Sunday, December 31, 2017

Produce Marketing Association's Delicious Fruit Choices

Fruit is a plant's sweetest gift to humanity. And at the yearly Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit Convention & Expo growers from all over the world come together to show off their fruit and vegetable produce. But the Fresh Summit is not limited to just showcasing produce. It is also about bringing together people from all aspects of the produce industry from the tiniest seed producer to the largest logistics company.

PMA Fresh Summit, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

During my most recent year of attendance, in Orlando, I came across several fascinating fruits: HBF International Kiwi Berries, SunBelle biodynamic cranberries, Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit and Frutiryes Golden Berries. Some were grown in North America and some were grown in South America.

HBF International Kiwi Berry, PMA Fresh Summit, Orlando Fla.,
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

The first delicious fruit starts with HBF International Kiwi Berries grown by Hurst's Family Farm, based in Oregon. These fruit, grow on vines, look exactly the same inside as kiwifruit except they are the size of concord table grapes and like grapes they can be eaten whole, skin and all because they have a fur-less skin. Their skin ranges in color from green to one with pink blush on green. When I had them they had been dipped in chocolate. I have found them sold at Whole Foods Markets.

SunBelle GreenBelle Biodynamic Organic Certified non-GMO
cranberries, PMA Fresh Summit, Orlando
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

Next are GreenBelle Biodynamic Organic certified cranberries by SunBelle . These sustainably grown and harvested fruit were real treat to discover especially when I researched what it meant to grow biodynamic produce (beyond organic standards). They were deliciously tart.

Zespri's SunGold Kiwi, non-GMO and certified organic,
PMA Fresh Summit, Orlando
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

Another impressive fruit, grown by Zespri, was a non-GMO SunGold Kiwifruit certified organic. When I lived in Australia I would kiwi fruit whenever I could, they were delicious. But when I came to live in Florida I could not find a single fruit I enjoyed to eat until I got to try the golden ones at the PMA Fresh Summit. They were sweet and refreshing and did not leave my tongue tingling like their greener cousins. These are sold at COSTCO stores.

Golden Berry, a.k.a Cape Gooseberry, PMA Fresh Summit,
Orlando. Copywright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

Then last but by no means least came Golden Berries (Physalis peruviana) also known as Cape Gooseberry. These fruit are in the same plant family as tomatillo, the fruit with an outer papery skin. But Golden Berries are smaller and more delicious, at least according to me. They are grown in Columbia by Frutireyes and other countries, and imported by various companies including SunBelle .

The real delicious property, to me, about golden berry happens when they are dried. They become the tart kings and queens of fruit and pair beautifully with chocolate and ice cream, yum. I found them at Publix Supermarkets and Whole Foods.

PMA Fresh Summit is all about several days of educational seminars, produce trends predictions presentations, parties and exposition floor booth visits that leave participants leave getting a better idea of what is happening in the worldwide produce industry.

I look forward to seeing what the PMA Fresh Summit Convention & Expo has in store for next year's event.

Biodynamic Certification Origins And Standards

Biodynamic practices and principles have been around for almost a century. They are a style of farming that uses organic growing methods, sustainability ideas and harmonious environmental practices. They also go beyond organic practices and beyond farm applications. The philosophy extends into biodynamic communities where all individuals come together as a community to help each other prosper.

Biodynamic sustainability practice of planting marigolds near kale plants,
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey
Biodynamics started in the 1920s with Dr. Rudolf Steiner in Austria when farmers, who were struggling with poor land conditions, came to him for help. Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, a colleague of Dr. Steiner, later brought the practices to the United States in 1930s.

The standards of biodynamic certification, according to Demeter International, are—promote sustainable farming practices and prohibit synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics (unless to treat sick animals), genetically engineered seeds, sewage sludge as a fertilizer, artificial ingredients, and other inputs that can be used in conventional agriculture and food processing.”

This means using manure from the fields to make fermented compost, along with herbs and minerals that would be put back on the fields.  There is also the practice of planting flowers between rows of vegetables to either give off scents in the soil to keep ground insects away from eating the roots or to attract flying predatory insects to keep pest insects away eating the tops of the plants.

The farmers strive to as healthy a farm as possible sourcing from within the farm as much as possible.

Today the biodynamic concept goes beyond the soil. It looks at the balances of the ecological, social and economic stability of the farm.

Biodynamic certification differs from a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic certification because the whole farm has to be certified whereas under organic certification not the entire farm needs to be certified.

The one downside to biodynamic produce is that it costs more than organic because there are very few producers of this style of agriculture today in the United States (US). 

The US branch is called Demeter Association, Inc., a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1985. You can go to Demeter USA website and find out more of how to purchase these wonderfully nutritious and environmentally supporting produce items.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Magnolia Leaves, Old Timey Bay Leaf Substitution

Magnolia—Is it a seasonal landscaping plant or seasoning ingredient? If you guessed both then you are right. Magnolia trees are abundant in the south. They have dark green leaves with brown, furry undersides and creamy milk colored flowers. They can grow into very large trees over 20-feet in height.

Edible Magnolia flower and leaves (when cooked)
Copyright 2017 by Helen A Lockey

According to Green Deane of “Eat The Weeds,” an educational company based out of Orlando, Florida, both magnolia flowers and leaves are edible. The flowers can be eaten raw and they taste like they smell. The leaves though have to be cooked and they taste like bay leaves.

This past summer I had the good fortune to go one of Deane’s foraging classes ($30) at a park in South Florida.

Deane warned us to make sure the leaves were washed before we cooked then into a recipe. You have to be careful they have not been sprayed with chemicals like pesticides too.

If you want to find more about him you can go to his website: Eat The Weeds and you can find him on YouTube.