Monday, June 29, 2009

Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Papaya

    Excerpts from an article from Fruits and Vegetables Matter More.

  1. A Tangy Appetizer. Serve papaya strips with thin slices of prosciutto as an appetizer. Drizzle lightly with lime juice.

  2. Picnic with Papaya! Serve this delicious Avocado Papaya Grapefruit salad at your first spring picnic.

  3. The Perfect Mobile Snack. Try dried papaya for a sweet treat, or add chopped dried papaya to rice pilaf.

  4. Do Papaya Popsicles. Freeze spears of papaya on a stick for a summertime treat.

  5. A Unique Dessert. Bake an unripe [mature] papaya. Cut papaya into quarters and remove seeds. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Put a little bit of water in a baking pan and add papaya. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes. Serve hot.

  6. Grill ‘em! Cut in half, scoop out seeds, and grill until grill marks appear.

  7. Papaya Salsa? Absolutely. Try our Papaya and Black Bean Salsa with chicken or fish, or dip some chips!

  8. Sweet Salad. Add papaya chunks to chicken, tuna or shrimp salad.

  9. Smoothies. Add with strawberries and bananas to a smoothie.

  10. Get Exotic! Add an exotic twist to your fruit salad with papaya.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Brooks Tropicals' avocados handsomely displayed

Food Safety Audit Certificates

Food safety audit certificates for Belize and Homestead, now available.

In the avocado groves

I've been waiting for the clouds to clear to take some shots of the avocado harvest. The other day I finally got some blue sky.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Again Homestead food safety audits achieve superior scores

The Homestead food safety audit scores are in and again Brooks Tropicals achieves superior scores of 99% and 97%. "Superior" is how Primus Labs describes the scores.

The audits took place on June 2nd. The Cooling and Cold Storage facility obtained a 99% with the Packing House coming in a close second at 97%.

Food safety audits are extensive reviews of the buildings and outside perimeters. Packing materials, chemical storage, cleaning utensils, pest controls, equipment and vehicle use are all visually checked. Auditors also want to see extensive documentation showing that procedures and training are in place to follow food safety guidelines between official audits.

Congratulations Packing House and Shipping docks!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More at-home consumption

Excerpts from a 06/08/2009 article in The Packer by Jim Offner

Mary Ostlund, marketing director for Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals Inc., said she anticipated no problems caused by the down economy.

“As far as I can see, folks are cooking more at home, and they are looking to vary their menu to make it more exciting, get their families to eat healthier,” she said. “I’m not seeing a big impact from the recession at all.”

Brooks will be working with individual retailers on customized promotional programs, Ostlund added.

Strong demand meets summer citrus

Excerpts from an 06/08/2009 article in The Packer by Jim Offner

On the lime front, quality should not be a problem, said Mary Ostlund, marketing director for Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla.

“There’s good quality going into our limes’ summer season,” she said. “You’ll see good volumes on small sizes throughout May and into June.

There will be ample promotional opportunities on various sizes and counts, Ostlund said.
“Once summer rains begin in late May and early June, we look for more even distribution of sizes,” she said.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lower your pesticide exposure

Excerpts from a 6/3/09 article written by Heather Van Nest on, St. Petersburg, Florida

You can lower your exposure to pesticides by cutting down on the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, according to a consumer advocacy group.

The Environmental Working Group analyzed 87,000 United States Department of Agriculture tests from 2000 to 2007 to see which produce had the highest and lowest pesticide levels.

EWG says eating the "dirty dozen" will expose you to about 10 pesticides a day. EWG suggests buying these fruits & veggies organic.

Here are the "dirty dozen":
-Peach, Apple, Bell Pepper, Celery, Nectarine, Strawberries, Cherries, Kale, Lettuce, Imported Grapes, Carrot, Pear.

You can read the full report by clicking

EWG also put together the "Clean 15."

Check out the fruits and veggies that tend to have the lowest pesticide levels when grown conventionally.

