News in Produce

Oregon Fruit Makes You Happy

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Posted November 30th, 2012 in Healthy Eating, Healthy Tips, News in Produce, Posts

From every turn we are encouraged, cajoled and admonished to eat more fruits and vegetables.  From the “5 a Day” campaign to Produce for Better Health, to the First Lady, Dr. Oz and Jamie Oliver on the Food Network we have been bombarded with this message.  No one could have escaped it unless you live under the proverbial rock.  Doing it, on the other hand, has been more elusive.  The “5 a Day” campaign began in 1994 and the latest research shows that only 31% of adults between 19 and 64 are reaching that goal.  For kids it is actually only 1 in 10.  Later research shows that even more servings are actually optimal-somewhere between 5 and 9 servings per day.  Last year a new icon was released called the “My Plate” to show us in picture form how to eat with half the plate made up of fruits and vegetables.

Economists and public health researchers from the University of Warwick studied the eating habits of 80,000 people in Britain. This  study found that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables not only improves your physical health, it helps your emotional well being as well!  The study determined that happiness and mental health are highest among people who eat seven 3oz portions of fruit and/or vegetables per day.

The study did not distinguish among different kinds of fruits and vegetables, nor did it matter whether the fruits and vegetables were fresh, frozen or canned.  (good news for US!)

Co-author, economist Professor Andrew Oswald from the Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE) in the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick, said: “This study has shown surprising results and I have decided it is prudent to eat more fruit and vegetables. I am keen to stay cheery.”

This time of year many people suffer from Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) , a kind of depression that occurs at a certain time of the year, usually in the winter.  It is not known whether this is strictly related to changes in the weather due to long periods of dreary rain and cold, the holidays or some combination.   But it can’t hurt to combat with some extra fruits and vegetables.

I am with Dr. Oswald.  For those of us “keen to stay cheery” eat more Oregon Fruit!

A Colorful Salad for a Warm Autumn Day

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Posted November 2nd, 2012 in Healthy Eating, News in Produce, Posts

With a large swath of the country suffering through the mega storm Hurricane Sandy, I feel guilty enjoying the last warm days of autumn last weekend.  While biking along the river with the fall color changing I was struck with the fact that most people don’t even think about Sacramento, Ca when they think of fall.  And yet Sacramento is the tree capital of the world with more trees per capita than any city even Paris.  So next time you are looking for an autumn destination you should check us out because the fall color along the American River is amazing.  I had a little last brush with summer and decided to make a lovely Blackberry Salad for dinner.  Of course it ISN’T summer any longer so any blackberries still in the produce section are coming from another country.  So I just reached into my pantry for a can of Oregon Blackberries to make my vinaigrette. Oregon Fruit Blackberries are fantastic due to the fact that they stand up to the canning process so well. They look so close to fresh most people could not tell the difference.

 I found this recipe on a blog called 20somethingcupcakes.com a few months ago and who would have expected a healthy salad from a cupcake site?  But here it is and it was delicious. 

According to Jenna Telesca Fresh Market Editor at Supermarket News, “it’s a good time for produce. Michelle Obama has been telling the nation to eat its vegetables; half the plate has been officially reserved for fruit and veggies; and even fast food chains have been moving to add more produce to their menus.  On top of that, farmers are cool again!”

So here’s to fruits and veggies in every form the more colorful the better and that is what this salad is-fresh, colorful and delicious.

Chef Abby Cooks with Oregon Fruit at the Oregon Berry Festival 2012

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Posted August 10th, 2012 in News in Produce, Posts

Downtown Portland explodes every July with the scent and color of everything BERRY!   This is the festival that celebrates the crown jewels of Oregon.  Last year I was fortunate to attend and sample Oregon Fruit at this event and my daughter, Kaitlin and I had a great time meeting the locals and discussing the various forms of  ,and ways to use, Oregon berries.

This year we had the opportunity to do something different.  Chef Abby Fammartino from Abby’s Table in Portland agreed to use her magic to create and demonstrate a recipe using Oregon canned fruit on the demo stage.  Now this is a bit of blasphemy considering this festival was all about bringing in the fresh harvest and also considering Chef Abby’s culinary point of view.  She is committed to fresh, local and healthy fare. Her philosophy is:

“Source local, pure, natural and organic items at all costs.  We are careful and responsible in our production practices from the root source to your table.

We believe in the power of yum.  Healthy food must taste delicious in order for your body to truly reap the health benefits over time.

We wish to strengthen a healthy food culture in America, one table at a time.  Food tastes better when shared, savored or enjoyed sitting down with loved ones.”

So as you can see we are not so far apart at all when you consider this blog’s point of view as well as Oregon Fruit Products. We believe in the quality of produce grown in the Northwest by our local farms.  We simply make it possible for you to enjoy that produce all year when the fresh season is a distant memory.  We also believe that humans need to get back to the kitchen and back to the table.  There is some actual scientific research that demonstrates that teens that have frequent family dinners are less likely to use drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Other research has shown that regular family meals increase children’s nutrition and reduce childhood obesity.

