Thursday, February 21, 2008

Episode 10 - Produce Bob's Seasonal Picks

The Produce Picker Podcast presents Produce Bob's Seasonal Picks. An audio segment hosted by Ray "The Produce Picker" and Produce Bob Gates.

Ray and Bob take you through current "in season" fruits and vegetables and Bob picks his favorites of the week. This week it's grapefruit and leeks.

This episode is an enhanced audio podcast which means pictures of the items mentioned in the show will show up on the screen.

((Ignore this part, it's just a test link.))My Odeo Channel (odeo/e9acc0b3a5f84d9f)

Produce Picker Podcast Featured in The Produce News

If you remember back a few weeks ago I mentioned that Produce Picker Podcast was chosen as a feature story in the produce industry trade paper The Produce News.

I was interviewed by Tim Linden, a writer for The Produce News, about my career as a produce clerk and how that led to the creation of my show Produce Picker Podcast.
Well that article has been published in hard copy and online. As promised here is that article for anyone who is interested in reading the story and learning a little more about me and the show.

Thanks Tim for a great article, thanks to Mr. Groh (editor for The Produce News) for choosing myself and the show to profile, and thanks to everyone who watches the show and participates in this blog!

CLICK HERE TO READ: TECHNOLOGY AT WORK: Produce clerk bridging the information gap with podcasts
by Tim Linden


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tips for Eating Better in '08 (In Response to the Janurary Poll)

During the month of January I ran a poll that asked "Did your New Years resolution include eating better in 2008?"

Results of that poll showed that 88% of those who responded answered "yes" they did make a New Years resolution to eat better.

In response to that poll, in celebration of Primary season '08 (it's voting day '08 here in D.C.) and as a thank you for participating, I wanted to offer up some tips that I've found useful from around the web to help those who said they were interested in eating healthier in '08. I hope these tips will help you to either start or stick to your resolution!

For those trying to start - BlogHer food editor Alanna Kellogg offers up some great tips:

Make it fun. Make it do-able. Make it a project. A project? How about a vegetable in a new way every single day for a month? (Hey! It worked for me. And it's how I started blogging in 2005.) But trust me, it's also a decidedly ambitious goal. Instead, how about trying one new vegetable a month, or one new recipe a week? If eating more vegetables is a family project, think about your own version of a Great Big Vegetable Challenge.
Move vegetables to the center of the plate. I mean this both figuratively and literally. First, the figurative. When planning the week's menus, start with the vegetable, then plan the meal around it, as in, "Tonight we're having roasted asparagus. Let's see, that would taste great with roasted salmon." Now the literal. Place the asparagus in the center of the plate, letting it star. Then place the salmon to the side. Doing this visually modifies what stands out, what's more important.
Add vegetables in unexpected ways. Add chopped spinach or Swiss chard to tuna salad. Add quick-sautéed vegetables to cooked rice. Add grated carrots to meatloaf. Read the full article at
For those of you looking to maintain your resolution to eat healthier - Dee Dee Smith at has some good tips:
Always serve a salad with each meal. You can serve a fruit cup, spring salad or even coleslaw for variety. Add fresh fruit like strawberries or tangerines to greens for a really tasty salad. In addition to increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, you will probably eat less of the main course possibly resulting in weight loss as well.
Make up your own vegetable and/or fruit baggies for snacks. In small baggies place spears of broccoli, cauliflower, baby carrots and celery sticks. For a little flavor, use ranch dressing as a dip. Make up fruit bags by putting slices of apples, oranges and pears along with grapes, cherries, etc. in a baggie. Kids can dip fruit in strawberry yogurt as a special treat. Having the baggies will make it easy for you or your kids to grab a healthy snack. These also make great snacks for school and/or work.

Get many servings of fruit by making fruit smoothies. These are great for breakfast, a snack or even a delicious dessert. For some healthy smoothie recipes, check out this Suite 101 article. Read this article in its entirety at

Stay tuned to the Produce Picker Podcast for all new segments such as Produce Bob's Seasonal Picks which will keep you informed about what's in season now and what you should be buying on your next trip to the market.

Consuming in season produce will not only make your recipes taste sweeter but could be just the boost in variety that you need in order to maintain your resolution to eat better in the new year.