EWG says if you're pinching pennies and you're worried about pesticide intake you can skip the organic versions of these fruits and veggies.

Here are the "clean 15":
-Onion, Avocado, Sweet Corn, Pineapple, Mango, Sweet Peas, Kiwi, Eggplant, Papaya, Watermelon, Asparagus, Cabbage, Broccoli, Tomato, Sweet Potato.

Papaya is Tasty Way to Fight Cancer and Poor Digestion

Excerpts from an 6/3/09 article written by Barbara Minton, Natural Health Editor of

Sweet and succulent with a satiny consistency, papaya was referred to as the "fruit of the angels" by Christopher Columbus.

Slice open a papaya and see hundreds of shiny black seeds that all need to get their start in life from the nutrition found in the fruit. This implies that fruit must be power-packed. Scientists have documented this common sense observation by finding that papaya promotes digestive health and intestinal cleansing, fights inflammation, and supports the immune system. It protects lung and joint
health, revitalizes the body, and boosts energy levels.

Papaya is a potent
cancer fighter that is highly effective against hormone related cancers as well as other cancers. New research shows papaya can stop the growth of breast cancer cells, halt metastasis, and normalize the cell cycle.Papaya was the only studied food found to halt breast cancer.

Scientists studied 14 plant
foods commonly consumed in Mexico to determine their ability to halt breast cancer cell growth. These included avocado, black sapote, fuava, mango, prickly pear cactus (nopal), pineapple, grapes, tomato, and papaya. They also evaluated beta-carotene, total plant phenolics, and gallic acid contents and antioxidant capacity. They found that only papaya had a significant effect on stopping breast cancer cell growth. (International Journal of Food Science and Nutrition, May)

Papaya is a store-house of cancer fighting
lycopeneThe intense orangey-pink color of papaya means it is chock full of cancer fighting carotenoids. Not only beta carotene, but lycopene is found in abundance. The construction of lycopene makes it highly reactive toward oxygen and free radicals.

Scientists at the University of Illinois think this anti-oxidant activity contributes to its effectiveness as a cancer fighting agent. Epidemiological studies have indicated an inverse relationship between lycopene intake and
prostate cancer risk. They showed that oral lycopene is highly bioavailable, accumulates in prostate tissue, and is localized in the nucleus of prostate epithelial cells.In addition to antioxidant activity, other experiments have indicated that lycopene induces cancer cell death, anti-metastatic activity, and the up-regulation of protective enzymes. Phase I and II studies have established the safety of lycopene supplementation. (Cancer Letter, October 8, 2008)

Prostate cancer was the subject of a study in Australia that looked at 130 prostate cancer patients and 274 hospitalized controls. The scientists found that men who consumed the most lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables such as papaya were 82% less likely to have prostate cancer. In this study,
green tea also exerted a powerful anti-cancer effect. When lycopene-rich foods were consumed with green tea, the combination was even more effective, an outcome the researchers credited to their synergy. (Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007)

Isothiocyanates found in papaya restore the cell cycle to eliminate cancerOrgano-sulfur compounds called isothiocyanates are found in papaya. In animal experiments, isothiocyanates protected against cancers of the breast, lung, colon pancreas, and prostate, as well as leukemia, and they have the potential to prevent cancer in humans. Isothiocyanates have shown themselves capable of inhibiting both the formation and development of cancer cells through multiple pathways and mechanisms. (International Journal of Oncology), October, 2008)

Researchers in Japan clarified the mechanisms of action in a type of isothiocyanate found in papaya known as BITC, that underlies the relationship between cell cycle regulation and appropriate cell death. When cancerous cells die on schedule, they are no longer a problem. The researchers established that BITC exerted cancer cell killing effects that were greater in the proliferating cells than in the quiescent cells. Cancer cells that are proliferating are much more dangerous than cancer cells that are in a state of dormancy. (Forum of Nutrition, 2009)

Enzymes from papaya digest
proteins including those that protect tumorsThe fruit and other parts of the papaya tree, also known as the paw paw tree, contain papain and chymopapain, powerful proteolytic enzymes that facilitate chemical reactions in the body. They promote digestion by helping to break down proteins from food into amino acids that can be recombined to produce protein useable by humans. Proteolytic enzymes protect the body from inflammation and help heal burns. They do a good job of digesting unwanted scar tissue both on the skin and under its surface.

