Friday, November 30, 2018

Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit Deliciousness

Orlando, Fla.--Colorful tasty produce abounded at the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit this year. The PMA is a trade organization that helps and represents companies from every sector of the global fresh produce supply chain and floral supply chain. Each year they put on a Fresh Summit to bring together their members and others, for a State of the Industry address, educational workshops, a charity run, and a two-day exposition.

Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

This year's exposition boasted over 1300 booths full of colors and innovations. Here are just a few, of the many companies, I interviewed: Blazeberries from Naturipe Farms Llc, South African Baby Pineapples from Melissa's Produce, and Organic easy opening coconuts from Genuine Coconut.

Blazeberries from Naturipe Farms Llc., Produce Marketing
Association's Fresh Summit, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

Naturipe Farms Llc, established in 1917, is a grower-owned berry company that works with a lot of other berry farms. Their produce that stood out for me was Blazeberries. They are a variety of yellow raspberries that are blazed (tanned) by the sun into a mosaic of red, orange, and yellow hues. They have a very short season, said Fernando Aguilar of Naturipe, who added that the berries are grown for flavor.  You can buy their berries at Whole Foods and Costco.

Baby Pineapples from Melissa's Produce, Produce
Marketing Association Fresh Summit, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

Melissa's Produce, established 2012, is a large U.S. distributor of specialty produce and foods processed from fresh produce. The California based company had such a colorful, expansive booth of items it was hard to chose just one because they had everything from long shelf life packaged quinoa to blackened garlic to a rainbow of dragon fruit to South African baby pineapples.

The South African baby pineapples were particularly interesting because they were so small, about the size of a large grapefruit. And all parts were edible except the skin and leaves. The booth representative said they were also very tasty and juicy. You can buy Melissa's Produce Baby Pineapples directly from their website, along with many other produce items.

Genuine Coconut's organic pop-top coconut, Produce
Marketing Association, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

Genuine Coconut, certified organic raw coconut water from coconuts with a patented easy opening system.  The coconuts are sourced from an organic farm in Thailand. And the pop-top ring, used for opening the coconut, is made from recycled coconut husk fiber and resin. So all you have to do is open the pop-top ring on the coconut like you would a can of soda, and then insert a straw into the whole to drink.

The company has a "How To," YouTube, on their website showing how the whole system works.

Currently, to buy the coconuts directly from the Genuine Coconut's website you have to live in England, Wales and Scotland (not including the Scottish Highlands and islands).  Luckily, Melissa's Produce distributes them, under the title of Organic Drinking Coconuts, in the United States.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Choco Soleil Organic Chocolate Sourced From Ecuador

Miami Beach, Fla.--Choco Soleil organic chocolate sourced from Ecuador is delicious. "We have the plain bar, the 80 percent, very unique because it has a jute bag inside with actual cocoa beans inside, and you can open it and you can have a cocoa bean, and you can feel it, taste it, it's truly unique," Gabriel Carrera, Sales Executive for AOG Foods (the Canadian parent company), said during an interview at the 22nd Americas Food & Beverage Show. 

Choco Soleil Organic Chocolate, AOG Foods, 22 Americas Food & Beverage
Show, Miami Beach, Fla. Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

Three styles of Choco Soleil chocolates were on display at the show; all were USDA certified organic, Fair Trade certified, bean-to-bar, single origin, and dark. All the bars had been on the market for just six months and were already being sold in all the major cities across Canada, according to Carrera. AOG Foods came to the Americas show to find Florida and United States distributors. 

Their two plain bars, with the highest percentage of cacao, came from just two specific areas of Ecuador: Esmeraldas and ManabĂ­. "It gives us a really specific flavor to the chocolates," said Carrera.

The ManabĂ­ sourced bar, with 70 percent cacao, had more of a fruity flavor whereas the Esmeraldas, 80 percent, had more of a floral flavor. "This is more like the flavor of flowers because of the style of cocoa beans was sourced around flowers. It's truly unique, truly wonderful," said Carrera.

Choco Soleil Organic Chocolate, 65 percentage disc with fruit,
AOG Foods, 22nd Americas Food & Beverage Show,
Miami Beach, Fla., Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

The Choco Soleil line also had a 65 percentage chocolate, shaped into multiple wafer-like discs that were combined with exotic ingredients like banana, golden berry, cranberry and cocoa nibs & salt. 

