The Grass is Greener


The arrival of California asparagus AKA ‘grass’ is a true sign of spring. While imported asparagus is often available year-round, the tender, grassy and sweet flavor of freshly harvested in-season asparagus is hard to beat! Asparagus has been cultivated for thousands of years, tracing back to ancient Egypt, Crete and the Mediterranean region as early as 3000 BC.   

Fun Fact: Asparagus was so prized that the Roman Emperor Augustus was said to have built a fleet of ships to transport asparagus around the entire Roman Empire. 

Like leeks, onion and garlic, asparagus is a member of the lily family. It is also a perennial plant and can produce an annual crop for 15+ years! Most notably, it can take three years for the root crown to produce a harvestable crop, which contributes to its high dollar value per pound. But the wait is worth it! Asparagus is available in various stalk sizes—ranging in diameter from ‘extra small’ all the way to ‘colossal’. Many people have a strong preference for plump or slender, but it is important to know that stalk diameter is NOT a reliable indication of the tenderness or maturity of the stem. 

The sweet distinctive flavor of fresh asparagus lends itself to a myriad of culinary preparations. Enjoy thinly-shaved raw or added to soups, pastas, or salads. The bright green color remains when roasted, steamed, or broiled. No matter how you enjoy it, don’t miss this springtime favorite!   


Merchandising Corner 

Cinco de Mayo display

Prepping for Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is quickly approaching and it’s a great holiday to promote in any produce department. Here are a few quick ideas for how to plan for a successful holiday. 

Plan with your Account Manager: Discuss display ideas with your Account Manager, and secure orders for items in your display as early as possible. 

Produce Themed Displays: Plan on featuring items like avocados, limes, jalapeños, cilantro, mangoes and tomatoes. Did you know Cinco de Mayo is the second largest holiday for avocados in the USA? Super Bowl is the biggest! Make sure you build big, festive displays with lots of color contrast. 

Recipes: Try incorporating recipe cards or signage explaining all the uses of different produce items and what they pair well with. 

Cross Merchandise: Design displays around salsa and guacamole themes. Cross-merchandise produce displays with items like tortillas, tortilla chips, fancy gourmet salts, or citrus reamers. Coordinate with other departments in your store to see what other cross-merchandising opportunities are available! 

Have Fun: Holidays like Cinco De Mayo are a great opportunity to get creative, to try something new, and to experiment with your displays! 


Take our Produce Notes Survey 

We strive to share current and relevant produce knowledge and market updates, as your produce supply partner.  The goal of our biweekly Produce Notes is to share  information in an organized and useful manner, to make it easier for you to manage and plan for your produce department.  

Help us improve what we publish in our Produce Notes by filling out this 5-minute survey. 


Produce Resources 

Asparagus Size Guide & Merchandising Tips 

Produce Department Manual 

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. 

Bay Area Herbs Compostable Clamshell Shelf Talker – Laminated signs available upon request 

Citrus Shelf Talkers 

Jayleaf Retail Greens Shelf Talkers 


New & Exciting! 

Apricot: Stone fruit season is kicking off the second week of May (we hope!) with the arrival of apricots. Growers are reporting strong fruit sets and predicting good volume this season.  

Fava BeanFava Bean (right): AKA Broad Beans. Delicate, buttery and nutty flavor. Some fans describe the sweet vegetal taste as “tasting like spring!” 

Kiku Apple: Known to be one of the sweetest apples available. Firm and juicy with a crunchy flesh, like its Fuji apple parent. These apples are ruby red with light colored stripes, similar to a Gala. 

Melon: The Mexican melon season has started. Watermelon has already started;  Honeydew is next, followed by Cantaloupe the second week of May. 

Pea: California-grown English, Sugar Snap, Snow and Purple Snow peas are here! We’re expecting good supply from Comanche Creek and Coke Farm going forward.  

Purple Sprouting Broccoli (right): AKA PSB. The trademark violet hues on the florets make this item a stunner for any spring display. Sweet, nutty flavor and can  be used in the same ways as green broccoli. All parts of Purple Sprouting Broccoli can be used—leaves, florets and stem! Raw PSB contains anthocynanins, a powerful antioxidant which gives it its characteristic purple color.  

Fun Fact: PSB keeps its color when cooked, unlike purple asparagus or purple beans.  

Rainbow Roma Tomato: A medley of reds, orange, yellow and green Romas in a retail-friendly clamshell. A great option while beefsteaks and Romas are limited! 

Retail Herbs Compostable Clamshell: Brand new retail clamshell packs from Bay Area Herbs are made 100% out of compostable packaging. Check out these high-quality herbs that are better for the planet! We have laminated shelf talkers available—ask your Account Manager if interested in receiving some! 

