Friday, July 31, 2009

Killer avocado disease discovered in Florida

Excerpts from an article published on 07/30/2009 by Doug Ohlemeier

Scientists have found a south Florida commercial avocado tree infected with a disease known to kill avocado trees.This is the first case of the laurel wilt fungus discovered inside south Florida’s avocado growing region.

The laurel wilt disease — spread by the red bay ambrosia beetle — threatens Florida's avocado trees. Officials confirmed a positive discovery of the red bay ambrosia beetle in the northern part of the growing area in a southern Miami-Dade County grove on July 28.

The tiny beetle spreads the disease, which can destroy half the state’s avocado crop.
Previously, the it had been detected in Okeechobee and Martin counties, north and west of Palm Beach County.

“We are a little surprised that it has appeared to leap this far south,” said Jonathan Crane, a tropicals fruit crops extension research specialist with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Fla.

“Our researchers here are in hyperdrive and are working closely with industry, scientists and others to try to get a handle on this as quickly as possible,” Crane said.

Researchers are collecting samples from other groves and are awaiting for the beetles to emerge from the positive find, Crane said.

Craig Wheeling, chief executive officer of Homestead-based Brooks Tropicals Inc., said he’s encouraged by the $2.5 million in state and federal research funding the industry has been able to secure less than two years after the disease was first detected in the Carolinas.

“We as an industry have really stepped up the efforts,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to be done now. We don’t know much about the life cycle of the bug.”

Leaders of the Miami-Dade Co. Farm Bureau and Extension service scheduled an Aug. 5 emergency meeting where researchers and others plan to recommend control steps to growers, handlers, packers and shippers.

More information on the disease can be found at the
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Web site.With 7,500 acres, Florida’s $30 million crop represents the country’s second-largest avocado-producing state.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Florida firms focus on nutrition benefits of state's avocados

Excerpts from an article published on 7/27/09 by Amy Fischback

Some consumers have shied away from avocados because of the fruit's perceived fat content, but some Florida specialty growers are working to change that misconception.

With researchers finding that avocados have monounsaturated, or "good," fat, avocados can actually raise levels of "good" cholesterol and protect arteries.

Brooks Tropicals, Homestead, Fla., is also working to promote the nutrition of avocados by labeling them as "SlimCados," said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales.

"Being able to label Florida avocados as SlimCados helps stores position this avocado in the produce aisle," he said. "In an instant, the SlimCado brand tells the customer that this avocado is a healthy choice."

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Publix ad features Brooks' logo and, of course, our fruit

As you shop Publix Supermarkets this week, check out the store's weekly flyer. Brooks Tropicals' Caribbean Red papayas and SlimCado avocados are featured. I should add that our logo is featured also.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Is Eating Starfruit Dangerous?

A few blog posts claimed that starfruit could be dangerous for people with kidney problems. Rumor or fact? I finally got an expert's answer, Dr Andrew Weil, MD. These are excerpts from an article published 7/21/2009 written by him.

If you have no kidney problems, you can eat all the star fruit you want - it has no effect on healthy kidneys.

But if your kidney function is impaired, eating star fruit can be very dangerous, even deadly. Symptoms of "star fruit intoxication" include persistent hiccups, nausea, vomiting, agitation, insomnia, mental confusion and convulsions that occur within one to five hours of eating the fruit.

The problem seems to be the high levels of oxalic acid (or oxalate) in this fruit that can accumulate in weakened kidneys. But since kidney patients don't seem to have problems eating other oxalate-rich foods (such as spinach), Brazilian researchers who have been studying the reaction suggest that another, unidentified substance toxic to nerves is the real culprit. Whatever this toxin may be, people with healthy kidneys have no problem excreting it while those with impaired kidney function run into trouble with the combination of the unknown toxin and oxalate.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Avocados: unsung superfoods

Excerpt from a Chicago Tribune article written by Julie Deardorff.

Avocados have good, unsatiurated fats which help with growth and development of the central nervous system and the brain. they're packed with nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Avocados play well with others: when you eat an avocado, it helps the body absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotene, as well as lutein, from other foods.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Combining avocado and tomato: making super fruit even better

Excerpt from a 7/12/09 article by Timothy Jackson

DO mix avocado and tomato: Tomatoes, which contain the antioxidant lycopene, are a superfood. If you eat some avocado at the same time, you've just made it even more super. The fat in the avocado helps the body absorb seven times more lycopene.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Limes can be substituted for lemon, with few exceptions

Excerpts from a Miami Herald article by Kathleen Purvis

Lime and lemons can be used interchangeably in recipes. Besides a slightly different taste, there are few instances where it will matter. Limes are a bit more floral, even if the lemon juice is acting as a thickener, such as in a lemon curd or lemon pie, the lime juice should still have enough acidity to do the job.

One instance in which you cannot swap is when you are canning tomatoes in a boiling-water canner. Recipes for canning tomatoes call for commercial, not fresh, lemon juice because the percentage of acidity in fresh fruit can vary widely, from 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent. (It depends on how old the fruit is, the season when it was picked and even how rainy it was.)

You need a dependable level of acidity to make tomatoes safe for canning, so you should always use bottled lemon juice if the recipe calls for it. And you certainly shouldn't swap in lime juice.