The recipe that Chef Abby created here is creative also in that it is a savory recipe. Traditionally, Oregon Fruit has been used as a pie ingredient. However, if you are a regular reader you know that I love the savory applications myself and am always searching for ways to use fruit in food not just dessert.  So this Asian inspired Grilled Salmon in Lettuce cups with Blueberry Chutney will become an entertaining staple for me but it is also a recipe that I could make for a weeknight dinner.  Chef Abby prepared it in just few minutes.  Her secret is lots of fresh flavors to complement the key ingredients.  I love Chef Abby’s “freestyling” where she makes it up as she goes along.  That is the way I learned to cook from my mom as well.  But thankfully she has shared the recipe with us so we can make it at home

The Life of a Cherry Grower

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Posted July 13th, 2012 in At the Farm, News in Produce, Posts

Photo by Mark Harrison/The Seattle Times. Francisco Lopez picks cherries recently at Hayden Farms in Eltopia, Franklin County, where pickers are told to gently lay, not drop, the tender fruit in a bucket to avoid bruising.

Life is not always a bowl of cherries if you are a cherry grower.  This past spring an unusual set of weather conditions all but wiped out the Red Tart Cherry crop in the Midwest.  The majority of the world’s tart cherries are grown in this region around Traverse City, Michigan.  A secondary growing area in upstate New York and Pennsylvania was affected by the same weather.  The growers and packers in this part of the country are devastated.  You can read more about the crop failure here. The cherries grown here are the traditional Cherry pie cherry. The variety is called Montmorency and they have had quite a run lately with the discovery of their fantastic health properties.  They are a natural anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and contain melatonin for sleep.   Just as importantly they are delicious and a favorite for making lots of things in addition to pie: smoothies, quick bread, tarts and just topping Greek Yogurt adding a bit of honey for a healthy breakfast.

A similar weather phenomenon took place exactly ten years ago and here at Oregon Fruit we were faced with a serious challenge; How to supply our customers with our #1 product?  A decade ago, we found a similar tasting cherry variety grown in Poland. Although we are committed to growing and packing right here in America, we also believe in American ingenuity when it comes to making our customers happy. So we bought the Polish cherries and sold them to our customers and most everyone was satisfied.  This variety is a much deeper red than our US grown varieties, more like a fine Cabernet.  The taste is similar, though. Just the right amount of tart.

We didn’t expect to find ourselves in this situation again for another 40 years but here we are.  We have bought up all the tart cherries we can find both is the US and internationally. The prices are  high due to the limited supply but we think it will be worth it to our loyal and dedicated customers to be able to make their favorite recipes even in this rough year. Some things are just worth paying more for.

In the Northwest some of the most delicious dark sweet cherries are grown.  The growing season is short and I personally look forward to eating my weight in cherries during the fresh season.  According to the Linda Mapes of the Seattle Times “So tricky to grow, such a delectable summer treat: Washington cherry growers take another spin in the cherry casino, as they bring in the state’s most high-risk crop”.  I love the description of this grower,” Denny Hayden is packing heat: a Bluetooth in one ear, cell phone holstered on his hip — and rosary beads and holy medals in his jeans pocket.

“And if that doesn’t do it, I’ve got Tums and Excedrin,” Hayden said. “And a prayer book. And if all that fails, I have whiskey.”  The article goes on to say “For while cherry growers produce one of the state’s most valuable crops per acre, theirs also is a high-stakes harvest, a gamble in the cherry casino where an entire season’s painstaking labor — and investment — can be lost in a passing storm.”  You can read more about the harvest in Washington here.

The crop in the Northwest is coming in but it has not been without weather related trouble. However the fruit looks beautiful and the crop is large so the Washington growers will not be experiencing the pain of their Midwest compatriots at least this year.   Thanks to the efforts of these growers passionate about the fruit they harvest we will have a great canning season this year at Oregon Fruit and you will find these big, bold and beautiful treats on grocers shelves long after the fresh season is over.

 

The Queen and The Produce Man-Berry Fest 2012

The Queen and The Produce Man

It’s berry season in the west and that gives rise to Berry Fest celebrations all over the place. The season in California is early and Mother’s Day weekend I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Michael Marks Your Produce Man in Roseville, California. The theme was a side by side bake off with Oregon Canned Fruit and fresh local produce. We had a great time making a Northwest Berry Crisp, Rasberry Chipotle Ribs and a refreshing Mixed Berry Mocktail. We had some small audience members help out and it was a good time for all. The Johnsonville BIG GRILL bar-b-que truck was on hand sampling a strawberry bar-b-que sauce and the grillmaster Ryan stopped by to sample our Raspberry Chipotle Sauce and proclaimed it a winner! I hope you enjoy the fun vicariously via the video below. Stay tuned for the Oregon Berry Fest in a few weeks where a local Portland Chef Abby Fammarino from Abby’s Table in Portland will be gracing us with her decidedly more professional culinary skills using our canned blueberries.

 

 

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