Food Safety Month: A Throwback Thursday Refresher

 

Did you know? Approximately 48 million people get sick annually from foodborne illnesses, according to the CDC. To start the school year off on the right foot and in light of Food Safety Month, we’d like to take the time to refresh our followers of important food safety tips.

Allegheny County Health Dept reminder to Wash Your HandsWash your hands frequently, especially before and after handling food, after using the restroom, blowing your nose, caring for a sick person, changing a diaper or handling an animal. For all you teachers and parents out there, the Allegheny County Health Department headed an effective Literary Classics Handwashing Awareness Campaign – a clever way to get your students’ attention! 

Cleanliness starts in the kitchen. Packing lunches before heading out the door can be difficult when time is of the essence. Though it’s tempting to save clean-up for later, it’s important to sanitize the kitchen immediately following use. Also, during preparation, follow the Partnership for Food Safety Education’s simple mantra: clean, separate, cook and chill.

The Fight Bac campaign's, as part of Food Safety Month, manta is chill, clean, separate and cook.Smart Packing. If you’re including any perishable food items such as deli meats, cheese, or yogurt in your child’s lunch, include at least one ice pack in an insulated bag. The FDA recommends that these types of foods should not be outside of the fridge more than 2 hours. If a meal should be served hot, prepare it in an insulated thermos (first, fill the container with hot water, let stand for a few minutes then empty and add the desired food).

We hope these quick Food Safety tips help as you and your family transition back into the school. Follow us @LiveGourmet for more food safety tips throughout the month on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.  

 

Watercress: From Stem to Leaf

 

Photos of watercress on a cutting board, a plate of paste with cressto pesto and ingredients to make a salad on a kitchen counterHave you heard that watercress is the most nutrient dense vegetable around? You may have thought it was kale but both highly touted nutrient density reports from Patterson University and Dr. Joel Furhman’s ANDI score have Watercress on top, not ubiquitous kale. This versatile leafy green is loaded with phytonutrients, cancer-fighting antioxidants, and essential vitamins. One serving contains as much vitamin C as an orange and more calcium than a glass of milk.

To get the most available nutrients from our Live Gourmet Living Upland Cress and Grower Pete’s Organic Brand of Living Watercress, you can use the entire cress from stem to leaf. You’ll also be minimizing food waste by eating it in its entirety.

Here are a few facts and pointers on storing and eating our Living Upland Cress and Watercress from stem to leaf.

Why are the roots attached?

Our Live Gourmet brand and certified organic Grower Pete’s brand of Living greens are harvested with their roots attached. This allows them to preserve freshness (usually 5-7 days longer) than conventionally grown greens.

A bonus about our certified organic Grower Pete’s brand: they’re organic all the way to their root balls unlike other hydroponic produce providers who also harvest with the roots attached. Additionally, Grower Pete’s brand complies with the most recent USDA’s NOP ruling and is naturally compostable.

How to Store

Store our cress products in an air tight container (such as a Ziploc® or Tupperware®) with their roots still attached. Refrigerate your greens as soon as possible. Produce needs to be stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Cress products should be kept in the crisper section.

How to Prepare

Remove the amount of leaves and stems from the root ball that is necessary for your recipe, rinse and pat dry. Return any unused cress with roots and all to your refrigerator and place in the crisper section.

Not sure how incorporate stems and all?

Three recipes that you can include watercress from stem to leaf:

  1. Live Gourmet Cressto Pesto Sauce 
  2. The Detox Specialist’s Tropical Watercress Detox Smoothie 
  3. Watercress soup any way 

 

 

How to Make Infused Body Oil with Live Gourmet Living Watercress

 

You’ve probably heard that our Living Watercress is the most nutrient-dense superfood, and a versatile ingredient to variety of culinary dishes from around the world. But what you may not know is that it’s also an excellent natural skin and hair remedy—it’s been known to even promote hair growth. If you need more convincing, read Leven Rose’s “10 Reasons Watercress Oil will Spice up your Beauty Routine.”

Watercress Infused OilThis week, we’re here to show how to make infused body oil with our Living Watercress (inspired by Grow Forage Cook Ferment and Herbal Academy of New England).

