June: A Cherry Good Month for Fresh Produce

One of the best things about summer is the abundance and availability of fresh produce. Although it is now easier to buy fresh produce year round, to get the best deals on fruits that you love you should buy them when they are in season.

Right now is a great time to buy and enjoy California Cherries. Cherries are a versatile ingredient for pies, desserts, and more! They are also a sweet treat by Fresh_Cherry_Asparagus_Salad.jpgthemselves. For a delicious cherry and asparagus salad recipe to try this summer, click here! Even more awesome recipes that incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables can be found at the Fruits and Vegetables More Matters website.

Grapes, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are also in season during the summer months. Remember to always try and fill half your plate with fresh produce, and to take advantage of the bountiful amount available during the summer! Check back at our blog throughout the summer for more yummy recipes!

Savannah Millburn

Savory Grape Salad

If you’re anything like me, it’s safe to say that you probably aren’t going to be winning a cooking show on Food Network anytime soon. But, that doesn’t mean your recipes have to be boring or simple and reflect that! The recipe I’m sharing today is one that I found browsing for exciting new ways to incorporate fresh produce into everyday meals. Courtesy of savorthis on Food52‘s website, this savory grape salad will amaze you at how simple flavorful cooking can be. This salad pairs great with grilled chicken and could be an awesome addition to your Memorial Day BBQ!

Ingredients:

~8 oz King Fresh Grapes (sliced thinly)

~1/3 Cup Sliced Almonds64f67419-0344-46f0-8cdd-fe68577691b7--grapes-f52.jpg

~1 Garlic Clove (sliced thinly)

~6 Basil Leaves (sliced thinly)

~2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

~2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

~1 oz Feta Cheese

First, toast the almonds in a pan without oil. On a plate or in a bowl, add the grapes, basil, and toasted almonds together. Heat the oil and garlic in a pan, and toast the garlic. Once it is toasted, use a spoon and scoop the oil and garlic over the grape mixture. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the grapes, then crumble feta cheese over the salad. You can season with salt and pepper, then you’ve got yourself a delicious, easy dish that is bursting with flavor! All credit for this delicious recipe goes to savorthis. For full recipe with directions and author notes, click here! For more fantastic recipes like this, visit her website here! Have an awesome Memorial Day Weekend and let us know what you think of these recipes!

Savannah Millburn

Berry Patriotic Fruit Salad

With Memorial Day weekend on the horizon, we at King Fresh thought we would share some of our favorite recipes that we’ll be serving up this weekend. One of my families summertime favorites is the Red, White and Blueberry fruit salad. This delicious salad not only tastes great, but is sure to liven up any backyard barbecue due to the brilliant colors of the fruit!

Ingredients:blueberry_commod

~1 pint of King Fresh Strawberries

~1 pint of King Fresh Blueberries

~1/3 cup of Honey

~2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice

~4 bananas

To start, wash the strawberries and blueberries thoroughly. Next, cut up the strawberries into halves or quarters, whichever you prefer. Toss the strawberries and blueberries in a bowl, and add the honey and lime juice. Sugar and lemon juice can be substituted at this step depending on your preferences, however I think the honey complements the sweetness of the fruit without overpowering it. Refrigerate the strawberries and blueberries until chilled, then before serving cut up the bananas and add them to the mix. Voila! You’ve got a gorgeous fruit salad that is sure to impress no matter who you serve it to.

Although we usually don’t end up with any leftover, this recipe will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. The lime juice acts to preserve the bananas so they don’t brown. For the full original recipe, click here! Have a safe Memorial Day Weekend, and be sure to check back for more fun recipes!

Savannah Millburn

Grapes to the Rescue; A Vine New Twist on Heart Disease Prevention

wheezy grapesGrapes are always a delicious treat on a hot day and can be great additions to salads, desserts, and various other summer dishes. Loaded with health-boosting antioxidants and vitamins, grapes are also widely known for being a nutritious alternative to unhealthy sweets like candy and cookies. While we all know that fruit is an integral part of a healthy diet, did you know that grapes can actually lower the risk for heart disease?

New research being conducted by molecular biologist Susan Zunino with the Agricultural Research Service’s Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, CA would suggest that various compounds found in cherries have a positive effect on immune systems in obese people.  In a study conducted by Ms. Zunino, two groups of obese people drank either a mixture of water and freeze dried grape powder, or a placebo that contained no additional compounds. After the study, blood samples were taken and analyzed. The group that had received the compound had a marked difference in their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) which is commonly considered “bad cholesterol”.

