Inside this Food Report


February 1, 2013

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Happy Chinese New Year to all of our friends around the globe.   This is the year of the Water Snake (hey that's my Chinese astrological sign!)  It is being said that the Year Of The Water Snake will bring a more peaceful and calm year, unlike the previous year, which saw political change and upheavals in many parts of the world, and we certainly hope that predication comes true.

Lots of happenings going on in February as well as Chinese New Year.   February here in the United States is African American History Month, American Heart Month and of course we cannot forget Valentines Day!  

As we mentioned last month January brought us to beautiful San Francisco, California were we attended the Fancy Food Show.   So many products to see and of course health and wellness was front and center in so many of the products.  Snack food made from healthy vegetables such as sweet potato and chips made with lentils called “Chips With Benefits”.  We tasted delicious soup purees such as edamame and beet and drank teas with flavors of Spinach Chive and Broccoli Cilantro.     We then headed to more sun and warmth in Los Angeles where we met with customers and enjoyed a fun night out eating Japanese shabu shabu and karaoke of course!   This month will bring us back to California, this time Anaheim where some of our team will attend the American Frozen Food Convention so we hope to see everyone there.

Did you ever have a desire to eat dirt?   We wanted to share an article we came across recently in regards to the newest trend in Japanese cuisine, creating food with dirt.    We may have to visit this French restaurant on our next visit to Tokyo to try for ourselves what the article reports as very tasty food indeed!   Please click below link to read the article.

Once again all the best and Happy Chinese New Year!

Betty and The Noon international Team.

CropVeggiesUnited States:   Washington State enjoyed a bumper apple harvest this season.   Good weather in Washington State allowed pickers to pick into November .   Apples were able to grow larger in size which also helped contribute to a larger crop.  Potato processors in Oregon, Washington and Idaho are still running factories at capacity with ample supplies still in storage.   Compliments of the North American Blueberry Council we have included the most recent statistics on both cultivated and wild blueberries.    Please click here to view. 

Guatemala:     Fruit season (honeydew melon and cantaloupe) is now underway with most of the volume currently going to fresh market.    Sugar Snap Peas and Snow Peas have commenced harvest in Guatemala as well.    Broccoli continues although volume is beginning to decrease.   Cold and wet weather has been reported in some growing areas but nothing too alarming in regards to its affect on the broccoli quality.

Mexico:  Climate for this time of year has been excellent which is cool but with no hard freezes.   Quality of both broccoli and cauliflower are excellent.

Costa Rica:    Volumes of pineapple are low during this time of year as most growers try to avoid harvesting during the holiday season in Costa Rica.  Volumes should pick up this month.   Honeydew melon season has started and quality has been excellent.  Weather has been warm and sunny.

Chile:   Green Pea season in Chile is now completed and it has been reported that the quality and yields were good.    Peak season of sweet corn is now underway and processors are running at full capacity to keep up with the harvest due to warmer than usual temperatures.  Chilean processors are hoping for a good corn harvest this season as most processors in Chile had to import large volumes of corn last season due to a short crop in South America.   Green Beans are also being harvested and crop is normal with no adverse conditions advised.   Much like the United States Chilean famers are increasing field prices for corn and other vegetables due to strong competition from wheat and grains.  Heavy rains in December hurt Chile’s cherry crop and the warmer than usual temperatures in January accelerated the blueberry harvest.

Argentina:   Berry harvest was completed late December and some suppliers are reporting limited inventories are still available.   In the Santa Fe and Cordoba region sweet corn is being harvested.   Weather at this writing has been dry so some rain will be needed, however all in all conditions are average with no adverse affects due to weather.  Last season some Argentina suppliers suffered a 70% loss in yields of sweet corn due to drought conditions.   Processor and growers are most definitely hoping for a better season this year.

Brazil:    After a long dry spell, rain seems to be arriving just in time for the northern parts of Brazil to benefit their summer crops such as corn, wheat, soy and coffee.   Rain is needed in the southern region.

Ecuador:   There has been a good balance of rain and sun and harvest conditions for broccoli remain stable.

Peru:   Freezing of mango is currently underway.   Conditions remain good.

Australia:   In Queensland torrential rains at the end of January caused flooding while record breaking temperatures all over Australia resulted in roads melting, wildfires and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology having to add dark purple and magenta to its color coded weather forecasting maps.   It is being reported by many that the warmer weather has resulted in an excellent fruit crop, including cherries, stone fruit and grapes.    High sugar levels have resulted in excellent eating quality.    Avocado varieties Hass and Reed are currently available from Western Australia .

Southeast Asia:   Heavy rains in Java, Indonesia caused flooding.  Abundant moisture resulted in a favorable crop outlook for rice and palm oil.     In the Philippines wet weather continued ensuring ample moisture for rice and corn crops.

China:  Zhejiang Province:   Low temperatures have hurt the broccoli and cauliflower crops resulting in low yields and higher prices.  Lotus root pricing is increasing due to increased labor cost.   Due to cool temperatures there is an active demand for fresh vegetables in China’s domestic market.   Rape flower is selling well which will cause a shortage of supply within the next few months.

Fujian Province:  Peak harvest of water chestnut is underway.  Again rising labor cost has increased pricing and quality is reported as low.   Button mushroom price has increased by approximately 20% due to cool weather and lower yields.    Broccoli and cauliflower harvest is underway, however as in Zhejiang Province the cool temperatures have resulted in lower yields and higher prices.