Research has shown that the physical and mental health of people is highly dependent on their ability to produce proteins they can use effectively. However, as people age, they produce less of the enzymes needed to effectively digest proteins from food and free needed amino acids. They are left with excessive amounts of undigested protein which can lead to overgrowth of unwanted
bacteria in the intestinal tract, and a lack of available amino acids.

Eating papaya after a meal promotes digestion, and helps prevent bloating, gas production, and indigestion. It is quite helpful after antibiotic use to replenish friendly intestinal bacteria that were the casualties in the war against the unwanted bacteria. When the intestinal tract is well populated with friendly bacteria, the
immune system is strengthened, and can better protect against flu and cancer.Being a proteolytic enzyme, papain is able to destroy intestinal parasites, which are composed mostly of protein.

To rid the body of intestinal parasites, half a cup of papaya juice can be alternated each hour for twelve consecutive hours with the same amount of cucumber or green bean juice.Papaya contains fibrin, another useful compound not readily found in the plant kingdom. Fibrin reduces the risk of
blood clots and improves the quality of blood cells, optimizing the ability of blood to flow through the circulatory system. Fibrin is also important in preventing stokes. Proteolytic enzymes containing fibrin are a good idea for long plane rides to minimize the potential of blood clots in the legs.

People who sit at a desk all day might want to use proteolytic enzymes too.Proteolytic enzymes are able to digest and destroy the defense shields of viruses, tumors, allergens, yeasts, and various forms of fungus. Once the shield is destroyed, tumors and invading organisms are extremely vulnerable and easily taken care of by the immune system.Undigested proteins can penetrate the gut and wind up in the bloodstream where they are treated by the immune system as invaders. If too many undigested proteins are floating around, the immune system becomes overburdened and unable to attend to the other tasks it was meant to do. Proteolytic enzymes can digest these rogue proteins, freeing up the immune system.Papaya offers luscious taste and super

Papayas are native to Central America. They were disbursed by Spanish and Portuguese explorers who journeyed to India, the Philippines and Africa. Today, most commercially available papaya is produced in the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico.Papaya adds the sunlight of the tropics to summer drinks while flooding the body with high class antioxidants such as carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids. It is rich in several B vitamins including folate and pantothenic acid. It contains ample amounts of potassium, and plenty of magnesium, the mineral most deficient in Americans. It is also a good source of fiber.

Try getting some of these nutrients with a Papaya-Banana SmoothieIngredients

1 cup of whatever kind of milk pleases you
1/4 cup Greek style yogurt1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and chopped
banana, peeled and sliced
1 cup ice cubes

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a large glass and garnish with lime.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Florida avocado packers committed to food safety

Excerpts from a 5/29/2009 The Packer article written by Doug Ohlemeier

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Last summer’s salmonella scare sent tremors through the U.S. produce industry.South Florida avocado grower-shippers, like their fruit and vegetable counterparts, kept a close watch on the developing crisis and worked to make sure such a traumatic experience that devastated the U.S. tomato industry wouldn’t happen to them.

Visitors walking around the packinghouse and packing facility of Brooks Tropicals Inc. will immediately hear the screeching sounds of a fake hawk. The audio recording, played continuously over loudspeakers overlooking the plant, helps scare away birds.Metal fencing also protects animals from flying into the grading operation from the receiving area.

Brooks’ packinghouse and shipping facility have been Primus Labs-certified since 2008, said Bill Brindle, Brooks’ vice president of sales management.“We are very proud of our food safety certification,” he said. “Once you get there, you have to maintain it and it is a process where you do it continuously.”