Thanks to everyone who has subscribed to the blog, podcast or both thus far. I'm having a great time coming up with new ideas to keep you informed about fresh fruits and vegetables and your feedback thus far has been great. Keep those emails coming (thanks Bob for your question about Bell Fruit. Check the comment section of the Food Newscast blog post for the response)!

If you haven't already you can easily subscribe to this blog or the Produce Picker Podcast by simply adding your email (which remains private) in the box located in the upper left hand corner of this blog. For the more tech savvy viewers you can also subscribe via RSS. Subscribing ensures that you'll get all the newest information released here and on the Produce Picker Podcast automatically. No need to check back. You'll be notified instantly via email whenever there is new content!

Thanks again and remember...Pick Right, Pick Ripe, Every Time with The Produce Picker.

picture provided by jpwbee

Friday, February 8, 2008

Episode 9 - How to Choose and Cut a Cantaloupe

Hi everyone. It's time for another episode of the Produce Picker Podcast. On this episode you'll learn how to choose that perfectly ripe cantaloupe from your local market. I also show you a fast and effective way to cut open your cantaloupe while getting the highest yield of fruit possible.
Below the show you can find the entire episode transcript in case you'd like an easy way to review the steps involved. Enjoy and let me know what you think by pressing the comment button below this post.

Episode 9 - Produce Picker Podcast - How to Choose and Cut a Cantaloupe (transcript)

The first thing to pay attention to when choosing a cantaloupe is its overall shape and color. It should be nice and round with no flat sides, impressions or dents. Your cantaloupe should have a nice overall netting with creamy yellow to orange undertones.

Next you want to notice the weight of the cantaloupe, it should feel heavy for its size. While you are holding the cantaloupe make sure to check all sides for blemish including but not limited to soft spots, cracking and mold.

A very good indicator to how sweet your cantaloupe might be is to check the stem area. Notice on this cantaloupe there is a deep impression where the vine used to be connected to the melon. The cantaloupe is fresh when this appears green as opposed to brown or black. Also make sure there are no jagged edges in the stem area. You can see here this one is very smooth. A cantaloupe that has jagged edges in the stem area indicates that it was picked too soon and that cantaloupe will never fully ripen.

Finally when choosing a ripe cantaloupe you'll want to feel the area just around the stem. If you want to eat the cantaloupe the same day you buy it then this area should give when you apply pressure.

The best way to do this is to use your thumbs to apply pressure around the area just around the stem. A ripe cantaloupe will have some give without being too soft. The rest of the cantaloupe should still be fairly firm.

You can also smell the melon to help determine ripeness. The smell should be pleasant without being too strong. However in some produce departments melons are kept on a refrigerated case or in a refrigerated storage cooler and this could eliminate the smell of the cantaloupe. Because of this use smell only as a test to aid in choosing your melon but not as a definite indicator of ripeness.

Now lets look at a fast way to cut a cantaloupe while still getting the highest yield of fruit possible.

You might recognize this technique from episode 4 where we cut and cored a pineapple. We'll being using the same technique to remove the rind of this cantaloupe.

Begin by removing the top and bottom of the cantaloupe. This will provide you with a solid base with which to cut the melon decreasing the chance that the melon will slip out of your hand when cutting. Remember to always pay close attention and don't go too fast when using a knife to perform these techniques.

Now that you have a solid base to work from, take your knife and move it just to the inside of where the melon and rind meet. You want to make downward cuts, moving the knife with the shape of the melon in order to remove as much of the rind as possible while still leaving as much fruit as possible.

Perform this cutting technique around the entire melon and remove any pieces of rind left over by simply cutting them off.

Now you're left with a giant melon ball. Next we'll cut the melon in half and remove the seeds. You can use a spoon to scoop out the seeds inside the melon or simply cut and scrape them out with a knife.

Finally cut the melon into half inch to one inch sections. Rotate the pieces 90 degrees and cut again to make bite sized cubes. Another alternative to cutting the melon into slices or cubes would be to simply serve the melon halves by themselves or perhaps with ice cream or berries in the center. Really it's up to. Use your imagination and above all enjoy the sweet taste of your perfectly selected cantaloupe.