Author Archives: Veritable Vegetable

What is an Heirloom Tomato?

Walk through any natural grocery store or farmer’s market in the summer and you would be hard pressed to not see rows of beautiful brightly colored heirloom tomatoes. Heirlooms have become increasingly popular and are more readily available in the past few years. What exactly is an heirloom and how is it different from a regular tomato? Heirlooms are generally any variety of tomato that has been passed down through several generations of family because of its desired characteristics. They can be found in a wide variety of colors, shapes, flavors and sizes. Tomato experts break down heirlooms into four classifications:

(1) Commercial Heirlooms: open pollinated varieties introduced before 1940 or in circulation for 50+ years

(2) Family Heirlooms: seeds that have been passed down for several generations through a family

(3) Created Heirlooms: crossing two known parents to eliminate undesirable characteristics

(4) Mystery Heirlooms: varieties that are a product of natural cross-pollination

Every heirloom variety is unique with an evolved resistance to pests, diseases and adaption to the growing climate and region. They are grown for a variety of reasons ranging from historical preservation to taste. Heirlooms are generally sweet and lack a genetic mutation that gives tomatoes a uniform red color common in other tomatoes. Despite this common trait, each varietal is unique in name, color and taste—a good reason to try them all!

 

*Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Imported Fuji from New Zealand are here with sharp pricing. California Solana Gold Gravenstein and Gala should be starting towards the end of the month. Gravensteins have tart flavor and are great for cooking. Imported Cripps Pink have great pricing. Import Granny Smith are limited. We should start to see some California Granny Smith in August. Viva Tierra Organic California Bartletts are here! Asian pears from Homegrown Organic Farms should be starting the last week of July. Come August we should start to see California Bosc and Starkrimson from the Northwest.

Avocado

Hass avocado is getting more limited on supply. Prices are getting firmer.

Berry

Blueberry supply is strong from the Northwest; prices are steady. Strawberries are steady with plenty of California fruit on the market from different growers.

Citrus

Valencia oranges prices continue to rise.  Supply is tighter due to some growers coming on earlier and less fruit overall on the market. High temperatures have also made it challenging to harvest. However, supply should remain steady. Pauma Valley Citrus is gapping in supply for 2-3 weeks until their remaining lemons color up. Supply should still be steady with some Mexican fruit available to supplement California supply. Meyer lemons are limited but supply should improve in the next week or so. Limes are somewhat limited as some growers have been waiting to harvest until fruit sizes up.

Fig

Brown turkey figs from Gless Ranch are done.  Black mission figs are expected to come on towards the end of the month.

Grape

Flame red grapes are steady as well as green Sugarones and black emeralds. Muscat supply is tight as the grower is waiting to harvest to allow the grapes time to develop more sugar.

Kiwi

Gold kiwis have arrived from New Zealand. Gold kiwis differ from common kiwis in color, flavor and texture. The skin is smooth and hairless and inside the fruit is golden with edible black seeds. Taste wise, it’s sweet and tropical with notes of pineapple and mango.

Mango

Kent mango supply is strong and prices are steady. Amidst summer’s plethora of stone fruit and melons, Kents offer a delicious tropical reprieve. Kents have sweet and rich flavor with juicy, tender flesh and limited fibers. This variety is ideal for juicing and drying.

Melon

Seeded watermelon bins supply is tightening up as Rundle Family Farms winds down. Still plenty of fruit left to go around!  Mini seeded and seedless are steady with sharp pricing. Honeydew has strong supply; prices are dropping. Sweet with great texture, this is a great item to promote and sample. It’s melon mania with lots of specialty mixed melons rotating in on our list: Galia, Canary, Sharlyn, Charentais, Goddess, Piel de Sapo, Orange Honeydew and Tuscan Lopes. Talk to your Account Manager about which melons are right for you!

Specialty Fruit

Passion fruit supply is strong. This tropical fruit is well known but not often well recognized. It is round and roughly the size of a golf ball with yellow or dark purple skin. On the inside, the fruit is filled with juicy yellow and black seeds. Tart, sweet and slightly acidic—passion fruit can be enjoyed as is or in smoothies, desserts and more! Dragon fruit has just arrived! Supply is steady. To enjoy this unique fruit, slice lengthwise and either scoop out the flesh, or quarter it and peel back the leathery skin. Eat only the white parts with seeds—the pink parts are bitter.

Stone Fruit

Apricots from the Northwest are winding down. California growers are reporting low yielding harvests this season. Erratic weather patterns of extreme heat and cold have been hindering harvests. White nectarines supply is tight with not much available on the market at this point.  Yellow nectarines in small sizes are available but limited. Yellow peach supply is still very limited—we’re bringing in anything we can get. Supply may improve towards the end of the month. Masamoto Family Farm’s famous Suncrest peaches are here but probably not for long. Cult favorite Hunter Orchards is expected to come on this month with some fruit. Many of the mid-season varieties coming on now will be ‘free stone’ meaning the flesh pulls away from the pit cleanly when cut. Earlier varieties were semi-cling which means the flesh sticks to the pit. Black plums are in better supply than peaches or nectarines. More pluots are coming on including Flavor Queen. Dapple Dandy and Dapple Fire are staff favorites! We have about a week or two more on Dark Sweet and Rainier cherries from the Northwest. Get your cherry fix in while you can!

 

Vegetables

Bean

Green beans are in good supply; quality is high.  We’re seeing lots of beautiful specialty beans come on.  Romano beans are a flatter and meatier version of green beans. Look for small bright beans that snap easily when bent. Enjoy raw or cooked and anywhere you’d use other types of green beans. Chinese red noodle beans are a stunning red-purple color and can grow up to 18” long! They are full of nutrients and even keep some of the color when cooked.  Fresh garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are a unique bean gaining in popularity. Each green garbanzo bean is in a protective fuzzy green pod that needs to be shelled before enjoying.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

The broccoli market is tight and supply is weak. Many growers are facing quality issues causing sporadic gaps in supply. Baby broccoli is steadier but also limited. Romanesco is in-house with goody quality for this time in the season. Cauliflower supply is tight as growers face similar quality issues as broccoli. Cheddar is more readily available than white cauliflower. We expect supply and quality issues to continue through summer.

