Author Archives: Veritable Vegetable

Falling for Winter Squash

Pumpkins may get a lot glory as we approach Halloween but let’s not forget about the many other varieties of hard winter squash available. Winter squash is sweeter, denser and firmer than summer squash. They also are extremely versatile and come in a myriad of colors, shapes and sizes. Although they often called winter squash, these fruits are actually harvested in the fall and will keep well through the winter months for which they are named. Winter squash are naturally low in fat and calories and lends itself to any number of preparations and recipes.

Common varieties include Butternut, Acorn, Spaghetti, Delicata and Kabocha. Some lesser known, but equally delicious varieties you may see are Red Kuri, Carnival, Sweet Dumpling and Baby Blue Hubbard, among others. No matter the variety, when selecting your squash, look for bruise free skin with the stem intact and a heavy feeling for its size. Don’t wait for the season to pass you by—winter squash time starts now!

 

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

As we head into October, the market is flushed with many varieties of apples, including unique heirlooms. One of our favorite heirlooms is Cox’s Orange Pippin. This variety develops an orange tinge on the skin at ripening. It offers a tart, complex, distinctive flavor and incredible aroma. One of our most popular heirlooms, Arkansas Black is a unique apple that dates back to the 1870’s in Arkansas. It is a lively red color, deepening to purplish black when ripe. It is known for having a hard, slick skin and distinctive aromatic flavor. Cortland heirlooms bring a pop of color with their bright red skin. Their crisp white flesh and exceptionally juicy sweet-tart flavor makes this apple appealing inside and out. Other heirloom varieties on hand include Orleans Reinette, Spitzenberg and a limited amount of King David. There are great deals on US1 grade Honeycrisp from Washington. Gala is readily available from California and Washington growers. With plenty of classic apples on hand, don’t overlook Sweetie and Zestar—two early season varieties with delicious flavor and perfect for rounding out your apple display.

The pear market has picked up and we’re seeing some great fruit this season. Check out Bosc pears from Valley View Orchards in Ashland, Oregon. These have beautiful color and superb flavor. Comice are limited but we should see improved availability in a few weeks. Starkrimson pears have beautiful crimson color and juicy sweet flavor. Not to be outdone by their European pear relatives, Asian pears are making quite the impression. 20th Century tastes like a pumped-up pear, sweeter and warmer but with incredibly juicy smooth fruit. Kosui are sweet with satisfying crisp texture.

Berry

Strawberry supply is steady but production is down as we head into autumn. Prices have ticked up. Blackberry supply remains good. Import raspberries from Mexico are gapping in supply until production starts up in November. The blueberry market will be tight until Peruvian imported blueberries come on mid-October. Although the classic berry market is a little tight right now, kiwi berries are plentiful. This seasonal item looks like a miniature kiwi without the fuzz. It tastes very similar to its larger relative but sweeter. No need to peel the skin—just pop these into your mouth like grapes! And cranberries are on their way! Ask your Account Manager for quotes and pack options–cello, clamshell and bulk will soon be here.

Citrus

Lemon prices are coming down as supply has picked up. We have a small assortment of Meyer lemons with more coming soon! California limes from Beck Grove are in strong supply. Beck Grove is a small, family owned biodynamic farm located in the northern most part of California’s San Diego County. Valencia orange supply is tight but should be available until mid-October. Navel oranges are coming on in 2-3 weeks. Early production reports show that the navel crop is down 30% from previous years. Look for Satsuma mandarins towards the end of the month.

Grape

Grape prices are increasing as supply is dwindling. Expect prices to continue creeping up over the next couple weeks on all varieties.

Kiwi

California kiwi season has started! We’re offering bins and volume-fill cartons of the popular Hayward variety kiwi from Wild River, located in California’s Sacramento Valley. Prices are up this year from last due to a smaller crop and global kiwi shortage.

Melon

Watermelon season is winding down with just a little bit of supply left to ease the transition into fall. Order your last few cartons and bins before they’re gone! Cantaloupe is plentiful and priced for promotion. We’re approaching the end of the season for mixed melons as well. Canary and Sharlyn melons are the last of the specialty varieties.

Pomegranate

Pomegranates availability is improving as more growers come on. Some fruit may be light colored inside, which is common earlier in the season. However, flavor is not impacted by the coloring. Look for bins coming mid-month!  Convenient pomegranate arils will also be available soon.

