A destiny of connecting dots between farmers, culture, food, and joy
Originally this was going to be a quick recipe post, but I ended up spending the better part of the day to contemplate and write. As it goes, this mango cake recipe revealed to me the story of my destiny. As you may have learned by now, most of my recipes are not just recipes. Instead, most contain an anecdote or some personal truth that is revealed to me once I get the opportunity to write the recipe down…
Today I received a text from a longtime friend talking about fate. This text randomly flashed me back to times as a little girl in Nicaragua, memories full of parrots and feelings of mango-joy. Today’s flashback clarified how long mango-joy has been a part of my life – the result of fate and destiny working together as partners. I guess that running joke of me as the mango queen isn’t far from the truth.
Gracefully extracting the warming tones of a tropical mango for our Thanksgiving table
If you haven’t worked in marketing, you may not be able to empathize with how pressurized it can become – to have to constantly churn out new, creative (and IMO hopefully) useful content. In the food business that means new recipe ideas and techniques to simplify them. In produce that means tips on storage, handling, and usage, as well as flavor profiles, textures, and a fruit or a vegetable’s unique quirks. If you’re like me and want content to be genuine, it’s even more difficult. Mango-infused Thanksgiving ideas are not easy to come by, but I think we managed to pull it off. Continue Reading…
Mi padre es tu padre
Para una versión en inglés haga clic aquí
Una de las cosas que nos conecta a todos en esta vida es la muerte, la comida es otra. Desde que mi padre falleció hace unos años, me di cuenta que me conecto con ciertas personas de manera más auténtica, especialmente aquellas cuyos padres, a quienes también estaban cerca, hayan muerto. Para muchos de nosotros el sentimiento de “vacío” que ahora llevamos dentro de nosotros nos conecta…de alguna manera nos magnetiza. La pérdida en general nos conecta, lo que tiende a recordarme que la vida debería.
Mi padre es tu padre, celebrate life
Click HERE for a version of the post in Spanish
One of the things that connects us all in this life is food and certainly thats a big one for me, death is another obvious connector. I noticed since my father passed a few years back that I connect with certain people more authentically, especially with those whose fathers, to whom they too were close, have passed. For many of us the feeling of “lack” that we now carry inside us, connects us…magnetizes us. Loss in general connects us, which tends to somehow trigger and remind me that to celebrate life.
I think the ancient and traditional Day of the Dead (“Día de Muertos”) ceremonies, beliefs and celebrations practiced throughout Mexico – and many parts of the world where Mexican populations live and work – are a wonderful example of just that. Day of the Dead customs or traditions seem totally undervalued in Western culture, and as I have been contemplating my own aging and my own sense of belonging (especially after my father passed shortly before a serious breakup), I feel a yearning for more ritual, more tradition and more community in my own life. When I look at so many of the traditions of the world that date back thousands of years, I see so many of them still thriving today in connecting people. I see the Mexican population today, not so as much “religious” but as extremely spiritual people, moving, and evolving through this life as best they can with their family, loved ones, and communities front and center to it all…and I think that’s beautiful. Continue Reading…
Mango Holding Area, Empaque Don Jorge, El Rosario, Sinaloa Mexico
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 this one is my personal favorite- which is why I’ work with them. Boasting this facility and the Crespo’s is the natural outcome of my true beliefs.
We don’t talk enough about packing houses in our business yet this is the one place that usually solves and/or causes most problems in terms of product quality and food safety. 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.
Bay Area Consumers and Buyers Co-Mingle with Farm to Table Mangoes
“The experience of being alongside consumers in this format was so rewarding. It wasn’t about selling or being sold to, so it was natural and easy. Everyone was there to enjoy food (heavily featuring mangoes in all different ways, some obvious and some creative.) I found the conversation was comfortable because everyone has the common experience of great food, drinks and company. Loved the evening and the excitement it created. The “party favor”, a case of Crespo Organic Mangoes was the perfect send-off to keep the evening fresh in mind.” Maroka Kawamura, Produce/Floral Program and Category Manager New Leaf Community Market
Insight and inspiration from Brian Dey, Senior Merchandiser & Natural Stores Coordinator for Four Seasons Produce, Inc.
“Mangoes are Fun” Brian Dey stating the truth.
We currently inhabit a digital age, where the constant barrage of messaging can feel overwhelming, jarring and a bit manipulative. We crave instant gratification. Easy outlets for this include food and shopping. We desire the lowest price possible. When we get a deal, we tell ourselves that we are smart shoppers. We feel fulfilled by dabbling in novel and varied shopping experiences.
As we get comfortable subscribing to meal delivery kits and ingesting our daily dose of produce by way of morning juice, produce merchandising seems like an archaic concept. All the while, more and more research shows that, regardless of all the virtual and rapid reward delivery trends, consumers continue to seek real life, in-the-flesh experiences, like choosing fruits and vegetables by hand. The old world way of showcasing fruits and vegetables in abundant, vibrant displays, is still one of the most successful sales tools in produce. Attracting customers to your product at the store level takes skill, passion, and creativity, and, of course, a clear understanding of your customers.
Warming up to and with mangoes; through booze
My love for mangoes started off rocky. As a young girl venturing into Central America with my family in the late 1980’s, down the Pan American highway through Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and into Nicaragua, I had some run ins with mangoes. Few of those entanglements left me with a hankering for more. The soapy, ultra-sweet flavor wasn’t my thing and I gave up on them easily, without looking back. Thirty years later, I found myself importing and marketing these sweet perfumed beauties for organic farmers throughout Latin American and I decided to take another look. I don’t think it’s uncommon with some foods (can you say brussel sprouts) that a second try as an adult changes everything, especially when you toss in the “tried and true” recipe for reshaping taste- nostalgia, timing, connection and engagement. My coming of age with mangoes was born from my connection to mango farmers and the the sustainable food scene in Brooklyn and it advanced by a warehouse full of fresh organic mangoes and a local artisanal, farm to glass booze craze. As a cooking instructor who focuses a great deal of time on kids, I am aware that the perfect storm of ingredients can create an openness of the palette that allows kids to try things they would normally never try not to mention actually like what they are tasting. This is the story (told through booze) of my perfect storm that brought me to where I am today, a devoted mango lover and self proclaimed – Queen of the King of Fruits
Photo Credit: Laura DeOliveira
And I’m told… It’s Gazpacho time! For me, that means mangoes.
Today, the title to this post came into my social media feed in the form of an organic industry blog post (It’s Summer Time and Living is Easy). It came by way of my dear friend, organic produce colleague and cooking buddy, Melody Meyer. Melody is the Vice President of Policy and Industry Relations for United Natural Foods. In addition to her tasks as one of UNFI’s leaders in policy and ambassadors of organics, she sits on the board of the Organic Trade Association and is truly one of the most prominent, well educated and experienced leaders in the organic industry. She writes a blog for UNFI, called Organic Matters, and if you are interested in, or if organics matter to you, you should definitely follow her blog and social media. Not only is she well informed from years of experience and having an actual hand in all things organic, but she is funny, clever and writes exceptionally well, allowing for the complex policy and regulation aspects of organics to be easily absorbed.