Those that feast together grow together
Someone recently claimed that recipes have no place in buyer-focused produce marketing. That someone doesn’t know my history with buyers or recipes nor does that person connect the dots between farms and tables, like I do. That someone has probably never witnessed the excitement over the vibrant consumer mango recipes and educational cards boldy worn by the displays of #MuchosMangoes during Crespo Organic Summer Mango Mania, put there by people like Four Seasons Produce’s merchandiser extraordinaire Brian Dey. That someone has likely never tasted the tantalizing Crespo Organic Sinaloa Sauce recipe, the one that I created to pay homage to the Crespo family’s home state of Sinaloa and the habanero and mango connection. No doubt that someone completely underestimates the power of a good recipe and of food in general.
Food is a connector. When we share food, we get deeper insights into one another. Food builds friendships and mends conflicts. It’s a life necessity and one of the few sensory experiences that we get to share with all other human beings on the planet. Food may just be the most powerful connector there is. It is nourishing and, to partake in it together, nourishes the group. As we bring food into our bodies with others, we become the same. That feeling of sameness relaxes us and creates more openness. Trust, cooperation and growth are born out of openness. A mango recipe shared, seen, cooked, shared again (with consumers) binds us all. I know the power of food and a good recipe.
Building bridges: diversity & inclusion
It’s a weird day, this International Woman’s Day thing. It feels important but like we’ve made a very serious topic frivolous by placing it in a “day category”, next to International Ice Cream Day and International Siblings Day. My gut feeling is that this rather uncomfortable topic is placed here between ice cream and siblings because we don’t know what else to do with it. We still don’t know quite how to address real life disparity.
Most search engine results will point browsers to one particular website: InternationalWomensDay.com. As far as I can tell, the site’s origins are untraceable entities except for the fact that John Deer seems to be a sponsor (which feels peculiar and suspicious to me, I won’t lie).
The theme on this site is #EmbraceEquity. Despite this year’s incredibly cheesy (and if you ask me a little too soft for the subject matter) self-hug photographic rendition of the theme, the site manages to capture the most important aspects of equality: diversity and inclusion… “to get the world talking about why equal opportunities aren’t enough.” Citing that: “People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action.”
A celebratory mango-milk punch for Christmas
I had my first Pechuga, about 30 years ago when I was studying politics in Cuernavaca, Mexico while in college. On one of our outings we visited the then governor of the state of Morelos (where Cuernavaca is located) at his home, to discuss local politics. The governor also happened to produce mezcal. It wasn’t long into the outing when we veered off political course and began indulging in the governors mezcalero side, drinking and discussing mezcal instead. Eventually he pulled out a bottle of his pechuga, or as he humorously described it “mezcal’s breast milk.” After the poorly translated jokes, he went on to describe pechuga to us for real, explaining that it’s a very special and celebratory spirit made by mezcal makers and made with raw chicken or turkey breast as well as a medley of other botanicals, herbs and spices.
Wait, what? The room of 19-20 year old Americans were a bit in shock, even my then weird loving idea self, was aghast with the idea of raw chicken breast used in mezcal.
#MuchosMangoes inspire as I sail down the Nile
Egypt has long been on my list of places to visit and recently I was lucky enough to spend fifteen days traveling around the country. Not just to see and feel the ancient history but to experience the rich culture and food that I have grown to love with so many of my travels to the middle east for agricultural work.
On this trip I was lucky enough to see almost all parts of Egypt, from Cairo all the way to the southern border near Sudan. I of course got to see the great pyramids in Giza and ride a camel, and visit the tombs and temples of Pharaohs, queens and goddess’. I also got to sail down the Nile for four days – I guess technically I sailed up since the Nile, the longest river in the world, flows from south to North. I met with women in small villages and got to eat some wonderful food in a Nubian village near Sudan and cook with the chef on the ancient Egyptian sailboat. lI earned a lot about Egypt; the greatest take away is how much and how long the country (its people) have been suffering and how little we westerners hear about that and how important mangoes are there.
Boasting the most efficient and modern mango pack house around
Disclaimer: This is a boastful and prideful post about a packing house that I truly believe in. I’m one of a few globally well-traveled industry folks with an extremely diverse make up of commodities, markets, cultures and systems. I have seen a lot of packing houses and “sheds” in my travels and none like this one. Boasting this facility and the Crespo’s is the natural outcome of my true beliefs.
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We don’t talk enough about the quality of packing houses in our business and yet this is the one place that can make or break a program, the place that usually solves and/or causes most problems in terms of product quality, food safety and compliances. Most fruits and vegetables are harvested and then brought to a packing house or shed where they are then packed into various bulk or retail packaging. These large and small sorting/packing hubs serve as the distribution outlet for the farm and/or the farmers. These facilities can be modern, elaborate, high tech, clean and simple, dirty and even bare bones covered (shaded) tables where things like fresh herbs are packed right out of the field.