Specialty Fruit

Although the quince season just started, supply is expected to be tight. Fruit grown in Watsonville, California was sunburnt during the late summer heatwave. Quince is inedible raw due to its tough and spongy flesh inside but transformed into a sweet, delicate and fragrant treat when cooked. This specialty fruit also boasts another secret—its aroma. When left to ripen at room temperature, it releases a delicate fragrance of vanilla, citrus and apple. Sapote have started up. Supply is somewhat limited but should improve in a week or two. This tropical fruit is also known as a Mexican apple. The pulp of sapotes are creamy-white and similar in texture to ripe avocado. Its flavor can range from banana-like to peach to pear to vanilla flan. Be sure to also check out Mexican guava! This aromatic fruit has a sweet tropical flavor with hints of pineapple and passion fruit.  It is jujube season but the market is weak and fruit is not readily available. Also known as a red date or Chinese date, this specialty fruit contains a single large seed inside and is red inside and out. The skin is edible and offers a crispy texture to compliment the sweet-tart apple like flavor of the fruit. Dragon fruit supply has been limited to white flesh fruit. But pink and red flesh are back and supply should continue through November!

 

Vegetables

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli is steady but limited as growers are trying to harvest enough product to keep up with demand. Fortunately, prices should be coming down. Cauliflower has been very limited. Recent warm temperatures affected young blocks of cauliflower and rendered more mature blocks unusable. Prices are expected to drop.

Brussels Sprout

It’s Brussels season! Supply is strong and quality looks great. We’re seeing clean, beautiful sprouts. Be sure to keep this popular item stocked as we inch closer to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Cabbage

Green cabbage is readily available with competitive pricing. Napa is also in good supply. Savoy has been limited and spotty due to sizing and labor issues.

Carrot

There’s no reprieve for the carrot market. Cal-Organic reported a gap in supply on bunched carrots for the month of October. This impacts overall supply and prices are on the rise. Bulk rainbow carrots are also gapping in supply for a few weeks.

Cucumber

The cucumber market has not improved much from previous weeks. Persian ‘cukes are very limited; there is not much supply available right now. Slicers are more plentiful with both California and Mexican product available. European cucumbers are in better supply and prices are promotable, but expected to go up.

Eggplant

Globe eggplant supply has suddenly tightened up. However, there’s lots of specialty varieties available on the market. Talk to your Account Manager if you’re interested in specific varieties.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Boxed greens have been relatively stable. Baby Lacinato Kale and Baby Spinach are limited but Arugula and Spring Mix are in good supply. Bunched chard supply remains tights and prices are up slightly. Dino aka “Lacinato Kale” is not readily available but there is plenty of Green Curly Kale available at sharp pricing. Lettuce prices are expected to increase this month as production tightens due to gaps between blocks. Many growers are transitioning to new blocks which require some time to size up. Little Gem volume is slowing down but should be available until late fall. There is not much Basil on the market; supply is limited during transition from summer to fall. Bunched Oregano and Tarragon are more readily available but volume is still limited.

Mushroom

Now is the time to give your mushroom display a refresh. We have plenty on hand including Portabella, Shiitake, Crimini and delicious Beech mushrooms in white and brown. Supply is expected to be steady as head into the holiday season. Check out our ever-changing list of specialty mushrooms—Trumpet Royale, Maitake Frondosa, chef sampler and more! Specialty mushrooms require 2 days preorder so talk to your Account Manager about ordering ahead!

Pepper

Bell peppers remain pretty steady in supply and price. Specialty sweet peppers are starting to wind down. Jalapenos are in good supply. Habaneros have been high demand but unfortunately unavailable due to a shortage on the market right now.

Roots

Parsnip are becoming more available but the season is still early. Prices continue to be on the higher side. Rutabaga supply is steady. Scarlet and Gold turnips have strong volume. Purple-top turnips are slowly becoming more available. White daikon and Watermelon daikon are back in supply; prices are way up. Purple daikon has also come on the scene.

Sprouts

Sunflower sprouts production has been limited due to shorter days as we transitioned from summer to fall. We expect weaker volume until production improves.

Squash

Recent cooler temperatures are impacting Zucchini and specialty squash quality. Supply continues to be tight and prices are ticking up. Although soft squashes are not faring as well with colder weather, it is THE time for hard squashes. Our hard squash list is extensive and changing every day. The classic players—Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, Kabocha and Spaghetti have good volume. Take a look at some lesser known varieties such as Baby Blue Hubbard which have a blue-gray hard shell and sweet, golden flesh inside. Carnival squash not only have a fun name, they look fun! Carnivals have beautiful orange and green speckled skin and are a hybrid of the Sweet Dumpling and Acorn squashes. They are nutty and sweet and soon to be your favorite winter squash! With Halloween around the corner, let’s not forget about pumpkins! Jack O’ Lanterns are slightly limited but Sugar Pie pumpkins are steady. Can’t decide which squashes to stock? Ask about our mixed squash bins! Sharp pricing makes these a no brainer for the fall-winter season.

