Monday, August 31, 2009

Fruit and Spice Park opens the Mango Cafe

Our friends over at the Fruit & Spice Park proudly announces the opening of the MANGO CAFÉ

Hours of operation: 11:30 am to 4:30 pm
Open 7 days a week except Christmas Day.

Café specialties include: Florida Lobster Roll, Shrimp Tacos, Grilled Chicken & Bacon Quesadillas, Cuban Sandwich Panini Style, BBQ Pulled Pork. Assorted wraps, sandwiches, specialty Pizza’s, unique desserts and beverages.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

10 Mayan foods that changed the world's eating habits

Excerpts from an 8/27/09 article in the Alanet News by Christine Delsol

Nobody gives the Maya is credit for their agricultural wizardry. When the Spanish carried Mayan food back to Europe and to the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, it changed the world’s eating habits. Here are ten Mayan foods it would be hard to live without:

1. Avocado (aguacate)
From its Mayan origins in southern Mexico, it was prized as an aphrodisiac ( later the Aztecs would keep their daughters indoors during harvest season). In the 19th century, growers had to mount a PR campaign to persuade the public that eating avocados did not equate to licentiousness.

2. Papaya
The papaya originated in the tropics of southern Mexico and Central America. After the Spanish carried seeds to Panama and the Dominican Republic, cultivation spread throughout South and Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Pacific Islands, India and parts of Africa. It has became naturalized in many areas and still grows wild along Mexican roadsides.

3. Squash (calabaza, calabacita)
Squash predates corn and beans by several thousand years; Maya people domesticated several varieties of squash as early as 8000 B.C. Oils from these seeds were the main source of dietary fat before the Spanish introduced beef and pork.

Others Mayan additions to our eating include:

4. Chocolate
5. Vanilla

6. Corn
7. Chiles
8. Tomatoes
9. Black beans

10. Sweet potato

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fruit: The secret weapon in parents' nutritional arsenal

Excerpts from an article by ARA in the Creston Iowa News

Parents, let's face it -- the average child will never really fall in love with Brussels sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower. But few kids object to fruit, making it easier to help children tap into its wealth of health benefits.

Fruit fights childhood obesity, according to studies by Tufts and Baylor universities that linked high fruit and vegetable consumption by children with a lower body mass index.

Fruit is naturally low in calories but high in nutrients like immune system boosting vitamin C, water and fiber, which helps children feel fuller and more energized with fewer calories. Federal dietary guidelines recommend five servings of fruit per day.

Here are two tips to help keep fruit exciting and easy for you and your children:

  1. Variety really can be the spice of life when it comes to fruit. Supermarkets now regularly offer exotic fruits that were once only found in top restaurants or specialty shops. So on your next supermarket excursion, allow your child to explore the more unusual fruits and choose one or two to try. You may find they adore star fruit and kumquats as much as apples and bananas.
  2. What child doesn't like a smoothie, especially in summer? While you're whipping up a fruit smoothie for your little one, take the opportunity to slip some other nutritious ingredients into the blender, like raw greens (kids think green smoothies are fun), low-fat yogurt for protein and calcium or flaxseed for fiber.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Q&A with Jose Rossignoli

Article in the 8/17/09 The Packer / Fall Avocado Marketing Section by Jim Offner.

Jose Rossignoli is vice president of sales and marketing for Brooks Tropicals, LLC., Homestead, Fla. In his position, he leads Brooks Tropicals' sales efforts, building sale programs with retailers and wholesalers in delivering SlimCado avocados, Caribbean Red and Caribbean Sunrise papayas to the North American market.

Rossignoli recently served as director, then vice president of national sales for the firm. After graduating with a master of agribusiness from the University of Florida, Rossignoli started at Brooks Tropicals, assisting Pal Brooks on various projects.

Rossignoli and his wife, Kelly, live in Miramar, Fla.

Q: How important are avocados in the Brooks portfolio compared to recent years, given the increase in popularity of the fruit?

A: Brooks Tropicals started over 80 years ago with Florida avocados. Although, nowadays our Caribbean Red and Caribbean sunrise papayas have risen to the top of our portfolio's forefront, green-skinned Florida avocados remain as our second core commodity and will always be a top priority for us.

Q: What's the best way to market the nutritional value of avocados? How can Brooks Tropicals stand out in this area?

A: In the past year, avocados have made great nutritional strides with experts highlighting the fact that avocados have "good" fat, or monounsaturated fat. SlimCado avocados benefit even more because good fat is still best eaten in moderation (70 calories a day). With SlimCado avocados 70 calories doubles the amount of avocado that can be enjoyed.

