Inside this Food Report


June 1, 2014

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Hello Everyone,

We commence our peak crop season in the United States this month with the start of green peas.   Drought conditions still plague California and also Texas (90% of Texas is in drought condition and some say it’s the worst drought in 500 years) so we feel pretty lucky here in Washington and Oregon where spring weather has been ideal and we look forward to a healthy beginning to our crop season.   We anticipate pea yields and quality to be excellent this year and we look forward to a fantastic crop season here in the Northwest!

Some of Noon’s team just returned from a two-week excursion to Taiwan and China where they assessed the current conditions of both our conventional and organic edamame fields and factories.   The expression “boots on the ground”, meaning success can only be achieved by your direct physical presence, is one of the most important aspects of making sure that the vegetables and fruits Noon International delivers to our buyers is of the highest quality.  But more important than this is that the food we send to you is safe with all the proper controls, procedures and audits in place.

Edward Noon Surveying The Condition Of A
Chinese Edamame Field in May.

Some of you already know many of us at Noon International practice the art of Feng Shui and this is actually another side of our business here at Noon International.   We have included an article in our Eat Healthy section below regarding the yin and yang of eating.   We hope this helps everyone during the busy season ahead to stay balanced and energetic! 

All The Best,

Betty and The Noon International Team.

CropVeggiesUnited States:  

Northwest Region:

Most processors have begun green pea harvest/processing in Oregon and Washington States.   Weather has been ideal for pea growing and we expect good yields with excellent quality this season.

Green Bean plantings are underway in Oregon and Washington states.

Russet variety potato harvest for processing is expected to begin in the Columbia Basin towards end of July.   Weather has been favorable and harvest will begin earlier than anticipated. 

Northwest corn planting is about 65 % completed.   To date we are expecting a normal crop year.

Favorable weather in the Oregon and Washington states in early and late spring has resulted in expectations of a good cherry crop in Washington State.   It is reported that blooming is progressing well and yields and quality are expected to be good.

Outlook for the Northwest Raspberry crop is down significantly.   Winter weather conditions damaged some fields and projections on overall crop yields will be down this season.   Anticipated start of harvest is end June/beginning July.   On the other hand Oregon and Washington blueberries experienced great pollination weather and are doing well.  All expectations are for a healthy blueberry season in the Pacific Northwest.  Early variety blueberries should begin harvest around late July.

Midwest Region:

Green Pea harvest will commence in the Midwest region at end June a few days later than usual due to cooler weather.   The states of Minnesota and Wisconsin have begun super sweet corn planting and the harvest is estimated to begin around August 17th depending on weather conditions.

State of California:

Ongoing drought conditions continue to affect many crops in California, including peaches.   Processors there are concerned regarding the condition of the peach crop, especially coming off of a short season last year.

Mexico:   Peak season for organic broccoli is now in full production.    Yields and quality look excellent.   Currently the weather in Mexico has been favorable for broccoli and cauliflower both conventional and organic and there have been no issue of pest or diseases.   Both quality and volume is on target.   Most of the volume is now coming from the Northern part of the state of Guanajuato.

Guatemala:   Broccoli season will start up again in July.  
Edamame harvest will begin late June.

Costa Rica:  It was a disappointing season for mango .   Small fruit resulted in low yields for processing with much of the fruit going to puree.

Ecuador:   Raw material broccoli still remains low as processors struggle to fulfill orders.   Growers  are trying to convert as many fields to broccoli in order to keep up with demand.

Chile:   Kiwi is being harvested and budgeted volumes are being reached.   The Hayward variety finished up late May and now harvesting the Jintao variety.

Peru:    Avocado season is now underway in Peru and to date crop conditions are good.  Global demand for Peruvian avocado has been strong due to California’s recent drought conditions.  

Europe:   Green Pea harvest will begin this month in Belgium, France and Sweden.  To date conditions there are good and reports are that yields and quality should be favorable this season.  
Recent flooding in Serbia will affect that countries fruit and vegetable crop.   Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are expected to be affected.


