It’s hard to believe the sight of fire­works stands pop­ping up in park­ing lots across Amer­ica. The visual reminder that Inde­pen­dence Day is still on the cal­en­dar is a jolt to all of us in the food indus­try.

We’ve all been nav­i­gat­ing the tur­bu­lent COVID-​19 times. To rein­vent how July 4th will be cel­e­brated requires great imag­i­na­tion.

Arguably the most famous 4th of July food tra­di­tion is the all-​American bar­be­cue. In nor­mal times, this back­yard or park event brings Amer­i­can fam­i­lies and friends together.

While this year’s cel­e­bra­tions may limit who we gather with or how many are included, there is still every rea­son to put fresh food cen­ter stage.

Locally grown mel­ons, berries, sweet corn, stone fruits, toma­toes and sweet onions are abun­dant just as we approach the hol­i­day. Putting these farm fresh win­ners on the hol­i­day menu can con­nect us in ways big­ger than COVID.

All of the stay­ing at home and eat­ing at home has turned con­ven­tional meal shar­ing on its side. We are eager to ven­ture out to restau­rants and cafes and be served by some­one other than ourselves.

Read more: Star Spangled →

Lime juice, lime zest and lime wedges are a pre­mier cov­eted player in sum­mer bev­er­ages, dips, cock­tails, dress­ings, mari­nades and desserts. Oh yeah!

Never under­es­ti­mate the power of lime to uplift or trans­form the most mun­dane to be the absolute best.

Fra­grant and refresh­ing, there is some­thing dis­tinc­tively lime that can­not be repli­cated.

Limes are inte­gral to many Mex­i­can, Thai and Viet­namese dishes. They com­pli­ment part­ners like coconut milk, cilantro, mint and chili pep­pers.

Count on lime for tor­tilla soup, corn con crema, fresh salsa, and street tacos. Leche de tigre (tiger’s milk), is a Peru­vian cit­rus mari­nade that relies on fresh lime juice for its super base.

This cit­rus fruit’s high acid con­tent and bright tart­ness make it a pow­er­ful cook­ing and bak­ing ingre­di­ent. From seafood and poul­try to fresh fruits like mango, papaya and mel­ons, the smart addi­tion of lime kicks every­thing up a notch.

Read more: Crush­ing It! →

US demand for stone fruits has been con­sis­tent but not grow­ing much in the past five years.

The 2020 sea­son looks to improve demand with a longer sea­son and even some new vari­etals on the hori­zon.

Exclu­sive nec­tarine and plum vari­eties grown in California’s Cen­tral and San Joaquin Val­leys have farm­ers excited about this year’s pro­duc­tion.

The oppor­tu­nity is there to intro­duce stone fruits to new and next gen­er­a­tions. An empha­sis on fresh foods and ver­sa­til­ity in use can bring a new audi­ence to the table.

Stone fruits are a type of drupe, thin-​skinned, fleshy fruits con­tain­ing a sin­gle large seed (hence the name stone) encased within a tough outer shell. They can be cling­stone or free­stone, fuzzy or smooth, sour or sweet.

The dru­pes we call stone fruit come from about 15 species of the genus Prunus, a mem­ber of the rose fam­ily, and include peaches, nec­tarines, plums, apri­cots and cher­ries.

Stone fruits are highly sea­sonal. Most vari­eties won’t ripen after they’re har­vested and are picked at their peak of ripeness or readi­ness. This is often a small win­dow for har­vest crews.

Read more: Juicy Fruits →

The vast major­ity of Amer­i­can con­sumers agree that their lives have been dis­rupted by the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Along with mas­sive dis­rup­tion has been a cer­tain degree of anx­i­ety, con­cern and fear.

Vir­tu­ally all pub­lic busi­ness sec­tors have a expe­ri­enced some sort of change, dis­rup­tion or mod­i­fi­ca­tion to work­place pro­to­cols.

Restric­tions have been most evi­dent for “essen­tial ser­vice” providers like retail gro­cery stores. For any­one with respon­si­bil­ity for doing house­hold shop­ping, notice­able efforts to calm wor­ried shop­pers are evi­dent.

Retail gro­cers were quick to adopt: Shop­ping cart san­i­tiz­ing, 6’ rule of self-​distancing, rec­om­mended wear­ing of face masks and gloves, plex­i­glass bar­rier pro­tec­tion at check­out and restric­tions of num­ber of shop­pers by size of store.

Active in-​store food demon­stra­tions, self-​serve salad and soup bars and bulk food bins were at once ban­ished. Fur­ther adap­ta­tions have seen direc­tional aisles, spec­i­fied hours for vul­ner­a­ble shop­pers and floor stamps and mark­ers for COVID-​19 mes­sag­ing.

Obvi­ously, new rules at retail are some­what com­fort­ing to shop­pers. Most shop­pers grade the store and if they elect to shop there again by what they see as health safety mea­sures being fol­lowed. A sim­ple thing like ban­ning re-​useable bags took awhile to take hold.

Read more: New Rules →

Mother’s Day 2020 was a remark­able hol­i­day. Sons and daugh­ters had to pivot away from nor­mal ways to honor mom.

Mod­i­fied behav­iors post COVID-​19 takes some get­ting used to. Not every­one is com­fort­able or eager to rub elbows with oth­ers.

In many cases, elder or vul­ner­a­ble fam­ily mem­bers still require quar­an­tine pro­tec­tion. This makes it dif­fi­cult to gather around a table for cel­e­bra­tion.

June is a mad month for birth­days, grad­u­a­tions, anniver­saries and wed­dings. Father’s Day is on Sun­day, the twenty first. Expect new ways to show our love and remem­brances.

Large gath­er­ings have been vig­or­ously dis­cour­aged. Self-​distancing is the new norm for any type of social fes­tiv­ity. Smaller groups of eight or fewer will still have to mod­ify to com­ply with vigilance.

Read more: Celebrate! →

What was once taken for granted has for­ever fun­da­men­tally changed.

Eat­ing out at a local restau­rant or café has dearly been missed. See­ing our favorite wait staff and hear­ing about menu spe­cials will be music to our col­lec­tive ears.

Going to the gro­cery store for weekly pro­vi­sions used to be a chore at best. New restric­tions, pro­to­cols and short­ages com­pound the already stress­ful house­hold duty.

Nor­mal rou­tines are mor­ph­ing in to excep­tional expe­ri­ences. Curb-​side food hand offs and don­ning masks and gloves just to push a shop­ping cart may be part of the next level nor­mal.

The food sup­ply chain in Amer­ica has been extremely chal­lenged. For those who can and will con­tinue to afford fresh foods, it is a time for real grat­i­tude check.

Read more: Fields of Dreams →