To help small produce farmers track their produce operation from farm to buyer, a new Traceability App for Produce Growers is available.
The app allows the grower to map their fields, designate a code for each commodity grown, generate a harvest date and lot code, and create a product sticker to print out the information and adhere to the packaging. These lot codes can also be added to invoices for the buyers.
This tool will enhance the small produce growers ability to track their crops and in the case of a recall, that product can be easily tracked back to a specific field.
Fall is almost here! And pumpkins are starting to dot landscapes and yards.
Pumpkin flesh is typically what most people eat. But the young leaves are also edible. While plants are likely mature now, according to University of California-Davis, “You don’t have to wait for the pumpkin to mature before enjoying the plant. The leaves are edible and can be cooked like spinach. Choose young, tender leaves for that purpose. Of course, the seeds are edible, too. Enjoy them roasted and salted to increase the food value of your crop, particularly if you have limited space.”
Since 2011, more than 20 foodborne illness outbreaks have occurred from North American produce. The foods involved were cantaloupe, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, frozen vegetables and others. In 2018 alone, romaine lettuce has been linked to two large recalls. This is costly not only in illnesses and unfortunate deaths, but complete disruption in the supply chain.
Produce safety is an ongoing challenge. Safe potable water is critical for growing produce, but also in harvest and processing. If water is high in mineral deposits, it can cause pathogen survival. Soil residue also impacts cleanliness and sanitation.
Water temperature will change the sanitizer stability and efficacy. If water is too cold, the sanitizer will not work properly. If water is too hot, sanitizers can vaporize and release toxic gases. Produce quality can also be affected which can reduce shelf life. The acidity or pH of water must also be monitored.
Contact time of sanitizers and disinfectants will dictate the effectiveness. If left on too long, off flavors will linger and can become a chemical hazard.
The produce surface texture can trap bacteria or make them difficult to remove soil and debris. Bruises and other damage also lead to ineffective cleaning.
The debate continues as to which fruits and vegetables are nutritionally better for you as in fresh, frozen or canned. Many people struggle to find fresh produce. So what choices are available for best nutritional value?
A recent study looked at fresh, fresh-stored, and frozen fruits and vegetables. Fresh-stored is defined as fresh produce stored at home for five days. Frozen produce is commonly viewed by consumers as nutritionally low.
This study evaluated three nutrients in a variety of produce. They included vitamin C, provitamin A, and total folate. In the end, there were no significant differences in a majority of the comparisons. But, in some cases, the fresh-stored foods had lower nutrient values. Frozen produce had significantly higher nutrient values.
In the end, minimal storage time of fresh produce will help retain nutrients. Frozen foods are a tasty, and even more nutritious choice, and for some foods, available year round.