Tomato

As we approach the tail end of heirloom season, supply is tightening up and prices should go up accordingly. Early Girl tomatoes are also following suit. California grown cherry tomatoes are winding down. However, Fair Trade sugar plum cherry tomatoes from Mexico are abundant with promotable prices. Fair Trade tomatoes-on-vine from Arizona based Wholesum Harvest Farms, are competitively priced with strong volume.

 

 

Nuts

It’s the most wonderful time of the year; chestnut season is here! Our chestnuts are from Heath Ranch in Orland, California and available in jumbo and large sizes. Their mild and sweet texture make them perfect for both sweet and savory dishes. Fresh chestnuts can be prepared in any number of ways—roasted, steamed, boiled, deep fried and even microwaved! Don’t forget to score the skin of a fresh chestnut before cooking to allow steam to escape and prevent exploding chestnuts. Keep this popular item stocked during the winter months!

 

 

Grocery and Dairy

Fans of Straus Family Creamery dairy products have another reason to get excited. The creamery has just released their new Organic Chocolate Whole Milk. The milk is minimally processed with only five ingredients: homogenized organic whole milk, organic cane sugar, Fair Trade Certified™ organic cocoa powder, organic vanilla extract, and a lactase enzyme.  No stabilizers or emulsifiers are used which means the chocolate milk has natural separation. This requires an extra shake or two of the bottle to blend the ingredients before drinking. Straus’ chocolate milk contains 38 percent less total sugars than other organic chocolate milk brands in the market today. It is also a good source of protein with 16 grams per serving which, along with milk’s natural fat, provides satiety in a healthier treat option.  Sold in recyclable, reusable glass 32-ounce bottles, this item is preorder only!

All of Straus Family Creamery’s certified organic milk products are Non-GMO Project Verified, certified kosher and gluten free.

 

Floral

Fresh flowers will be available for a few more weeks but then we will transition into beautiful dried wreaths and dried bouquets. Each one is different—stay tuned!

Full Belly is hosting their yearly community event, the Hoes Down Harvest Festival on October 7th and will not be shipping flowers again until Thursday, October 12th so please plan accordingly.

 

 

Merchandising Corner

Fall Feature: Pomegranates

Fall brings us a welcomed change of pace and some fantastic new seasonal items. Pomegranates need no formal introduction. We all wait patiently for these familiar friends to come into season every year. Pomegranates have been gaining popularity over the years due to the marketing and year- round availability in juice or packaged form but nothing beats a fresh pom! Pomegranate seeds, known as arils, add a sweet tart crunch to any meal and are a great addition to salads, yogurt and granola.

Cracking a few open to place on display helps to promote sales as customers can see the inside color as well as taste the fruit. What’s the best way to open a pomegranate?

  1. Place the pomegranate on top of a cutting board.Since pomegranate juice stains pretty much everything, you may want to protect your cutting board with a cloth and your hands with rubber gloves.
  2. Cut the top crown around the top of the pomegranate until you can pop it off like a lid.Remove it and dispose. The fruit should be in a cone shape after your cutting.
  3. Slice the skin along the ridges of the pomegranate.The ridges are at the boundaries of the internal sections of the pomegranate – you’ll be able to see where they naturally lie. You do not want to cut through and slice the seeds. You only need to score the skin, so only cut through until you hit the white parts. A set of sections radiate from the calyx (top or blossom end) and a second set from the stem end. The two sets are divided by a ridge running around the pomegranate about two thirds of way down from the calyx.
  4. Gently pull the pomegranate apart.It will fall into a star shape. If you didn’t slice the bottom, the individual slices will be attached at the center, like a flower. You can then eat the pomegranate as is, or separate the arils

Be sure to keep an eye out for the availability of these fall treats. They aren’t around for long!

 

 

 

 

Commercial Driver

COMMERCIAL DRIVERS at Veritable Vegetable act as ambassadors of our company’s mission, culture and policies. They effectively execute truck routes, generating business and ensuring safety and compliance with all State and Federal regulations, customer satisfaction and environmental sustainability.

