Author Archives: Veritable Vegetable

Purple Everything

Purple vegetables have been around for a long time, some naturally and some selectively bred slowly over time to be more colorful. With the spring season here, vibrant purple veggies are popping up everywhere.

In addition to their striking color, purple vegetables usually contain higher amounts of antioxidants. A type of antioxidant called anthocyanins gives plants their vibrant color. Anthocyanins protect purple vegetables from sun damage and cold temperatures, and also attract bees and other pollinators. Similarly, when you consume vegetables with this antioxidant, it can offer a wide range of health-promoting benefits such as reducing inflammation and increasing brain and heart health. Some purple vegetables have more health benefits compared to the same vegetable in other colors.

The taste of purple vegetables is similar to their non-purple counterparts, but there are definitely slight nuances in flavor. When cooked, some purple vegetables lose their color. Check out our wide variety of purple veggies including: artichoke, asparagus, carrots, red cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, daikon, garlic, kale, red onion, purple majesty potato, and stokes sweet potato. Liven up your palate with a healthy dose of purple today!

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Fuji apple is in good supply and expected to last through the end of May or beginning of June. Granny Smith and Pink Lady are winding down. Prices are going up as supply dwindles. Cameo are done for the season.

Red Bartlett and Bartlett remain steady. Abate Fetel has good volume. We love the rich sweetness and creamy texture of this pear. Look for Packham coming soon!

Avocado

Hass avocados are tasting great right now and will only get richer as the summer approaches. Supply is strong with attractive pricing and volume deals available as we inch closer to Cinco de Mayo. Be sure to build up your display and stock up for what will likely be a high-demand weekend. We’re especially fond of fruit from Las Palmalitas Ranch, a grower located near Carpinteria, on California’s central coast. Las Palmalitas has been owned by the same family for over 150 years and is currently managed by Will and Billy Carleton. The father-and-son team manages 20 acres of avocados while other family members have 50 acres on adjoining property. All the fruit is packed on site, which gives them full quality control.

Berry

Local strawberries have come on in full force, although cooler weather is causing supply to tighten slightly. Overall, the market is steady with fruit from Southern California available to supplement. Blueberries from Homegrown Organics are a staff favorite. Their spring variety is grown on California’s central coast near Santa Barbara, resulting in plump, sweet and firm berries—perfect for eating fresh! Raspberry and blackberries continue to be limited; raspberry prices are way up.

Citrus

Lemon prices are starting to go up. Larger-size fruit is very promotable. Look for sharp pricing on 75 and 95 counts. 115 and 140 counts are limited. Meyer lemons are starting to wind down; prices are up. Lime prices have also come down slightly. Be sure to stock up for Cinco de Mayo! Valencia oranges remain in good supply as more California Valencia growers come on next week. B&J Ranch Ruby grapefruit is still readily available and expected to last for another three weeks. Sizing is more limited at this point in the season. Golden Nugget tangerines are steady and expected to continue through the end of May, into June. Look for a small shot of Pixies from Churchill Orchards next week! Most other specialty citrus have finished or are winding down.

Grape

Red flame seedless will be the first variety to come on from California’s Coachella Valley in mid-May. Production will be light to start, with volume picking up after Memorial Day. Expect demand to be high to start with prices to match.

Kiwi

Kiwis are starting to get a bit more limited. Prices are up and are expected to move up slowly as the season end approaches.

Mango

Ataulfo mangos are gapping and Tommy Atkins are limited. We’re getting everything we can. Smaller sizes are nowhere to be found.

Stone fruit

California peaches have started with the arrival of Amber Crest yellow peach. The flavor is sweet and tart, which is pretty ideal for early-season fruit. It’ll be a few more weeks before we see other peach varieties come on. Apricots, apriums and yellow nectarines are a couple weeks away. Volume may start slow and prices will likely be high.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Purple artichokes have arrived! This variety has a slightly nuttier taste than its green counterpart. Unlike other purple vegetables, purple artichoke does not lose its color when cooked.

Brussel Sprout

Brussels sprouts are limited and prices are rising sharply.

Cabbage

Red cabbage is limited while green cabbage prices are on the rise due to increased demand.

Cucumber

Slicer cucumber prices are going down. Supply appears to be steady. Bulk Persian cucumbers are gapping but clamshells are more readily available. We’re seeing sharp pricing on English ‘cukes. California product from JND Farms, located near Fresno, should be starting in a few weeks.

Eggplant

Globe eggplant is in steadier supply. Prices are still high and expected to continue to go up. Specialty eggplant are also in better supply.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

The transition for boxed greens is pretty much done so supply should be good for all items. Dino and green kale have strong volume. Collards are less available. Romaine and Little Gem are plentiful. All herbs are plentiful including local supply of cilantro and basil.