Cabbage

Red cabbage prices are still high. We’ve seen limited amount of Savoy and Napa but supply is unlikely to continue. Green cabbage is in better volume.

Corn

This corn season has proved to be particularly challenging for many growers due to worm damage and other environmental factors. White corn is extremely limited and bi-color continues to be limited. New to the corn offering—baby corn from Heirloom Organic. Baby corn is mildly sweet and has a satisfying snap.

Cucumber

Specialty cucumbers are coming on strong. Painted serpent ‘cukes have beautiful dark green and pale stripes and excellent flavor.  Armenian cucumbers are thin, light green with smooth ridges. The flavor is sweet and refreshing! Persian cucumber supply is somewhat limited. Prices will be on the high side for a couple weeks.

Eggplant

Globe eggplant is in good supply. Specialty eggplants are plentiful from Riverdog Farm and Full Bely Farm. We’re seeing beautiful Fairy Tale, Listada de Gandia and Rosa Bianca eggplants. Fairy Tale eggplants are as dreamy as they sound. They are palm size with vibrant violet and white skin. The delicate flavor with creamy bite makes this a summer favorite! Check back often for new varieties coming on!

Lettuce, Greens and Herbs

Lettuce is in good supply on most leaf and butter lettuces. Romaine is steady with promotable pricing. However, lettuce supply can change quickly at this point in the season and subject to some gaps.

Availability on boxed greens is improving but summer temperatures may cause quality issues. Bunched greens are mostly in good supply except for dino, aka lacinato kale, which is in high demand and produces more slowly compared to other kales. Bunched spinach is very limited. Fennel is in good supply.

Oregano bunches are limited. Italian parsley is in good supply with sharp pricing. All other herbs are steady.

Pea

Snap peas are extremely limited. Snow peas are steady. English peas are also tight.

Pepper

Green, orange, yellow and red bell peppers are steady. Lots of specialty peppers on the market! Padron peppers hail from Northwestern Spain and have a mild sweet flavor but a small percentage can end up being hot! Italian sweet frying peppers are sweet and mildly pungent. Fried, stuffed or pickled—these are perfect for summer soirees.

Potato

Russets are extremely limited this early in the season. California red potatoes are done and the Northwest grown potatoes are starting up. California yellow potatoes are still available. We’re seeing plenty of specialty potatoes come on including the heirloom varieties Colorado Purple, Colorado Rose and Mascarade. Colorado Rose spuds have beautiful pink and white flesh on the inside!

Roots

Purple top turnips and burdock is gapping in supply. Jicama is very limited to quality issues. We’re seeing small amounts of watermelon daikon in but supply is not expected to be steady. Celery root is slowly coming back on.

Squash

The zucchini market is holding steady on price and supply. Summer is the time to check out the various specialty squash on the market! Comanche Creek’s mixed medley offers a smorgasbord of the season’s best varieties in all shapes and sizes. Although varieties may differ from box to box, the most common squash may include Romanesco, Zephyr, Sunburst Squash, Magda, Gold Bar, and 8 Ball. Unlike their winter counterparts, these summer varieties have soft, thin skin with flesh that can vary from light to dense.

As for hard squash, we’re seeing new crop butternut squash from Central California grower Tutti Frutti. Acorn, Kabocha and spaghetti are steady. Delicata squash is limited.

Tomato

‘Tis the time for heirlooms! Heirlooms are holding steady in supply. Prices are expected to come down soon. We’re seeing mixed packs and straight packs in several varieties. Purple Cherokees are known for their beautiful dusty red-purple color and unmatched sweet and rich flavor. This variety is a popular favorite among heirloom enthisiasts and often wins tomato taste tests! Berkeley Tie Dyes offer a psychodelic tomato experience! The skin is dark pink with green striping while the flesh is pink with yellow streaks. The flavor is sweet and complex. California Roma tomatoes are steady but limited and prices are up. Cherry tomatoes are plentiful with both California and Mexico fruit on the market. Early girls have started with both dry farmed and non dry farmed fruit available. Look for these under the “Saladette” tomatoes on our list.

 

Fresh-Cut

Summer is in full swing and it’s time to stock your shelves with summer picnic and BBQ essentials. Customers will be searching for healthy and fresh items for their celebrations. Now is the time to inventory your fresh-cut displays and make sure it has the latest and greatest of popular items such as cut melons, veggies for crudité and more. Don’t have a fresh-cut program? Talk to your Account Manager about getting started today! Our list includes hundreds of items prepared in a variety of ways—peeled, cubed, julienned, sliced and more! We can even do seasonal custom mixes (think guacamole kits and fruit salad mixes).

 

 

Grocery and Dairy

Have you tasted freshly made tofu? Hodo Soy tofu is made from organic, non-GMO, U.S. grown whole soybeans. This Oakland, California based company has a mission to craft the highest quality tofu and create innovative and delicious tofu-based artisan foods that will change how you think of tofu. The difference is in the ingredients and how the tofu is made. Hodo Soy starts with select, organic soybeans that are ground to a puree with optimum thickness using a very fine stone grinder. The puree is then simmered and pressed to extract the “bean juice.” This juice or soymilk is the base ingredient in all Hodo Soy products. To make tofu, calcium sulfate, a naturally occurring mineral is used to coagulate the soymilk. The coagulated soymilk is broken into curds to release whey and the curds are deposited into cheesecloth-lined molds which are then hand-wrapped and pressed. Hodo Soy tofu has on average 50% more protein than other tofu on the market.

We also offer Stueve biodynamic eggs, a variety cheeses from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company, organic milk and yogurts from Straus Family Creamery, maple products from Maple Valley Co-op Creamery, Mi Rancho tortillas, Wild Rose Farms quinoa, Masa Farms brown rice, Marian Farms raisins and almonds and Hodo Soy tofu. Talk to your Account Manager to learn more about our certified organic grocery program.

