Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolution - eat a salad every day

Excerpts from an article on

Enjoying a salad a day can help increase your energy level, fill you up and provide essential vitamins and minerals found in a variety of produce.

Sweet, crunchy and flavorful, this Berry, Walnut and Avocado Salad is a treat for the taste buds and a bonus to your diet.

Berry, Walnut and Avocado Salad
Serves 4-6

1 pkg (6 oz.) spring mix salad
¾ cup fresh strawberries, quartered
⅓ cup glazed walnuts
⅓ cup golden raisins
1 large SlimCado, diced
⅓ cup Blue cheese crumbles
¼ -½ cup Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette

In a medium bowl, toss together the spring mix, strawberries, walnuts and golden raisins. Top with avocado and blue cheese crumbles. Drizzle lightly with dressing just prior to serving.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Papaya - the fruit that fights wrinkles

Excerpt from a 12/17/08 article in the Idaho Statesman by Michael Roizen, MD and Mehmet OZ, MD.

Go ahead, feed your face. Eating the right stuff makes you look younger, and one fruit in particular leads the charge: papaya. What makes it so perfect is that it's brimming with vitamin C. And getting lots of that vitamin may mean more youthful skin.

A recent study in women over age 40 found that women who consumed that vitamin had fewer wrinkles and less thinning and dryness in their skin. (You can also put that vitamin, in the form of a 10 percent L-ascorbic acid preparation, right on your face. But do it at night; it rapidly breaks down with exposure to UV light.)

Vitamin C is a natural friend to skin. The nutrient is essential for making collagen, the protein fibers that give skin its strength and resiliency. C also disarms free radicals that would otherwise chip away and weaken those fibers. A little extra vitamin C isn't the only food that can turn back your skin's clock. Nourish it with these strategies:

  • Munch on walnuts. In the vitamin C study, researchers also saw that diets rich in linoleic acid - an essential fatty acid in walnuts - meant moister, plumper skin.
  • Ease up on saturated fats and refined carbs. Both can turn your skin old too soon.
  • Think whole grains. The magnesium and B vitamins you get from them help with the regeneration of skin cells.
  • Keep the fruits and veggies coming. To stay smooth and healthy, your skin needs a whole slew of antioxidant-rich produce.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Avocado, remedy for bad breath

Excerpt from an article by Rone Hooper in Good Health Weekly.

Here are a few simple remedies that you can use at home to help you cure your bad breath.

  1. Eat avocado
    Avocado is one of the lesser known of the bad breath remedies. Eating a small amount of avocado can help many people to ease the chronic bad breath that ails them and everybody around them. Plain avocados are best. Don’t eat avocados with garlic on them, because then your breath will smell of garlic!

    Other remedies include:
  2. Brush and floss daily
  3. Eat less protein
  4. Drink more water

Monday, December 8, 2008

Artist uses Brooks Tropicals’ fruit stickers in her art.

Introduced in an earlier blog, Luis Caldwell combines globes, soccer balls and lots of fruit stickers in her sculptures.

Her most recent sculptures include Brooks Tropicals’ fruit stickers and is installed in the brand new and beautiful Public School 244 in Flushing Queens. The project has been very well received.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dessert party

A dessert party was held today to celebrate Craig Wheeling’s promotion to President of Brooks Tropicals. Here are some of the well wishers at the event.

Homestead Toy Drive thru 12/15

Make the holidays a little more enjoyable for young teens in need this holiday season. Give an unwrapped toy for a young teen age 12-17 years-old.

“Wish List” items include Board Games, Gift Certificates, Backpacks, CD’s, DVD’s, Toiletries, Sports Equipment, Costume Jewelry, Strategy Games, Sports Team Clothing or Memorabilia to name a few.

The Miami Rescue Mission is spearheading this drive. You can drop off toys in the Brooks Tropicals’ HR office or at T. R. Jones and Co. on 1780 N. Krome Ave. in Homestead where a collection box is located in the lobby.

Happy Holidays' artwork

This year’s Redlands Christian Migrant Association artist is Mariana. Her cute snowlady will be gracing our ads, website and market update during the holiday season.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Papaya Lime Soup

Recipe from an article by Jenny Cornbleet in Cooking Light, May of 2004

A big thank you to Sarah Fletcher, Pal’s niece for finding this great papaya soup recipe.

Papaya Lime Soup
Go tropical and hollow-out Caribbean Sunrise Papaya halves to serve the soup in. This recipe will make 4 servings.