We are aware and closely following the E.Coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing their investigation and has not identified a common grower, supplier, distributor or brand. At this time, we are not selling any type of romaine lettuce sourced from this region and are not planning to do so until the CDC has issued a public health notice that the outbreak is over. Our romaine lettuce is sourced from local California growers. We can confirm this for whole heads of romaine, chopped romaine and romaine salad mixes.

Mushroom

We’re seeing sharp pricing on shiitake mushroom from Oregon grower, Top Hat Mushrooms. This third-generation family farm is based in Scio, Oregon, on the western foothills of the Cascade Mountains. They have been producing high quality shiitake mushrooms while maintaining their commitment to sustainable agriculture since 1991. Learn more about the shiitake mushroom process and watch this 3.5 minute video from Top Hat.

In other mushroom news, Monterey Mushroom cello products, including Crimini 12×8 ounce, White 12×6 ounce and Portabella 8×2 ounce are arriving in a new recycled black plastic material, called rPET. rPET stands for recycled polyethylene terephthalate and comes from plastic that has already been used for packaging, such as plastic bottles. This plastic is sorted, cleaned and transformed so that it can be reused as a food product, as approved by the FDA. The container is 100% recyclable, the over-wrap film holds on better and provides a better contrast of color between the packaging and the mushrooms. There is no change in the shelf life of the product as compared to paperboard till.

Onion

The most challenging part of the season is behind us now. With both domestic and import onions available, supply is steady on yellow, red and white. Shallots are winding down so grab them while you can!

Pea

As we hit the throes of Spring, the pea market is steadily improving. California snap peas are coming on. English peas and snow peas are in good supply from Mexico; quality is high.

Pepper

The pepper market is tight and prices are up all around. Were seeing the first offering of California green bell pepper from the Coachella region. Orange and yellow bells are in better supply. Red bells are more abundant but prices are still high. Anaheim and Serrano chili peppers are steady. Poblanos are gapping. Jalapenos are limited.

Root

Parsnip will continue for a few more weeks. Turnips are still available. Jicama is readily available in both medium and large sizes. We love the sweet taste and crisp texture of this versatile veggie.

Squash

California zucchini has started and is in good supply. Yellow squash prices are up. Acorn, Kabocha, and Spaghetti are readily available. Butternut availability has improved and now has better volume. Delicata will be limited until the California season starts up again.

Tomato

Roma prices have jumped up and supply is tight. Sweet grape cherry tomatoes in compostable fiber baskets are steady. Check out honey bunch yellow cherry tomatoes! They are juicy with a nice pop of color. Tomato-on-vine has good availability; prices are coming down. Heirlooms are continuing steadily with some small gaps in California supply due to volatile weather.

 

Floral

The deadline for Thomas Farm orders delivering between May 9th—16th for the Mother’s Day holiday on Sunday, May 13th has now passed. However, Full Belly is still offering mixed bouquets to deliver between Thursday, May 10th and Tuesday, May 15th. Make sure to reach out by 4pm on Tuesday, May 1st if you want to stock up for this major floral holiday!

The Thomas Family Farm Dutch Iris bouquets have begun and the fields are ready for the picking! In the Thomas Farm mixed bouquets, you will see many if not all of the following varieties: Sunflower, Iris, Godetia, Protea, Saponaria, Snap Dragon and Sweet William. These bouquets come in varying sizes: Cutie, Seasonal, and Large Holiday.

At Full Belly Farm, a little of everything is mixed into their large mixed bouquets. Expect to find about 12 to 15 stems per bunch of such beauties as Bells of Ireland, Delphinium, Snap Dragon, Bachelor Button, Agrostemma, and Calendula flowers. Ranunculus and Anemome are done for the season. Next, keep an eye out for Godetias coming soon!

 

Merchandising Corner

Spring Cleaning

Shoppers respond to a clean, well-stocked department and reflect that appreciation by having fuller shopping carts. A clean department (sales floor and backroom) also protects the quality of the produce by preventing bacteria growth on storage/display racks and cases. Reducing bacteria reduces product loss/shrink.

Simple steps to take include:

  • Set up a cleaning schedule and use a log to verify the schedule is maintained. A sample Cleaning Schedule is available electronically at veritablevegetable.com in the Customer Toolbox.
  • Carry a rag at all times and clean as you work in the department.
  • Clean mirrors on the wet rack with a mild vinegar solution (1 part water to 1 part vinegar) to prevent lime buildup without the use of caustic chemicals.
  • Sweep and mop floors once or twice each day.
    • Be alert to water on the floor from ice in the wet rack, ricochet from the sprayer hose and spills.
    • Utilize “Caution: Wet Floor” signs to warn shoppers of a potential hazard.
  • Keep a close eye on sample displays as they create waste. Frequently wipe display domes to eliminate fingerprints.
  • Don’t let produce boxes accumulate. Break down all but one or two boxes, which can be used for culling and rotating product. Carry boxes to dumpster or recycle bin safely and easily by placing all flattened boxes inside one of the saved boxes.