 

Floral

Both Full Belly Farm and Thomas Farm have beautiful flowers right now, and due to a weather related late start this season due they are looking for more business. Check with your Account Manager and subscribe to our weekly floral availability list for the most up to date details. Thomas Farm is offering Dahlia, Cosmo and Sunflower straight packs. Sunflowers are sold by 16 count bunches with 5-7 stems per bunch. Full Belly has added many new flowers to their offering including Strawflowers, Lacy Blue Statice, Zinnias, Globe Amaranth, Celosia Plumes, Sunflowers (5 stems per bunch) and more! Mixed bouquets from both growers are also available. Shipped in buckets with water, but packed inside boxes, they travel well, and stay fresh longer than non-organic flowers. The vitality of these flowers brings joy. Try some for impulse buyers or to grace your dining experience.  Floral programs have taken off all over the country, but these organic farmers take floral to a whole new level.

 

 

Merchandising Corner

Fermentation and Pickling

Fermentation is a word we hear a lot these days but what does it really mean and what is the difference between fermenting and pickling? Both fermenting and pickling are ancient methods used to preserve food. The confusion between the two happens because they actually overlap. Some fermented foods are pickled, and some pickled foods are fermented. Still confused? Let’s break it down a little more.

Pickling is a method that preserves food in a brine (salt or salty water) or an acid like vinegar or lemon juice. Fermentation is a technique that preserves and transforms food by using the benign bacteria that lives naturally on the surface of the food. The actual definition is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and giving off heat. But what does that all really mean? What fermentation means is that the sugars and carbohydrates present in the food have been eaten by the good bacteria (often lactic acid bacteria). The bacteria then convert that sugar into other substances, like acids, carbon dioxide, and alcohol and those substances preserve the food and add to its flavor. So that is the secret to why fermented food is so tasty, all those active bacteria!

The confusion between the two happens because most fermented foods, like pickles, start out in a brine.  Some items can be both pickled and fermented. Now that we have sorted that out it’s time to start making your own pickled and fermented foods. We are in the peak season to make and try some creative ways of storing away some of your summer favorites for a cold gloomy winter day.  And remember, even though pickling and fermenting crossover a bit, it’s the fermented foods that provide amazing health benefits like beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics. Now go have fun and get crazy with those recipes!

Cornology

It’s hard to think of summer without thinking of delicious fresh sweet corn. But what is it and where did this popular crop come from? Sweet corn is a variety of maize with high sugar content. Unlike field corn varieties which are harvested when kernels are dry and mature, sweet corn is harvested when immature and eaten as a vegetable rather than a grain. Whole corn (on the cob) is considered a vegetable while corn kernels are considered a whole grain.

Once picked, sweet corn begins the maturation process and starts converting sugars to starch. For this reason, sweet corn should be eaten fresh and stored at optimal cool temperatures to maintain freshness and slow the sugar to starch metabolism. Alternatively, corn can be canned or frozen before the kernels become tough and starchy.

Sweet corn was first developed in ancient Mexico and believed to have been grown by Native American settlers. The Iroquois aka Haudenosaunee tribe gave the first recorded sweet corn to European settlers in 1779 which led to its popularity in several regions of the United States. Centuries of research and breeding have led to the development of hundreds of varieties of sweet corn. Through hybridization, the sweet corn we know of today has improved quality, sweetness and greater resistance to disease.

 

*Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

We have transitioned to imports for most varieties including Braeburn, Gala, Granny Smith and Cripps Pink. There is some supply of domestic Fuji still—grab these before they’re gone! We should start to see California Solana Gold Gravenstein and Gala in 2-3 weeks! Pears are done until we start to see California grown Bartletts in mid-July and California grown Bosc in August.

Avocado

Avocado supply is steady for now but the word is that California production will only last for another 5-8 weeks. Our favorite grower, Las Palmalitas Ranch, in the Santa Barbara area, has one tenth of the crop they had last year on their home ranch. Prices keep going up as supplies dwindles.

Berry

As we head into summer, strawberry supply should remain steady with both open pint and clamshell packs. Blueberry supply is tight as we have moved out of California production and the Northwest is just starting up. Raspberries are experiencing a gap in supply.

Citrus

Lemon supply will tighten up but should remain steady. Prices will continue to rise. Meyer lemons are very limited with small shots here and there. Several growers are gapping in supply. Valencia oranges are going strong as more growers have started. Prices have gone up slightly. Juicy and sweet—Valencias are the perfect summer citrus to round out your fruit displays. We love adding them to salads! Plenty of Meiwa kumquats available! Meiwas are entirely edible (skin and all.) The sweet-tart flavor is a perfect addition to any summer dish.

Grape

Scarlet Royales are here in all their crisp, sweet glory! Green Sugrarones are holding steady. Don’t miss out on the black seedless Sweet Sapphires, also known as Witch’s Fingers for their unique elongated shape! Muscat grapes are starting soon. This variety has a uniquely sweet, almost floral taste and beautiful rosy color with splashes of green. Look for Black Emerald grapes grown by Pete Wolf and packed under the Fruitworld label also coming on soon.

Mango

Kent mangos have started! Supply is strong. Kents have sweet and rich flavor with juicy, tender flesh and limited fibers. This variety is ideal for juicing and drying (yum!) Kents have yellow undertones or dots that cover more of the mango as it ripens. Squeeze gently to judge ripeness.

Melon

Yellow seedless watermelon have arrived by the bin full! Initial taste tests reveal the melons are juicy, sweet and delicious! Red seeded watermelons supply is steady while red seedless and red minis have tightened up. Supply should improve in a couple weeks. Sharp pricing on green and orange honey dew. These are great items to promote during summer. Talk to your Account Manager if interested in volume deals. Check out some of the new mixed melon varieties such as Canary & Goddess melons. The Canary has white inner flesh with a distinctive sweet flavor that is tangier than honeydew. Its name comes from the bright yellow color of the skin that resembles that of a canary bird.