Q: Green-skinned avocados have, frankly, fallen behind the hass variety in many regions. How can they make up ground?

A: We're different. Florida green-skinned avocados are a specialty item with great market recognition and demand. We don't compete with the hass variety but complement the grocer's avocado offerings with a lower-fat, lower-calorie avocado that appeals way beyond Hispanic markets to the health conscious, calorie-counting consumer.

Q: Are there any new marketing venues out there for avocados, in terms of educating consumers about the product, highlighting the product's quality and building consumers' desire to buy it regularly?

A: I think the Internet and specifically social media have opened the gates of publicity on a far more personal level. Recipes on blogs, photos on Flickr - we've even answered questions Twittered from grocery stores about SlimCado. Mass media continues to provide additional recognition - it's always exciting to have your brand mentioned during prime time show as it occurred in ABC's Brothers and Sisters.

Q: How are you best-suited to market avocados? What are your personal strengths that you bring to this job?

A: Brooks Tropicals has two main sets of competitive advantages when it comes to avocados. First, our vertically integrated program, from planting to shipping, ensures a high-quality product. And second, Brooks maintains over half of the retail market share, which gives an advantage in regards to advance planning and merchandising.

When I first joined Brooks, my functions were operations-focused - among them, the analysis and forecasting of production and harvesting. This analytical background serves me well in working with my customers to build customized retail programs to meet their needs.

Q: There's certainly a business dynamic between Florida avocado producers and their colleagues in California, Mexico and Chile. How would you describe it? Are they rivals? Colleagues? How well do they work together for the betterment of the entire avocado category? Or is that not a priority?

A: Certainly, there can be cross-elasticity in certain markets, but generally speaking we don't compete, we complement. Consumers are eating more avocados and expanding what dishes they use them in. It's great to give the consumer a choice, choosing perhaps hass for a party dip and SlimCados to slice up in a salad.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Papaya seed 'caviar'

Think of how many papaya seeds you've thrown out. Turns out you're throwing out 'caviar'.

Kudos to Julie at Julie's Raw Ambition for the recipe, photo, and for creating the longest name for an appetizer 'papaya caviar coconut creme fraiche on cucumber blinis'.

Kidding aside, her blog post has some interesting information on papaya seeds along with the recipe.

Imported produce - consumption has doubled

Although this should come as no surprise to us, I thought the numbers were interesting. Excerpts from an article on written by Melissa Breyer.

Americans are consuming more imported fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen and canned produce, and fruit juice. Over the past 15 years Americans’ consumption of imported fresh fruits and vegetables has doubled.

Food & Water Watch studied fifty common fruit and vegetable products and found that:

  • In 1993, imports made up one out of ten fresh fruits and one out of nine fresh vegetables Americans ate. In 2007 the import consumption share doubled to more than one out of five fresh fruits and fresh vegetables.
  • On average, each American consumed 20 pounds of imported fresh fruit, 31 pounds of imported fresh vegetables and 24 pounds of imported processed produce and drank three gallons of imported juice in 2007.

Another post about Fruta Bomba tea

Teavana®, the manufacturer of Fruta Bomba tea, has announced the winners of their "Tea Master's Challenge" contest.

This tea blending contest challenged Teavana customers "to use creativity and their love of tea to make a new taste sensation using from up to 4 Teavana teas, sugar or honey." There were six winners from over 2,300 submissions.

Obama Bahama by James Defilippis was one of the winners. The tea is a blend of Fruta Bomba, Imperial Açaí Blueberry, Strawberry Kiwi, and Caribbean Breeze teas. The tea is described as a combination of green, white and herbal teas that is rich in antioxidants & vitamin C and is reputed to help ease the signs of aging and regulate blood sugar levels. With the flavors of the tropics - this tea is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Post from the blogsphere

It's not so common to see a personal blog talk about the Caribbean Red papaya. Other than the blogger incorrectly assuming that Caribbean Red papayas are Mexican papayas, the blog post is interesting and quite factual with a number of followers. I'm posting just the first couple of paragraphs, I suggest reading the comments to the blog post. The comments are from consumers who have tried papayas or are thinking of trying papayas. The blogger is from Salt Lake City, Utah.