 

The Golden Root

With the increased interest in superfoods, it’s no surprise turmeric has been exploding in popularity. However, this ingredient du jour is not new. In fact, it’s been around for thousands of years in Asian, Indian and African culture and is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia. These days, turmeric is showing up in all sort of recipes from heart-healthy grain bowls to cold pressed juices, golden lattes and even ice cream.

The obsession with this knobby root can be attributed to the fact that it is really really good for you. That, and its vibrant golden color lends itself to beautiful Instagram-worthy photos. Turmeric contains curcumin, a molecule that contains anti-inflammatory properties. It has been linked to dozens of health benefits including relieving joint pain, reducing cancer risk, improved digestion, improved brain function and many more.

Turmeric is available as a ground spice (pantry-friendly) or as a fresh root. The fresh root, which can be peeled and grated like ginger, packs way more flavor than its dried counterpart.

We’re sourcing our fresh turmeric from Kolo Kai Organic Farm, located on the beautiful island of Kauai, in Hawaii. Don’t wait to hop on this golden superfood train!

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Fuji supply is still going strong. Gala and Granny Smith are in good supply. There is limited amount of Orin available. This will be the last of Washington fruit for the season.

Abate Fetel pears have arrived from Argentina. This variety has a slightly crisp texture and delicious sweet floral flavor. They are ready to eat when just barely soft to touch. Bartlett and D’Anjou have good volume but smaller sizes are not available. Red Bartlett are readily available.

Avocado

Cinco de Mayo promotions are building up and demand is strong. Prices are climbing slightly, particularly on smaller sizes, which are more limited in supply. The good news is that finally availability seems to stabilizing from our Central Coast growers, particularly our beloved Las Palmalitas Ranch.  Prices are expected to go down after Cinco de Mayo and our California weather becomes warmer.

Berry

Local strawberries should finally be available after heavy rain caused production delays last week. The weather did not impact Southern California strawberry production so supply is steady overall. We’re loving the Chandler strawberries from Be Wise Ranch, located in the Santa Fe Valley. Sweet, delicious—this variety is the perfect eating strawberry! Prices are expected to come down as California blueberry season starts up with production overlapping between coastal and valley regions this month. Raspberries are very limited with high prices. Quality issues are affecting blackberry production; supply is spotty.

Citrus

Valencias are steady with both California and Mexico product available. Blood oranges continue to be in good supply. Cara Cara Navels are just about done for the season. Lime supply remains tight and prices high. Lemons are plentiful but with mostly larger size fruit. Smaller fruit is more limited. Ruby grapefruit is readily available, including bins of 5-pound bags. Get your tangerine fix as the season winds down with delicious Pixies. We love these for their sweet juicy flavor and lack of seeds! Minneolas are winding down but still tasting great as the fruit has had a chance to ripen fully before harvesting. Murcotts and Tangos are still going strong.

Mango

Tommy Atkins supply is tightening. However, Ataulfo aka “honey mango” are on hand to ease mango supply. We love the creamy, buttery texture of this less fibrous variety.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Artichokes are in good supply with promotable pricing. Purple ‘chokes are coming soon!

Asparagus

Green asparagus is readily available. Prices have come down. Purple asparagus is steady. Compared to green, purple asparagus has a milder flavor. When cooked, purple asparagus will eventually turn green. It tastes delicious raw so try shaving some into a salad for a pop of color.

Bean

Green bean supply is still limited but should improve in this coming week as more growers come on. Fava beans are very limited.

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Despite some slowdown from last week’s rain, broccoli has strong volume. Prices are coming down and expected to remain sharp. Cauliflower prices are also sliding.

Brussel Sprout

California Brussels are just about done. Supply is limited and prices are high. Mexico grown Brussels are readily available with sharp pricing.

Cabbage

Red cabbage supply is tight and prices have increased. Green cabbage is in better supply. Expect to see some gaps in supply of Savoy cabbage due to sizing and color issues. Napa cabbage appears steady.

Corn

Mexican grown fresh yellow corn is expected to come on towards the end of April. This season, don’t expect to see white corn until late June or early July.

Cucumber

Bulk Persian cucumbers are gapping and clamshells are limited. Supply is improving on slicer ‘cukes and prices are coming down. Fair Trade slicers are limited. English Hothouse has strong supply and very promotable pricing.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

The arugula market is a bit tight due to quality issues but thanks to diverse mix of growers, supply should be unaffected. Spinach and spring mix are not facing the same issues and are steady. Bunched kale and chards are readily available.

Romaine supply has improved and expected to be steady. Iceberg is in better supply than previous weeks but still pretty limited.

Tarragon and Makrut lime leaves are back in supply. Basil is steady; prices are dropping.