Zhejiang Province:   Edamame harvest is expected to begin in July.  Yields may be down due to a decrease in flowering and prices are expected to increase.
Green Bean yield decreased by about 30% this season due to a reduction in the planting areas.   Harvest has begun, however prices are expected to be 30 – 40% higher than last season.
Spring crop harvest of bamboo shoots has ended earlier than expected.   High temperature resulted in low quality and sharply reduced yields resulted in a 30% increase in the price.
Sugar snap pea harvest is completed with good quality and yields.   Some processors have extra inventory to offer.

Fujian Province:  Edamame harvest expected to begin in June.    To date the indication is that crop will be normal.  Fields and quality look good.

Shandong Province:  Due to unfavorable weather conditions, (too much rain) yields on strawberries declined by about 40% this season.   Many factories lowered their processing volume and prices will increase by 15 – 20 % this season.

Green Pea harvest has also been hurt by unfavorable weather conditions and prices for green peas are expected to go up. Asparagus harvest/processing is underway.   Quality is good and prices are stable.

An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away – Really?

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, is an adage we have been taught from childhood. We may now have to rethink this, with new data emerging about the amount of pesticides and other contaminants polluting the fresh produce on our supermarket shelves.

The Environment Working Group (EWG) – a US environmental organization that works to provide information to the public about the environment and public health – has recently published the “2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce”.  Pesticides in food have been linked to abnormalities in brain development, hormonal disturbances, cancer and other serious health concerns. Children are particularly susceptible to the damaging effects of pesticides owing to their still-developing immune systems.

Over the past decade EWG has been publishing information annually, containing categories like the “Dirty Dozen” – the 12 most polluted fresh vegetable and fresh fruit items, and the “Clean Fifteen” – a list of 15 food items with the least levels of pesticide residues in them..

In this year’s list, and for the previous four years, apples are right at the top for containing the highest levels of the pesticide diphenylamine – DPA – this is usually applied to the fruit post harvest in order to prevent outer skin discoloration during storage. The others in the Dirty Dozen list are strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, potatoes and imported snap peas. In a category named Dirty Dozen Plus, there are items such as leafy greens (kale, collard) that exhibit high levels of toxic insecticides.

Fortunately, not all fresh produce is tainted by chemicals. EWG’s Clean Fifteen list includes avocado, corn, pineapple, cabbage, onion, sweet peas, asparagus, mango, papaya, kiwi, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potato. Of these, avocados showed the least amount – only about 1% of samples showed any trace of pesticides.

A total of 65% of all fresh produce tested positive for presence of pesticides. Interestingly, it was found that potatoes contained more pesticide residue by weight than any other food.

In 1996, the Food Quality Protection Act mandated that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimate the types and levels of pesticides in produce and inform the public about the dangers of ingesting pesticide-tainted food. Unfortunately, no exhaustive list of the most highly contaminated food or the harmful effects of consuming such food is available on the EPA website. The EWG’s claims that its “shopping list” provides this valuable information so that consumers can make informed choices about their food options.

 The EWG advocates buying organic, locally-produced fruit and vegetables as healthier options to the ones that are found to contain high levels of pesticides and also states to remember that the health benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweighs the risks of pesticide exposure.  It is also important to note that processed vegetables and fruits such as frozen and canned are commercially washed which greatly reduce any level of pesticides or chemicals. 


The Yin and Yang Of Food

Based on ancient Chinese wisdom, Chi – the life force – flowing through one’s body is directly affected by the food one eats. In order to maintain good health, this flow of energy should be dynamic and vigorous. This life force not only influences our physical health but also our mental health. In short, we are what we eat!

Consistent with traditional Chinese medicine, food can be divided into two kinds – Yin foods and Yang foods. Yin and yang are concepts in Chinese philosophy that can be roughly translated into “two opposite, yet complementary forces that balance each other to provide harmony”. In the context of food, yin and yang refers to the “cold” and “hot” properties respectively inherent in foods. While no food is entirely yin or yang, the dominant property determines its classification as yin or yang food. The way food is cooked, its mineral content, the place and conditions of its growth, all these also establish its yin or yang property.

