!

Asparagus

Green asparagus availability is expected to improve. Purple asparagus is readily available as are green and purple tips.

Bean

Local green beans are winding down. There may be a gap in supply before Mexico starts up. Purple, Romano and yellow specialty beans have better availability.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli has strong, steady supply.  Cauliflower is readily available; especially purple, green and orange. Romanesco also has strong volume.

Brussels Sprout

California grown Brussels sprouts are in good supply. Prices are competitive which is just in time for Thanksgiving! This popular veggie shows up in many forms for holiday celebrations—roasted, sautéed, steamed and even raw preparations for slaws and salads!

Celery

Celery has strong and steady supply; this is expected to continue.

Cucumber

Persian cucumbers are steady. Slicer cucumbers are in good supply; prices are finally coming down. English Hothouse are plentiful.

Eggplant

California grown Globe has great supply. Mexico grown Globe has also started. There should be no gaps in supply as we head into the holiday season. Japanese eggplant is also available.

Greens & Lettuce

Chard supply remains tight. Dino aka lacinato, green kale, red kale and collards continue to have steady volume. Bunched arugula is in good supply. Spinach is more prone to mildew at this time of year but so far, quality has been looking strong. Both box and bunched spinach are a little limited but should be steady. Romaine and romaine hearts continue to be tight. Green and red butter and green and red leaf have steady availability. Iceberg is not consistent. Dill is readily available. Parsley is steady. Cilantro remains in good supply. Tarragon is still in a production gap.

Mushrooms

With the current dry weather, cultivated mushroom supply remains steady. However, the absence of rain has also created very limited availability for specialty wild mushrooms. Rain spurs the growth of wild mushrooms, but at the same time, the moisture causes growth of unfavorable bacteria that compromises the compost used in cultivated mushrooms. It is a double edge mushroom sword, indeed! Mushrooms are a popular ingredient for Thanksgiving and savory fall dishes. Keep your mushroom display stocked and plentiful.

Pea

Sugar snap peas are steady. Taste tests revealed great crunch and good flavor. We may see a small shot of English peas soon.

Pepper

California green bells are still going; prices are sharp. Mexican orange and yellow bells are limited. California red choice bells has good volume and price; quality is great. Mexican red choice is very limited. Jalapeños are extremely limited; expect prices to go up. However, Serranos are in great supply and Poblanos are a bit steadier.

Root

California parsnip is ramping up. Rutabaga is plentiful. Turnip supply is steady; prices are coming down a bit. Jicama is done for the season due to quality issues. Bunched baby white turnips have good volume. We love the mild and sweet flavor of this variety.

 

Squash

Local zucchini is still going strong. Pricing is low. We’re seeing some beautiful specialty squash from Hollister grower Veliz Organic Farm. Check out our listing which includes: Yellow 8 Ball, Crookneck, Gold Zucchini and a mixed medley for when you want a little of everything. In hard squash land, Butternut is in good supply. Prices are going down. Delicata has steady supply. Acorn, Kabocha (red, green and grey) and Spaghetti are readily available. Looking for some specialty hard squash to boost your display? Check out Angel Hair Spaghetti, Butterkin, Carnival and Jahrradale. Jahrradale is a cross between a Blue Hubbard and a Cinderella pumpkin. It has distinctive blue-gray skin and thick orange flesh—making for a nice pop of color. Angel Hair Spaghetti is smaller than a standard Spaghetti squash with even finer strands of flesh. Don’t forget to talk to your Account Manager about hard squash prebuilt pallets for the Thanksgiving rush!

Tomato

One and two-layer slicer tomatoes are limited. Tomatoes-on-vine are also limited. Local Roma prices are way up. Open pint cherry tomatoes are just about done. Heirlooms are winding down.

 

Nuts

Chestnuts are in steady supply in both jumbo and colossal sizes. Heath Ranch did a fabulous job sorting and the colossal size will knock your socks off; they are gorgeous. Fresh chestnuts can be prepared in any number of ways—roasted, steamed, boiled, deep fried and even microwaved! Don’t forget to score the skin of a fresh chestnut before cooking to allow steam to escape and prevent exploding chestnuts. Check out this creamy chestnut soup with crispy prosciutto. Fresh chestnuts are tough to crack, but this soup is worth it!

 

Floral

Full Belly Farm has Sunflowers for a limited amount of time. Dried floral bouquets and dried wreaths from Full Belly Farm are now available. We wait all year for these unique handmade arrangements—no two are alike! These are great for holiday centerpieces and hostess gifts! Thomas Farm is continuing with Sunflowers and mixed bouquets (cutie and seasonal). The last day to get your Thanksgiving floral orders in for Thomas Farm is Monday, November 12th. Only bouquets will be offered for orders during the week of Thanksgiving. There will be no orders shipped November 25th through December 1st.

Grocery

Eggnog has arrived and flying off the shelves! Get your preorders in now for the Thanksgiving rush. We’re offering eggnog from Straus Family Creamery and Alexandre Family Farm—both are creamy, delicious and downright addictive!

Alexandre Family Farm is our newest dairy producer. This family-owned and -operated farm is located in Crescent City in California’s Del Norte County. The farm operates four grass-based organic dairies with crossbred cows that produce milk that contains A2/A2 beta-casein protein. This protein is present in human milk and is easier for most people to digest. The farm uses old-fashioned methods and simple ingredients combined with a holistic approach to farming to produce some of the most delicious dairy products we’ve ever tasted. Check out their 6% butterfat whole milk (yes, 6%!), flavored milks (vanilla, chocolate, ginger turmeric), cream-top yogurt, and pastured eggs.

With the arrival of fall, we can officially say its maple season again! We offer a full line of organic maple products including maple syrup in various size packs, maple sugar candy, and whipped maple cream from Maple Valley Co-Op, a growers co-op. All Maple Valley products are certified organic and free of additives, preservatives, and formaldehyde as well as being kosher certified and vegan.

 

Merchandising Corner

Thanksgiving Merchandising Tips

It’s time to transform your department and get into the full swing of Thanksgiving. Start building up those displays of sweet potatoes, yellow onions, russets, butternut squash, satsumas and persimmons. These items will start moving in larger volumes through Thanksgiving. Bigger displays is an easy way to increase sales. When customers see more product to select from, they are more likely to buy more of their favorites like satsumas and staples items like sweet potatoes.

Customers have been waiting since spring for the return of satsumas. Capitalize on this early season, high-demand item by placing them in a heavy traffic area such as the entryway. They make for a bright and attractive display. Satsumas are generally a higher priced item that customers buy in large amounts and buy consistently throughout their growing season. Keeping a well-stocked larger display will keep this product moving for you, keep your customers happy and increase you department sales.

Sweet potatoes and yellow onions are not only key produce picks for Thanksgiving but also staple items in the kitchen during the fall and winter months. These are hardy, low maintenance products that are easy to manage so don’t be shy about ordering larger amounts and going bigger on the displays. Potato and onion displays don’t need to be rotated everyday but should be checked daily for soft, breaking down or sprouting product. Keeping your display free of undesirable product is important to keep these items moving.

On the Monday before Thanksgiving, start stocking up on your other holiday items like Brussels sprouts, celery, cranberries, mushrooms, green beans, Italian parsley and all the other culinary herbs. If you have access to your last year’s sales information, use it!  Tracking the amounts sold the previous year can help you dial in your order amounts for this year. Be optimistic and plan for a slight increase over what you sold last year. A good rule of thumb is 2% growth over the previous year. Following these holiday tips should help you have a successful Thanksgiving season.