Ramadan, an annual month-long period of spiritual reflection, started on March 22nd this year. During the entire period of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, taking neither food nor water. Traditionally, a date is the first food to pass one’s lips after the sun goes down. Dates are also prominently featured in Eid al-Fitr, the feast that ends Ramadan on April 21st.
Cultivated by humans for at least 8,000 years, dates can be traced back to their origin in the Middle East and North Africa. It’s said that Prophet Muhammad broke his fast with three fresh dates, and the tradition has been passed on for centuries. In addition to religious and cultural significance, dates are packed with health benefits. Dates are great for balancing blood sugar and reducing blood pressure. The sweetness in dates is the most easily digestible fructose. They also contain choline—which is associated with better memory and learning!
Fun Fact: Because birds & bees do not use date pollen, farmers must climb each tree to hand pollinate every flower, spreading pollen grains from the male flower into the female cluster. Such dangerous and labor intensive work contributes to the relatively high value of dates worldwide.
Medjool and Deglet Noor are most familiar to folks in the USA, although there are hundreds of distinct varieties worldwide. Medjool dates are a fat, maple-hued chewy fruit, prized for its size, succulent flavor and very moist texture. Deglet Noor dates are a smaller, drier date often found in baked goods. Both these delicious varieties are found piled in bowls and baskets during the Ramadan holiday, and given as gifts to neighbors and family.
Ramadan Mubarak! (Happy Ramadan!)
Looking for retail display inspiration? Check out what these stores are doing to showcase Spring’s bounty!
Elroy’s Fine Food in Monterey, CA keeps citrus displays interesting by mixing vibrant green avocados and asparagus into the set and adding in pineapples for textural intrigue.
Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op in Sacramento, CA has built a beautiful large end cap display showcasing two popular spring items: asparagus and spring onions. The ‘grass’ is always greener, or is the spring onions this time?
New Moon Natural Foods in Tahoe City, CA shows us how to make a big impact with a small footprint. This gorgeous displays shows a rainbow of color, contrasting shapes and sizes for visual allure and provides inspiration for produce pairings. Pineapple salsa, anyone?
Have a cool or interesting wet or dry display you want to share?
Send a photo to email@example.com and we’ll publish it in our next Produce Notes!
The Produce Department Manual provides tools and resources for product ordering, inventory management, in-store merchandising, and more.
Save time and boost sales with our ready-made shelf talkers. Shelf talkers help educate employees and shoppers alike, with flavor notes, nutrition, and eating tips.
Citrus Shelf Talkers
The citrus market continues to be impacted by the heavy rain in California. Many growers are still unable to get into orchards to pick due to wet conditions. The delay in harvesting could mean the Navel and tangerine season will extend as late as May! Be prepared to keep citrus going, our small growers need support until they are finished harvesting their whole crop; they can’t afford to abandon good fruit, even if it is late season.
The California-grown Hass avocado harvest is sporadic between rains , making the market a bit unpredictable.
As expected, the excessive weather from the past two months will be impacting crops through Spring. Reports from stone fruit growers indicate it will be a light start to the season. Early varieties that would normally be set are not ready. Pollinating bees were unable to do their critical work! We expect the local cherry crop to get a late start; our fingers are still crossed that no hail events will occur (as they did disastrously last Spring).
One piece of good news, the California apricot trees seemed to like the weather this year and have a good set!
New & Exciting!
Abate Fetel Pear*: Long and skinny-necked pear with greenish-yellow skin, this uniquely shaped pear will stand out from the rest. The flavor is very sweet balanced with notes of floral. These are ready to eat when still a little firm and barely soft to the touch near the neck. The seed bed is relatively soft meaning almost the entire core can be eaten.
Fun Fact: Abate Fetels were named after the Italian monk who first cultivated the variety in the 19th century.
Green Garlic (below): Similar in appearance to thick scallions or spring onions, green garlic has a milder, fresher and sweeter taste than mature, cured garlic. This young garlic plant can be eaten in its entirety and is very versatile for adding a punch of flavor to stir fries, marinades, salads and more.
Hazelnut: Raw organic hazelnuts (AKA filberts) grown by Nookachamps Farms in northwest Washington. The family-owned orchard has been farming for 61 years! 1-Pound retail bags and 25-Pound bulk cases available. Ask your Account Manager for a complimentary 1-Pound sample!
Herbs: Coming soon! New retail clamshell packs from Bay Area Herbs are made 100% out of compostable packaging. High quality herbs that are better for the planet! Promote for Earth Day (April 22), when customers might feel more inspired to make eco-friendly purchases.