Stone Fruit

California apricots are nearly done; we’re bringing in fruit from Washington now. Our Rainier and Darksweet cherries are coming from Washington and Oregon now, and prices are softening. Many packing sheds and growers in the Northwest do not label their red varieties and just use the catch-all term of Darksweet. They might be Lambert, Bing, Skeena, Lapin, or Sweetheart depending on what is ready to harvest, and it’s hard to keep track of. The term Darksweet is used for any and all red sweet cherries. Fresh sour cherries are not available on the West Coast in any big quantities; you have to go to Michigan to get them for your pie! White nectarines are strong and steady with sharp pricing. Small sized yellow nectarines are in pretty good supply. Larger fruit is much more limited. Peaches are steady on both yellow and white fruit. Keep an eye out for Masumoto Farms’ flagship Suncrest fruit coming on. The Suncrest peach has irresistible flavor that can only be described as the perfect balance of sun and summer! Pluots are experiencing a short gap in supply but we’ll be seeing Dapple Fires from Wild River soon. Red Raven black plums are in good supply with great pricing. Add these to your sample program so customers can taste see the beautiful colors inside the fruit. Sharp pricing on utility grade Yummy Beaut red plums, a great option for juicers, bakers and other processors, or anyone who wants a good deal.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Artichoke is in good supply with several growers on the market. Prices are steady.

Bean

Rundle Family Farms is done with green beans for the season, but never fear, Tomatero Farm’s crop has just started and will run about 6 weeks. Lots of specialty beans will be coming on soon including romano, wax and cranberry from Dwelley Farms and more purple beans from Sunrise Organic Farm. Purple beans have a beautiful violet hue shell on the outside and the same green flesh and light green peas inside as green beans. Like most purple vegetables, once cooked, the purple fades to green. Have you heard of Chinese red noodle beans? This stunning deep red-purple bean from Comanche Creek will draw lots of attention on your produce stand. The pods can grow up to 18” long! They are full of nutrients and even keep some of the color when cooked.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower prices have gone up as supply has tightened up a bit. Graffiti cauliflower is very limited; however cheddar cauliflower is more steady.

Celery

Celery is in good supply and should remain steady for the next couple weeks.

Corn

More growers are coming on with white and bi-color corn. White corn from Oakley, California based Dwelley Farms is a staff favorite. Not only is it clean, the sweet flavor is gnaw-off -the-cob delicious! Through extra special TLC during the growing process, corn from this particular grower is completely worm free.

Cucumber

Lots of specialty cucumbers are starting to come on. Painted serpent ‘cukes have beautiful dark green and pale stripes and excellent flavor. Lemon cucumbers are round, yellow and size of a tennis ball. Contrary to the name, lemon cucumbers do not have a lemon taste but are mild and sweet; they just look ‘lemon like’. Mandurian Round cucumbers have pale green skin and a thin layer of fuzz (which can easily wiped off.) This is easily one of the sweetest and crunchiest cucumbers out there. These are just a few—check back often for more specialty varieties. Fun Fact: All melons and cucumbers are part of the cucurbits family. They are all related, along with squash and pumpkin.

Eggplant

Globe eggplant has strong supply and should be consistent for a few weeks. We’re starting to see specialty varieties come on such as soft and creamy Japanese eggplant, the stunning magenta striped Listada de Gambia and made-for-sautéing Chinese eggplant. Supply is limited and specialty varieties are popular during this so act fast if you see them on our list!

Lettuce, Greens and Herbs

Romaine volume is expected to be pretty good for the next week or so supply will be steady for a bit. With lots of product coming onto the market, prices are expected to drop. Butter lettuce supply may tighten up as one of our main growers has reported the heads need more time to size up.

Fluctuating temperatures never bode well for boxed greens. Supply may tighten up as hot days and cool nights can cause mildew pressure for greens.

Bunched basil is in good supply from Watsonville grower, Tomatero Farm.  Quality is strong. This is a great seasonal item to cross merchandise with olive oil, mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes for the perfect summer Caprese salad.

Onion

Yellow onions are fully into the intermediate day varieties now which means the onions have had more time to cure and will have longer shelf life. Supply will soon be more consistent. Long day varieties are still at least a month out. Red onion supply is tight but we’re bringing in everything we can. We will have some intermediate variety white onions from California’s Fresno region but supply will primarily be from Mexico until August or later. In more onion good news, shallots are back earlier than expected! We’ll be seeing supply from Rundle Family Farms soon!

Pea

Peas are in strong supply; prices are falling. English, snow and sugar snaps are all available. Cooked or raw, peas are a tasty and vibrant item to add to summer dishes.

Pepper

Orange bell peppers are steady with sharp pricing. Red bells are more limited. California growers are just starting to come on and Mexico supply is tight. More California grown chili peppers are starting. Padron and jalapeno peppers are steady. Santa Fe yellow peppers provide a pop of color as it matures from yellow to orange-red. The mild heat and slight sweetness makes this pepper a pretty option for salsa! We’re seeing more specialty peppers including Gypsy Yellow and Italian sweet frying peppers. Both have no heat but pack a ton of flavor!

Potato

California new crop russets continue to be extremely limited. Red and yellow potatoes are in better supply and should be steady. Fingerlings are very limited with high prices. New crop sweet potatoes are coming on soon. Expect prices to be on the high to start.

Specialty Veg

Okra volume is starting to pick up and supply is steady. This specialty vegetable is a nutritional powerhouse and a great source of fiber. Okra can be tough to chew and is often boiled or steam to soften. When cut, okra produces a mucilaginous liquid that is often used to thicken soups and stew–like gumbo!  Tomatillos are in good supply with several varieties available including green, milpero and pineapple. Milperos are about half the size of a green tomatillo (1- 1 ½ inch diameter) with more concentrated sweet flavor and less acidity.  Pineapple tomatillos are yellow and have hints of pineapple flavor. Raw or roasted, tomatillos add amazing flavor to salsa, sauces and any number of dishes.

Squash

Mexico grown hard squash is just about done as we move into the new crop from California’s San Joaquin Valley region. Butternut, acorn, delicata, green Kabocha, and spaghetti are all in-house!