Brooks’ packing line uses stainless steel, as recommended by food safety authorities.Brooks keeps its carton assembling area as well as cleaning utensils and other products separated from the packing area to prevent cross-contamination.

Brooks’ unmade boxes are stored shrinkwrapped to prevent dust contamination.Brindle said some of its retail buyers send field inspectors to inspect Brooks’ packinghouse to see how the operation handles its fruit. That’s the exception rather than the norm, he said, as most of its customers check on Brooks’ certification scores by signing onto the Primus Web site.

Brooks says it was the first in Florida to have a refrigerated packinghouse loading dock.

Florida avocado growers worry about devastating disease

Excerpts from an article published in The Packer on 05/29/2009 by Doug Ohlemeier

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Fearing a new disease could become as devastating as canker and greening are to the state’s citrus industry, Florida avocado grower-shippers are fighting a tiny beetle that spreads a disease that can kill their avocado trees.The laurel wilt fungus, spread by the exotic redbay ambrosia beetle, could wipe out half the state’s avocado crop, scientists warn.The laurel wilt disease has killed redbay trees, which are closely related to avocado trees, throughout the southeastern U.S. as the disease has moved from South Carolina and Georgia into south Florida.

Alan Flinn, administrator of the Florida Avocado Administrative Committee, in mid-May heard an update from University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences scientists who are working on developing repellents.Flinn said a just-completed survey showed no incidences of the beetle in neighboring Broward and Palm Beach counties, counties that are directly north of the south Florida Miami-Dade County avocado growing region.

Earlier surveys detected the beetle as far south as Okeechobee and Indian River counties, within 100 miles of the state’s avocado groves. Surveyors planned to begin surveying for the bug that is as small as President Abraham Lincoln’s nose on a penny during late May, he said. The red bay tree hosts the beetle.Flinn said the news of no positive finds was positive news for the industry.

“This is a very serious threat to our industry,” he said. One of the big concerns involves movement of firewood during a drought into and from Miami-Dade County from northern parts of Florida and Georgia, Flinn said. He said the industry is working to persuade Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson to ban firewood movement.Once a tree becomes infected, if it isn’t cut down and burned immediately, Flinn said he’s worried that transporting such wood to landfills could be harmful because the bugs are said to be able to fly up to 20 miles.

Craig Wheeling, president of Brooks Tropicals Inc., chairs the U.S. Department of Agriculture-affiliated avocado administrative committee. Wheeling is also a member of a separate industry-formed committee to secure research funding to battle the bug.“The impending threat of laurel wilt disease bears a striking resemblance to citrus canker, which struck Florida orange and lime growers years ago, causing millions of dollars in damage,” he said. “Having gone through that mess in the early 2000s, we're very concerned when we see the red bay ambrosia beetle’s southern migration.“While we full hardily support the work of the University of Florida in finding ways to stop this pest, we’re also working locally to make the citizens of south Florida aware of the problem and how the migration can be accelerated by transporting firewood or dumping yard waste in southern Miami-Dade County.”

Green-skinned Fla. avocado growers promote health benefits

Excerpts from an article published on 05/29/2009 in The Packer

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Though smaller than their hass competitors in popularity and production, growers of Florida’s avocados believe they have long had an advantage in one important arena: health.The growers market the health benefits of their avocados, which studies have shown are a little lower in calories and higher in taste, marketers say. The Florida avocados are also rich in vitamin A and potassium and are low in fat.

Brooks Tropicals Inc. during the late 1990s began marketing varieties that contained 30% to 50% less fat and 35% fewer calories than their California competitors.

In 2001, Brooks introduced its SlimCado line to retail buyers.Through years of testing, Brooks identified the varieties that meet the Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for using the term lite.Brooks markets its SlimCados through two nutritional designations — Lite and LessFat. Both have 30% to 50% fewer calories than the leading hass varieties, according to Brooks.