What You’ll Need

Live Gourmet Living Upland Cress or Grower Pete’s Living Watercress

A glass jar with a tight fitting lid

A mortar and pestle

A carrier oil (jojoba, olive, castor or apricot seed oils are great options)

Vitamin E oil, optional

Dark glass bottle with lid

Cheesecloth and strainer

Tip: Make sure your watercress is as dry as possible so that oil doesn’t become rancid during the infusion process. You can dry it out the old fashioned way—upside down in a well-ventilated space out of direct sunshine. But, if you’re short on time, you can put trimmed herbs in the microwave. For instructions, go to Serious Eats.

Instructions

  1. Once your watercress is as dry as possible, grind the greens in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Add approximately one ounce of watercress to ten ounces of oil in a clean, dry jar. Stir the mixture to get rid of any air bubbles which could cause oxidation and screw on lid tightly.
  3. Place the jar in a warm, sunny spot for approximately 4-6 weeks, checking on it every few days.
  4. After 4-6 weeks, strain the mixture with a cheese cloth-lined strainer into a bowl to separate the plant parts from the infused watercress oil.
  5. Transfer the oil into a dark glass bottle, add a few drops of Vitamin E oil (it helps keep the infused oil fresh) and secure with the lid and store in a cool dry place.

Want instant infused oil gratification? Try the slow cooker method as described on Pioneer Settler

Live Gourmet Unveils Unconventional Ways to Use Living Watercress

 

Food52 reminds us that watercress is a versatile ingredient in many recipes. It’s a delightful addition to a variety of fare from Italian to Thai, but it can also be utilized in a number of other, albeit unconventional, ways.  

Did you know? British author Colin Spencer wrote that the Romans treated insanity with watercress and vinegar. And according to legend, the early Greek physician Hippocrates grew watercress to treat blood disorders. Today, it’s infused into veggie forward cocktails and is even an integral ingredient in some organic body products.

We’ve provided a few out-of-the-box ways you can include watercress into your daily routine from the kitchen to the medicine cabinet.



Unconventional Ways to Use our Living Watercress:

 

  1. Now that we’re in flu and cold season, add watercress to your daily diet as a vitamin booster. Based on its nutrient-to-calorie ratio, watercress is ranked highest on the nutrient scale; it even has more vitamin C than oranges and other citrus. Vitamin C helps the body fight again against immune system deficiencies and the common cold.
  1. Swap basil and mint for watercress in your infused water, iced tea or lemonade for a robust, thirst quenching variation.
  1. Use watercress as a natural breath freshener. BBC Good Food writes: “Curiously the peppery taste of watercress has a cooling effect, a paradox that was noted by the celebrated 14th century French chef Taillevent…He prepared a lavish banquet and served watercress after the fourth course, writing on the menu ‘Watercress, served alone to refresh the mouth’.”
  1. Make our ‘cressto’ pesto sauce for your Friday night pizza, pasta or even salmon.
‘CRESSTO’ PESTO SAUCE
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups watercress, root ball removed, rinsed and patted dry
  2. 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  3. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  4. 1/2 cup grape seed oil
  5. 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  6. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  7. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  8. 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Instructions
  1. In blender or food processor, combine cress and garlic and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process until blended.
  2. To serve: Drizzle over pasta, risotto, fish, meat or eggs, or use as a spread.
Notes
  1. Nutritional analysis per 1-tablespoon serving: 86 calories, 9 grams fat, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace protein, trace cholesterol, 52 miligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 96 percent of calories from fat.
Pete's Living Greens Blog http://www.livegourmet.com/wordpress/

Hollandia Produce’s 2016 Company Outlook

 

As Hollandia Produce embarks on its 46th year in business, we have much to be excited about going into 2016. For starters, we are launching an official Food Service program that will include products from both of the company’s flagship brands: Live Gourmet and Grower Pete’s Organic. And, we’re even more thrilled to announce this offering will include two new products this quarter: Live Gourmet Living Baby Romaine and Grower Pete’s Organic Living Baby Butter Lettuce. Both products will be sold with the roots attached, allowing them to extend beyond typical shelf-life freshness.