Tomato

Roma tomatoes are still limited on both Mexico and California supply. One and two-layer prices are also on the rise. California grown cherry tomato prices have been high as the season is just starting. Expect them to come down soon. Heirloom season is upon us—a time many people wait all year for! Plenty of straight packs and mixed packs available. Prices are expected to come down quickly. Dry-farmed tomatoes are not expected to start until the end of August or beginning of September.

 

Fresh-Cut

Now that we have passed the Summer Solstice, customers will be looking for fresh and healthy items to fill their baskets. Now is the time to inventory your fresh-cut displays and make sure it has the latest and greatest. Don’t have a fresh-cut program? Talk to your Account Manager about getting started today! Our list includes hundreds of items prepared in a variety of ways—peeled, cubed, julienned, sliced and more! We can even do seasonal custom mixes (think guacamole kits, mirepoix, or kebab kits).

 

 

Grocery and Dairy

Check out organic biodynamic eggs from Stueve Organic, located in California’s Central Valley. Stueve’s chickens wander on pesticide free native ground, cohabitating with organic cows. Both the cows and chickens are moved to fresh pasture every two days—which gives all parties new fresh grass, clover, grubs and other insects. The chickens live, eat and lay eggs in a mobile chicken coop, which offers them a safe place to shelter and sleep at night. Their diet is supplemented with organic, methionine free feed from a local grain milling facility. Biodynamic pasture raised eggs are loaded with Omega 3, fresher and incredibly tasty!

We also offer a variety cheeses from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company, organic milk and yogurts from Straus Family Creamery, maple products from Maple Valley Co-op Creamery, Mi Rancho tortillas, Wild Rose Farms quinoa, Masa Farms brown rice, Marian Farms raisins and almonds and Hodo Soy tofu. Talk to your Account Manager to learn more about our certified organic grocery program.

 

Juice

Love Beets offers delicious beet and beet and ginger juices in 6-pack bases of 14 ounce bottles. Beet juice is full of powerful antioxidants and nitrates, boosting stamina and endurance. All juices are 100% natural and gluten free, with no added sugars, artificial colors or preservatives. Love Beet’s unique filtration system allows for a desirably smooth taste.

Not a beet fan? We also carry lemon juice, lime juice, apple juice and orange juice from Columbia Gorge in ½ gallon containers.

 

Floral

Both Full Belly Farm and Thomas Farm have beautiful flowers right now, and due to a weather related late start this season due they are looking for more business. Check with your Account Manager and subscribe to our weekly floral availability list for the most up to date details. Thomas Farm is offering Dahlia, Cosmo and Sunflower straight packs. Sunflowers are sold by 16 count bunches with 5-7 stems per bunch. Full Belly has added many new flowers to their offering including Aloha Rose, Black Eyed Susan, Lacy Blue Statice, Ornamental Quinoa, Queen Anne’s Lace, Safflower, Sunflowers (5 stems per bunch) and more! Mixed bouquets from both growers are also available. Shipped in buckets with water, but packed inside boxes, they travel well, and stay fresh longer than non-organic flowers. The vitality of these flowers brings joy. Try some for impulse buyers or to grace your dining experience.  Floral programs have taken off all over the country, but these organic farmers take floral to a whole new level.

 

 

Merchandising Corner

Samples Sell Produce

Sampling is a great way to engage with customers and helps demonstrate your commitment to their satisfaction. Sampling also sells product! Did you know sampling produce for a customer when they enter a store significantly increases the proportion of produce the customer purchases on that visit? Although sampling increases shrink, the benefits far outweigh the loss. Impulse purchasing increases when customers can actually taste the product. Remember to log any sampled product.

Keys to a Successful Sample Display

  • Only sample produce that tastes great! Samples reflect on the quality of the department, so make sure samples are exceptionally high quality.
  • Sanitize hands, cutting board and knife before prepping samples. It is the responsibility of produce staff to cut samples; never leave a knife on the sales floor.
  • Make it easy for the shopper to try it!
    • Appropriate sized samples.
    • Napkins, toothpicks, tongs, and trash receptacles for any waste.
    • Signage communicating item name, price, grower, certification, county of origin, and am encouragement to taste!
    • Nearby product displayed for easy purchasing.
  • Take advantage of store traffic by sampling when the store is busy.
  • If active sampling is used, ensure the person is well informed about the sample produce.
  • If passive sampling is used, check the display regularly and replenish to keep stocked at all times.

AR/Collections Representative

The AR/Collections Representative is responsible for leading Veritable Vegetable’s collection effort and managing the credit application process, including implementation of procedures to affect the timely collection, application and deposit of payments. This position participates in AR monthly close, prepares month end reports, and provides AR analysis.

Responsibilities:

  • Ensure that customer balances are within agreed, assigned terms
  • Resolve customer inquiries regarding their accounts
  • Advise customers of necessary actions and strategies for overdue account balance payment, and arrange balance payment schedules based on customers’ financial situations
  • Notify customers of credit holds for overdue accounts
  • Negotiate credit extensions when necessary
  • Pursue legal action when necessary
  • Track information about customer financial status and status of collection efforts
  • Manage customer credit application process
  • Perform various administrative functions for customer accounts, such as recording contact information changes and monitoring when customers’ status should change from active to inactive
  • Receive payments and post amounts paid to customer accounts
  • Prepare weekly and monthly AR, Sales reports
  • Prepare customer monthly statements for mailing
  • Prepare and enter monthly accounts receivable Journal Entries to the General Ledger
  • Perform daily filing and keep up-to-date

Qualifications:

  • 3+ years of experience in Collections and Accounts Receivable
  • Knowledge of legal options and requirements
  • Proficient in Excel and other Microsoft Office applications
  • Knowledge of Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) regulations and preservation of trust rights a plus

Physical Requirements:

  • Ability to lift full file boxes
  • Job tasks are performed in close physical proximity to other people
  • Ability to filter out extraneous noise while on the phone
  • Job requires constant computer work
  • Must be able to sit or stand for extended periods of time

In Their Words: Veritable’s Bu Nygrens and Karen Salinger

Reposted from the Organic Produce Network on June 29, 2017

Pictured co-owners Bu Nygrens, Mary Jane Evans and Karen Salinger

Beginning in the early 1970’s, Veritable Vegetables (VV) became part of a movement that sought to bring low-cost, nutritious food to neighborhood co-ops and community storefronts. These collectives, called The People’s Food System, extended throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area, and provided a large-scale alternative to the existing corporate food system.