Research has lead scientists to believe that increased consumption of LDL lowering fruits and vegetables can be helpful in reducing risk for heart disease in obese and at-risk people. Although more research is needed to determine exactly how different compounds in grapes and other fruit effect the body and onset of disease, it doesn’t take any molecular biology to know that King Fresh grapes are a tasty, juicy and health boosting treat that can be enjoyed year-round!  To read more about research being done about health, food safety, produce and more courtesy of the USDA, click here.

Savannah Millburn

The Value of Youth Labor in the Fields

Keith Wilson, owner and operator of King Fresh Produce told his three sons early on that they could earn money working and contributing to the operations of the King Fresh Produce, the family business. Initially the boys thought their contribution would start in the office; filing, running errands, and doing other tasks, however, their father said no. According to Keith, to fully understand the business it starts in the field–working the dirt, planting, growing the crop, and harvesting. The sons were told “Field work begins in the morning so be at there at 5:30 AM tomorrow morning.” Keith told them to not forget a hat and to wear a long sleeve shirt to not get sun burned.

“Working in the fields helped me learn the value of a dollar. It makes me think if I buy something it took me this many hours to earn what I am purchasing.” Zachary Wilson, 15 years old said.

Working in the fields can be overwhelming. These young men have to wake up early in the morning since it is over 90 degrees by 10 or 11 AM.  After working in the fields for King Fresh for two summers now, Zachary is interested in working in other parts of the company.

“Working in the fields makes me realize how much an education is worth. I need to go to college because I do not want to limit myself to a manual labor job. I love working outside but having to crawl into a grape vineyard doesn’t sound appealing to me to do for the rest of my life.” Brenden Wilson, 16 years old said.

kfpvineyards

Adolescents understand that the jobs available today if only receiving a high school degree are likely to be filling orders, manual labor, and moving boxes.  More and more teens believe that receiving a bachelor’s degree is the first step in moving up in the social and economic ladder.

This generation sees education in a different light compared to the older generation who decided to go to work right out of high school. It seems necessary to earn a higher education to open the door to more prestigious jobs and higher earnings. The focus on earning a higher education’s provides our generation with a feeling of security.

Working in the fields at King Fresh Produce as  young adults has been a beneficial experience for Brenden and Zachary. They enjoy seeing their projects through and visualizing the positive effects they have on the company. They realize the small things they are accomplishing can have a huge effect on the company. They will carry the lessons they learned in the field with them throughout their life and never forget their summers spent in the fields.

-Paige Wilson

10 Foods You’re Eating Wrong …who knew?! Read on for your health!

10 Foods You’re Eating Wrong  By Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD

Not all food is created equal if prepared the wrong way. See which mistakes you could be making with some of your favorites.

broc
Steaming was the only cooking method that completely preserved, and even increased, the cancer fighting components of broccoli.

Imagine the following scenario. You’re engaged in conversation at a dinner party with friends that you feel comfortable enough to discuss “hot button” topics with. Politics, religion, and parenting techniques probably come up and most likely, the views vary by person. When I attend dinner parties, however, the issue of food is often the hot topic of the night, and even hotter, the opinions surrounding the right and wrong way to eat. It’s not enough these days that we are eating more kale (thank you trendy farmers markets and Hollywood celebrities!), we have to now dissect the right and wrong way to eat it as well. It was discussions like these that motivated me to write this blog. After all, my career surrounds helping people to simply eat better — to get, what I call, the most bang for their nutritional buck. There are many factors that impact the amount of nutrients that you will derive from a food. Things such as cooking and ripening method, food pairing and even your own gut flora may impact how much benefit you get from plant-based foods. Different varieties of foods affect this as well. Not all nuts, apples or as you’ll read in my first example, potatoes are created equal. If you’re interested in knowing how science views the best way to eat, then read on. Spoiler alert: Raw is not always the right way to go!

Potatoes
Think you’re getting the benefits of the potato vegetable when you consume French fries, mashed or baked potatoes from white potatoes? Think again! One study found that it was purple potatoes that gave the best benefits, like lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk for cancer. Further, a 2014 study found that purple potatoes surpassed their white counterparts when it came to high amounts of polyphenols and decreased effect on overall blood sugar response.

Carrots
As fall gears up, our love of soup increases as well. Next time you’re making a batch of chicken noodle soup, resist the urge to cut up your carrots. One study found that cutting carrots increased surface size and allowed more nutrients to leach out. That means after washing and peeling, your carrots should hit the water in their whole form. Keep cooking (vs. raw) though. One study found that cooking carrots increased the bioavailability of carotenoids.

Tea
If you want high nutrient absorption with your high tea, then forget about doing as the Brits do it! Several studies have shown that adding milk to your tea may actually take away some of the cardiovascular benefits that tea provide. Going with green tea? Add a little juice instead to sweeten. The vitamin C in juice may help to increase the bioavailability of green tea’s nutrients.