Onion

Spring is a transitional time for onions. Storage onions are done and we transition to short-day onions, first imported then domestic as they are ready. The first onions of the season are short-day varieties, which unlike onion varieties harvested later in the season, have thin, fragile outer layers and do not store well long-term. Mexican yellow onions from Del Cabo have come on and going strong. There were some sizing issues at the start of the season but we expect them to be sorted out soon with the setup of a new sizer. Domestic red onions are winding down. Mexican product is arriving soon but there may be a small gap in supply. Quality has been high on Mexican white onions. Shallots are finishing up so grab some while you can!

Pea

Strong supply and sharp pricing on snap peas has made this vegetable a hot commodity. Snow peas are steady while English peas a somewhat limited.

Pepper

Yellow and orange bell peppers are in better supply. Red bells are ready available. Green bells are limited on large and extra-large sizes. Jalapenos are tightening up; prices are following suit. We have some #2 quality jalapenos with sharp pricing.

Potato

Russets are limited and expected to continue through the end of May. Red and yellow California new crop potatoes are here. Similar to onions, new crop potatoes are freshly harvested with thinner skins. They tend to have more moisture inside and taste sweeter than storage potatoes.

Root

Roots are winding down as we head into spring but there is some supply still available for die-hard root fans. We’re still seeing supply of parsnip, rutabaga and turnip. Early yields for jicama have been low. Medium sized jicama is very limited. Let us know if you’re interested in large or jumbo size! Bunched gold beets are gapping. Bunched reds and bagged gold, red and Chioggia have better availability.

Specialty

Rhubarb supply is steady and prices are down slightly. The variety currently available is known as Crimson Red from Montecucco Farms in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The region’s unique climate is known for producing rhubarb with intense red color, good flavor, and tender stalks. When rhubarb is in season, we love adding it to desserts to balance the tartness. Strawberry rhubarb pie anyone?

Squash

Zucchini supply is abundant. The market dropped fast as growers all came on with supply at the same time. Yellow squash is in good supply. Butternut is very limited. Acorn, Delicata, Kabocha and Spaghetti are in better supply.

 

Floral

It’s time to celebrate Spring with fresh, locally grown bouquets from Thomas Family Farm and Full Belly Farm! Both farms grow their fresh-cut flowers outside rather than in a greenhouse, which means they are especially resilient and will stay vibrant longer.

Time to get your Mother’s Day floral orders in! The deadline for all orders delivering between Wednesday, May 9-16th is fast approaching. Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, May 13th this year and will be here before you know it!

The Thomas Family Farm Dutch Iris bouquets have begun and the fields are ready for the picking! In the Thomas Farm mixed bouquets, you will see many if not all of the following varieties: Sunflower, Iris, Godetia, Protea, Saponaria, Snap Dragon, and Sweet William with a mix of ornamental greens.

Customers looking for simpler arrangements will enjoy straight packs from Full Belly Farm. Picked at the heart of the season, their colorful AnemoneRanunculus and now Calendula straight packs come 8 bunches to a case. Ranunculus are winding down so this week may be the last chance! Full Belly Farm is also offering Stock and Delphinium Belladonna in light and dark blue shades as straight packs. Keep an eye out for Snap Dragons and Bachelor Button coming next!

 

 

Merchandising Corner

Merchandising for Cinco de Mayo

Ah, Cinco de Mayo. It may seem like a small holiday but it’s the small holidays like these that can be a hit or miss for your department sales. Since Cinco de Mayo falls on a Saturday this year, it is likely to be even more popular. Here are four key items that will ensure you maximize sales potential.

  • Ripe avocados. Having an ample supply of stand ready ripe avocados takes planning but it’s easy to do. Customers shopping for avocados close to Cinco de Mayo are looking for ready to eat product or fruit that will be perfect in a day or two. This means you need to bring in avocados a least 3-4 days before May 5th. Bring a few cases and store them in your backstock area to allow them to ripen up. Use these ripe avocados to build an impressive display on the 4th. If you are a larger store that always has a rather large avocado display, order up and keep your display topped off with ripe fruit regularly to boost your sales. Most customers aren’t willing to take the time to ripen their own fruit so making sure you have ripe fruit on hand ensure you always capture that sale.
  • Don’t forget the limes! Limes are not only an essential ingredient in guacamole, salsa and for squeezing on delicious tacos but they are also a necessity for festive drinks. Display limes in close proximity to your avocados and also with your strawberries (strawberries for strawberry margaritas, of course!). Having multiple locations for key items increases visibility and helps boost sales.
  • Tacos, tacos, tacos. Although there are many other dishes that will be made, the street taco is an easy favorite and one that is easiest to merchandise for. Cabbage, cilantro, onion and limes are all key items. Make sure your cabbage display is large and highly visible. Cull and butt the cabbages making sure that all outer leaves that maybe withered are discarded. If the produce is looking it’s best, it will move quickly. Cilantro can be stocked next to cabbage in the wet rack as well as placed in containers of water and placed next to your onions. This encourages the sale of both items when ingredients are displayed in close proximity and in multiple locations. Your dry displays are also the perfect places to cross merchandise packs of tortillas to promote your fresh taco ingredients.
  • Large focal point cross merchandising display. Work with other departments to create a display that combines all of the big key items like chips, beer, tomatoes, avocados, dry pack dip mixes, onions and drink mixers. Make sure the display is in a highly visible area like the front of the store. This gets shoppers excited and strategically suggests multiple products to purchase in combination. This is a great opportunity to encourage impulse buys and bump up your average basket size.