Rhubarb (below): A hallmark of spring, this beautiful pink and green vegetable is often used as a fruit. The tangy flavor is best enjoyed when cooked or baked Rhubarb with a sweetener. Only the stalks are edible; the leaves should not be consumed. 

Tomatillo:  Available again starting the first week of May. 

Ume Plum: Coming soon! Despite its name, ume plums are more closely related to the apricot than a plum. It has a sour and astringent taste and should not be eaten raw. Once pickled or fermented, the flavor becomes more appealing and lends itself to many applications including drinks, vinegars, and desserts. Learn how to make ume plum simple syrup in this 4-minute video! 

Fun Fact: The natural acidity helps to break down lactic acid, so samurai used to carry umeboshi (pickled plum) to eat during battles. 



Ruby Grapefruit: great deals for the best grapefruit! One of VV’s first growers: B&J Ranch!  

Yellow Squash: Volume supply available on Straightnecks—lots out there! 


Cinco de Mayo Favorites 

Cinco de Mayo falls on Friday, May 5th. Get ready for a weekend of celebrations with these must-have items! 

  • Cilantro: Readily available at promotable pricing. The perfect garnish for any number of Cinco de Mayo dishes. 
  • Hass Avocado: Great price and supply on California-grown 60 count fruit from Las Palmalitas Ranch and Eco Farms!  No celebration is complete Hass Avocado without guacamole! We offer ‘pre-conditioned’ riper fruit and sharply priced #2 grade Hass, as well. Tell your Account Manager what you need for this big weekend, and we’ll get those avos to you! 
  • Red Bell Pepper: Strong volume on choice peppers. Versatile, delicious and adds a bright pop of color to your displays. 
  • Tomato-on-the-Vine (TOVs): plentiful supply on Mexican-grown fruit. 
  • Tortilla: Mi Rancho organic tortillas are available in whole wheat, flour and corn. Made locally in the Bay Area with simple ingredients. 
  • Sour Cream from Straus Family Creamery: what taco is complete without some “crema”? 

Floral Bouquet: Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday, May 14th. Don’t miss out on one of the biggest floral holidays of the year! From Thomas Family Farms (near Santa Cruz), your floral orders shipping May 8-17th must be placed with us by 4PM on Friday, April 28th! 



California-Grown Blueberry 

Celery: Desert production of celery has ended; supply from Mexico is limited. 

Gem Lettuce: Limited; our growers report delays in planting due to the rainy weather last month. 

Green Bell Pepper: Large and Extra-Large sizes are very limited. Choice grade has better availability. 

Green Kiwi: The Wild River season is winding down. There may be a gap before the import fruit from Chile or New Zealand becomes available.  

Radicchio: Mexican-grown Radicchio Chioggia is limited. The new crop is still weeks away. 

Sweet Peppers: Limited 

Tomato: 1 and 2-Layer and Roma are extremely limited. 

Zucchini: Availability is picking up; prices are falling.  


Done for the Season 



Red Bartlett Pear 

Red Seedless Grape: Peruvian imports have ended. There will be a gap until the domestic season starts in mid-May. 


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. 

Straus Family Creamery 

Straus Family Creamery

Founder & CEO Albert Straus. Courtesy: Straus Family Creamery

Founded in 1941 in Marin County, one hour north of San Francisco, Straus Family Creamery is deeply committed to sustainable practices and environmental leadership. Bill & Ellen Straus, early agricultural activists, stopped using herbicides in the 1970s. Their son, Albert Straus, a champion of climate-positive organic dairy farming, has run the operation since 1994. Straus Creamery was the first certified organic dairy farm west of the Mississippi River. The Creamery sources milk from twelve dairy farms, including their own Straus Dairy Farm, to produce 100% organic milk and cream, yogurt, ice cream, butter and sour cream for retail and food service.  

Famous for their re-usable glass milk bottle program, Straus uses numerous techniques to move carbon from the atmosphere and put it back in the soil. Carbon farming builds nutrient rich soil, promotes soil health through rotational grazing, restores woodlands and streams, and mitigates climate change. They were the first dairy farm to develop a 20-year carbon farm plan in conjunction with the Marin Carbon Project. The Straus family has always showed leadership in their community establishing the Marin Agricultural Land Trust (MALT) a pioneering model to protect farmland; all 12 dairy farms that supply milk to the Creamery are on the path to being carbon neutral by 2030.  

Renewable energy is one of the focuses of the Straus Dairy Farm’s carbon neutral farming model. Their innovative methane digester captures methane (a potent greenhouse gas) from cow manure and transforms it into electricity. The methane digester provides enough renewable energy to power the entire dairy farm and charge farm vehicles!  

More recently, Straus has teamed up with seaweed-supplement maker Blue Ocean Barns to supplement the dairy cows’ diet with a specific red seaweed. Trials have shown this fodder can reduce methane-loaded cow burps by up to 90%! Learn more about the seaweed innovation in this 2-minute video. 

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