Walk­ing the pro­duce aisle dur­ing win­ter months can be fairly unin­spir­ing. Thank­fully, the sight of some heartier, cold-​weather ingre­di­ents offers the nec­es­sary jolt to wake up the cook­ing senses.

Hum­ble veg­eta­bles are often times over­looked. Onions, cel­ery, car­rots and fen­nel fall into this cat­e­gory. So do leeks.

Leeks are alli­ums and related to gar­lic, chives, shal­lots, and onions. They have a mild, sweet, oniony fla­vor that adds depth to soups, stews, casseroles and other dishes.

Just like onions and shal­lots, they’re used to build fla­vor and char­ac­ter at the very start of a recipe. Grown since ancient Egypt­ian times, leeks not only boast some impres­sive nutri­tion cre­den­tials (potas­sium, folic acid, vit­a­min C, iron and fiber), but they are also extremely ver­sa­tile.

The French seem to have mas­tered cook­ing with leeks. From vichys­soise to creamy sides, dress­ings, and gratins, this under­es­ti­mated veg­gie is embraced in every­day prepa­ra­tions.

Leeks are the per­fect com­pany for ham, cheese, pota­toes and pasta. They can take a com­fort­able back seat to other ingre­di­ents or be the star of the show. Fried crisp as a gar­nish or puréed, roasted, charred, grilled, slow-​cooked, braised or sautéed, leeks deliver on savory good­ness.

Peak­ing in Jan­u­ary, they are a great choice for win­ter recipes. Pick healthy look­ing leeks that are smooth, firm and straight, with dark green leaves and white necks. They should be about an inch in diam­e­ter.

There are sev­eral vari­eties of leeks to choose from includ­ing Carl­ton (early), Mus­sel­burgh (late) and King Richard (for early, baby leeks).

Read more: Leek Proof →

It’s always inter­est­ing to see what new state-​by-​state leg­is­la­tion goes into effect with the new year. From mar­i­juana to min­i­mum wage increases, every state will be grap­pling with how to enforce the new laws.

In Cal­i­for­nia, there are sev­eral laws now on the books that will impact food and bev­er­age busi­nesses.

Accord­ing to the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, about forty per­cent of the food in the United States goes to waste and twenty per­cent to the land­fill. SB 1383 aims to change that sta­tis­tic.

Every city in Cal­i­for­nia will have a dif­fer­ent method to improve food waste. Some garbage com­pa­nies will have sep­a­rate bins at the street for food scraps and oth­ers will sim­ply ask for left­overs to be added to the green waste bin.

The law man­dates twenty per­cent of excess edi­ble food from restau­rants, hos­pi­tals and super­mar­kets be sent to food banks.

Sen­ate Bill 389 allows restau­rants and some bars to sell to-​go wine and cock­tails until 2027, pro­vid­ing a five-​year exten­sion of an emer­gency rule from early in the pan­demic.

Indus­try groups say the law is a boost for bars and restau­rants that make the bulk of their sales in alco­hol but have been hurt by scaled-​back in-​person din­ing since early 2020.

Read more: New Rules →

Jan­u­ary is the most suit­able month for cit­rus with a full thirty one days of winter’s wrath and chilly tem­per­a­tures.

Cit­rus is eas­ily a super-​star among win­ter pro­duce. A most note­wor­thy ben­e­fit of cit­rus is its immunity-​boosting prop­er­ties. One serv­ing pro­vides nearly 100 per­cent of the daily vit­a­min C intake. This nutri­ent is known to shorten the dura­tion of an exist­ing cold.

The bright lineup fea­tures oranges, tan­ger­ines, grape­fruits, pum­me­los, lemons and man­darins.

These juicy fruits can be incor­po­rated into daily diets dur­ing National Cit­rus Month. Add slices of cit­rus to sal­ads and sides, drink­ing freshly squeezed cit­rus juice or adding a slice to water, tea and other hot bev­er­ages.

A deli­cious snack food or addi­tion to entrees and baked goods, cit­rus fruits bring a bit of sun­shine to the party. Spe­cialty cit­rus delves into mul­ti­ple vari­ety types and includes Tan­ge­los, Blood and Cara Cara Oranges.

What is the dif­fer­ence between Cara Cara Oranges and Navel Oranges? A Cara Cara Orange is the result of the cross-​pollination of a Wash­ing­ton Navel Orange and a Brazil­ian Bahia Navel Orange.

These oranges were first dis­cov­ered in 1976 at Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela (where they get their name) and are now grown in Cal­i­for­nia. In sea­son from Decem­ber roughly until April, take advan­tage of this won­der­ful cit­rus fruit while at the peak of eat­ing good­ness.

Once the orange blos­soms are pol­li­nated, medium-​sized oranges with red to pink flesh and an incred­i­bly sweet cit­rus fla­vor are cre­ated. It’s not just their beau­ti­ful color that makes them stand out — they have a remark­able taste that goes right along with their unique appearance.

Read more: Cara Caras →

A new year with a fresh start. Kiss 2021 good­bye and set our sights high on opti­mism and renewal.

The begin­ning of this new year is replete with prospects for new adven­tures, per­sonal and pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment and busi­ness improve­ments.