Through the years, VV has been an integral part of change in the sustainable food system movement by stimulating an increased demand for fresh, organic fruits and vegetables.

OPN Connect:  You two have been delivering organic since 1974, what was the organic produce market like when you began?

Karen: The natural foods industry emerged in San Francisco in the neighborhood co-ops. We realized we had to figure out where there was a market beyond those co-ops.

Everyone was learning and trying to help each other along the way. We were figuring out how the produce should be packed, what’s the expectation of what it should look like? We had cherry tomatoes being delivered in burlap bags and lettuce packed in cardboard boxes; and nothing was hydro-cooled, nothing was iced. That’s part of what gave organic produce the bad rap.

Bu: It was a very different scene. There were only a handful of small growers scattered across the west coast. There were no farmers markets, no organic regulations or standard practices. Organic farmers couldn’t get bank loans because the banks didn’t think they would be successful. But there were highly motivated growers who had a big vision and were seeking alternatives to conventional Ag.

Many post-harvest and handling practices had not yet been adopted by organic producers. Bud Capurro and Sons in Moss Landing was the first packer-shipper willing to hydro-cool organic lettuce and broccoli. Once those practices were adopted we had a really great lettuce and broccoli deal.  

OPN Connect:  You have witnessed enormous growth in the sector. What were some of the innovations you undertook to help drive this progress?  

Bu: From the very beginning we were committed to source identification with the farm label- so people could identify the farms and where their food came from, who grew it and how they grew it.

We participated in the development of certification standards to influence policy state-wide and the national standards

We made an effort to educate our farmers how to get their product to market in good shape.  We were a distributor but also a conduit of information helping our growers to be successful.  

Another innovation we are proud of was our early commitment to ethical business practices, which was different than the typical wholesaler who buys low and sells high. We were dedicated to the “value supply chain” where our farmers will be here next year; we could grow the market and spread the gospel of organic.

OPN Connect:  Tell us about your relationship with your producers. How do you focus on the farm?

Bu: We do production planning with our farmers and we support growers even if we can’t buy from them by sharing market information. We have a reputation of honesty & fairness, we aren’t a “hard receiver” and we often work product from rejected loads.

We are diligent about sending our buyers to visit the farms, to see the operations and share information and best practices.  In fact we have a farm visit program for our entire staff, so our warehouse and office workers can understand why we are committed to organic agriculture.

Karen: Our customers expect to find grower names on our price list and it’s helped to distinguish us from our competitors. This helps drive home our grower commitment with our customers.  

Something we did three or four years when the local movement gained traction was to provide miles or distance from our warehouse on our price list. Our customers now have a better sense of the local and regional food production.

Every week we highlight a product and the grower on our price list because we want to bring the story of our growers to our customers. We do a weekly update on what’s coming in and what’s going out- where the opportunities are. It’s a lot of information management and people are hungry for it.

OPN Connect:  What is the culture and values at Veritable Vegetable? How does this manifest in your workplace?

Karen: We define the culture here by honoring our employees, by welcoming diversity in our staff and hiring practices. We bring people in above the living wage in SF and we hold the 5/1 ratio in highest compensation to lowest.

Bu: We hold quarterly state of the business staff meetings that include industry trends. We are trying to build a community and not just provide a workplace, to make it meaningful and educational for our employees.  

Karen: We hold true to our core values and operate with them on a day to day basis. Everything we do passes through that filter before we make a decision.

We divert 99% of our waste from landfill, we have train our staff to understand what can be recycled and reused.  Our unsaleable food goes to our first to our staff meal programs, then hunger relief organizations, next local zoos and finally is composted.  Even the microbes get to eat!

OPN Connect:  What’s new and fresh in the organic produce sector that excites you?

Bu: I am really pleased about the current interest in reducing food waste. The ugly produce initiative is exciting. There is an opportunity for education about fresh food and nutrition and addressing chronic disease by regarding food as medicine.  

The developments focusing on heirloom and heritage varieties, people now want flavor is an excellent trend in the right direction. We are now seeing domestic fair trade programs and social justice get traction in the marketplace.

OPN Connect:  What are some of the challenges you face in the organic wholesale sector and how are you adapting to meet those challenges? 

Karen: The most challenging thing is that people are shopping in different ways. The retail sector is changing quickly; people are buying on-line or prepared meals like grab and  go. From CSA’s to farmers markets millennials have changed the focus on food. Amazon buying Whole Foods will change the landscape even more.

Bu: In order to compete we have to figure out how to differentiate ourselves and we have so far by educating stakeholders on social justice, food waste, environmental justice, encouraging young farmers to farm. There are a lot of things we need to do within the community to continue to raise the bar.

Pluot: The New Summer Fruit

Pluots

In the stone fruit world, there are many types including unique hybrids that combine varieties of plums and apricots. Pluots, plumcots, apriums, apriplums—the possibilities are endless. Pluots are a relative newcomer to the summer hybrid fruit lineup—but it has quickly become a favorite!

Pluots refer to a large number of varieties that have a higher plum to apricot ratio. The term “pluot” was trademarked in the 1980s by Zaiger Genetics. Most often confused with a plumcot, which is a 50-50 split between a plum and apricot, the pluot is more plum than apricot. Common varieties include Dapple Dandy (also known as Dinosaur Egg), Flavor Grenade, and Flavor Heart.

Pluots are uniquely colored (inside and out) with sweet, intense flavor. Ripe pluots are fragrant and give to slight pressure. They can be enjoyed in any number of ways—summer salads, smoothies, ice cream and more!

 

*Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

We’re seeing the last of domestic apples and moving full steam ahead with imports. New Zealand imported Braeburn is in good supply. The last of all domestic Fuji is in-house. Get ‘em while you can! Prices are on the rise and only imports will be available going forward. Domestic Gala is done. We’re seeing higher prices on Gala imports from Chile. Great pricing on Cripps Pink, also from Chile.

