Friday, December 17, 2010

More 2011 Food Trends: More Fruits and Veggies!

On Monday, President Obama signed a bill to overhaul child nutrition standards. This move plus Mrs. Obama's "Let's Move" anti-obesity campaign, may be what is contributing to Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert from ConAgra Foods to predict more nutritious foods, including fruits and vegetables for 2011.

Yesterday, I posted on the 'What's Hot' Restaurant Trends for 2011, which were also based on nutritious, locally-grown, sustainable foods. I'm glad this is catching on!

Ethnic Crop Opportunites for East Coast Growers

There is an interesting article in the Journal of Extension (JOE) dealing with some new, ethnic crop ideas for vegetable farmers.


We examined the potential for expansion of production of ethnic crops on the U.S. East Coast by commercial farmers from a market-first and economic perspective based on consumer demand. A survey of consumers from four ethnic groups showed that the ethnic crops in greatest demand are as follows: Chinese—Baby Pak Choy, Oriental Eggplant, and Smooth Luffa; Asian Indians—Bottle Gourd, Indian Eggplant, and Bitter Melon; Mexicans—Chili Jalapeno and Tomatillo; Hispanic—Aji Dulce, Batata, and Pepinillo/Bitter gourd. Results of the study have important implications to assist local growers in deciding to produce ethnic crops.

Read the full article at

The study was conducted by folks at Rutgers University and the University of Florida.
Ramu Govindasamy, Richard Van Vranken, William Sciarappa, Albert Ayeni, Venkata S. Puduri, Kim Pappas, James E. Simon, Frank Mangan, Mary Lamberts and Gene McAvoy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"What's Hot" Trends for 2011

The National Restaurant Association's annual survey of 1,500 professional chefs from the American Culinary Federation is here!

I find that this list is an important tool for growers to use during the planning for next season. This is especially important for producers who sell to restaurants.

Again this year we see local, sustainable and organic as some of the top trends. I hope this means these "trends" are here to stay!

Here are the top 10 overall trends:
  1. Locally sourced meat and seafood
  2. Locally grown produce
  3. Sustainability
  4. Nutritionally balanced children's dishes
  5. Hyper-local (e.g. restaurant gardens, do your own butchering)
  6. Children's nutrition
  7. Sustainable seafood
  8. Gluten-free/food allergy conscious
  9. Simplicity/back to basics
  10. Farm/estate-branded ingredients
Also making the top 20 is Locally produced wine and beer (#12), Organic produce (#14) and Fruit/Vegetable children's side items (#18).

The top 5 produce trends:
  1. Locally grown produce
  2. Organic produce
  3. Superfruits (acai, goji, purslane, mangosteen)
  4. Heirloom beans
  5. Exotic fruit (paw paw, passion fruit, durian, dragon fruit and guava)

Download the entire What's Hot for 2011 chef survey results (PDF).

NC Organic Production Assistance Deadline March 4, 2011


Date: December 14, 2010 Phone: 919.873.2107

Raleigh, NC –North Carolina organic producers and those transitioning to organic farming have until March 4, 2011 to sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Organic Initiative. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the initiative. Under the EQIP Organic Initiative, approved applicants can receive up to $20,000 per year or $80,000 over six years.

A number of "core" organic conservation practices may be funded through the initiative including cover crops, conservation crop rotation, prescribed grazing, pest management and nutrient management. All conservation practices offered under "general" EQIP are also available through the EQIP Organic Initiative including but not limited to fence and watering facilities for rotational grazing, erosion control practices, field borders, etc.

Applicants who are currently certified organic will need to include their organic system plan (OSP) reviewed by a USDA accredited organic certifier when applying for financial assistance in the EQIP Organic Initiative. Applicants who are transitioning to organic will need to submit a self-certification form to the NRCS acknowledging that agree to develop and implement conservation practices for certified organic production that are consistent with an organic system plan. The self-certification form may be obtained at time of application from any NRCS Service Center.

For more information on NRCS, programs and the EQIP Organic Initiative contact your local field office or visit us on the Web at

Monday, December 13, 2010

USDA Reports Increased Diversification in Horticultural Operations

To read the full report click here.

Highlights from the article include:

The sale of food crops grown under protection, including fruits and vegetables in hothouses, as well as transplants for commercial vegetable production increased 149 percent since the last time the census of horticulture was conducted in 1998.

“Despite the recent economic downturn, the U.S. horticulture industry as a whole is showing resilience by increasing diversification of the products produced,” said Joe Prusacki, NASS Statistics Division director. “Food crop production has shown the largest growth in this sector of agriculture, possibly a link to increased consumer interest in fresh fruits and vegetables.”

“Overall, total sales of horticultural crops between 1998 and 2009 increased by 10 percent to $11.7 billion,” added Prusacki. “Looking at the entire agricultural industry however, this 10-percent increase lags behind the 60-percent increase seen for all agricultural crop commodities during this same time period.”

To read the full report click here.