2 Caribbean Sunrise Papayas, peeled and diced
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons honey

Place first 6 ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Ladle into papaya halves and top, if desired, with diced mango and sliced mint.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 150 (3% from fat)
Fat: 0.5g (sat 0.1g,mono 0.1g,poly 0.1g)
Protein: 1.7g
Carbohydrate: 38.1g
Fiber: 3.6g
Cholesterol: 0.0mg
Iron: 0.4mg
Sodium: 7mg
Calcium: 50mg

SlimCados makes the list of party foods that keep you slim

Excerpts from an article written by Michael Roizen, MD and Mehmet Oz, MD at

Fitting into your New Year's Eve outfit doesn't mean passing up appetizers altogether. In fact, choosing the right noshes before your meal or at the season's parties may actually help you eat less overall.

Eating a small amount of healthy unsaturated fat -- think walnuts, avocado spread on whole-grain bread and apples dipped in a little peanut butter -- 25 minutes before a meal triggers a chain reaction in your digestive system that slows the rate at which your stomach empties, which means you feel fuller faster.

It also helps keep your blood sugar levels from spiking after your meal and makes it easier for your body to absorb fat-soluble nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as lycopene and lutein.

But here's the catch: It only takes about 70 calories of this fat* to get the effect. That's about 6 walnuts, 10 almonds, 1/4 of a medium avocado, or half a tablespoon of real peanut butter (from peanuts alone). More than that, and you're just working against yourself.

*Blogger’s note: When I talk about the nutritional benefits of a SlimCado avocado and how it has half the fat of a California avocado, I sometimes hear “but the fat in the avocado is ‘good’ fat!”

True it’s better for you than saturated fat, but as this article says, you still need to watch your intake of any fat. That’s what is great about SlimCado avocados; that 70 calories goes a lot further with SlimCados!

Funds requested for research to manage threat of the tiny exotic ambrosia beetle

Excerpts from two 12/2/08 Miami Herald articles written by Georgia Tasker and Charles Rabin.

Though the avocado crop is currently sound, Miami-Dade agricultural leaders tried a little preventive medicine Tuesday, warning commissioners of the dangers of the fungus carried by the beetle - no bigger than Abe Lincoln's nose on the copper penny - and saying it could wipe out the crop entirely.

The state's commercial avocado groves in Miami-Dade County are so far untouched by the fungus that the beetle can spread. Avocados are grown on 7,000 acres in Miami-Dade County. Last year it was a $30 million industry

Scientists have noted the damage it has done to red bay trees -- a close relative of the avocado -- as it creeps south from Savannah, Ga., where it was discovered in 2002. The funding requested by University of Florida researchers and agricultural leaders will develop a way to eradicate the insects and disease before they reach commercial groves.

Researchers looking for $10,000 for immediate work got $7,500 from the commission Tuesday. The money will pay for short-term research on insecticides and insect repellents and other means to stop the spread of the beetle.

''We're at the beginning research stage,'' said Craig Wheeling, chief executive of Brooks Tropicals. ''Obviously this is a good first step in putting in place a successful disease management program.”
Brooks Tropicals manages 3,700 acres of avocados in Miami-Dade.

Reports of dying red bay trees started turning up in 2003 and 2004. Red bay is native to coastal forests throughout the southeast, and the fungus now is killing most of the large mature red bay trees in Georgia, South Carolina and north Florida.

The fungal disease spread by the beetles is called laurel wilt. It attacks the laurel family, which has about 100 species, including the avocado and red bay. It plugs up the trees' plumbing so that the leaves wilt, turn reddish and then brown as the trees die.

The beetles are hard to control, because they spend most of their life cycle inside trees. Wilt diseases like this one are equally difficult to control.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brooks Tropicals’ chayote grower makes the front page

Alberto Bonilla, director of sales for Ujarras, Costa Rica-based B&C Exportadores, made the front page of this week’s The Packer.

Alberto is show examining chayote at the company’s farm. The caption notes that during chayote’s peak season from November to February, the firm exports about 20 containers of chayote and tubers from Costa Rica to global markets. About 80% is bound for the U.S.

Photo courtesy of The Packer

Friday, November 21, 2008

Greens with bacon and Florida avocado dressing

Article and recipe courtesy of the Centre Daily Times, State College, PA. Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008

Makes 8 servings plus 1 cup additional dressing

We're coming to the end of the season for Florida avocados. They're still the major commercial fruit crop in Miami-Dade, according to agricultural extension agent Mary Lamberts, who notes that they have 25 to 30 percent fewer calories, ounce for ounce, than their California cousins.