Additionally, we’ll be presenting our entire produce portfolio in Food Service friendly packaging and in varying case counts for added convenience. Our Live Gourmet Living Baby Romaine also will be sold to retail as single units packaged in micro-perforated flow wrap bags, similar to our cress products beginning this quarter. We will be making an official announcement on all of these offerings in the very near future. 

hollcrew-4_23322822560_o (1)While we have much to look forward to in 2016, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the progress we’ve made in 2015. First, our Oxnard facility expansion project is continuing to gain traction and has enabled the company to hire additional staff and expand our production capacity. We have also garnered new customers and expanded into new sectors. As a result, we have enjoyed sales growth that has allowed us to pursue our strategic goals with fervor and reward our staff for their valued contributions to these efforts.

We are proud of the intense loyalty of our employees, especially those who’ve been with our company for decades. That’s why 2015 was also bittersweet. Three valued staffers, whose tenure ranged between 20 and 45 years, announced their retirement. We wish them much happiness for the future.

Although we are embarking on another year, we will continue to focus on our core values: growing the company from within; creating a positive, respectful and safe environment for our employees; and growing premium-quality and value-added products that are rooted in freshness and alive with flavor. In doing so, we know that 2016 will not only be a productive year for us and our customers, but it will surely be another Happy New Year!

To stay abreast of Hollandia Produce 2016 news, follow @LiveGourmet on social media and read our Lettuce Be Fresh™ blog every week!

 

Hollandia Produce: Utilizing Environmentally-Friendly Practices While Growing Year-Round

 

industrial greenhouse in davisOn December 22 the northern hemisphere will officially ring in winter. For most farms, the colder temperatures and shorter days of winter solstice marks a shift in crop production. However, for Hollandia Produce this is not the case. While our growing cycle is mildly affected by seasonal changes, our greenhouse growing method allows us to grow your favorite LIVE GOURMET® and GROWER PETE’S® products with consistent uniformity year-round.

How do we do this? All of our greens are produced hydroponically in state-of-the-art greenhouses where we control light, temperature, humidity, and nutrients. Hydroponics, “is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil.”  

Our technique is especially relevant in a time when our natural environment is rapidly changing. As we learned from recent COP21 Conference reports, climate change will have a profound effect on agriculture. But unlike traditional farming, our methods allow us to increase yields, shorten crop times and produce a uniquely uniform high-quality product on a year-round basis.

Though we may not face some of the same challenges as other growers, we still are mindful of our company’s carbon footprint. One way we’ve accomplished this is by updating our fleet trucks. They are designed to be aerodynamic in order to reduce fuel consumption, which consists of cleaner burning natural gas. Our fleet’s refrigeration units, that keep our greens fresh, are hybrid-electric, releasing less CO2 into our atmosphere. From growing to production, we continue to find ways in which we can become an increasingly sustainable business. And whether it be rain, shine, snow or sleet, we provide excellent and quality products to our consumers while utilizing environmentally-friendly practices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Safety is on our Radar

 

PrimusGFS-Certified-Live-Gourmet-ProductsAccording to a recent consumer study,  Daymon Worldwide’s Custom Shopper Insight revealed that 50 percent of 1,000 surveyed adults indicated they were more concerned now about food safety than five years ago. At Hollandia Produce, we’re very aware of rising food safety concerns.  That’s why we’d like to share with you how our hydroponic process and unique clamshell packaging ensures food safety!

 

 

  1. For starters, our hydroponic growing method means that our leafy green products are grown above ground and in state-of-the-art custom greenhouses which protect our harvest from possible contaminants. Yup – no dirt!
  2. Grown in their own ecosystem, our tender greens are continuously monitored by our team of growers and our sophisticated greenhouse technology to ensure they’re safe for consumption.
  3. In addition to our watchful eye, our growing techniques are rigorously evaluated on an annual basis by , a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) auditor covering both Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) scopes, as well as Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS). With consistently climbing scores, our facilities continue to receive top ratings.
  4. Moreover, when it comes to our living butter lettuce, we continue our commitment to food safety by placing each head in its own cozy, recyclable, clamshell. In addition to serving as a mini greenhouse, our clamshell helps maintain Hollandia’s pledge to food safety while on its journey from our farm to your table.
  5. Lastly, we code date every product we sell. Not only does this ensure you’re getting the freshest product available, we can trace every unit back to the seed lot we purchased it from.