Learn­ing to man­age change over the past twenty some­thing months may just have been the best prepa­ra­tion for what lies ahead. Change was inevitable.

Those traits lay a solid foun­da­tion for a reset and reimag­i­na­tion. Set­ting the course ahead for pro­duce indus­try is evi­denced by the newly formed Inter­na­tional Fresh Pro­duce Asso­ci­a­tion.

The lead­ers of the for­mer United Fresh and Pro­duce Mar­ket­ing Asso­ci­a­tion believe today’s indus­try mem­bers need an asso­ci­a­tion that speaks with a more uni­fied, author­i­ta­tive voice; demon­strates its rel­e­vance to the world at large; advo­cates for mem­ber inter­ests; and unleashes a new under­stand­ing of fresh pro­duce.

Rec­og­niz­ing that need, the orga­ni­za­tions chose not to merge, but rather to cre­ate an entirely new orga­ni­za­tion to super­sede their orga­ni­za­tions. That new begin­ning is effec­tive Jan­u­ary 1, 2022. It was cre­ated to inte­grate world-​facing advo­cacy and industry-​facing sup­port. While IFPA is built on the lega­cies of United Fresh and Pro­duce Mar­ket­ing Asso­ci­a­tions, it is not just a com­bi­na­tion. It is trans­for­ma­tional.

The Inter­na­tional Fresh Pro­duce Asso­ci­a­tion is the largest and most diverse inter­na­tional asso­ci­a­tion serv­ing the entire fresh pro­duce and flo­ral sup­ply chain.,/div>

Read more: New Beginnings →

Good Rid­dance. Those two part­ing words sum up the chaos and dif­fi­cul­ties of 2021. Clos­ing out the year on a pos­i­tive note requires
shift­ing gears and atti­tudes.

As an indus­try, we’ve done a fine job of report­ing on the many sup­ply chain chal­lenges.

Short­ages of prod­ucts and pack­ag­ing, trans­porta­tion headaches, ris­ing costs for all goods/​expenses and a frus­trat­ing labor mar­ket are just a hand­ful of the things that keep us up at night.

No men­tion yet of the pan­demic impacts to busi­ness and travel. Trou­bling times pre­vailed all year long. Clos­ing the door on these past twelve months means let­ting go of the anx­i­ety, fear, anger, sad­ness and what­ever else it rep­re­sents.

Emerg­ing from the grip of this year makes us stronger and smarter. Take time to reflect on the accom­plish­ments dur­ing the last months. Sur­viv­ing the year was a feat in itself.

Take some credit for stand­ing tall in the face of adver­sity. In spite of, or per­haps, because of the COVID man­dates, work got done while still man­ag­ing the mov­ing tar­gets for employ­ees. Task forces across the globe were in place to mon­i­tor work­place safety pro­to­cols and prac­tices. No com­pany or busi­ness was allowed to skate by.

Now is the time for reflec­tion and assess­ment of what went right. Take a vic­tory lap for the accom­plished achieve­ments, big and small, pro­fes­sional and per­sonal. Even fail­ure pro­vides us with teach­able moments for improve­ment.

Unfore­seen cir­cum­stances have the capac­ity to recal­i­brate us. We’ve learned that best made plans can go side­ways in a hurry.

Observe the many sur­round­ing cre­ative ways that we’ve learned to accom­mo­date, pivot and make things hap­pen. Take no pris­on­ers into the new year.

Set real­is­tic goals and objec­tives. Imple­ment new skills, meth­ods and solu­tions to the same old prob­lems. Try some­thing different.

Read more: The Last Bite →

Food brings peo­ple together in numer­ous ways. It allows us to learn and share our per­sonal sto­ries with friends, neigh­bors, fam­ily mem­bers and at times, per­fect strangers.

We expect to have engage­ment at farm­ers mar­kets where local farm­ers and ven­dors exhibit their goods.

Gro­cery stores are a dif­fer­ent ani­mal. Most retail shop­pers stay close to their lists and pre­fer an expe­dited excur­sion. Idle or extra­ne­ous con­ver­sa­tions are gen­er­ally dis­cour­aged. We try to get in and get out to save time.

A recent shop­ping trip to a crowded neigh­bor­hood mar­ket inspired a lively check-​stand con­ver­sa­tion around a giant pome­gran­ate. It wasn’t ter­ri­ble.

Hav­ing placed the extra­or­di­nar­ily large crim­son fruit on the con­veyer belt, the clerk was aston­ished by the sheer enor­mity. It started a “buzz” around the front end about the how beau­ti­ful this spec­i­men was.

Out of no where, a gen­tle­man stranger came over to pick up the hefty pome­gran­ate. He com­mented on how this was the biggest one he’s ever seen. We both agreed about the mag­nif­i­cent size.

His story began with “my grand­mother has five or six pome­gran­ate trees on her prop­erty”. Then he pro­ceeded to share more about his Grandma. While she was no longer able to care for her many fruit trees, her grown grand­chil­dren con­tinue to visit the fam­ily prop­erty to har­vest all of the fruits.

Read more: Check­stand Chats →