Over the years, week fifty two of our mar­ket report has been reserved for an uplift­ing mes­sage to close out the cal­en­dar.

Like all things in 2020, the COVID cloud con­tin­ues to rain on our industry.

The lat­est round of “shel­ter in place” orders comes just as we’re ready to shop, eat out and cel­e­brate with oth­ers. No can do.

This year has been one for the books. As a part­ner in the food sup­ply chain, we’ve had a front row seat to the con­stant dis­rup­tions the food indus­try con­tin­ues to encounter.
Every food sec­tor; retail­ers, restau­rants, cafes, schools, pris­ons, casi­nos, and hotels has been on a swivel. Mod­ify, pivot and adapt has been a con­stant dance since March.

Day-​to-​day busi­ness has been any­thing but nor­mal. We’ve felt the pain of our cus­tomers. Starts and stops, lim­ited capac­ity man­dates, front-​line worker safety, finan­cial invest­ments to com­bat COVID, inside, out­side, curb­side– the list goes on. It’s been a stag­ger­ing climb to meet the challenges.

On the sup­ply side, farm­ers and ranch­ers are also caught up in the schiz­o­phrenic nature and fall­out from the pan­demic. Sound plan­ning for ample crops, is based on true demand. That demand con­tin­ues to shift along with many other uncertainties.

Weather con­di­tions, wild­fires, smoke, power out­ages and COVID-​related labor short­ages were uncon­trol­lable for farm­ers to deal with. The lat­est round of food­ser­vice restric­tions leaves every­one head scratching.
Grow­ing con­cern over via­bil­ity through the com­ing weeks is a real fac­tor for any­one in the hos­pi­tal­ity or restau­rant busi­ness. They are in sur­vival mode.

All the while, all food sec­tor chan­nels con­tinue to feed hun­gry peo­ple. If you have food on the table and a full pantry, count that as a bless­ing. Now more than ever, food inse­cu­rity is at a fevered pitch. Finan­cial hard­ship is a by-​product for fam­i­lies impacted from COVID work shutdowns.

Our local Sacra­mento Food Bank & Fam­ily Ser­vices orga­ni­za­tion part­ners with over 220 local agen­cies. Together they dis­trib­ute food to indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies in under-​served com­mu­ni­ties. That need has now grown to all rural and sub­ur­ban areas.

Read more: The Last Bite →

Stay­ing in on these cold win­ter nights is eas­ier to swal­low with some­thing warm to sip on. Mulled ciders and wines are just thing for this end of year con­tem­pla­tive period.

Hol­i­day enter­tain­ing was the per­fect excuse for crowd-​pleasing pots of spicy, fra­grant hot drinks.

With­out hav­ing any large group gath­er­ings, it’s still imper­a­tive this sea­son to cre­ate spe­cial scaled down moments of com­fort and cheer. Mulled drinks take top con­sid­er­a­tion.

Smaller recipe ver­sions of mulled con­coc­tions will gen­er­ously serve two to four peo­ple. Don’t skimp.

Intox­i­cat­ing kitchen aro­mas while mulling will come mostly from cit­rus choices, sliced apples, star anise, cin­na­mon sticks and whole cloves. Fresh gin­ger root, rose­mary sprigs and cit­rus peel do dou­ble duty as both gar­nish and ingre­di­ent.

Hot sip­ping drinks are meant for slow­ing the frenzy of the hol­i­day pace. Uti­lize what is on hand or add a few key items to the shop­ping list. Check the pantry first to see what is already on the shelf for a quick “pick me up” cup of some­thing special.

Read more: Mulling it Over →

Play­ing it safe for the upcom­ing hol­i­days– Hanukkah, Christ­mas, Kwanza, New Year’s and beyond– seems like the biggest killjoy for fes­tive social gath­er­ings.

Pub­lic health mes­sages, man­dates and restric­tions have been great about advis­ing on what not to do.

Newly issued county and state orders push the “stay at home” behav­ior mod­els for pre­vent­ing more COVID esca­la­tion.

We hear of the no-no’s and high risk behav­iors to avoid. Once those are spelled out, we can mod­ify activ­ity. What about atten­tion paid to what we can do?

This newest round of pub­lic lock­downs comes as COVID fatigue and resent­ment peaks. Humans are social crea­tures.

These past months have been stress­ful and iso­lat­ing. Our col­lec­tive strong desire is to be with fam­ily, friends and loved ones for rit­ual and celebration.

Read more: Bah Humbug →

Bring the out­side in for nec­es­sary hol­i­day cheer. Lift­ing spir­its is only one of the by-​products of dec­o­rat­ing using aro­matic ever­greens, col­or­ful fruits and dried pro­duce.

Cre­ative expres­sion is well-​fed and sat­is­fied when it comes to assem­bling gath­ered and sourced stems, branches, cut­tings and the like.

Christ­mas trees, wreaths, gar­lands and flo­ral arrange­ments set the hol­i­day tone. Seed pods, pinecones, fruits and berries add tex­ture, color and notably fra­grance to already inter­est­ing designs.

Cran­ber­ries and pome­gran­ates add won­der­ful pops of color to any cut green­ery. Cit­rus slices come in an array of yel­low, orange and gold. With new vari­eties com­ing into sea­son, blood oranges, grape­fruit and Meyer lemons are attrac­tive ele­ments for swags and man­tels.

Cin­na­mon sticks, star anise and whole cloves are not rel­e­gated to just hot toddy duty. Tie them, glue them and string them for gift wrap­ping bling, tree orna­ments and bowls of scented room fresh­en­ers.

Pears and apples hold their ground dur­ing Decem­ber sup­ply. Keep in mind the tiny ver­sions for hol­i­day place set­tings and tablescapes. Seckel and Forelle for the pear choices are sim­ply adorable. Lady and crabap­ples hit the bulls­eye for diminu­tive apple selec­tions. It’s espe­cially impor­tant this year to change up liv­ing and work space envi­ron­ments for psy­chol­ogy sake.

Work­ing remotely or self-​isolating ben­e­fit from event the small­est ges­ture of décor changes. Ele­vate the mood with some­thing new to view.

Aro­mather­apy prop­er­ties of a sin­gle sprig of rose­mary can reshape atti­tudes and act as a de-​stresser.

Explore other herbs and greens found in the yard, neigh­bor­hood or retail shops.

Read more: That’s a wrap! →