We’re approaching California pear season! California grown Bartlett is predicted to come on as early as mid-July. California grown Bosc is expected to start mid-August. Import pears are winding down but we still have plenty of import Packham pears from Fruits and Life!

Berry

Strawberries are in good supply. The impact on production levels from the recent heat wave has yet to be determined. Blueberries from Sierra Cascade Blueberry Farm are in high demand. This Chico based grower offers 12×6 ounce clamshells and 10 pound bulk boxes. Inventory is strong now but recent high temperatures may impact production levels as much as 20%. Now that it is summer, berries are ideally kept in a refrigerated case or cold table. If you do not have access to either, a display on a dry table will work. Remember to store your unsold berries in the cooler overnight. Being exposed to room temperature too long will cause the berries to break down.

Citrus

B&J Ranch is all done with grapefruit for the season. We’ll have star ruby grapefruit available from Eco Farms and Juju Bee moving forward. More of our growers are coming on with Valencia oranges. Buck Brand is here! Twin Girls and Cousins are available but very limited for the next week or so. Pauma Valley Citrus has steady supply. The recent heatwave has affected most of our citrus vendors picking schedules. Sespe Creek should be coming on soon. Look for their Valencias in a few weeks! Lemon prices are on the up and up. Historically lemon prices are at the highest they’ll be all season during July and August. Pauma Valley Citrus is almost done with their lemons but we should see a small shot next week. Sespe Creek should have steady supply through the summer. Marsalisi Meyer lemons are in-house! Supply is limited; order some before they’re gone! Another 3-6 week gap is expected after we sell out. California limes from Eco Farms and Beck Grove are coming on. Look for increased supply in the next few weeks.

Fig

We saw our first shot of Black Mission figs from both Maywood and Vertical Foods earlier this week. The black mission will gap for a few weeks then come on again around mid to late July. In the meantime we have steady supply of Brown Turkey figs from Gless Ranch.

Grape

Supply is steady on summer royale black seedless grapes in the Dragon label from Larson Ranch. Great pricing on green sugraones. The grapes brixed at 15.9 and have good flavor. Most growers are still loading red grapes out of the Coachella region but a move to California’s Central Valley growing region is imminent. Supply will tighten up soon. Gemma Rose and Sweet Scarlet varieties will be coming on in the next few weeks. Prices are expected to increase on red grapes once the new varieties come on.

Melon

The market is very tight on seeded watermelon and limited on seedless watermelon. Several growers are experiencing a short gap until July 1st. The market on mini seedless is tightening but supply should be steady with Rundle Family Farms is coming on. Goldie is going strong on cantaloupe. New to our melon offering are Hami melons— a new variety, also grown by Goldie. They have crispy texture and mild flavor—which makes a delicious addition to fruit salad. Orange dew and honeydew are in good supply while Galia has tightened. Look out for goddess melons from Full Belly Farms. Goddess melons look and tastes a lot like cantaloupe but the “netting” on the skin is not as raised as that of a cantaloupe. The flesh is also softer and the fruity flavor is great in smoothies! Melons should be stored out at room temperature until ready to be eaten. Refrigeration is useful if they are too ripe and you want to stop ripening process. Always refrigerate an opened melon!

Stone Fruit

Hot weather in Northern California does not bode well for stone fruit. Trees stop producing and triple digit temperatures creates challenges for picking. Expect the market to tighten and prices to go up.

Just as soon as it started, apricot season is quickly coming to an end. There is still some fruit available from small growers but prices are steep. California grown cherries are done for the year. Northwest grown Darksweets are in the house, with Bings expected to start in about ten days. Overall the cherry crop is strong and prices will come down rapidly once the pipelines are filled for the July 4th holiday. Rainier cherries are starting up; this light colored yellow cherry has a red blush and high sugar content, making it many peoples favorite variety. Supply is tightening up on white nectarines. We expect the market to improve once Ferrari Farms comes on with their fruit. Yellow nectarine supply is still a little tight but prices have dropped slightly signaling volume should improve soon. Yellow peach is in good supply with attractive pricing. White peach supply,  on the other hand, is tightening. Donut peaches are coming on strong with plenty of fruit from Twin Girls. The Galaxy variety is a staff favorite with out of this world flavor! Red Raven black plums are in good supply with sharp pricing. This variety has a dark purple-black skin on the outside but beautiful red flesh inside. The flavor is jammy and delicious! These are a good option for sampling tables so customers can taste. Supply is slowly loosening on red plums. Price is also slowly coming down. Lots of varieties and sizes to choose from! Pluots are finally here! Early Dapple Dandy from Wild River are the first of the season. Supply is still limited but quality and flavor are strong. Dapple Fires should be coming on around July 10th.

 

Vegetables

Bean

Green beans continue to be in good supply from Rundle Family Farms. Price is sharp! Romano beans and yellow beans are limited. Purple beans from Sunrise Organic Farm will gap in supply for about a week.

Broccoli

The broccoli market has been steady but high temperatures in the Salinas Valley may impact quality and supply.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower supply has tightened and harvest numbers have light. Similar to broccoli, record high temperatures may disrupt production and price.

Cabbage

Green cabbage is steady but red cabbage is still not in volume supply in the market. Price on red remains high compared to green. Napa cabbage is still very limited. Savoy cabbage prices are slowly coming down.

Celery

Just as celery supply was becoming steady, the Salinas Valley was hit with a heat wave. The celery market will most likely be impacted, but it’s still too soon to tell the extent.

Corn

Corn is off to a slow start this season with many growers experiencing delays in harvest. However, Phil Foster Ranches is expected to start soon, followed by Dwelley Farms and Herbert Family Farm after July 4th.  We should be seeing bi-color and white corn.

Eggplant

Pasha has ended with globe eggplant. We still have incoming globes from Wilgenburg Greenhouses but supply is limited and not quite at steady volume. We’re seeing small amounts of specialty eggplant trickle in from Coke Farms. It’s on the early side for specialty varieties. We should see more growers come on this summer.