REGIONAL DRIVERS pick up and deliver throughout California and the Southwest. Our longest route is six days out and back; most routes last from 2-5 days, depending on the route.

LOCAL DRIVERS pick up and deliver through the Bay Area and return home daily.

VERITABLE VEGETABLE OFFERS:

  • Cash Per Diems for overnight routes
  • Weekly and Flexible Home Time
  • Late Model Kenworth Trucks
  • Trailers Equipped with Lift Gates, and Electric Pallet Jacks

RESPONSIBILITIES:

  • Thoroughly prepare for the truck run by reviewing all paperwork, conducting vehicle inspections, and gathering all required materials prior to departure.
  • Accurately complete all paperwork.
  • Following established routes, effectively deliver produce and/or freight. Meet established customer deadlines and ensure security of product en-route and at the customer site.
  • Establish positive relationships with customers and vendors.
  • Monitor equipment condition and performance, proactively identify potential mechanical problems.
  • Maintain vehicle in clean and working condition.
  • Proficiently use all department electronic devices.
  • Follow all procedures to ensure compliance with all State and Federal regulations.
  • Operate all equipment safely incorporating defensive driving techniques, basic on-the-road courtesy, and considering weather conditions, to reduce the risk of accidents.
  • Ensure proper loading and securing of product to prevent movement or damage in transport.
  • Follow established accident procedures.
  • Understand VV’s safety policies, procedures and best practices and comply with safe use of equipment, safe lifting practices and food safety requirements.

QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Valid commercial Class A driver’s license and DOT medical card and be an insurable driver
  • Strong understanding of driver safety protocols
  • Knowledge of relevant Federal and State (DOT) hours of service regulations
  • Expert backing skills
  • Understanding of acceptable produce quality at both pick-up and delivery points
  • Maintenance of a clean driving record
  • Mechanical aptitude
  • Bilingual, Spanish/English, preferred

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS:

  • Ability to lift up to 55 lbs.
  • Ability to make repetitive movements including, but not limited to bending or squatting, climbing into and out of trucks
  • Ability to drive long shifts
  • Some exposure to petroleum products, exhaust fumes, moving machinery and loud noises
  • Regular exposure to changing weather conditions such as ice, rain, snow, blowing dust, heat, etc

Salary Range: $19-$28/hour DOE

Food hubs: The logistics of Local

Reposted from California Agriculture, July-September 2017 | Volume 71 Number 3

Summary

Connecting small farms with big buyers — like UC campuses.

Full text

Demand for locally grown food is gaining traction, including among larger institutional buyers like UC campuses. This trend is creating sales opportunities for smaller-scale farms that would otherwise focus on direct market channels such as farmers markets and sales to restaurants.

But high-volume institutional customers often have needs — such as for consistent, large deliveries of produce — that an individual small farm can’t meet.

“Food hubs” aim to bridge that gap — and GFI-funded projects run by the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) are helping them do it.

Veritable Vegetable CEO Mary Jane Evans inside the company's distribution center in San Francisco. Food hubs can help connect small and mid-scale farms with institutional buyers.

Veritable Vegetable CEO Mary Jane Evans inside the company’s distribution center in San Francisco. Food hubs can help connect small and mid-scale farms with institutional buyers.

Food hubs are designed to enable small and mid-scale farms to efficiently reach larger and more distant market channels like campuses and school districts, hospitals and corporate kitchens. Rather than an individual farm assuming responsibility for sales and deliveries, it can sell to a food hub, which aggregates, markets and delivers produce from many farms in a region. A key detail is that, unlike many mainstream wholesalers, food hubs identify the farms they source from by name and location. That’s critical when selling to customers who are prioritizing local food.

Food hubs vary in scale from sizable, established produce businesses, like Veritable Vegetable in San Francisco and Coke Farm in San Juan Bautista, to smaller organizations, some of which are funded in part by grants.

A Veritable Vegetable truck picks up boxes of freshly harvested organic lettuce from J.E. Perry Farms in Fremont.

A Veritable Vegetable truck picks up boxes of freshly harvested organic lettuce from J.E. Perry Farms in Fremont.

Food hubs are often mission-driven and seek to support sustainable and equitable food systems. They generally support higher product pricing for growers, provide a variety of support services to growers, and emphasize connecting farms and customers within a region. Some also work to improve food access for low-income communities; for example, Mandela Foods Distribution, a Mandela Marketplace social enterprise, supplies fresh fruits and vegetables that are distributed to community produce stands and corner stores in low-income neighborhoods in Oakland.