 

 

Artichoke: California’s Official Vegetable

 

On April 10, 2013, artichokes were named California’s official vegetable. For some, artichokes can be intimidating, but for ‘choke lovers and growers, there is no better vegetable!

The artichoke is a perennial vegetable in the sunflower family. It is believed to be native to the Mediterranean and Canary Islands. The “vegetable” that we eat is actually the plant’s flower bud. There are more than 140 artichoke varieties but fewer than 40 are grown commercially. 100% of all artichokes grown commercially in the U.S. are grown in California. Artichokes grown worldwide are cultivated in France, Italy, and Spain.

In the fall and winter, artichokes are often “frost-kissed” due to exposure to frost when the temperature drops below 32 degrees. While the outside petals may have some browning, “frost-kissed” artichokes take on an intense nutty flavor that is truly delicious.

To prepare, wash artichokes under cold, running water. Pull off the lower petals and cut off the bottom stem.  Cut off about 1/2 inch of the pointed top of the artichoke. Trim the tips of the leaves with scissors to remove thorns. Since artichokes oxidize, dip in lemon juice to preserve the color. Remember to use a stainless-steel knife and pot. Iron or aluminum (including foil!) will cause artichokes to turn blue or black.

Once cleaned, artichokes can be grilled, steamed, boiled, and even fried. No matter the preparation, keep it simple to allow the flavor to shine. There is deliciousness to be found in the soft pulpy portion of the petals, and the entire heart or bottom is edible.

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Cameo and Fuji have strong supply with promotable pricing. Sharp pricing on smaller sizes of Washington Extra Fancy Gala. Prices are up on premium grades. Granny Smith is steady. Limited availability on Orins imported from Canada.

Bartlett from Argentina have arrived! Red Bartlett are close behind. Red D’Anjou are winding down, sizes are limited. The last of the Bosc are in-house.

Avocado

Price are going up again, particularly on 48s and larger sizes. #2s are somewhat limited due to rain.

Berry

California strawberries were rained out last week, but with dry days and warmer nights on the horizon, supply is quickly picking up again. Blackberry supply appears to be steady. Raspberry supply is tight. Blueberry production has slowed but should not impact supply.

Citrus

Blood oranges are winding down, but we have plenty on hand. More growers have come on with California Valencias, keeping supply steady. Mexican Valencia are continuing until the end of April or into May. Cara Cara Navels are plentiful. Navels from Buck Brand are still going, but the end is near, so get these while you can!

African Shaddock pomelo are just about done. Choice fruit is available at a great price. Ruby grapefruit is readily available.

The lime market will remain tight until the new crop comes on in May. Expect more price increases. Lemons are in better supply and readily available, especially larger size fruit. Meyer lemons are plentiful.

Pixie tangerines are in good supply. Golden Nuggets are winding down and Murcotts are still available for a couple more weeks. Minneolas from Pauma Valley Citrus are done, but we have more delicious fruit from Fruit World. This grower leaves the fruit on the trees for as long as possible to maximize the flavor! As a result of this ripening process, some pieces may have a little softness.  The last of Royal mandarins from B&J Ranch are in-house.

Meiwa and Nagami kumquats have sharp pricing.

 

Vegetables

Artichoke

Heavy frost followed by rain in California’s desert and Central Coast growing regions earlier this month caused some shortages in supply. However, conditions have improved and supply is starting to pick up. We should still see strong numbers on 24-count and 12-count as we head into Easter weekend. 18-count sizes are more limited.

Asparagus

While there is plenty of green asparagus available, harvests have been difficult thanks to the rain. With the weather drying up this week, supply should become steadier. Pricing is steady. Purple asparagus is arriving any day now!

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli supply is expected to be relatively steady as long as the rain holds off. We do not anticipate any gaps but prices are creeping up. Look for broccolette, a.k.a. baby broccoli, coming soon. Cauliflower is limited but should be steady.

Cabbage

Red and green cabbage are steady. Savoy cabbage is in good supply. Napa is limited and prices are very high.

