Inside this Food Report

 

VOLUME 3
ISSUE 4


April 1, 2012

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Hello Everyone,

Spring has sprung and daylight savings time has arrived in America.   It is so nice to have extra daylight to invigorate us!   It was quite a hectic March for many Noon members as we headed to Japan, then China and back to Japan.   In our first go around in Japan we attended the Foodex Exhibition in Tokyo.    There were so many things to see that 2 days was hardly enough of time.   We observed many dairy products in the U.S pavilion, such as organic milks, as well as cranberries and blueberries.   In fact berry fruit seemed to be a most popular item this year.  Berries were displayed as frozen, as dried, in smoothies, in cereal, and of course in cakes, cookies and candy.   We noticed caffeinated water (what will they think of next!) and an herb called rooiboo, which was used to make tea and yogurt.  Rooiboo is a red bush from South Africa and is becoming quite popular due to its high antioxidant levels.

We then were off to Shanghai, China where we could actually see some blue sky and then back to Tokyo just in time to experience the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that evening during dinner and then another which woke us all during the night.   It is amazing how steady and calm Japan’s composure remains during these earthquakes!  I suppose such is life in Japan.   However almost a year to the day of Japan’s great tsunami and earthquake on March 11, 2011 it left us all a bit shaken.   We also experienced a Japanese holiday “First Day of Spring” and were able to take a little rest and relaxation.   Two of our members decided to take a day trip to Kyoto and made many friends along the way!

Chad and Steve making friends in Japan

While some of us were in Japan others were taking on a larger challenge of climbing the tallest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest.   10 days to Ama Dablam base camp and 4 days on the decent to Lukla, Ed and Lily Noon with their oldest daughter Lexy all returned home safely at the end of March.

Ed, Lily and Alexis Noon on Mt. Everest

Spring plantings are underway and going well.  The United States growers and processors are now gearing up for the crop season.   We will continue to keep you advised on developments here and around the world.   Happy spring!

All the Best,

Betty and the Noon International Team




CropVeggies


United States: Northwest pea and potato crop planting is underway. Peas are expected to begin harvest first part of June with Potato harvest commencing early July. Weather has been cool and wet however seeding is going well. Green Bean and Corn sowing will begin this month. Northwest corn harvest is expected to begin end July while Green Bean harvest is expected to begin middle to late June.

In California the recent warmer weather has improved the asparagus crop and yield and quality are good. The warmer weather has also resulted in early bloom for California’s peach farmers and full bloom is expected to be about one week early.

Cold weather in the southern part of United States has resulted in lower output of blueberries in Florida and Georgia.

Europe: Serbia still has high inventory of raspberries and pricing continues to be low.

Frost and drought conditions in Spain has caused massive damage to Spain’s orange and mandarin crop. The loss is estimated at about 70 pct. Other fruits and vegetables have also been affected but the damage is still being assessed.

East Anglia, England which is a prime agriculture area, is experiencing drought conditions which could affect the carrot, potato and sugar beet crops.

Mexico: The unexpected and unseasonable rainfall in February and March has been beneficial for the broccoli and cauliflower crops in the Bajio Valley of Mexico. The climate has been ideal and has resulted in a better quality product with higher than expected yields. Due to the rain, the incidence of insect has been low.

Guatemala: Sugar snap peas and snow peas have approximately another 4 weeks of harvest in Guatemala. Broccoli, okra, zucchini and melon are also begin processed. The days have been cloudy with some rain but crops are doing well.

Chile: Weather in the central growing region has been warm and sunny. The berry season has continued through March and is expected to continue well into April. Quality has been reported as good and yields have been high so good volume is being accumulated.

Peru: Weather has been warm and dry in Peru. Presently avocados are being processed, however volumes are tight. This is partly due to hot weather as well as being an “off “ year in the natural cycle of the avocado tree. Many suppliers are now preparing for the asparagus crop and as last season demonstrated the same is true this season…. demand for asparagus is very high. Peru will try to begin the harvest as soon as possible in order to try best to meet demand.

Ecuador: Broccoli crop in Ecuador is going smoothly. Although Ecuador experienced strong rains in March the broccoli yields have remained stable and quality is good. Some suppliers are increasing broccoli acreage in order to provide higher volumes.

China: Rain and cloudy days was expected to delay rapeseed by 10 – 20 days, however more recent warmer weather combined with some rainfall in the Yangtze River Valley has improved the situation.

Planting is underway for edamame and sugar snap peas and crop is expected in early July. Due to tight inventories prices for sugar snaps and edamame are expected to be high at the start of the season. Green Bean plantings are currently underway in China and crop is expected Mid May/June.

Asparagus spring crop is expected to harvest mid April through June. It is still too early to estimate quality, yield and pricing.

China’s canned corn exports have risen by approximately 22 pct this past year with China’s largest market Germany.



To Label Or Not To Label

Last month 45 U.S. Representatives and 10 U.S. Senators signed a letter in support of a petition requiring the labeling of Genetically Modified Foods. The letter was sent to Margaret Hamburg Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration amongst growing concern of the consumer’s right to know. The petition was originally filed by the nonprofit Center for Food Safety with the support of more than 400 health and consumer organizations and businesses under the campaign name “Just Label It”.  It stems from a growing concern among the public and their right to make an informed decision of the type of food products they purchase.