Do ahead: The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The bacon can be fried and refrigerated several days ahead.

• ½ to 1 ripe Florida avocado depending on size, coarsely chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
• 2 small shallots, peeled and coarsely chopped
• 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 2 small garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 pound bacon, cooked until crisp, drained and broken into 1-inch pieces
• 1 ripe Florida avocado cut into thin wedges
• 1 pound mesclun salad mix

To make the dressing, combine the chopped avocado, buttermilk, vinegar, shallots, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender; process until smooth. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream and process until smooth.

To make the salad, toss the mesclun with the bacon in a large bowl. Add ½ cup dressing and toss until evenly coated. (Refrigerate remaining dressing for later use.)Season the salad with salt and pepper and mound on 8 salad plates. Tuck avocado wedges into greens.

Per serving dressed salad: 383 calories (73 percent from fat), 31.3 g fat (10.1 g saturated, 17.3 g monounsaturated), 67.8 mg cholesterol, 19.4 g protein, 6.7 g carbohydrates, 2.9 g fiber, 1,523 mg sodium.

Per tablespoon dressing: 81 calories (90 percent from fat), 8.1 g fat (1.2 g saturated, 5.7 g monounsaturated), 0.4 mg cholesterol, 0.7 g protein, 1.9 g carbohydrates, 0.7 g fiber, 89.1 mg sodium.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Two local newspapers feature recipes starring starfruit

Starfruit is getting a lot of press lately. Both the Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel have featured starfruit or carambola recipes for their pre-Thanksgiving editions.

The first recipe makes a tropical switch. Instead of pineapple, bake a Carambola Upside Down Cake. The second is Carambola Pickles! I'm intrigued. I've never done pickled anything before. Pickled starfruit will look beautiful.

Carambola Upside Down Cake
Excerpts from an 11/18/08 article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Makes 8 servings. Serve with whipped nondairy topping or whipped cream.

1 to 2 Florida carambolas, sliced 1/8-inch thick
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
Juice of 2 Florida passion fruit*
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Arrange sliced carambolas decoratively in bottom of a greased 9-inch cake pan as close together as possible.
  3. Mix together 1/4 cup melted butter, brown sugar and passion fruit juice and pour into pan, lifting and rotating pan so mixture covers bottom. Set aside.
  4. Cream together 1/2 cup softened butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well.
  5. Mix together dry ingredients. Add flour mixture, alternately with milk.
  6. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Pour into prepared cake pan.
  7. Bake 40 minutes or until cake pulls away from side of pan and center is set.
  8. Let cool five minutes before inverting onto serving plate.
*If you can't find passion fruit you can substitute 2 tablespoons passion fruit juice available at supermarkets.

Quick Carambola Pickles
Excerpt from an 11/20/08 article in the Miami Herald

The star-shaped carambola's tart, juicy taste make excellent spicy pickles that will wake up your mouth.

Makes 8 servings

Do ahead: Pickles may be prepared 1 week in advance.

8 carambolas (star fruit)
½ cup cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
½ cup orange juice
4 inches stick cinnamon
¼ teaspoon black peppercorns
3 star anise
1 tablespoon finely shredded orange zest
  1. If the edges of the carombola ribs are brown, trim away discoloration with a vegetable peeler. Cut fruit into 3/8-inch slices and set aside.
  2. Combine the vinegar, sugar, orange juice, cinnamon, peppercorns and anise in a saucepan.
  3. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  4. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 7 minutes.
  5. Remove mixture from heat and remove spices with a slotted spoon.
  6. Add the carambola slices and orange zest to the hot syrup, and let them steep for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove slices with a slotted spoon. Cool the liquid to room temperature and refrigerate until cold.
  8. Return carambola to the syrup and refrigerate, covered.

Papaya Fights Wrinkles

Excerpts from an article at

You really can fight wrinkles from the inside out. And there's a fruit that can lead the charge. It's papaya.

What makes papaya so perfect? Easy. Vitamin C. Papaya has loads of it, and getting lots of vitamin C may mean more youthful skin -- fewer wrinkles and less thinning and dryness. A recent study in women over 40 confirmed it.

The Mysteries of C
Vitamin C is a natural friend to skin. The nutrient is essential for making collagen, the protein fibers that give skin its strength and resiliency. And being a powerful antioxidant, C also disarms free radicals that would otherwise chip away and weaken collagen.

Thank you Jorge Jimenez for finding this article.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top papaya photo of the week

This week’s winning papaya photograph is courtesy of
Read the article.