A pause for appreciation for those that feed us, organically
I learned about gratitude as a little girl. It was not taught to me in school or by my parents or by my country. It was taught to me by Nicaraguans. Poor Nicaraguans to be specific, who had nothing much of physical, monetary, or economic value in their possessions. At the time, mid to later 1980’s these average Nicaraguans were struggling to find food and basic necessities amidst embargoes, wars, political power struggles, corruption, CIA involvement, cocaine trafficking and more. My family, my father and four brothers just happened to be living alongside them, in similar circumstances, the struggling to find necessities part. I paid attention then, as I do now and noticed early on that despite having, what I considered, from my viewpoint as a young girl coming from a poor family in Los Angeles, nothing- they were happy. They were generous and above all they had gratitude. It took me a while to understand this formula, but eventually it’s one that is now etched in my bones and part of my blood. A way of being that I couldn’t stop being attracted to. The attraction, to living around those with immense gratitude is what lead me to farmers, small organic farmers to be exact.
McAllen enjoys the last fruits of our labor while Nogales embraces a bit more propaganda
Here is the brief take-away from this article: Hot water baths are not bad, and untreated fruit is not better. The end of the season is complex for all- let facts be your guide.
For a handful of us who grow extensively in the El Rosario area during the Sinaloa season, mango supplies can often be extended all the way into the first week of September. While other broker-sellers move to the untreated Mochis zone (which jump up significantly in price and size), we can stay longer in lower prices and smaller fruit. Naturally, this benefits our volume-driven sellers a great deal, knowing most customers have a price point they must adhere to in order to capture sales. In some regions, consumers will only pay so much for a mango; this is particularly true in the Midwest and on the east coast. So, just a touch below the arbitrary untreated zone line, the Rosario region offers a micro growing region where we can do just that – provide smaller, cheaper mangoes throughout the entire month of August.
A Crespo Organic Kitchen Cooking Class
Class Description: This is a very special class to cap off Mango Mania, where we’ll make our favorite Mexican street drink – the Mangonada – and all its components from scratch, including Homemade Chamoy and Tamarindo Candy Straws. Bright orange mango sorbet with chamoy rippled throughout and topped with fresh mangoes. The mangonada is a summertime staple in Mexican communities and the Crespo Organic Kitchen is going to take a stab at making it from scratch, right along side you!
We will make the chamoy from scratch—a savory, lightened pickeld condiment made from dried stone fruit. We will even make our own house Tajín seasoning (a lime-flavored chili powder). And the signature candy tamarind straw too, we wont forget to make that too!
Most of the stuff you’d buy from the store today is so laden with salt, sugars, processed-everything that we want to recreate this incredible treat the old way (which is also the healthier, fresh way).
Recipes to be Made: Mango & Lime Sorbet; Homemade Chamoy; Crespo (Faux) Tajín; Tamarind Candy Straws
Date: Saturday July 31st
Time: 4 PM CST
Location: VIRTUAL! Watch on Instagram live or follow along on Zoom!
Participate Via Zoom
Meeting ID: 881 0554 2868
Notes: There is some prep work needed for this class so check out the Pre-Class Needs Photo on this post for all the details plus the full ingredient list you will need!
Under the Crespo mango trees, I find efficiency, ingenuity, mango joy and #muchosmangoes
The “Propaganda Lady” is what they called me last week at Empaque Don Jorge, as I walked around with my mask and hairnet snapping photos and filming staged and impromptu videos. I’ve learned to see the big smiles in the eyes of so many masked strangers. The extreme warmth of the packing house was more than the intense Sinaloa summer heat. It was, as I say in much of my “propaganda,” #PuroMexico #PuroAlegria! A warmth like no other. I loved every moment of my time there.
Propaganda is Spanish for marketing, and it makes me giggle, and reminds me of the simplicity and clarity that most other languages employ. English on the other hand seems sneakier, using multiple words to describe the same thing, but choosing one or the other depending on what is to be propagandized. In Spanish, propaganda simply suggests that whatever the messaging is, it often has another purpose – in this case, to educate customers about our mango production process and about mangoes generally
A promotion that celebrates Mexico with mangoes
Cinco de Mayo is barely a holiday in Mexico, but we are acutely aware that it’s become a big event across the USA. An event that generates a significant amount of sales for Mexican produce items. Mangoes, like avocadoes are one of the items most coveted for the few days that encircle this Americanized holiday. The date feels like an opportunity for us.
Our #CelebrateMexico #CelebrateMangoes campaign not only excites, engages and entices consumers on all things organic mango, but it educates on the beauty and culture of Mexico and encourages a celebration of all things Mexican, including its rich agricultural offerings.