Lettuce, Greens and Herbs

The lettuce and greens growing regions was also subject to the extreme heat that passed through last week. Any effects on the market has yet to be determined. Tomatero Farm is harvesting bunched kale and collards from a fresh field—quality is good. Bunched spinach has strong supply. Boxed spinach is steady.

Marjoram and oregano bunches are gapping in supply; clamshells are still available. Bunch basil from Watsonville, California based Tomatero Farm is in good supply. Quality is strong. Cross merchandise with heirlooms and mozzarella for the perfect summer salad!

Onion

At this point in the season, we’re moving into intermediate varieties for all onions. Supply is pretty steady on red and yellow as more California growers have come on. Jumbos and mediums are in better supply. White onions are more limited in all sizes. Shallots are still gapping until late July or early August.

Pea

English peas are extremely limited; we’re bringing in everything we can. Snow peas are still gapping in supply. Sugar snap peas are in good supply.

Pepper

Green peppers are steady. We’re starting to see local supply from Gilroy based grower Uesugi Farms. Mexico grown red, yellow and orange bells are more limited from Wholesum Harvest. California red bells are expected to start early July. Jalapenos are in strong supply from Pasha and Rundle Family Farms. Quality is excellent! Check out our specialty padron and shishito peppers which are great for summer grilling!

Potato

New crop russets are in steady supply from Tomorrow’s Organics. The skins do not have a hard cure on them but quality is good and as expected for this early in the season. More growers are slowly coming on with California grown russets. Yellow potatoes are really tight and red potatoes are limited. Specialty potatoes are in better supply—lots of fingerlings including Ruby Crescent and Russian Banana. Full Belly is offering Bintje, Red Lasoda and Yellow Finns. Top Brass Purple A’s add a pop of color!

Specialty Veg

We’re seeing small quantities of okra come in from Coke Farms and Comanche Creek. Volume is expected to pick up with the warmer weather. Young Thai coconut is gapping in supply for at least a couple more weeks.

Squash

Zucchini is in strong supply on both fancy and medium product. Attractive pricing makes this a great ad or promotion item this summer! Check out the mixed medley and straight pack soft squash options from Comanche Creek. See a variety in the medley that you want as a straight pack? Talk to your Account Manager!

California hard squash season is starting with butternut, green acorn and delicata are all coming on. Mexican red kuri and spaghetti squash are winding down. #2 California spaghetti squash should be available soon.

Tomato

Warm weather is generally good for tomatoes but hot weather results in roasted tomatoes. The recent heat wave means our California tomato growers are off to a slow start. Givens Farm and Terra Firma Farm are coming on with California grown Romas. Volume will be small to start. Supply will be steady with Mexican grown Romas to supplement. Tomatoes on vine (TOV) are in good supply. Durst Organic Growers is expected to start with cherry tomatoes from the Capay Valley and Coke Farm should be increasing volume on their Salinas, California area grown cherry tomatoes. Heirlooms are steady with supply from Wilgenburg and Ram’s Farm. More California growers should be coming on soon with heirlooms.

 

Fresh-Cut

Now that we have passed the Summer Solstice, customers will be looking for fresh and healthy items to fill their baskets. Now is the time to inventory your fresh-cut displays and make sure it has the latest and greatest. Don’t have a fresh-cut program? Talk to your Account Manager about getting started today! Our list includes hundreds of items prepared in a variety of ways—peeled, cubed, julienned, sliced and more! We can even do seasonal custom mixes (think guacamole kits, mirepoix, or kebab kits).

 

 

Grocery and Dairy

In addition to the freshest organic produce, we offer select grocery items from organic producers like Three Trees almondmilk. Three Trees produces unsweetened almondmilk made without gums, additives or added sugar. Clean and pure, the distinctively creamy and almond-rich taste comes from the quality and quantity of the organic almonds that are used. Three Trees uses the best fresh organic almonds which are then blanched to remove the skin, and steam pasteurized for food safety. The filtered water used in the milk undergoes a reverse osmosis filtration system to ensure consistent quality and taste. To minimize the impact on the environment, the water is sourced from local municipalities where the milk is produced, rather than trucking in spring water from faraway places. Available in unsweetened original, unsweetened vanilla and cold brew coffee Three Tree’s almondmilks are rich, delicious and nutritious!

We also offer biodynamic eggs from Stueve Organic Family Farms, organic milk and yogurts from Straus Family Creamery, maple products from Maple Valley Co-op Creamery, Mi Rancho tortillas, Wild Rose Farms quinoa, Masa Farms brown rice, Marian Farms raisins and almonds and Hodo Soy tofu. Talk to your Account Manager to learn more about our certified organic grocery program.

Floral

Both Full Belly Farm and Thomas Farm have new floral order deadlines. Check with your Account Manager and subscribe to our weekly floral availability list for the most up to date details.  Thomas Farm is offering Dahlia, Cosmo and Sunflower straight packs. Sunflowers are sold by 16 count bunches with 5-7 stems per bunch. Full Belly’s has added many new flowers to their offering including Aloha Rose, Black Eyed Susan, Lacy Blue Statice, Ornamental Quinoa, Queen Anne’s Lace, Safflower, Sunflowers (5 stems per bunch) and more! Mixed bouquets from both growers are also available.

 

 

Merchandising Corner

Cross Merchandise

By adding merchandise from other departments into the Produce Department you can drive sales for multiple items. Suggesting ways to prepare a produce item also adds value for your customer. Produce can also be merchandised in other departments. Here are a few suggested pairings:

  • Tomatoes—with basil, olive oil, fresh mozzarella or other salad add-ons.
  • Strawberries—pound cakes, dessert shells, whipped cream, glazes and chocolate dips.
  • Lemons—near the fish counter.
  • Corn—with butter or corn holders.
  • Avocados—with tortilla chips (in the Produce Department or chip aisle).
  • Apples—with caramel dip.
  • Apples or other hand fruit—at the deli counter, if sandwiches or other prepared food is available.
  • Bananas—in the cereal aisle.