Papayas help minimize vision loss

Excerpts from an 11/18/08 article - Chef adapts recipe, using ingredients that help minimize macular degeneration - by Nancy Churnin for The Dallas Morning News.

About 10 million Americans suffer from age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in people 65 and older, says Dr. Dwain Gordon Fuller, an ophthalmologist and retinal specialist in private practice at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas.

Although there's no cure, Dr. Fuller says there are natural, as well as medical, ways to slow its progress. Recent ongoing studies suggest that certain antioxidants, such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins and minerals, can play an important role in eye health.


  1. Vitamin C: in papayas, tomatoes, tomato paste, red bell peppers, green onions (also found in oranges, grapefruit, strawberries)
  2. Vitamin E: in olive oil (also found in safflower and corn oil, almonds, pecans, wheat germ and sunflower seeds)
  3. Beta-carotene: in carrots and peaches (also found in other deep orange or yellow fruits and vegetables: cantaloupe, papayas, mangos, apricots and sweet potatoes)
  4. Lutein and zeaxanthin: in carrots (also found in dark green leafy vegetables: broccoli, collard greens, asparagus and spinach)
  5. Zinc: in pork (also found in beef, lamb, oysters, eggs, shellfish, milk, peanuts, whole grains and wheat germ)

Read the entire article

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The grocery game: How to shop smartly

Excerpts from an 11/18/08 Miami Herald article by GiGi Lehman

Consider the challenges faced by the early Americans trying to get their first Thanksgiving meal on the table: Outsmart the wild turkeys, clean the codfish, grind the grain into meal, gather the corn and be grateful that Native American chief Massasoit contributed five deer to the feast. (Today, a nice bottle of wine or homemade pie would be considered sufficient.)

But navigating a modern supermarket in advance of the big day can be almost as daunting. Should the turkey be free-range? Are those ''whole grain'' rolls the real deal? Pay more for organic cranberries and oranges for the sauce? How many calories in that pumpkin pie from the bakery?

That's why the most useful skill for today's supermarket sleuths is the ability to read a nutrition label, not turkey tracks. So, in advance of one of the biggest grocery shopping trips of the year, here are some tips to help you put a meal on the table that's at least as healthful as the one enjoyed at the earliest Thanksgivings.


• ''You can't go wrong with vegetables and fruits unless you buy too much and throw them away,'' says Gayle Dietz, a registered dietitian and nutritional consultant with Dietz and Associates.

• Those annoying little stickers on produce have a function beyond getting you to pull the flesh off a nectarine trying to remove them. Five-digit numbers starting with 8 mean the food is genetically modified; five-digit numbers beginning with 9 are for organic produce. Four-digit numbers mean a food is conventionally grown. But the labeling is optional and a creation of the International Federation of Produce Standards, an industry group -- not a government agency.

• When is it worthwhile to buy organic? Organic produce is often (but not always) significantly costlier than other food. To spend your food dollar where it will do the most good, Consumers Union, the organization behind Consumer Reports magazine, suggests buying organic versions of these fruits and vegetables whenever possible: apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach and strawberries. Blogger note: avocados, papayas, starfruit and a host of tropical fruits and vegetables never make this ‘must buy organic’ list.

The Tastes of 2009

Excerpts from an 11/17/08 article in the Convenience Store News

CHICAGO -- Don’t expect bland flavors in 2009, according to research firm Mintel, which recently released a report of the trendy flavors that will be used in new products next year. Product manufacturers will mix in exotic fruits and fresh, soothing flavors, with a touch of spice, the company stated.

"Today's manufacturer is constantly looking for those tastes and aromas that stand out and capture shoppers' imagination," Mintel new product expert, Lynn Dornblaser, said in a statement. "By adding exotic fruits and unusual ingredients to everyday products, companies give people the opportunity to experiment and move out of their comfort zones without breaking the bank."

There are seven flavors that will present themselves in 2009 and become heavy-hitters across the globe, the company stated. Those flavors cited by Mintel are:

Starfruit -- An unusually shaped, distinctly flavored fruit that is catching on around the globe.

Read the entire article

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Facial Is Tastier Than Yours

Excerpts from a New York Times article by Natasha Singer
Published: November 12, 2008

The New York Times held a ‘facial face-off’, a contest between several different types of facial masks made from unusual ingredients. The winner was the avocado, but close behind was the papaya which made the skin feel cleaner and smoother but kept on slipping off the face. Other facials in the face-off included coffee and aspirin.

Here are the recipes for the winning masks.


1 very ripe avocado
1 tablespoon honey
Mix and mash together into a soft, uniform paste. Spread thickly onto face. Wait 15 minutes. Wash off.