Maple Candy: Made with pure organic maple syrup and nothing else. Each 1.5-ounce box comes with six candies in assortment of decorative shapes. The ultimate natural treat for Easter baskets!
New Crop Potato*: Yellow and Red new potatoes are here! New crop potatoes tend to be dug before they are fully mature which makes them more delicate and thin-skinned. The flesh has more moisture and creamy, delicious flavor. These potatoes are freshly harvested and lightly cured before packing, but never stored. Prepare simply steamed or roasted to enjoy the earthy potato flavor!
Ranunculus (right): These gorgeous flowers are also known as Persian Buttercup. Appearing in mixed bouquets now, and available in straight packs after Easter.
- Asparagus: Mexican-grown asparagus has strong supply through April. The California season is starting to come on more steadily. Display with some cheery lemons for a pop of color!
- Bunched Carrot*: Bunched orange and rainbow carrots are becoming more available. Stock your wet racks for Easter celebrations!
- Green Bean: Prices are coming down quickly on Mexican-grown green beans. Steamed, roasted, or chopped raw, green beans are an easy, versatile vegetable for any Easter meal.
- Zucchini: Supply is plentiful, and prices are sharp on Mexican-grown squash.
- Wheatgrass: who doesn’t want healthy, edible, colorful fresh organic wheatgrass in their Easter Basket?
Bartlett Pear: Juicy, with a refreshingly sweet flavor and buttery smooth texture. These pears are best eaten when ripe. Apply gentle pressure to the stem end, and if there is a little give, then the pears are ready to eat!
Cherimoya: Also known as the Custard Apple, this is a sweet, tropical fruit with creamy texture and flavor similar to banana and pineapple. We like to eat it chilled and with a spoon like ice cream! Also fun to bake, cut in half and roast until caramelly!
English Hot House Cucumber: Supply is steady on Mexican-grown 12 Count cukes. Promotional pricing available all week long makes this a hot buy!
Mixed Heirloom Tomato*: Heirlooms are readily available; prices are trending down. Cross-merchandise with the English Hot-house cucumbers for delicious salad inspiration.
Pink Lady Apple: Don’t forget about the Ladies! 100 and 113 Count fruit is still very promotable.
Berry: The California strawberry season is still recovering from the excessive rain and flooding in the Salinas Valley. The harvest will be pushed out to mid-May and may be lighter than previous years. Mexican-grown strawberries are available but also limited due to colder weather in the Baja region. Blueberries will be limited until mid-May when the California harvest region moves up to the Central Valley. Colder weather has slowed down growth. Raspberry and blackberry both have limited supply; prices are up.
Green Bell Pepper: Remains very limited, prices are up.
Lettuce: Iceberg, Green & Red Leaf
Mango: Prices are expected to increase.
Tomatillo: expected to gap throughout the week
Done for the Season
California-grown Brussels Sprout
Food Movers & Shakers
Let’s celebrate the changemakers in our food system who have contributed to the areas of food justice, organic farming, transportation, culinary arts, and sustainable agriculture. Thanks to these individuals and organizations, our food system is becoming more transparent and changing for the better.
Courtesy: Rodale Institute. A-dae at the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation in the Capay Valley, CA.
A-dae Romero Briones is true food systems superstar. A lawyer, Fulbright Scholar, and food policy expert, she has spent her career working to recognize, preserve and support Native American food systems and related projects. She believes “Food is life. Food is connected to almost everything that is relevant in any community – economy, politics, education, spirituality.”
She is currently the Director of the Native Agriculture and Food Systems program for the First Nations Development Institute. A-dae has led The Food Pantry Initiative, providing Native American communities with technical assistance and resources to address food insecurity. The Native Farm to School program provides educational opportunities and support to young tribal leaders bringing traditional foodways to school food systems. Learn more about the First Nations programs here.
A-dae is also a partner at Manzanita Capital Collective, an effort to redistribute land, capital and power to tribal communities and farmers of color working on food and land justice. Named for the resilient and nourishing plant critical to thriving Western eco-systems, this organization helped establish a 1,200 acre land-trust project right in our own backyard. Located in Yolo county, near Sacramento, California, the land is managed by the Yocha Dehe Winton nation, using organic agricultural practices!
Recently, she produced Gather, an inspirational documentary that shares the stories of indigenous communities reclaiming their spiritual, political, and cultural identity through food sovereignty.
A-dae is prolific in her advocacy work and was recognized by former President Obama as a ‘White House Champion of Change in Agriculture’, a distinction that honors individuals for the positive impact they are making in their communities. Tirelessly providing leadership to numerous organizations, A-dae even served on the National Organic Standards Board, making our organic certification system more inclusive for marginalized communities. We can’t wait to see what she focuses on next!
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