At Hollandia Produce, we strive to have a name synonymous with food safety. From sowing to harvesting, every phase in our produce lifecycle places food safety as number one.

The Watercress Invasion: How the Green Took the UK by Storm

 

River_Chess_watercress_beds_-_geograph.org.uk_-_66967You may have noticed while perusing Pinterest and food blogs that watercress is a ubiquitous ingredient in English cuisine. The peppery green is found in home-cooked meals, pub fare and even experimental dishes that grace tables in five-star London restaurants. It’s so popular that the southern town of Alresford holds an annual watercress festival that brings in more than 15,000 visitors each year!

Watercress Line Train in the UKWhat makes the Brits go gaga for watercress? Dating back to the early 17th century, it has been a UK staple for a multitude of reasons. They don’t call London and Manchester ‘Rainy Cities’ for nothing. The green thrives in England’s damp countryside and is also unaffected by frost. Watercress also became more widely available in the 1800s as railway systems developed and expanded throughout the country. In fact, there is even a rail line named the Watercress Line in the Hampshire region. The demand for the green continued in the twentieth century. During both World Wars, the Brits had to rely on locally grown foods, hence becoming increasingly dependent on the country’s watercress production.

8180101643_54bd20f5eb_oOne of the oldest English meals is simply watercress between two slices of “Poor Man’s Bread.” Take Miss Foodwise’s advice in assembling the perfect “Poor Man’s Bread” sandwich for an authentic English culinary experience. For a contemporary spin on classic tea sandwiches, try the BBC’s version with egg mayonnaise and watercress. If you’re an adventurous chef, take a stab at the England based-company Mummy Make’s Watercress & Wasabi Fudge.

Whether it’s in a soup, on a sandwich or even in desserts, watercress is an excellent addition to any meal in and out of the UK. Try adding our Live Gourmet® Living Upland Cress or our Grower Pete’s™ Living Watercress for vibrant color, plentiful nutrients and robust flavor in your own recipes. Another bonus for eating Live Gourmet® brand Living Upland Cress and Grower Pete’s Organic brand Living Watercress: they’re certified as Antioxidant-rich Superfoods by the SCS containing one of the highest concentrations of nutrients, most notably lutein.

 

Prepare to be Marketed To: Fruits and Vegetables Take Center Stage

Looks like 2015 may have just gotten a whole lot healthier, thanks to a new ad campaign called: FNV, the cool, new way to refer to fruits and vegetables. Here, at Hollandia Produce, we couldn’t be happier. As farmers ourselves and longtime supporters of Produce for Better Health, we’ve been promoting healthy eating and the benefits FNV for years!fnv logo

Boulder, Colorado-based ad agency Victors & Spoils, whose client list includes juggernauts Coca-Cola and General Mills, just put America on notice with their in-your-face “Prepare to be marketed to” campaign video teaser.

green healthy foodThe pro-healthy eating campaign will start primarily on social media networks like Twitter, posting short videos featuring actress Jessica Alba and NFL quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton. Additional videos will be released in coming days starring Curry, New York Giant Victor Cruz, actress Kristen Bell, and others.

Replete with its own fashionable logo, the FNV campaign is the brainchild of Partnership for a Healthier America, that was created in conjunction with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to get families to eat better and exercise more.

Michael Jacobson, Executive Director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest noted that an advertising campaign for fruits and vegetables may be powerful in influencing eating decisions, but that its effectiveness will depend on how much support the campaign receives. What do you think? Will athletes and actors purporting the benefits of FNV be enough? Only time will tell; stay tuned!

In the meantime, feed your curiosity and your body with this delicious superfood salad and this entertaining video clip.

FNV, PREPARE TO BE MARKETED TO from Team FNV on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/120688660

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Butter, Boston, and Bibb lettuce: What’s the Difference?