Mandela Foods Distribution in Oakland supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to corner stores and community produce stands in low-income neighborhoods.

Mandela Foods Distribution in Oakland supplies fresh fruits and vegetables to corner stores and community produce stands in low-income neighborhoods.

The number of food hubs nationally has grown rapidly, from 105 to 302 over 7 years, according to a 2014 survey (ERS 2015). But there has been little regional-level information available about them: how many farms and customers they serve, what obstacles they face, and whether they are in a position to serve institutional customers.

In 2015 SAREP established a 2-year pilot project to study and support a group of seven small and midsized food hubs in California. The study collected data on the operations of the food hubs, connected them with each other and with more established food hubs, and provided training and support.

One of the inspirations for the project, said SAREP Deputy Director Gail Feenstra, was the fact that food hubs (with some exceptions) didn’t appear to be capitalizing on the opportunity presented by the UC system’s sustainable food procurement mandate — 20% of food from local or other sustainable sources by 2020.

“We saw a place where the food hubs could really fill an important role in helping campuses source directly from local farms,” Feenstra said. “But that wasn’t happening as much as we thought it would.”

Locally grown peaches are served in the dining commons at UC Santa Barbara.

Locally grown peaches are served in the dining commons at UC Santa Barbara.

The project identified several barriers around connecting food hubs with large institutional buyers. A common problem was difficulty meeting food-safety standards, which include third-party audits of both farms and food hubs. The smaller food hubs also lacked the scale and logistical sophistication to reliably meet the needs of large customers.

However, small food hubs clearly show promise. The GFI report from the Small Growers Subcommittee, Facilitating Small Growers’ Ability to do Business with UC, documents how UC Santa Barbara Residential Dining Services has already exceeded the sustainable purchasing goal, in large part due to its relationship with Harvest Santa Barbara, a relatively small food hub.

Feenstra and Gwenael Engelskirchen, a sustainable supply chain analyst with SAREP, also identified a number of strengths of the smaller regional food hubs, including their direct relationships with farms and customers, product quality and freshness, source identification, responsiveness to consumer needs, and accountability to producers in terms of product pricing and logistical support. One hub, for instance, offers a rural climate-controlled produce drop-off location that saves local farms a long trip to an urban distribution hub. Most offer one or more support services such as crop planning, food-safety trainings, trucking services and use of storage facilities, often free of charge.

Boxes of melons from Full Belly Farm in Yolo County are loaded into Capay Valley Farm Shop's truck. The truck collects produce from multiple farms in the region for delivery to buyers in the Bay Area.

Boxes of melons from Full Belly Farm in Yolo County are loaded into Capay Valley Farm Shop’s truck. The truck collects produce from multiple farms in the region for delivery to buyers in the Bay Area.

The UC SAREP project produced a video on food hub best practices as well as a report on lessons learned from the pilot network. It also led to a grant from the California Department of Food and Agriculture to support food-safety training for the growers that supply these hubs. Going forward, Feenstra said, the project will broaden the network to include a larger cohort of food hubs in California and define a set of goals and objectives for the network. The project was also granted continued funding through the GFI to continue conversations with university buyers to better understand how to work within their pricing, ordering, logistical and certification requirements and leverage technical assistance to help food hubs meet those requirements.

—Editors

Return to top

References

[ERS] Economic Research Service. Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: Report to Congress 2015. USDA ERS Administrative Publication #608. bit.ly/2rDYLJo

Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort

Thanks to the initiative shown by Wholesum Harvest Farms and Organically Grown Company, with major support from Heath & Lejeune and Veritable Vegetable, 39 pallets of organic fruit, vegetables and food products were consolidated in Los Angeles for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. F&A Freight, out of Nogales, donated their trucking services and shipped the food from Los Angeles to the Houston Food Bank on September 12.

 

Bananas, apples, dates, grapes, tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, potatoes, carrots and celery were among the items donated, consolidated at Heath & Lejeune in Los Angeles and shipped directly to Houston. 

 

 

List of Donors:

 

Access Organics

Andersen Organics

AV Thomas Produce

Awe Sum Organics

Corona-College Heights

Covilli Brand Organics

Deardorff Family Farms

Deer Creek Heights Ranch

Fraserland Organics

Fujii Produce

Heath & Lejeune

Naturipe Farms

Organics Unlimited

Organicgirl

Sundance

The Jewel Date Company

Top Brass Marketing

Veritable Vegetable

Viva Tierra Organic

Wholesum Family Farms

 

 

We are proud to have been part of a tremendous effort and to be part of a community that comes together to help others during a time of need.