1 very ripe papaya
1 tablespoon honey
Cut papaya in half and discard seeds. Dice papaya into small pieces. Mash papaya into a smooth paste. Use a strainer to remove extra liquid. Add honey. Apply to face. Wait 10 to 15 minutes. Wash off.

The New York Times article

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Flowers of an avocado tree

Armando from R&D took these up-close photos of avocado flowers for his work. They turned out so strikingly beautiful that it is worth a blog post.

Fresh Trends 2008

A brief summary of the survey taken by The Packer.


The likelihood of a person buying an avocado was highest in:

  • households making $100K or more, 51%. Consumers earning less than $25,000 were the least likely group to buy. This is a change from last year when consumers in the lowest income bracket were among some of the most likely to buy.
  • the West, 60%. In contrast, 33% and 21% of buyers in the South and Northeast, respectively, were likely to buy an avocado. The Midwest came in at 24%.
  • families with 3 or more kids, 42%. In households with no children, only 31% said they were likely to buy.
  • 21 to 39 year olds, 36%. Lowest in 50 to 58 year olds, 29%.

In papayas, the survey found that papaya purchases increased 3% over the year. 9% purchased papayas in the last 12 mos. Papayas were the commodity that consumers were least comfortable selecting. Only 13% said they knew how to choose ripe fruit. Only 9% said they knew how to ripen papayas once they got them home.

The likelihood of a person buying a papaya was highest in:

  • the Northeast at 10%, but tying for close seconds at 9% are the South, West and Midwest.
  • 21 to 39 year olds, 11%, 50 to 58 year olds, 4%. Other age groups came in right being the 21 to 39 year old results.
  • Families with 3 or more kids, 16%. In households with no children, only 7% said they were likely to buy.
  • Buyers that were single, 13%. Married buyers came in at 8%.

Kumquat Refrigerator Pie

Our Kumquat grower offers an alternative to a key lime pie.

8 oz. whipped topping
2/3 cup pureed kumquats
1 - 14 oz. can condensed milk
½ cup fresh lime juice
9” graham cracker pie crust

1 Combine and beat the condensed milk and whipped topping.
2 Add the lime juice and beat until thickened.
3 Wash the kiwi fruit, cut in half and remove seeds. Puree in a blender or food chopper. Add to the above milk mixture.
4 Pour into the pie shell and chill in the refrigerator or freezer*
5 Garnish with kumquats or mint leaves

*this pie can be frozen: thaw before serving.

Interesting facts from the Florida Department of Agriculture

Florida has the fourth largest population, the fourth largest economy, the most golf courses, the most lightning strikes and one of the largest agriculture industries in the nation.

Agriculture is Florida’s second largest industry after tourism, ranking 9th in overall farm revenues ($6.97 B). Meanwhile Florida ranks only 23rd in number of farms. The FDA sees this last statistic as proof of Florida farmers being more efficient.

For us living in Homestead where foliage farms abound, I thought it was interesting to note that foliage plants made up 12% of Florida’s agriculture’s revenues in 2006.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

PMA Fresh Summit 2008 - photo album

PMA's over. It was a grueling two days (for three of us, it was three days). Everyone worked hard and it paid off. Here are just a few pictures from the show.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

PMA Fresh Summit about to begin

Here's a photo of our booth space at PMA just before installation began. Everything's here.

For those counting, there are 8 single crates and 7 double crates. We fill an 18 wheeler with them.

You're not seeing things, those are trees on the left-hand side of the photo. We've brought along one papaya, one SlimCado, one starfruit and one lime.

More updates to come.

The produce industry equivalent of getting on a Wheaties box

We're now hours away from our largest tradeshow of the year - PMA, Fresh Summit.

As the first to arrive in Orlando, I'm happy to report that I don't feel alone. A photo of our Purchased Fruit Manager and Sales Rep, Sam Skogstad is on the program, a PMA map of Orlando, and even a box of breath mints.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Scotch bonnet pepper makes the Omnivore's 100: foods to eat at least once in a lifetime

You've probably eaten s'mores, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a hot dog from a cart. But what about crocodile, sea urchin or -- dare we say -- roadkill?

All of these foods made it onto the omnivore's 100, a list of foods that Andrew Wheeler, a British food writer, believes an omnivore should try in his or her life.

The genius of the list lies in its diversity, and in the clever way it challenges one's assumptions about food. Some items are luxuries, such as a meal at a Michelin-three-star restaurant or caviar and blini. But junk food is also represented, both the American Big Mac combo meal and Japanese Pocky, which are thin, pencil-shaped biscuits dipped in chocolate or other coatings.