 

What’s the difference between Butter, Boston and Bibb lettuce? Why do these varieties all look the same? Why do recipes and food guides use their names interchangeably? If you have asked any of these questions, you’re not alone. Many consumers today find the naming scheme of this variety very confusing.  Live-Gourmet-Butter-Lettuce

The fact is, with its appearance, texture and taste nearly indistinguishable, Butter, Boston and Bibb lettuce is ostensibly the same variety known under the category moniker: Butterhead. Bibb, however, is a slightly smaller version of the variety and is the first of this cultivar to be grown in the U.S.

To understand the nomenclature and how these varieties became co-mingled, let’s briefly examine the history of lettuce through the ages. Lettuce originated in Egypt, with some of the earliest recordings of this vegetable dating back to 2680 B.C. The vegetable then spread to Greece, Rome and later throughout Europe.

There are three main types of lettuce that we know of today.

  1. Head lettuce – This comprises Crisphead, more commonly known as Iceberg, named for the way it was transported on ice in the early 1920s, and Butterhead. This variety most resembles cabbage for its lighter green leaves and tightly formed heads.
  2. Romaine or Cos — This is named for its darker green leaves and elongated heads. Romaine lettuce was first grown in the Papal gardens in Rome, giving this variety its present day name of Romaine. The Greeks called this variety Cos from the Greek Island of Kos where it was grown.
  3. Leaf lettuce — This is known for its very loosely formed heads, often grown in rich shades of green, reddish purple and/or a combination of the two.

These three main categories have been formally acknowledged in horticulture since the late 1500s, when Joachim Camerarius published one of the earliest herbals. Between 1586 and the early 18th century many of the basic types of heirloom lettuces that we know of today began to advance in France, Italy, and Holland.

Lettuce seeds were later brought to the U.S., where they continued to evolve and progress. However, seedsmen did not record lettuce seeds as well as other vegetables, so it has been difficult to distinguish the histories of some of the most popular varieties today. This fact has added to the confusion of the Butterhead variety.

Bibb lettuce is believed to have originated in Frankfort, Kentucky between 1865 and 1870 by Major John “Jack” Bibb, an amateur horticulturist who grew this variety in a greenhouse in his yard. Around 1870, he began sharing his variety with the town’s people who coined it Bibb’s lettuce. Thirty-five years later, the lettuce was cultivated conventionally and began to gain widespread popularity, especially during the 1950s. Later, around 1980, this lettuce began to gain favor as a preferred variety for hydroponic greenhouse growers.

Modern day Butter lettuce, like ours, seems to have originated from the old lettuce known as Silesia. This variety dates as far back as 1744, when an 18th century work called Adam’s Luxury and Eve’s Cookery published a list of lettuce varieties, including this one. It didn’t receive its modern Butter lettuce name until much later, when a company called Slazers began selling it by the deceptive name German Butter lettuce, denoting it was a new variety to increase its sales.

Butter-Lettuce-Warps While it’s difficult to corroborate the accuracy of these historical accounts as they apply to modern day Butterhead lettuce, we can say for certain that Butter, Boston and Bibb lettuce can be used interchangeably, given their similar textures and flavor profiles. We also know that given its smooth, tender, yet strong leaves, and mildly sweet flavor, Butterhead lettuce is an ideal ingredient for almost any meal, including salads, sandwiches, soups, smoothies and wraps. And, unlike Iceberg, it’s packed with essential nutrients and vitamins, particularly A, C and K.

At Hollandia Produce, all of our living butter lettuce products, including our certified organic brand known as Grower Pete’s, are hydroponically greenhouse-grown. This method allows us to maintain a clean growing environment and minimize external factors that could otherwise affect our crops. Additionally, our products are Non-GMO Project Verified and free of pesticide residue and field debris, and packaged in clear, plastic, protective shells that function as mini greenhouses. We also package our lettuce with their roots still attached. This ensures our butter lettuce products stay fresher, longer than other varieties. Grower-Pete's-Organic-Butter-Lettuce

Whether you call it, Butter, Boston or Bibb lettuce, we encourage you to pick up some today, and tell us how you enjoy this versatile variety!