All About Asian Pears

As we ease into fall, there is no shortage of fruits and vegetables to inspire menus and delight palettes. One fruit we cannot get enough of are Asian pears. This fall fruit comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. They can vary in color from golden yellow to green or even speckled and spotted. Some have a round shape like apples while others have a more traditional pear shape with bulbous bottom and elongated top.

Asian pears are prized for their sweet juicy low acid flavor and crisp texture. Did we mention they are also wonderfully fragrant?  Because of the high water content, Asian pears have to be handled delicately and are often wrapped because of its tendency to bruise. The fruit maintains its crunchy texture long after being picked.

Asian pears can be traced back to Japan and China where they have been grown for 3,000 years. They first appeared in the U.S. in the early 1800s when a Chinese pear was imported to Flushing, New York. Today, they are grown in many countries and gracing menus, stores and fruit bowls everywhere.

Keep a lookout for our staff picks noted in orange.

 

Fruit

Apple and Pear

Zestar apples are an early season favorite! This variety has crisp, juicy texture and exciting zesty flavor with hints of brown sugar. We also love Sweetie apples from Cuyama Orchards, down in Southern California. This variety is appropriately named for its super sweet taste and little to no tartness. Washington Fujis are starting to come on, supplementing California Fuji market. Braeburn apples are just coming up on the market. Honeycrisp apples from Washington are tasting delicious! Granny Smith is steady—Washington fruit is just starting up. Red Delicious is in good supply. Beautiful deep red Rosalyn apples have just come on from Washington based Daisy Girl. On the heirloom front, Pink Pearl is on hand and Cortland apples are just starting up.

Asian pears have strong supply. Shinko is winding down but plenty of other varieties are starting up. Sweet and crisp Kosui have arrived from the Pacific Northwest. This variety does not brown when sliced—perfect for advance preparation. 20th Century and Chojuro are here from California’s Pescadero region. The 20th Century fruit is like a pumped-up pear, sweeter and warmer but with incredibly juicy smooth fruit. Chojuro pears are known for their delicious butterscotch flavor. In other pear news, Bartlett prices are dropping on larger sizes. Great pricing on Bosc! Unclassified Comice pears have some cosmetic blemishes but offer great flavor. Adorable Seckel are in good supply—the small size is perfect for small hands and lunch boxes. Starkrimson availability is steady.

Banana

We are proud to partner with San-Diego based organic banana grower and importer Organics Unlimited to bring awareness to the GROW (Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers) banana program. The GROW program benefits underserved communities in banana growing regions of Mexico and Ecuador through the sale of organic bananas. Since 2005, GROW banana purchases have provided over $2 million in aid. A percentage derived from the purchase of each box of GROW organic bananas is earmarked for the GROW fund. These funds are used for youth educational programs, health clinics and dental and vision care in Mexico, clean water and early childhood educational programs in Ecuador; and environmental initiatives in the San Diego-Tijuana border region. Let your Account Manager know if you would like to join the GROW banana social justice program.

Berry

Have you tried kiwi berries aka baby kiwi? This miniature fruit looks like kiwi without fuzz, but smaller! Taste-wise, it’s exactly like a kiwi but a little sweeter. The skin requires no peeling making the kiwi berry an easy snacking fruit!  Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are steady with great supply. Blueberries may become more limited with possible gaps in supply. Cranberries are coming mid-October but amidst early production reports that the crop is smaller overall.

Citrus

Expect high pricing to continue on Valencia oranges. Peruvian imported Minneola tangerines are winding down. Lemon prices are coming down. Fingerlimes are plentiful. This fruit gets its name from the fact that it is about the size and shape of a finger. The pulp is shaped like tiny balls rather than elongated teardrops common to most other citrus fruit. To enjoy, cut the limes in half and squeeze up from the bottom to release the flavorful pulp. Fingerlimes are known as the caviar of citrus!

Fig

Prices are on the rise. Brown Turkey and Adriatic figs are limited. Black Mission is in good supply and is anticipated to be available through mid-October. These make great preserves—a great way to enjoy figs all year long!

Kiwi

Gold kiwi is in good supply. This delicious fruit has bronzed, smooth and hairless skin with beautiful golden flesh that has notes of pineapple and mango.