Up to 70% of Florida’s avocados meet the FDA lite requirements, said Bill Brindle, Brooks’ vice president of sales management.“We have done the testing and know which varieties have the least amount of fat, so those go into our SlimCado program,” he said. “Those that don’t are sold in the other label.”Less than 50% of Brooks’ production is sold under its SlimCado label, Brindle said.

Brindle helped execute the plan for marketing the SlimCados during the late 1990s with Craig Wheeling, president, who originated the strategy.Brooks, which has promoted its SlimCados for eight years, continues to see sales success, Brindle said.“We want to educate people that the Florida green-skinned avocado has different characteristics than the hass avocados,” he said. “A lot of those characteristics are beneficial.” Brindle said Brooks is seeing increasing interest in healthy produce items.

“It’s been a great year for avocados as health professionals continue their recognition of avocados as having monosaturated fat, which is considered good fat,” said Mary Ostlund, Brooks’ director of marketing. “With doctors recommending that fat, even good fat, should be eaten in moderation — up to 70 calories a day — avocado lovers double their health-conscious servings by eating SlimCados.”

Though the season hadn’t started yet, Ostlund said consumers in May were already asking for SlimCados. Going beyond being an essential ingredient in Latin cooking, the SlimCado has provided health-conscious inspiration for mainstream recipes from appetizers to salads to entrees, she said.

In contacting Brooks, several consumers appeared distressed and asked why the company genetically modifies its fruit to make it more healthful. Brindle said Brooks had to explain that the healthy aspects of the avocados are natural characteristics inherent in the fruit and that no genetic modification is performed.

Florida's unique avocados have few competitors

Excerpts from a 05/29/2009 article in The Packer by Doug Ohlemeier

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — In the world of avocados, Florida avocados are unique.They have few direct competitors.While hass avocados are clearly more popular, and have a larger production and sales base, those West Coast-produced varieties are physically much smaller than the tropical varieties produced in south Florida.

Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management for Brooks Tropicals LLC., said Florida avocados don’t have a lot in common with the hass varieties.“There’s not a lot of competition between the two,” he said. “I don’t consider hass avocados direct competition, but rather a product that retailers can expand upon by offering SlimCados.” After all, Brindle said most retailers who are successful selling hass varieties like to expand on that success by carrying Florida avocados.

Retailers sometimes merchandise the green-skinned Florida avocados in different areas of the store versus the hass varieties.Placement, Brindle said, depends on the supermarket.He said he’s seen them marketed alongside the hass varieties as well as in with other tropicals. Brindle said he’s also seen Florida avocados cross-merchandised with tomatoes and hass avocados.“We are more of a niche market,” Brindle said. “

Our product line complements retailers’ hass lines."In terms of geography, because of their familiarity with the Florida variety, some Southeastern retailers prefer to merchandise the Florida avocados in their own sections while most of the rest of the country sells the Florida-grown product alongside hass", Brindle said.

As the varieties are completely different, grower-shippers of Californian and Mexican hass avocados have little interaction with the Florida deal.The varieties grown in Florida don’t grow well in California and the California varieties don’t work well in south Florida soil, grower-shippers say.

One competing region that offers a similar product is the Dominican Republic.The Caribbean nation is the only other source that sells avocados that are similar to the Florida varieties.After the heart of Florida’s season, Dominican Republic growers begin volume in late September and early October. That region produces through March.

"The two regions grow different varieties of the large-sized avocados", Brindle said.“Our varieties get strong as our season goes along,” he said. “The varieties in June have less shelf life than the varieties harvested in July. The July-grown varieties have less shelf life than the August varieties.

"The Dominican Republic’s biggest problem is how long it takes for their fruit to get to the U.S. market. That transit time reduces quality as that growing region’s avocados travel via boats and enter ports", Brindle said.

As Florida begins winding down in December, while still picking lighter volumes through February, Dominican Republic volume runs through March.