Shandong Province:   Most harvest is now completed in Shandong province. Factories are packaging inventoried stocks of carrot, taro , scallion and spinach.   New season crops will begin again in March/April.

Antibiotics In Your Meat

Did you know that farmers have been feeding antibiotics to the animals we eat for decades? Antibiotics today are used in animals to make them gain as much as 3% more weight which for farmers and meat distributors translate into significantly increased profits.

Although it is not fully understood why ‘sub-therapeutic’ levels of antibiotics such as tetracycline result in animal weight gain,  it is thought that they kill the flora in the intestine allowing them to utilize and absorb their food more effectively.

However there is an increasing amount of evidence to suggest that even these low doses of antibiotics pose a health risk to humans particularly those who regularly eat meat.

Antibiotics have been given to poultry since the 1940s to prevent disease yet more and more experts are stating that the overuse of antibiotics encourages the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Not only this, but nearly two trillion tons of animal waste is produced every year in the U.S. alone, much of which contains undigested antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This then filters down into the ground contaminating surface water and damaging natural ecosystems.

One example can be found in the Shandong Province of China in which China’s agricultural authorities shut down numerous poultry farms for overusing antibiotics in their poultry. The media reported that chickens had been given excessive amounts of amantadine and ribavirin to compensate for their poor overcrowded living conditions. The report triggered a nationwide scare about food safety that led to a downturn in Yum Brand sales of chicken in retail outlets such as KFC as well as competitor McDonalds. China’s News Agency recently reported that of the 210,000 tons of antibiotics produced in China, a whopping 50% are used on poultry.

Another example of the effects of antibiotics in meat can be found in the U.S. Cipro is an antibiotic used against campylobacter bacteria which can cause food poisoning amongst other conditions. In 1990, the rate of cipro-resistant bacteria was negligible and in 1996, the FDA approved an antibiotic extremely similar to Cipro for use with poultry.  Just 5 years later, cipro-resistant bacteria in human campylobacter cases had increased to 19%!

What has become clear is that the use of antibiotics in animals is not just bad for humans, but bad for animals and the environment. It is a hot topic of discussion today and comes alongside numerous other food safety concerns such as the use of growth hormones in feeding chicken livestock.  Known as “Instant Chickens” these birds grow rapidly from chicks to ready-to-eat meat in just 45 days! 

Have A Little Passion!

The exotic passion fruit, or granadilla, belongs to the family of Passifloraceae of the genus Passiflora. Native to subtropical regions of South America, the passion fruit is a small oval shaped fruit that contains numerous seeds and possesses a wrinkled brown rind upon maturing. This refreshing fruit is full of phytonutrients and if you don’t already have it in your regular diet, it would be wise to include it.   The passion fruit is quite high in carbohydrates and simple sugars an excellent food source for athletes as well as those seeking to lose weight.  Passion fruit is also said to posses somniferous properties – that is to say it can relax your mind and body and help you sleep easier. 

Fiber & Protein

One cup of passion fruit including the pulp and seeds contains just under 25g of fiber and 5g protein. Though passion fruits are largely juiced,  we recommend that if you are having a portion for the health benefits you probably shouldn’t juice them as without the pulp and seeds, the fiber and protein content drop to less than a gram each!

Vitamin C

Passion fruit is an extremely rich source of Vitamin C – an antioxidant that helps protect the body from free-radical damage. Vitamin C also assists in keeping our overall immune system strong and fortified.  With just one cup of passion fruit you can enjoy your entire recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C ! As with most fruits the fresher the better.  Freshly picked passion fruits are known to be more nutritious than those that have been packaged, processed or stored.

Carotenoids & Iron

One cup of passion fruit also contains roughly 25% of your RDA of Vitamin A, which is important in cell growth and reproduction as well as maintaining good vision and healthy skin. Passion fruit is also an excellent source of plant based iron, known as nonheme. One cup provides more than half of your RDA and the vitamin C content in the fruit also helps your body to absorb the iron!  

The Amazing Avocado!

You might think that the avocado is a vegetable, but you’d be wrong – it’s actually a fruit. This fruit however is like no other as it is high in fat. Though foods high in fat are generally considered unhealthy, Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat, which is the good kind of fat.

In studies eating avocados has shown to reduce LDL levels (which is our bad cholesterol) and they are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids that support heart health.  Additionally avocados are high in beta-carotene, fiber, folate and potassium and in this way are truly superfoods!

Avocados are thought to originate in Mexico and South and Central America, which today form some of the world’s largest producers. 2009 saw a resurgence in avocado production with total production being put at 3,853,930 metric tons. Mexico leads the way in avocado production growing approximately 1.25 million metric tons in 2011 alone. It is also the largest exporter of avocado and in the same year exported over 330,000 metric tons of this fruit. Today, avocados are grown worldwide, with the next four largest producers being Chile, United States, Indonesia and Colombia.. As of 2011, Chile accounts for roughly 9% of worldwide avocado production and the United States and Indonesia 7%. In the United States, 95% of avocado production is undertaken in Southern California, with many labeling Fallbrook, California as the avocado capital of the world.

Thanks to a variety of conditions including favorable weather and phytosanitary pest control programs acreage for the avocado is on the rise with the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) estimating a 10% increase in plantations in Mexico alone. All in all this amounts to roughly 138,000 hectares (341,005 acres) dedicated to avocado production in Mexico of which the state of Michoacán accounts for 85% of this land. Other major producers of avocado include the Dominican Republic (5%), Peru (4%), South Africa, Israel and New Zealand.

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