Grape

Sweet Scarlet red grapes are done for the season. Scarlet Royal and Timco are starting up. Black grapes are limited. On the green seedless front, Stella Bella is in good supply. This variety has a large berry size, crisp texture and sweet clean flavor. Thompson has started and will be in supply until mid-December. Concord grapes have arrived! This slip-skin variety has a dark blue or purple skin that can be easily separated from the fruit. It has large seeds and is very aromatic with sweet flavor. This variety is often used to make grape jelly, grape juice and candy.

Mango

Keitt mango season has started in California’s Coachella Valley. This variety has large fruit with green skin that has occasional red blush. Inside the fruit is sweet and smooth. The small flat seed makes cutting this mango a breeze. Prices are promotable and the season is short so snag some of these mangoes!

Melon

Cantaloupe supply is very tight. We’re getting all we can but several growers are gapping in supply. Mini seedless watermelon has strong availability with sharp pricing. Seeded bins are less plentiful, but steady. Full Belly Farms is winding down on their specialty melons. However, there are still plenty of variety to keep your melon display interesting. Canary melons have great pricing. Snow leopards, Piel de Sapo, orange honeydew, Galia and Charentais are still here!

Pineapple

Mexican grown pineapple is in good supply with sharp pricing. Costa Rican fruit is limited with higher pricing.

Pomegranate

Pomegranates have come on with steady supply. For eager pomegranate lovers, it’s typical to see fruit with minimal color inside this early in the season. Flavor is not impacted by the light coloring.

Specialty Fruit

Quince has arrived! This relatively unknown fall fruit is related to pears and apples since it grows on trees, but the similarities end there. Quince fruit is knobby and irregular shaped with gray fuzz on under ripe fruit. Ripe quince is golden in color with smooth skin. Quince is completely inedible raw due to its tough and spongy flesh inside. When cooked, quince is transformed into sweet, delicate and fragrant treat. This specialty fruit also boasts another secret—its aroma. When left to ripen at room temperature, it releases a delicate fragrance of vanilla, citrus and apple. Dragon fruit supply is strong. We’ve got all colors: red, pink, white and rainbow (pack!) Take advantage of the dragon fruit extravaganza–especially the amazing price on white fruit! Jujube are limited in supply. This specialty fruit is also known as a red date or Chinese date. They contain a single large seed inside and are red inside and out. The skin is edible and offers a crispy texture to compliment the sweet-tart apple like flavor of the fruit. Passion fruit supply is still going strong. Sapote have come on. This tropical fruit is also known as a Mexican apple. The pulp of sapotes are creamy-white and similar in texture to ripe avocado. Its flavor can range from banana-like to peach to pear to vanilla flan.

Stone Fruit

Stone fruit season is winding down. We’re seeing the last of yellow nectarines, peaches and plums. Pluots still have decent supply from the Northwest.

 

Vegetables

Broccoli/Cauliflower

Broccoli crowns should be steady although prices have gone up a bit. Several growers are in transition. Baby broccoli supply is tight. Reports from one of our main growers showed that the popular baby broccoli variety we normally carry is facing a seed shortage until November. We’ll have an alternate variety during the period. The new variety has a natural checkerboard pattering in the coloring of the crowns coloring that may look like cat-eye but in fact is normal for the variety. Romanesco is very tight and gapping in supply. There is some supply of cauliflower, but the market is not yet steady. Cheddar cauliflower is in better supply.

Brussel Sprout

As we gear up for fall, brussels sprouts supply is improving but not yet steady.

Carrot

Carrot prices continue to rise on bulk and bunched.

Corn

As we approach the end of corn season, we’re bringing in everything we can find. We anticipate a couple more weeks of supply at most.

Cucumber

Slicer cucumbers are in better supply than previous weeks with California product available and Mexican to supplement supply. Persian ‘cukes are still limited.

Greens, Lettuce & Herbs

Now that temperatures are cooling off in the Salinas Valley, baby kale and baby spinach supply is starting to improve but still not consistent. Spring mix and arugula are faring much better, both in terms of availability and quality. Mildew has been an issue for boxed spinach due to the recent heat in Northern California but should subside as temperatures drop. Bunched greens are limited overall as many growers are transitioning their fields. Bunched spinach is very pricey. We’re seeing vibrant rainbow and eye-catching peppermint chard from Pie Ranch, located in Pescadero, California. Peppermint chard has a unique two-toned look with white stems, vibrant fuchsia streaks and lustrous green leaves. Romaine is back in steady supply. Iceberg is still limited but we don’t expect to see any big gaps in the near term. Leaf and butter lettuces are abundant. Cilantro prices are coming down. All other iced herbs are steady. Bunched oregano and tarragon is gapping in supply.