 Genetically Engineered Foods are those foods in which foreign genes (genes from other plants or animals) are inserted into their genetic codes. For example tomatoes can be modified to contain traits to delay ripening or corn can be modified with a built in resistance to certain insects.  In 1992 the FDA instituted a policy that allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling if they were not “materially” different than other foods.   Materially different meaning they did not taste or smell differently.   However technology has progressed such a great deal since 1992 that foods can be genetically modified without changing them materially therefore making the current FDA policy inadequate.

Currently Japan, South Korea, United Kingdom, Brazil, China, Australia, New Zealand and the entire European Union have regulations in place requiring the labeling of all GM Foods.  95 pct of U.S. consumers are in favor of labeling food if it has been genetically modified.   There is still much debate on whether GM foods are safe to eat, however the American population at least want the right to make their own choice about the food they put on their plates.




Greek Yogurt + Blueberries = Delicious!

Yogurt has always been known to be an excellent source of calcium and protein.   In addition yogurt contains potassium, zinc and vitamins B6 and B12.  Over the last few years we have seen a surge of interest among consumers for yogurt, particularly Greek yogurt, which has been flying off store shelves in recent months. The most noticeable difference from traditional yogurt is that Greek yogurt has a  thicker consistency due to a final stage that it goes through which strains the excess liquid whey.

It’s not so much a question of which type of yogurt is better for you as consuming either the traditional type or Greek type on a daily basis is a great source of calcium, protein and beneficial bacteria to help aid in a healthy digestive system. However many people are now leaning more towards Greek yogurt as it does not contain additional sugars or flavoring as found in many traditional yogurts. Below is a side by side nutritional comparison of both types;

Non Fat Greek Yogurt (8oz)

Low Fat Plain Yogurt (8oz)

134 Calories

114 Calories

24g Protein

9.5g Protein

27% Calcium

34% Calcium

 Greek Yogurt contains about 2 times as much protein as the low fat plain yogurt and additionally contains probiotic cultures and is lower in lactose. The probiotic cultures in yogurt have been found to aid in the loss of fat particularly in the stomach area without losing valuable muscle tissue which often occurs with fat loss.   In turn the protein content in Greek yogurt helps to give you a feeling of being full longer and aids in the repair and growth of muscle tissue.

Greek yogurt can be incorporated into your diet in a number of different ways. It is often used as a base for salad dressing, or even a substitute for fresh creams and custards on desserts. More typically Greek yogurt is used as a base for smoothies or eaten plain out of the container.  Our suggestion?   8 ounces of non fat Greek yogurt,  ½ cup of frozen blueberries and a tablespoon of agave syrup.  And if you want a little crunch add some granola.  Simply delicious!



Japan’s Exquisite Fruit


We have all heard of fruit baskets and we have often received one or given one as a gift but in Japan the giving of fruit as a gift is taken to a whole new level.  The practice of gift giving in Japan is very common and rooted deep in the Japanese tradition.  Throughout the year there are two established gift-giving seasons, one in summer and then again in winter. This practice goes well beyond just the typical family dynamic and branches out into business.   It is a custom for people to offer presents to their bosses to express gratitude as well as companies doing the same to their customers and or business partners.

When fruit is given as a gift in Japan it is not your average run of the mill fruit that you pick up at the corner grocer.  This fruit is exquisite, pristine, and the taste is delicious.  Imagine walking into a high-end jeweler like Tiffany’s and seeing the glass-covered cases filled with apples the size of softballs all evenly colored and blemish free and strawberries so perfect they look fake.   These high-end often-luxurious fruit shops can be found throughout Tokyo however you will pay a price for this experience.  One single apple can often cost as much as US$25, or a box of 3 pristine musk melons can cost US$400.   Of course you can find lower cost fruit in the neighborhood supermarket and each time I visit Japan one of the first things I do is buy strawberries.  They are the sweetest tasting strawberries I have ever experienced.  Usually the cost is approximately US$10.00 for a box of 12 but in Senbikiya Fruit shop in Tokyo a box of superb Queen strawberries will cost you US$83.00.  You may think sales would be slow for this very high-end fruit but on a “slow” day it is reported that 50 boxes are sold.   

Most of this perfect fruit comes directly from Japan and is grown and harvested through an extremely labor intensive process in greenhouses.   Just like any other fruit the process begins with the seed, but these are not just any seeds they are defined as “perfect” seeds and every year a new and improved strain is introduced. The growing process is under constant monitoring by the farmers and any weak or poor specimens are immediately picked and weeded out.  Melons for example are grown one per vine so that all the nutrients can be concentrated directly into that melon. Each melon is gown on an identically matching stalk both in height and size.  As the growing progresses each melon is fitted with a small plastic hat to prevent sun damage.  The process is costly, labor intensive and time consuming and many farmers believe that a US$150.00 melon is actually a bargain for consumers.  So if you are ever lucky enough to receive fruit from Japan as a gift consider yourself privileged! 





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