Cucumber

Persian cucumber has abundant supply. Prices are sharp! Slicer cucumbers are steady; prices are expected hold. Strong prices on English Hothouse.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

This is the last week boxed greens are harvested out of the desert. As of April 1st, all our growers will be harvesting from the Huron or Salinas regions. The first week or two could see some minor issues, but things should be hitting a nice plateau after that, provided there are no major weather events. Rain disrupted much of the mid-week harvests for bunched greens. However, with a dry weekend, local and Central Valley supply should bounce back. Kale, collards, and rainbow chard are readily available. Local supply of fennel is strong.

Last week’s rain caused some shortages in the lettuce market, but most varieties are back in supply. Iceberg is extremely limited. Romaine heart supply remains tight but is expected to improve starting next week.

Tomatero Farm has come on with basil grown in Watsonville, California. As it is very early in the local season, prices are high. Supply is not yet steady. Dill is gapping due to rain-related quality issues.

Onion

Yellow storage onions are finishing up for the season. Mexican product is available now and domestic new crop onions are just expected to come on in mid-April. Domestic red onions should continue for a couple more weeks. Mexican crop is ready to come anytime, so there should be no interruption is supply. New crop white onions from Mexico are steady. There may be light green veining on the whites, which is normal for new crop and does not affect taste or quality. Shallots are winding down but should continue through April.

Pea

Snap peas are limited in the market, but we have plenty on hand to cover your pea needs. Snow peas are steady while English peas remain limited.

Pepper

Prices are up on green bell peppers. Orange bells are limited. Red bells are steady, Jalapeños are limited; prices are on the rise. Poblanos are gapping. Prices on sweet minis are also up.

Potato

Russets are extremely tight. Red and yellow California new crop is expected to come in early April. Buttercream potatoes are readily available with promotable pricing. This specialty spud is small with golden skin, yellow flesh and a smooth, buttery flavor. At around 1 to 2 inches in diameter, these tasty little potatoes are excellent boiled, steamed, or baked. We wouldn’t recommend them for salads, as the texture is soft and tends to disintegrate.

Root

Parsnips are finishing up for the season; sizing is limited. Rutabaga still has decent supply. Turnip still has supply, but availability is less and less as the season winds down. Jicama has arrived! They are tasting great—sweet, juicy, and crunchy!

Squash

Zucchini prices are coming down quickly. Straightneck squash appears to be steady. Butternut supply is almost done and Mexican supply is limited for another couple of weeks. Small amounts of Delicata and Kabocha still available.

Tomato

The first California heirlooms have come on from Wilgenburg Greenhouses out of Dinuba, California. Varieties include Red Oxheart, Purple Cherokee and Brandywine. Prices will be high at the start of the season. After a short gap, sweet grape tomatoes in compostable fiber baskets are back! Roma tomatoes are in better supply after several weeks of tightness.

 

Grocery

Have you tried juices from Voilà Juices yet? This producer was established in Berkeley, California during the summer of 1978. Partners Gary Boland and Dale Allen had a following from appreciative customers who lined up to buy one of their fresh-squeezed juices and smoothie blends. The business grew from a cart to a converted tool shed behind the house they were renting and eventually into a much larger facility. Gary Boland, one of the original partners, still runs his business with the same mission he had from the beginning: to offer his customers quality and fresh products that not only taste delicious, but are healthy too. Voilà offers a wide variety of juices including classics such as apple, orange, lime, and lemon as well as more creative blends including: raspberry lemonade, apple raspberry, pineapple coconut, and more.

Check out organic, soy-free, pasture-raised eggs from Rockside Ranch, based out of California’s Scott Valley. This 100-acre farm works with a variety of heritage-breed hens to produce organic pasture-raised and soy-free eggs. The hens live outside with easy access to shelter. They are moved multiple times each week throughout their pasture during spring, summer, and fall. Rockside offers farm programs for at-risk youths and rehabilitated individuals to work on the farm and learn the trade.

 

Floral

Mixed bouquets from Thomas Farm are looking beautiful as they continue to add more color to their bunches! Look for Dutch Iris coming soon!  Full Belly Farm is offering straight packs of Anemone and Ranunculus. Mixed bouquets from this farm are still a few weeks out.

 

Merchandising Corner

How to Engage Staff

Empowering your team to give excellent customer service sounds like an overwhelming task. What do you do? Where do you start? It’s not just as simple as saying to your team “Get out there and talk to customers! Let’s boost our sells and let’s be engaging!” You need to provide your staff with the tools to do this. Here are a few quick things you can do to get the customer service ball rolling with your crew and give them the confidence to engage with customers.

Giving your team information to talk about and share with customers is the best place to start. When your staff is armed with information, they have the confidence to answer questions and start up conversations. Customers respond well to knowing more about the food they are purchasing. You can’t always rely on the customer to ask questions, and sometimes you will also have staff that are shy and need pointers on how to strike up conversations.