Things that can be painful to consume are well represented in a range of mediums, including a raw Scotch bonnet pepper (one of the hottest peppers in the world), a variety of curries (Wheeler is English, after all), and baijiu, a popular Chinese distilled spirit that is very strong (between 40 percent and 60 percent alcohol) and whose taste is often described as akin to rubbing alcohol.

Friday, October 3, 2008

PMA 2008

Produce Marketing Association's (PMA) Fresh Summit is coming up - October 25th-27th. The preparations are almost finished.

To remind our retailers and wholesalers that we will be at the show, a new ad has been created that looks out from under a grass hut - just like our grass huts in our booth. To partner with this ad, a new email signature and market update are being used by sales. The ad and email signature are seen below.

Our web site is visited by a lot of folks who aren't retailers and wholesalers, so the web page has the same 'grass hut' theme but uses the 'vintage' postcard to emphasize with postage stamps from all the countries we import from. View the home page animation.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wakefern Food Show a hit

Wakefern Food Corporation is the merchandising and distribution arm for over 200 ShopRite stores in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware. ShopRite has grown into the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the United States and the largest employer in New Jersey.
Last week, Wakefern held a food show where vendors like Brooks Tropicals displayed their "wares". All the stores' Produce Managers were in attendance over the two day event.

Unfortunately I lost the booth photos but before I left I was able to take in-store photos of our Caribbean Reds and starfruit on display.

ShopRite stores also sell the Caribbean Red cut in half, a popular produce items for all our retail customers.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fundraiser in Belize is a great success!

Fruta Bomba held a fund raiser to raise money for Felipa Morales our Research Manager to have an operation.

Ismael Gonzalez, Personnel Coordinator said of the fundraiser, "It was a great success we sold over 250 plates of food and after all our expenses we made approximately $1200.00 BZE."

BBQ chicken with
rice and beans and coleslaw were on the menu.

Most of the food was donated. Office staff, managers and supervisors manned the grills and the kitchen.

Working hard at the fundraiser were Samier Ake, Manuel Pech, Maricely Westby, Sergio Madrid, Yuri Ayuso, Adivineli Wicab, Ismael Gonzalez, Cornelia Herrera and several supervisors from the production department and safety department. Felipa's family and friends pitched in to prepare some of the meal.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Expectations for the tropical fruit season

Excerpts from an article in the September - October 2008 edition of this Dade County Farm Bureau publication.

Craig Wheeling, CEO at Brooks Tropicals, said that they are 32% ahead of last year on revenue paid to growers.

"It's hard to get revenue increases to offset increases in production costs" he said, adding that the carambola market was very steady.

Wheeling was proud to report that Brooks just received an 97% and an 99% on a food safety audit done by an independent third-party food safety auditor.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Tropical Produce Factsheets

New factsheets are available on your favorite Brooks Tropicals' produce.

The new look and feel is a hit with retailers who have responded well to the bright tropical colors and new easy-to-read format.

Twelve product factsheets have been posted on the web for viewing or to download and print. More will be posted as they become available.

SlimCado Avocado Factsheet is now available on line

Excerpt from an article in The Packer of 8/18/08
by Pamela Rienmenschneider

The SlimCado avocado marketing campaign has been very successful for Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals, LLC.

"It gets across the whole idea of what makes this avocado different than a hass," Mary Ostlund director of marketing said.

New SlimCado and other tropical produce factsheets are now available for web viewing or printing from

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Brooks Tropicals offers green-skin avocado varieties June through January

8/11/08 article in the Produce News - Global Avocado Marketing Section

Brooks Tropicals LLC in Homestead, FL, grows, packs and markets an assortment of tropical produce - from papayas and starfruit to yams and yucca - from Florida, the Caribbean and Central America. One of the company's major product categories is Florida-grown green-skin avocados.

"We grow green-skin avocados here, and we market them under our 'SlimCado' labeling and marketing program," said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales for Brooks Tropicals. "Those have 35 percent fewer calories and 50 percent less fat than the Hass varieties, so we use the healthy approach" in the marketing programs.

"Green-skin avocados are tropical avocado varieties that differ from Hass in that they stay green as they ripen," Mr. Brindle said. "So we are selling a niche avocado, if you will." They also tend, generally, to be much larger than the Hass varieties.