Garlic
Don’t rush your garlic, CRUSH your garlic! Research indicates that crushing your garlic and allowing to sit for at least ten minutes released an enzyme called allicin that has been shown to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by making platelets less sticky or more likely to flow freely through the cardiovascular system.

Salad dressing
Fat free dressing may seem like a good idea in theory, but when you look at what you give up; it’s no match for the full fat counterpart. Several studies have shown the benefits that fat has when dressing your greens, from keeping you fuller and more satisfied after consumption to getting more nutrient absolution from your salad (specifically from lutein, lycopene, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin).

Apples & Pears
Let your fruit ripen up a bit! One study found that the ripening process allowed the breakdown of chlorophyll in ripening apples and pears which, in turn, produced more “highly active” antioxidants in the fruit.

Broccoli
Broccoli is, without doubt one of the best foods you can feed your body! Broccoli is part of the brassica family of foods, a family that has shown to be quite effective in terms of prevention of certain cancers from breast cancer to skin cancer , but how you prepare your broccoli makes all the difference in the world. A 2008 study found that steaming was the only cooking method that completely preserved, and even increased, the cancer fighting components of broccoli. Boiling and frying were found to be the worst cooking methods. Still don’t want to ditch the boiled broccoli? Pairing with a spicy food may help! A 2012 study found that adding spicy foods to broccoli increased its cancer fighting power and the spicier the better according to the study authors!

Mustard
Mustard in any form is a fabulous condiment to add to sauces, salads and sandwiches, but if you’re interested in decreasing overall inflammation as well as reducing your risk for certain cancers then you better keep your mustard choices simple. That’s right! It’s the cheap yellow mustard options that have the best benefits. Why? Because they contain a compound called curcumin (that’s the active ingredient in turmeric) that not only gives cheap yellow mustard its yellow color, but all of its potential health benefits as well!

While the factors discussed in this piece have an impact on the best ways to consume your foods, the truth is, simply adding these foods to your diet is a huge step in the right direction. Once you have mastered a liking for these healthier food options, the next logical step is to prepare in the best way for maximum nutrient density!  Eat more fruits & veggies for best results!!

September is Hunger Action Month–Take Action

Guest Opinion
By Jim Baldwin

September is Hunger Action Month nationwide and as a Feeding America food bank, Community Food Share is joining food banks across the country in recognizing that hunger and food insecurity in our communities is a year-round challenge.

It is easy to become “hunger-blind” in our community when all around us we see affluence and healthy people. Who would ever think that there is a serious hunger problem here and that thousands of families worry daily about where their next meal will come from? Indeed, poverty, food insecurity, and hunger are invisible in a suburban community like ours. So for us at Community Food Share this is also Hunger Awareness Month. There can be no appreciable action without community awareness first.

But, what does hunger look like in an industrial country such as ours? “To witness hunger in America today is to enter a twilight zone where refrigerators are so frequently bare of all but mustard and ketchup that it provokes no remark, inspires no embarrassment,” as quoted from a recent National Geographic article entitled, “The New Face of Hunger.” And then there is the paradox of hunger and obesity, both of which can and do exist at the same time. Those who live on low incomes, well below what is considered to be an affordable living wage in our area, make continual choices daily between paying the rent, paying for gas to get to a job, and/or paying medical bills and buying food.

The paradox and the dilemma come in when it is clear that fast and low nutritious foods are filling and much less expensive than healthy foods, especially fresh produce. Options are then determined by the limited dollars available. The choices are obvious and inevitable — a hungry child must be fed.

An effective and robust basic needs “safety net partnership” is at work in our community, and has been for many years. It is made up of the many excellent nonprofits that provide food assistance in varying ways: Food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, emergency food box programs, residential treatment homes and multi-service agencies, which address the many challenges of those living in poverty — housing, utilities, and food.

The challenge to end hunger and food insecurity in our midst is a daunting one, and easily classified as just an aspirational goal, never to be accomplished — something somewhere up in the clouds. The “safety net partnership” would heartily disagree. We work together to meet the immediate and emergency needs of those living with food insecurity while using this experience to identify the many root causes of hunger: poverty, lack of an affordable living wage, inadequate education and work skills, unemployment and language barriers, to name few.

The powerful and relentless collaboration of all, including the generous, ongoing support of our community, underscores a commitment to ending hunger that translates into action. The problems are many, challenging, and seemingly impossible to solve, yet a hunger-free community is an achievable goal. As we enter this rich season of harvest we remain aware that not all share in its bounty; but we also remain committed to ensuring that everyone has enough affordable and nutritious food to promote a healthy lifestyle and participate productively in our community.

Jim Baldwin announced he is retiring as CEO of Community Food Share last week, after leading the food bank for 14 years. Thank you for your service, Jim.