Retail sales find success; foodservice less interested in Fla. avocadoes

Excerpts from a 05/29/2009 article in The Packer by Doug Ohlemeier

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Supermarkets remain the biggest customer of Florida avocados. Nationally, foodservice buyers in general do not constitute a significant buying segment for the state’s green-skinned fruit that are considerably larger than their hass competitors.

Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management for Brooks Tropicals Inc., said retailers merchandise the Florida-grown varieties well.“Retailers do a good job in that they have been improving and selling more each season,” he said. “Most of our customer base, whether because they are putting in more stores or are merchandising them better, they are increasing their orders every year.”

While the largest portion of Florida avocados sell primarily east of the Mississippi River, Brindle said Brooks merchandises the fruit to retail buyers throughout the U.S. and Canada, including the West Coast. Brooks sells avocados to Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, stores every week, Brindle said.

Brooks packs its Slimcado avocados through its continuous cold chain hydrocooling method, which cools fruit from the hot orchard harvesting temperatures to significantly lower temperatures to prevent breakdown during transit.

Except for restaurants in the greater Miami-Dade County area, Florida avocado sales to the foodservice category have remained elusive.Like Florida-grown strawberries and Georgia-grown Vidalia onions, foodservice distributors have not shown a big appetite for the southern avocados. Florida avocados have shipped primarily direct to retailers and to wholesalers that sell to other supermarkets.

Foodservice sales account for a small percentage of Brooks’ sales.

Brindle said that could change in the future but that it currently isn’t a major focus on Brooks’ part. He said the amount is hard to quantify, and said he suspects some of his wholesale customers that specialize in foodservice may sell some of Brooks’ avocados to foodservice jobbers.

Florida avocado growers expecting slower start to season

Excerpts from an 05/29/2009 article in The Packer by Doug Ohlemeier

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — After a drier-than-normal winter and spring, Florida avocado grower-shippers expect a slower than usual start to mark the opening of this year’s deal.They also hope early season rains improve sizings.

Growers started initial pickings in late May, shipping limited quantities.Volume builds throughout June with larger quantities by the end of the month and promotable retail volume beginning the second week of July. The deal’s peak typically begins in July. Promotable volume normally ends by early January with smaller volumes running through February.

Alan Flinn, administrator of the Florida Avocado Administrative Committee, said a committee of industry growers and handlers expects the industry to ship 1 million bushels of avocados this season, or 4.4 million equivalent 12.5-pound flats, down a little from last season’s 1.1 million bushels.

In the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the state produced an average 1.09 million bushels crop.Florida produces a different variety of larger-sized avocados than the West Coast-produced hass varieties.

“We should have a very good start for the season, and prices should be good and go back to the growers,” Flinn said. “We are in a little bit of a drought and are hoping for rain. Most groves are under irrigation but some growers don’t have irrigation, so we really need the rain if we can get it.”

Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management for Brooks Tropicals Inc., said the earlier part of the season’s lack of rain isn’t as important as rain the groves could receive in May and June. Those rains, he said in mid-May, are important to fruit sizings.

A couple of hours of freezing temperatures in January and February were enough to damage flowers and produce less size and fruit during the early part of the deal, Brindle said. He said he expects normal sizing, with 12s common in July and 10s dominant in August and September.

“This year is looking good for Florida avocados,” Brindle said. “The season should be similar to last year, but it may start slower. The cold weather we had won’t amount to a crop failure.”Brooks started its first pickings in a light way on May 20. Brooks this season plans to ship more than 500,000 bushels, about half of the deal’s avocados.

Brindle said the deal could open as high as $22 a flat early in the season. By July, the deal can fall to $7 a flat, he said. Brindle said Brooks can often command high early-season prices because the grower-shipper often has fruit earlier than other shippers in late May and early June. By the time others begin shipments, prices in mid-June can hit $15-18, he said.

Florida is typically responsible for 9% to 18% of U.S. avocado acreage.