The Florida avocado season, which runs from June through January, "is made up of about 30 commercial varieties," he said. "Each of those varieties has a distinct harvesting period that lasts from about 6 to 12 weeks." The harvest periods of the varieties overlap, creating "a continuous season" lasting about eight months.

"Right now, we are harvesting our Simmons variety, which is a very popular variety, and we will soon be harvesting our Bernecker variety," he said Monday, July 28.

The Simmons makes " a lot of 8- to 12-count fruit," he continued. "Most of our fruit would be about 20- to 22- ounce fruit," whereas Hass avocados are often in the 8- to 10- ounce range, he said. So the Simmons is "typically at least double the size of a Hass. We have some varieties that get up to 30- to 34- ounces. Those tend to be available a little bit later in the season, around December."

So compared to Hass, "we are definitely harvesting a larger avocado, one that stays green as it ripens, and as a rule has a shorter shelf life." In addition, "we market it as having less fat and lower calories than an Hass."

Moving into August, Brooks Tropicals was "headed into the peak" of the company's avocado production, Mr. Brindle said. With peak season beginning in August, "we are doing lots of retail promotions, and we have very attractive pricing to encourage that."

The crop, which was down in 2005 and 2006 due to two hurricanes in the 2005 season was back in full production last year with "a very healthy crop," he said. This year's crop is "just a little bit smaller than last year" but is still "what we would consider a normal or slightly above normal crop."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

StarPac launched for starfruit

excerpts from 7/28/08 article by Christina DiMartino

With its starfruit program ramping up for the season, Homestead, FL-based Brooks Tropicals has introduced a new clamshell pack for the product that will improve shipping and merchandising.

"The launch of our new starfruit Starpac was timed with the season revving up," said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for the company. "The package is being released in August. It's basically a clamshell with two divisions for one starfruit each."

From a logistical standpoint, Ms. Ostlund said that the new pack makes it easier to display, move and stack starfruit. There is less bruising of the fruit, and it adds an element of food safety because the product is protected from direct handling by staff and consumers.

"But we found another interesting benefit of the StarPac," said Ms. Ostlund. "It enhances the ripening process, and it helps to maintain the fruit's color better. It also extends the shelf life. Consumers see the fruit in its entirety, and the StarPac ensures them that it will get home in great condition."
Ms. Ostlund added that the UPC coding on the StarPac's label eliminates the chance of inaccuracies at the register because code numbers consistently will ring correctly.

Facility Completion
Brooks Tropicals also announced the completion of its new facility in northern Belize, near the town of Corozal, about 30 miles from the Mexican border.

"The 12,000-square-foot administration building holds our farm managers' offices, accounting group and other personnel," said Ms. Ostlund. "There are also new maintenance buildings, garages, fertilizer buildings and a break room where workers can congregate comfortably."

"Brooks spared nothing when it came to equipping the facility with the latest technology." Ms. Ostlund said that the Homestead office communicates with its two subsidiaries in Belize - one that handles farming and the other that oversees harvesting, packing and shipping - on a continuous basis. The new facility was built for the farming subsidiary.

"It is equipped with satellite communications, satellite video, high-speed Internet abilities and VOIP (voice over IP, technology that allows phone communications over the Internet)," she said. "We hold video conferences with our staff there at least once a day, which is invaluable for seamless product movement."

Food Safety Audits
"The most recent audit at our Belize facilities was in June, and we received a 95 percent, which is an excellent rating," said Ms. Ostlund. "It takes a great deal of focused effort by every staff member. Once standards are set and people get used to it, it becomes the normal way to function. Every employee must do their part and always be diligent."

Although 95 percent is a high rating, Brooks is particularly proud of the recent audit rating it earned at its Homestead packinghouse and cooling/cold storage and distribution center.

"The distribution center received a rating of 99 percent, and the packinghouse was rated at 97 percent," said Ms. Ostlund. "The auditor said he was so impressed that he asked if he could take photos of the facilities to use as examples for other companies. He also said that he would like to bring other operators to see our facilities in person.

Ms. Ostlund said that the auditor was impressed that every staff member was involved with the food-safety initiatives.

"It takes a commitment from every person, and that means everyone must be educated and aware of what they should be doing and exactly why," said Ms. Ostlund.

Monday, August 4, 2008

SlimCado Avocado is one of the 5 Flat Belly Foods

Excerpts from articles on Prevention Magazine and The NewsLeak websites.

These five ingredients hold the power to truly transform your body, not to mention lengthen your life. The secret is their magical "MUFA" (Aka good fat!). Number three is the Florida avocado (for the other 4 ingredients click here).