So how do you encourage and create easy opportunities for staff to engage with customers?  A great place to start is by sampling product. Simply walking around the department and offering berries or cutting up an apple as they are stocking the display is an easy way to share information about the grower and talk about the product. An easy way to give your staff the information they need is to take a minute to do some research. Print out the information about the product and the farm growing the product that you want the staff to talk about and sample. Do group huddles with your opening and closing crews to go over and discuss the new information. Clearly explain your expectation that they share this information with customers. Having the information displayed in their work space and easily accessible keeps the info fresh in their mind and allows them to easily reference the material.  Making this a part of your daily or weekly routine with your crew will over time create a strong, confident, and well- informed team. The more positive interactions your staff have after sharing what they have learned with customers, the more it will help build excitement and job satisfaction. This is key in keeping staff excited to learn, share, and keep selling.

Once your staff is armed with an arsenal of information and techniques, they will have everything they need to provide customers with a memorable shopping experience. This will create loyal repeat shoppers. Providing your team with the information and skills to be engaging is a win for the store, staff, and customers!

Want to find a good fleet? Ask lots of questions, she says

Reposted from Trucker News, written by BY DEANNE WINSLETT

Company driver Laura Parker, from Portland, Oregon, says finding a woman-owned fleet to work for was one of the best career decisions she’s made. She’s hauled organic produce

Veritable Vegetable driver Laura Parker

for Veritable Vegetable, a small woman-owned fleet headquartered in San Francisco, for the past 16 years and plans to drive for them for the rest of her career.

“They get it. They get how it’s hard to be a woman in the trucking industry but they’re making it work and they’re well-respected and well-known because of it,” Parker said.

Veritable Vegetable’s compassion is what sets them apart, Parker said. The owner and CEO Mary Jane Evans was a truck driver. She understands the industry because she sat in the driver’s seat before.

“I’ve been there for 16 years and I’m not ever going to drive for anybody else because they take such good care of me,” Parker said.

So how can other women find good trucking companies to work for? Parker says the key is to ask a lot of questions. She recommends asking questions about the company’s training programs, home time, family leave, its harassment policies, safety policy, breakdown policy and more.

“I went to Veritable knowing they had brand new equipment, an on-call mechanic, my fleet manager I can call, a dispatch 24 hours a day. I had the support,” Parker said. “When I had an accident last year, they took care of me. They came and got me. They care. Do they care that my mom is sick? Yeah, they do. Some companies don’t care.”

The company culture isn’t the only thing Parker likes about working for her fleet. Hauling organic produce means she has job security. Even when the economy has gone through rough patches, she’s always had a full truck.

“People need to eat so no matter how hard the economy is, people are still going to buy food and want fresh produce. In my industry, organic is a big thing. More and more farmers are growing organic. You see more and more stores with it,” Parker said.

Parker enjoys the people she gets to meet through truck driving. She started her trucking career in 1994 and still looks forward to driving each day.

“I get up every morning and I really look forward to coming out here. I get to drive a brand new truck and trailer. I get to drive in the Southwest. It’s the customers and its my farmer that I really just enjoy so much. I can’t imagine not doing it. It keeps me happy,” Parker said.

To view original article, click here.

Do Your Company’s Policies Support Gender Equity?

Reposted from B the Change Weekly

Workplace policies can result in enforcing out-of-date or “traditional” gender roles. For example, though 70 percent of today’s mothers with children at home are actively in the workforce, on average, women still have two to three times the amount of caregiving work and domestic duties men have. This imbalance contributes to gender bias in hiring, the gender wage gap, and reduced gender diversity in the workplace and, most notably, in company leadership.

In order to achieve gender equity in business, we have to include a review of the policies in place within our workplaces and consider how those policies may affect all genders in different, inequitable ways. This week, we take a look at ways businesses can formalize and advocate for policy changes that can help close the gender gap.

Not Just Any Vegetable Distributor

Organic produce distributor Veritable Vegetable is built from radical roots. Formed in the Bay Area in 1974 during an era when food-buying clubs were first being established, Veritable Vegetable focused on getting good food from trusted sources, paying people fairly along the supply chain, and selling at affordable prices. “Veritable Vegetable stepped in as the distributor, the link between farmers and the buying clubs,” says Nicole Mason, director of community engagement at the B Corp. “We have changed a lot in 43 years, but the commitment to support small and midsize farms has never wavered. We’ve always worked to create a democratic workplace with gender and pay equity. We’re really being true to how we started.”

The vast majority of the 300-plus farms Veritable Vegetable works with remain those small (fewer than 50 acres) to midsize (50 to 300 acres) farms. While Veritable Vegetable also works with larger farms — including some of the biggest organic vegetable farms in the world — the company has remained committed to performing the necessary logistical dance of picking up from multiple shipping points and delivering to multiple customers, many of whom are small retail locations.