Papayas 101
Published August 18, 2009 by cheryl
You put the lime in the papaya and drink ‘em both up…*

One of our big delights in summer and fall are the huge “Caribbean Red” or “Mexican” papayas. We usually buy them at Costco, but you’ll sometimes find them in the grocery stores as well.
Most people, if they’re familiar with papayas at all, are more familiar with the smaller Hawaiian papayas that are a little bigger than a pear. This variety is much larger – this one’s about 10″ long:

I’ve found that most people I’ve talked to have rarely, if ever, had papaya. And even those that have, don’t really know much about them or how to know when they’re ready to eat. They’re truly missing out on the fruit that Christopher Columbus supposedly called “the fruit of the angels”. So let’s have a quick lesson in papayas, OK?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Healthy benefits - papaya, starfruit, Uniq Fruit and guava

Excerpts from an article called Unique Choices for Fruitful Diet on Natural Home

Papaya – Regular consumption of papaya endows with liberal discharge of papain enzyme in body. Papain enzymes are acknowledged as one of the most efficient enzymes that are capable to break proteins and natural source to enhance immune system which further helps in reduced chances of inflammatory diseases.

An increased intake of papaya assists in coping with deficiencies of potassium, folate and vitamin C. it is also a very popular food among diet conscious people owing to the petite quantity of calorie present i.e. half papaya comprises only fifty nine calories.

Star Fruit – Daily consumption of this Asian fruit helps in prevention from development of cardiac ailments. Since ages, star fruit had been used to reduce inflammations of cardiovascular system owing to ample quantities of polypheonols antioxidant obtained through consumption. A person experiencing
deficiency of vitamin A, dietary fiber or potassium should increasingly consume star fruit several times during a day. Like papaya, star fruit also contains petite quantity of calories.

Uniq Fruit – The usage of ugli fruit is very popular in Jamaican
home remedies for common cold and flu. Consuming this fruit at least three times a day helps to boost immune system and discharges liberal quantities of vitamin C and carotenoids in body. The calorie content of this fruit is only forty five. It is recommended for persons experiencing frequent attacks of cold or nasal congestion to eat ugli fruit regularly for at least one month for permanent relief.

Guava – Guava is a seasonal fruit. Inclusion of guava in an all-fruit diet extraordinarily
strengthens the immune system and fulfills almost seventy percent of body’s daily vitamin C and requirement. An increased intake of guava fruit also helps in confining the production of LDL cholesterol and free radicals in body. Individuals with impaired or blurred vision should also consume guava fruit to defuse free radicals present in retinal portion of eye

Friday, August 14, 2009

Making more than guac from avocados

Excerpts from an Associated Press article by Michele Kayal posted 8/13/09

Avocado Fries are warm, tasty and a more unusual use for your avocados ready for eating. Recipe to follow.

And while nearly 500 varieties of avocados are grown around the world, Americans tend to favor just a few, mostly Hass or Hass-like varieties.

But if you grew up in a tropical climate, you might prefer what are called "green-skinned" avocados, varieties such as Simmonds or Monroe or any of the dozens of other varieties coming from Florida.

These avocados have a smooth skin that remains green when ripe, and they can weigh up to 3 pounds. Green-skinned avocados also have less fat and more moisture than Hass, giving them a milder flavor and a lighter, less unctuous texture.

These qualities make them well suited to sweet preparations, such as the ice cream favored by Brazilians or milk shakes enjoyed in the Philippines.

"Hispanics love to chop them into cubes and put them on top of a creamy tomato soup or squash soup," says Mary Ostlund, marketing director for Brooks Tropicals, a grower and the largest shipper of Florida avocados.

The company promotes its avocados as "SlimCados," a "lite" fruit, with fewer calories and less fat than avocados from California.

To tell when avocados are ripe, give them a little squeeze. They should yield to slight pressure, but not be mushy. Unripe avocados should be stored at room temperature, then moved to the refrigerator when ripe. They will keep there for two to three days.

And while you can spend $10 on an avocado slicer, it's just as easy to run a knife around the fruit lengthwise, then twist it slightly to separate the halves. Remove the pit with a spoon.

Pureed avocados hold up well in the freezer. The California Avocado Commission recommends adding a tablespoon of lemon juice for each two pureed avocados.


Canola oil, for frying
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/4 cups panko (Japanese-style) breadcrumbs
2 firm-ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced into 1/2-inch wedges

Heat the oven to 200 degrees.

In a medium saucepan over medium-high, heat 1 1/2 inches of oil until it reaches 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer.

Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl whisk together the flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Place the eggs in a second shallow bowl, and the panko in a third.

One wedge at a time, dredge the avocados through the flour, shaking off any excess, then through the egg and finally through the panko. Set the wedges aside in a single layer.