3. Avocado
Florida avocado or Hass avocado
Slice and serve with a salad or any entrée; mash with lime juice, salt, and pepper and serve with chips; chop and fold into store-bought salsa

A serving equals: 1/4 cup

Make a MUFA meal with avocado.
Click for the recipe: Chicken with Citrus-Avocado Salsa

What is MUFA?
MUFA (rhymes with loofah) stands for monounsaturated fatty acid.

The MUFA Diet was featured on Good Morning America today. It is a diet plan that focuses on the good fats called MUFA. Eating these types of fats is supposed to help keep your body from accumulating belly fat. The MUFA Diet has five different categories of good fats. These include nuts and seeds, oils, chocolate, avocado, and olives. When following the flat belly diet plan you eat one serving from one of these categories at every meal. This is supposed to help keep the bad fat away.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

South Dade High School honors alumnus Pal Brooks

South Dade High School and the Dade County Farm Bureau have selected South Dade High School alumnus Pal Brooks to be one of 15 people whose information and photos will make up an exhibit called "Growing A Legacy: A Tribute to South Dade Alumni in Agribusiness."

Pal graduated from South Dade High in 1957. He was in the first graduating class to complete their freshmen through senior year at the new school.

Building a better burger

Excerpts from an article in the Chicago Tribune
By James P. DeWan
July 30, 2008

It's easy to take burgers for granted, but as with everything else, the more we know, the better the end product will be.

1. Great burgers come from many sources: lamb, pork, turkey, even salmon or crab.
Burgers made from leaner meats like turkey can dry out very easily and should be augmented with moisture-adding ingredients. (like a SlimCado Avocado,see number 2)

2. Don't just think about what goes "on" your burger. Think about what goes "in" your burger too. We want the entirety of the burger, not just the top, to be seasoned and flavored.

Then, think of all the great flavor combinations you've had in the past, and imagine them in a burger. If you like guacamole, try mashing an avocado into the burger mixture. The avocado will not only add great taste but also add moisture to the meat. (Cut down on the fat and calories of the avocado by going SlimCado)

3. When mixing ground meat, make sure it's cold and keep the mixing to a minimum. If the meat gets too warm—this can result simply from the heat of your hands—the fat melts and turns everything into a gloppy mess. The best idea is keep the meat, bowl and utensils in the fridge until mixing time. Then, place your mixing bowl inside another bowl filled with ice.

(blogger additions to article)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New StarPac for starfruit

It's starfruit packaging that makes sense.

StarPac helps delivers star quality fruit to your table. It earns a 5 Star Rating by
1. keeping starfruit fresher
2. enhancing the ripening process
3. preventing bruising
4. making starfruit easy to display

5. easy to scan during check-out

StarPac is now available only at Brooks Tropicals.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tropical fruit now on U.S. stamps

The US Postal Service issued 27-cent Tropical fruit stamps in five designs. This is a 100-stamp coil of Tropical Fruit stamps.
The stamps went on sale nationwide April 25, 2008.
Illustrator Sergio Baradat of New York, New York, created art that visually slices or halves five tropical fruits, depicting them in mouth–watering, eye–catching colors:
- Pomegranate (Punica granatum).
- Star Fruit (Averrhoa carambola).
- Kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa).
- Papaya (Carica papaya).
- Guava (Psidium guajava).
When asked to describe the stamp art, Baradat commented simply, “Luscious.”

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Belize news report may be misleading

In reporting about the closing of two competitors, news bureaus in Belize accidentally made it sound like Brooks Tropicals’ business in Belize would be impacted.

This is incorrect. Brooks Tropicals is currently growing, packing and shipping over 60% of Belize’s exported papayas. We are almost back up to pre-hurricane Dean volumes of 74%. Brooks Tropicals’ papaya production is targeted to exceed pre-Dean volumes by the end of 2008.

Committed to its Belize operations, Brooks Tropicals over the last year has built a new $1.5 million building complex in Belize and has added $.5 million packing machine to its packing facility. During this timeframe, the company has also beefed up its managerial staff in Belize with the addition of Sergio Madrid and Henry Warrington.

Brooks Tropicals sees no negative impact from the competitor closings nor do we see any obstruction to achieving our goals in 2008 and beyond.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Summertime ads

New ads for our trade publications came out this week.

The first, for Caribbean Red papayas, plays to the reader's thoughts of vacation in a favorite destination.

For SlimCado avocados, this is the second in a series of 'how to eat' themes. The first in the series was "Healthy Salads Deserve SlimCado Avocados." In this ad, we use the color of the fruit to connect with a popular theme.