Pepper

Bell peppers are readily available. Red bells have attractive pricing that may drop slightly. Lots of great chili pepper and specialty peppers available! Cayenne chilies are the pepper form of the popular “cayenne pepper” dried spice. Great flavor combined with moderate heat make this a versatile pepper raw, cooked or dried. Witch stick red peppers have a unique twisting shape and ripens from green to red. The flavor is sweet but watch out for some heat near the stem!

Roots

Parsnip prices remain high. As more growers come on, prices should come down. Jicama is in good supply; quality is strong. Turnips are steady. Bagged beets are plentiful with all colors and sizes available. Prices have been fluctuating. Bunched beets are in good supply.

Tomato

One and two-layer slicer tomatoes are in good supply. Tomatoes-on-vine are steady. Roma supply has improved from recent weeks. We’re seeing beautiful mixed heirlooms from Veliz Organic Farm based in Hollister, California. This father-son family business previously worked for Michael Halpern of the beloved Frazier Lake label. Lots of cherry straight packs and mixed medleys available. ‘Early Girl’ or Saladette dry farmed tomatoes are still at the top of our list for best tasting! Grab some before the season is over!

 

Grocery and Dairy

Did you know we sell maple products? We are currently offering a full line of delicious maple products including maple syrup in various size packs, maple sugar candy, and even whipped maple cream (great on toast, pancakes, yogurt and more!) All products are certified organic and great to have as we head into fall. The products are sourced from Maple Valley Co-op, a producer co-op modeled after famed Organic Valley.  For the month of September, all maple grocery products are 15% off, bulk items are 10% and maple candy and maple cream are 5% off. Talk to your Account Manager for details.

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

 

Floral

Our floral program includes seasonal mixed bouquets as well as straight packs from Thomas Farm and Full Belly Farm. Thomas Farm is offering gorgeous Dahlias in mixed colors and Sunflower straight packs. Full Belly’s list includes straight packs of Cockscomb, Red ‘Hopi Dye’ Amaranth, Globe Amaranth (red, rose or mixed) and Celosia Plume (red or gold.) Full Belly sunflowers are in between fields and gapping for a few weeks. Strawflowers are done for the season.

 

Merchandising Corner

Everyday Tips for Merchandising

Setting up displays in a produce department can be much like starting a home garden, it requires careful planning and consideration of color, texture, landscaping, and containers or props. Typically, when customers walk into a store, the produce department is the first thing they see. Over 65% of their buying decisions are made on impulse. Creative, eye catching fruit and vegetable displays will encourage your customers to grab a few extra items. If the department looks unpleasant or poorly organized they are likely to shop elsewhere. Even if you have the freshest produce in town, bad displays can discourage sales.

Color

Taking advantage of contrasting colors is one of the simplest ways to add strong visual impact. By planning your displays to show of the rainbow of colors it will make the items pop visually and increase the length of time the customer spends looking at the produce and how much they purchase. Avoid overlapping similar colors or creating a large block of green leafy vegetables. The direction in which you display a product can also enhance the color, for instance, turning baby bok choy horizontal or vertical rather than stem end out shows off the vibrant green and white leaf, and the same is true for fennel, leeks, radish, lettuce and greens. In general, most vegetables have a greater visual impact displayed in this way because the customer can see the whole item. Think farmer’s markets which is almost entirely eye candy.

Landscaping and Props

This is another area where you get to create the beauty of the flow. Displaying produce at varying heights with good color contrast on your dry tables creates artistic and visual excitement.  The product in these displays should flow together. You want to create a vast horizon rather than a bunch of peaks and valleys. Pyramiding individual items creates a lot of space in between product and generally does not hold the eye captive. Having a table that is tiered or angled will give the look of abundance with less product. If your table top is flat you can build it up using props and containers. Integrating wooden boxes for height can easily and affordably give you a tiered effect needed to create a beautiful landscape.

Texture

It can be difficult to create a color break depending on the season and the size of your produce case. Like color, texture can provide contrast to help create and draw in visual interest from your customers. Brussels sprouts and asparagus are similar in color and yet wildly different in texture and together make a striking display. Paying attention to opposing textures of vegetables and fruits will help keep your displays attractive and eye catching. Integrating baskets can give the department a more natural texture and farmers market feel.

When merchandising your department, remember these display tips and your department will soon resemble a beautiful and abundant garden.