A quarter of the avocado wedges at a time, fry until deep golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer the wedges to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Transfer the drained fries to an oven-safe plate and keep warm in the oven while cooking the remaining wedges. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Serves 6.

---- Recipe from the April 2009 issue of Sunset magazine

Avocado prices appear immune to recession

Excerpts from The Packer's special section: Fall Avocado Marketing
Published on 08/13/2009 By
Jim Offner
The recession may have cut into restaurant receipts, automobile purchases and that new home, but it hasn’t affected avocado sales, marketers said.

“For awhile, there was a false idea that fresh fruits and vegetables might be more expensive, but I think people came to realize just the opposite,” said Mary Ostlund, marketing director for Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals Inc.

“Fresh fruits and vegetables provide more nutrition, dollar for dollar, than any other item in the grocery store.”

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Benefits from eating fruits and vegetables outweigh any risks of pesticides

Excerpt from a SunSentinel article of 8/13/09.

Which is worse: eating nonorganic produce full of pesticides or not eating produce at all?

Research demonstrates substantial health benefits from eating fruits and vegetables. Although I wish we had more definitive research, these benefits appear to greatly outweigh any risks of pesticides.

If you want to compromise, you can save your organic dollars for the foods most likely to be high in pesticides. These, according to the Environmental Working Group (, are peaches, nectarines, apples, bell peppers, strawberries, cherries, pears, raspberries, imported grapes, celery, potatoes and spinach.In contrast, foods that you peel — onions, peas, bananas, sweet corn and tropical fruits, for example — tend to be low in pesticides.

Rationalizing to eat more

When I get asked why we promote the SlimCado as having less fat when 'everyone knows avocados have the good fat,' I point to an earlier blog entry that has doctors recommending only 70 calories a day of good fat. Then I add, with SlimCados you can eat a lot more avocado for 70 calories.

Despite the logic, I get the vibe that I'm not fully answering the question. So there's more to why we Americans cheerfully down vats of guacamole without a care. It's why this article by by Brett Blumenthal helps fill the void where my answer seems to stop short.

We often eat foods that are determined to have ‘health benefits’ past moderation, in turn, making them ‘not so healthy.’ Take dark chocolate for instance. It has become pretty well know that dark chocolate contains antioxidants which are great for warding off ‘free-radicals’. I imagine that for a lot of people, the logic then goes something like this: “Great! So this must mean I should eat dark chocolate often and in large quantities to ensure that I stay young and beautiful.” In reality, if we all did this, we would have even a larger obesity epidemic on our hands than we already do. The truth is that we should indulge in these foods, but still maintain ‘in moderation’ as our standard for portions and frequency.

Look, a
fat is a fat. It doesn’t matter if it is a ‘good fat’ or a ‘bad fat’, it is still a fat. And, a healthy diet should only incorporate 20% – 30% of fat, whether good or bad. Granted, when you are eating fats, eating those that are ‘good’ is by far more healthy than eating those that are ‘bad.’ You should avoid those that are ‘bad.’ But just because it is good doesn’t mean that you should look at them as a staple of your diet.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Florida avocado deal down more than a third

Excerpts from a 8/10/09 article by Doug Ohlemeier

Lower volume and higher prices characterize this year's Florida avocado deal, but shippers said they expect to meet regular customer demand for the fruit.

"The cut in volume follows freezing temperatures in January, spring drought conditions and an alternate-bearing smaller crop year following large crop production during the 2007 and 2008 seasons," said Jose Rossignoli, vice president of sales and marketing for Brooks Tropicals, LLC, Homestead, Florida.

"Despite the smaller volume," Rossignoli said "Brooks expects to have no problems supplying customers with fruit and that buyers shouldn't expect any shortages."

"We expect to have a normal supply of avocados throughout the rest of the season," he said Aug. 4. "Though we expect our crop to be a little shorter than last year's , there will still be adequate overall volume for weekly business and promotions."

Rossignoli said, "Brooks expects to do well with the lower volume."

Brooks expects to ship a little less than 500,000 55-pound bushels, which in a typical year is about half the industry's volume.

"With the volume decline, however," Rossignoli said, "the industry could be shipping 800,000-900,000 bushels this year."

Fruta Bomba tea

Teavana, a chain of stores that sells tea, sells a tea called Fruta Bomba.

A melange of green tea and South African Rooibos in combination with ripe papaya and peach pieces. Together they create an explosion of flavor, aroma and health benefits. This is a delicious green tea and perfect for those who have not tried green tea before.

It sells for $6.80 for 2 oz.