Veritable Vegetable is unique in the organic trade in other ways: A little more than half of the company’s employees are women, and 100 percent of its executive management and all of its owners are women. By comparison, in a 2013 look at the U.S. trucking industry, 200,000 of the more than 3 million truck drivers were women, a figure that represented a 50 percent increase since 2005. And in 2017, when Fortune Magazine released its Fortune 500 list, only 32 of the companies, or 6.4 percent, were run by female CEOs.

Veritable Vegetable’s values have not developed by chance. From owning its own fleet to remain nimble enough to meet the needs of multiple, smaller suppliers and its more than 500 customers to developing robust hiring and training programs to increase and maintain a diverse workforce, Veritable Vegetable has been thoughtful in building its business. By certifying as a B Corp and completing the legal steps to become a California benefit corporation, Veritable Vegetable’s values are built into the company’s operating procedures, employee handbooks, and bylaws. Its mission is baked into the company’s DNA.

We spoke with Mason to learn more about how Veritable is bringing its values forward after nearly half a century of operations and growth, and how the company is working to maintain a gender balance at all levels of the company’s operations even as it grows its workforce. Read the full interviewon B the Change.

What About Parental Leave?

B Corp UncommonGoods has been advocating nationally for paid family leave policy improvements. In a recent B the Change article, the company shares: “What ‘Paid Family Leave’ means is this: Family members can go on leave from work to take care of a newborn or seriously ill family member for a period of time, while continuing to receive some or all of their usual pay and benefits. While UncommonGoods started offering this important benefit before it was officially mandated in New York, we’ve strengthened our commitment to advocating for it over the past year. As our CEO Dave Bolotsky says, ‘We’ve been practicing but not preaching to our customers. Now we’re preaching what we’re practicing.’”

Why is parental leave important to gender equity in the workplace? UncommonGoods has three reasons to share:

  1. Paid family leave is very much a women’s issue: Of course, this is also a men’s issue, because it affects the entire family. But when 70 percent of mothers with children at home are now part of the workforce, women bear the brunt of the out-of-date policies we have now.
  2. We’re proud of being uncommon. But we’re not proud that the U.S. is uncommon in not having paid family leave: The U.S. is the only developed nation that doesn’t offer national paid leave.
  3. Paid family leave is the right thing to do, and it’s good for business (and good for the women who make up our workforce). The people who do have paid family leave generally have higher-paying jobs to begin with. That’s why Dave believes that the point of paid family leave is equality of opportunity: “The current law offers nothing for the people earning the least,” he says. “It’s unconscionable. And it affects women more.”

Read more about how you can advocate for paid parental leave. You can also find a story from Conscious Company on eight topics to review to see whether your company’s policies are supporting out-of-date gender roles.

Policies That Build an Inclusive Economy

B Lab launched the Inclusive Economy Challenge in 2016, calling on business leaders within the community of Certified B Corporations to take steps to improve their positive impact. The Inclusive Economy Metric Set was built into the B Impact Assessment (the assessment companies take to qualify as B Corps). While the challenge was directed toward B Corps, any business can make use of the tools, articles and free best-practice guides.

Participants in the first year of the challenge, which wrapped up in September 2017, set goals that included improving supply-chain screening, worker ownership, living wage, and — most relevant to the conversation about women in business and leadership — workforce and board diversity and primary-caregiver leave policies. The companies were also assessed on metrics related to increasing women in leadership: board diversity, management diversity and worker-ownership diversity.

Of the 154 companies that reported at least one measurable improvement as part of their participation in the 2017 Inclusive Economy Challenge, 39 companies increased the diversity and inclusion of their workforce, three companies increased the diversity and inclusion of their management, and nine increased the diversity and inclusion of their board. Twenty-one businesses adopted or improved family-friendly policies, including caregiver leave and job-flexibility options. Five companies specifically addressed gender-pay equity (non-manager positions), and nine B Corps increased the diversity of their board (including but not limited to gender diversity).

Of course, a more inclusive economy isn’t built in just one year. So far, in the first quarter of 2018, participants in the second year of the Inclusive Economy Challenge have set multiple goals relating to gender equity, including: “We aim to have gender balance on our board of directors”; “We’re reviewing our current recruiting processes to successfully attract more women/minorities”; “We will conduct a gender pay-equity analysis”; and “Increase gender diversity on teams where they are underrepresented.” Learn more about the role of company policy, and the companies making policy changes, to achieve gender equity on B the Change.

Want to make changes where you work? B Lab has created a best practice guide, “The Basics of Diversity and Inclusion in Your Workplace,” to help guide your company through getting buy-in from leadership on inclusion-focused programming, integrating inclusion goals into your existing strategy, creating an effective training plan for your team, and more. You’ll also find case studies from B Corps that have already made changes and implemented more inclusive policies, including the Business Development Bank of Canada.

B Lab has also gathered a group of relevant resources focused on the management of inclusion, equity, and diversity. The page offers tools to measure, calculate and analyze diversity and inclusion metrics, including a gender pay-equity calculator.

To view the original article, click here.