"Everyone likes the products," said Carrera. 

AOG Foods had two other cacao brands: YAAL Ecuador, and GCP Gourmet Cacoa Products. 

They had many reasons for starting their company two years ago including selling dark chocolate for its health benefits but mainly it was about supporting local growers. “We saw we had connections with cocoa plantations and we wanted to do something different, unique, that represents Ecuador,” said Carrera.

To find out more about them you can go to:

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Vegan Food, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show 2018

Orlando, Fla.—There were vegan food options at this year’s Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show. The reason why, in part, was because they launched a concurrent show called the Healthy Food Expo which featured vegan food and drink companies, farmers and other green companies. I interviewed six vegan food products companies that were attending the show.

Teese Vegan Cheese Alternative, Florida Restaurant
& Lodging Show, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

Teese Vegan Cheese alternative is sold in long log-style packaging, made with pea protein and available in four flavors (mozzarella, cheddar, creamy cheddar and nacho sauce). It is wheat-free, dairy-free, peanut-free, soy-free, palm oil-free, gluten-free and tree nut-free. I had the nacho cheese flavor over corn nachos and it was delicious. Unfortunately it is only available through distribution companies on a wholesale bases. 

Pero Family Farms Organic Snipped Green Beans,
Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

Pero Family Farms® established in 1908, grows local sustainable vegetables at their Boynton Beach farm. At the Florida Healthy Food Expo they showcased several produce items including organic Snipped Green Beans™ that had been pollinated and bred, the natural way, with the help of bees, in a field, under the warmth of the sun. You can find their tasty beans at many grocery stores in Florida including Publix.

Oumph! plant-protein, Florida Restaurant &
Lodging Show, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

Oumph!™ Is a Lake Worth, Florida, based company. It is a plant-based protein made with soy. It was founded by Chef Anders “The Duck” Linden of Sweden.  Launched several years ago in Europe, vegan Chef Linden wanted to make a versatile vegan protein item that consumers and chefs could use in new, delicious ways. Oumph! is gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher, non-GMO, eco-conscious, and vegan. I found it to be very delicious and addictive.

If you live in Europe, you can find Oumph! in several grocery stores. But if you live in North America, you will only find it at local restaurants, as it is only sold wholesale. 

Matcha Love by Ito En Ltd., Florida Restaurant & Lodging
Show, Orlando, Fla. Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

Matcha Love™ by Ito En Ltd., a Brooklyn, N.Y., based company sells green tea macha products. Macha is a varietal of Japanese green tea that is most commonly ground up into a powder and used in cooking, baking and beverage making. It has high antioxidant properties.

I tried the culinary grade mocha at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show. It was very bitter and I understood why it is mixed with other ingredients. According to Ryan Glosniak of Ito En, Matcha Love also comes in a first flush ceremonial style that has a lighter, more delicate flavor. Both can be purchased online through Amazon or at Whole Foods Stores. 

The Vegan Knife, gluten-free vegan chocolate
Birthday cake samples, Florida Restaurant &
Lodging Show, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

The Vegan Knife , a Naples, Florida, based company makes vegan, gluten-free boxed baking mixes. The founder and owner of the company, Julie Butcher, created this line of vegan products after getting diagnosed with several allergies that stopped her from eating desserts. All her mixes are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, egg-free, and wheat-free. You can buy her tasty treats online directly from The Vegan Knife or at some west coast Florida stores like Lucky's in Naples and Sarasota.

The Ice Cream Club's Coffee Almond Fudge non-dairy dessert,
Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2018 by Helen A Lockey

The Ice Cream Club, a Boynton Beach, Florida, based company, has been making artisan ice cream since 1982. All of their products are kosher and free from artificial colors and flavors. This year, at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show they launched their non-dairy frozen dessert line made with coconut milk. 

My favorite of three flavors offered at the show (coconut almond fudge, coffee almond fudge, and strawberry) was the Coffee Almond Fudge, it was extremely creamy and I couldn't tell it was made with coconut milk. Unfortunately, at this point in time, these non-dairy frozen desserts are only available wholesale to companies.

I look forward to seeing what new vegan food items will be at next year's show.