Generally, foods that are green or white, slow to cook, low in sodium and high in potassium are considered yin foods. Boiled, blanched and steamed foods are yin. Some examples are green and white vegetables (melons, gourds, seaweed, green beans, and cabbage), grains, tea, tofu, white rice, crab, and duck.   These foods are believed to have calming and soothing effects on the body. Since they have cooling properties, they should be consumed during hot summer months.

Foods that have strong aromas and flavors, are brightly colored, high in sodium and have been stir-fried, deep-fried or roasted are considered yang foods. These heavy foods are recommended in cold winter months when the body can utilize their “heat”. Some examples of yang foods are meat, seafood, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, sweets, pungent and spicy sauces, fruits such as mango and pineapple, vegetables such as carrot, tomato, onion, ginger, garlic, and chili peppers.

Traditional Chinese practitioners believe that medical conditions are manifestations of imbalances of the yin and yang in the body. It is believed that changing the diet can cure some ailments. For instance, cooling yin foods should be eaten when one has fever while warming yang foods should be consumed when one has a cold.

Yin foods are said to promote a calming effect on the body and hence are recommended for people with high stress levels, hypertension and heartburn, while those suffering from lethargy, and listlessness would be recommended to eat more “energizing” yang foods. Like every thing in life balance is key so the idea is to restore the balance of yin and yang in the body for good health.
Chi is said to be found more in foods found closer to earth. In other words, there is an “echelon” of living things depending upon where they are grown; the lower the food is in the echelon, the more Chi it provides. Animals are higher up in the echelon than fruit and vegetables, which in turn are higher than root vegetables. Therefore, root vegetables are best sources of good Chi, followed by vegetables and fruit. Eating adequate quantities of these is very important for maintaining good health.

The Chi balance of the body is disrupted by eating over-processed food with artificial/chemical additives and stale and reheated food so the fresher the food the more “alive” energy it provides!

Traditional Chinese wisdom and common sense go hand-in-hand in dictating the ideal diet. Eat according to season and body condition and choose fresh food and get more fruit and vegetables in your diet.  And it is easy to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet by using frozen.  Frozen fruit and frozen vegetables are picked at the peak of freshness, contain no additives, and stay fresh in their frozen state.   You simply cannot get fresher and more natural than frozen vegetables and fruits!

The World Is China’s Grocery Store

We all know that many of the goods that we see on the shelves of any US store – computers, appliances, apparel, toys, costume jewelry, stationery, books – are made in China. Many food items are also imported from China, top among them being seafood (tilapia, cod, clams), garlic and apple juice. But did you know that the US exports almost twice as much food to China as it imports from China?

In the past decade, US food exports to China have increased almost five times over, while food coming into the U.S from China has remained stagnant.  Over 25 billion dollars of food is exported to China from the United States each year taking over Mexico as the country that imports the most food product from the U.S.

The main reason for this jump in food exports to China is China’s ever growing appetite for a protein rich diet meaning increased demand for pork, chicken and beef.

Directly, there is a rise in the number of meat-eaters in China with a preference for pork, beef and chicken. Pork consumption almost doubled in China from 1993 to 2013 with exports from the U.S soaring into China.   Indirectly the demand for pork, beef and chicken in China has led to the mushrooming of numerous hog, cattle and chicken farms. Over half of the world’s hog farms exist in China. These farms literally need tons of animal feed for maintaining a healthy output of meat. Corn and alfalfa are two main agricultural products that qualify as animal feed, and China imports enormous quantities of these from the U.S bumping up its food intake from America.  American companies are getting in the act with the recent purchase by Shuanghui International Holdings of America’s Smithfield Farms, as well as Tyson and Cargill setting up chicken farms on Chinese soil.

Nuts and wine are also high up on the list of Chinese imports.   China is now the largest consumer of red wine with 1.86 billion bottles sold in 2013!

Although China’s total farm output has tripled since 1978, it has to feed almost a fifth of the worlds population and only 8% of its land is arable.   About a quarter of Chinese farmland has been polluted by industrial waste or excessive agricultural chemicals.  Clean water is limited.   Food production on a large scale, enough to feed a population of over a billion people, is a difficult proposition leading China to rely on the U.S and other countries for its growing appetite.  
Demand is only going to increase in the near future, signaling a new era of US-China trade relations.


Happy Father's Day!

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