Posts Tagged: Adel Kader
I first tasted a feijoa (fay-zho-uh, or pineapple guava) as a student here at UC Davis many years ago. A friend showed me her secret trees (south side of Wellman in Davis — tons on the ground right now!), and I was hooked. I didn’t think much of it at the time, other than thinking this is one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. It tastes better than candy, and ripens right around Halloween - sweet! I had never seen or heard of a feijoa. You likely haven’t either, so I’m writing to introduce you.
First a little history. This subtropical plant originated in the higher altitude regions of central South America, but has since been introduced and grown commercially in Europe, California, New Zealand, South Africa and the area around southern Russia. In California, Sutter and Yuba counties were the hot spot for growing pineapple guavas in the late 1980s. Farmers in that area, who benefitted from the kiwi expansion a few years before, enthusiastically jumped into the feijoa business, however did not realize the same success.
According to Adel Kader, UC Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus, "the nurseries that provided the trees were not accurate in identifying the different variety of trees, and there was a large difference in the taste.”
So a farmer had no idea if he had a good tree or not. Additionally, judging fruit maturity is difficult since the fruits do not significantly change color as they ripen and drop to the ground when they’re mature. So the optimal picking strategy is by “touch picking” where if you touch a fruit and, if it comes off the plant, it’s ready to eat. Imagine doing that for a whole orchard.
Back to the present. I rediscovered feijoas after riding my bike down our street before the green waste pick-up a couple years ago and noticed about 30 feijoas in my neighbor’s pick-up pile! They didn’t know you could eat them. So, yes, I picked them out of the pile and introduced my neighbors to the deliciousness of the pineapple guava. And then I promptly went out and bought myself a tree to plant in my own yard.
Feijoas taste like taking the best elements of strawberry, guava and pineapple and mixing them together. They smell pleasantly sweet and flowery. To eat a feijoa, cut (or rip) it in half and scoop out the inside creamy white flesh (a little brownish color is fine to eat). Feijoas are a good source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium, and they even contain a little protein.
So, where can you find feijoas? Well, if you're in Davis, visit the south side of Wellman. Or, you can plant your own tree like I did (you can reference the Postharvest Technology Center’s Produce Fact Sheet for Feijoas here), or you can go to your local farmers market. It’s a short season, so this is the weekend to search them out. When you find them, Kader suggests you “look for a larger fruit with a slight give and a nice aroma.” You won’t be disappointed.
Working at the Postharvest Technology Center, I often think about how to spread our mission of how to reduce postharvest losses and improve the quality, safety and marketability of fresh horticultural products. Part of doing this is educating consumers about making good choices so they have a better experience eating fruits and vegetables. And, if consumers have a better experience with fruits and vegetables, we eat more of them. If we can create demand at the consumer end, it will trickle through to the people that handle your produce: processors, retailers, distributors, carriers, marketers, shippers and finally growers.
I spoke with Jim Thompson, who wrote “From the Farm to Your Table: A Consumer’s Guide to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables” along with Adel Kader, two distinguished experts in the field of postharvest technology. Thompson said they wrote the publication knowing that, “For most consumers, it’s kind of a mystery what influences the quality of their produce. This publication answers some of the questions of how to make good choices at the market and at home.”
Thompson adds, “There are many things that can steal quality from produce. And it starts at the farm.”
The type of cultivar the farmer chooses to plant and what kind of soil, temperature and light conditions, irrigation and fertilization practices at the farm affect flavor and nutritional quality. When the product was harvested, how it was handled prior to arrival at your market, and how your market stores the product all influence the quality of your produce.
You certainly know which market in town has the best produce section, and it’s important to you. In fact, according to the 2011 National Grocers Association Consumer Survey Report, “Consumers say they are keeping health a priority—and 91 percent regard a stellar produce department as a ‘very important’ factor in where they buy groceries. This is precisely the same percentage as a year ago, which represented a dramatic five-point jump from the 86% level of two years ago. While the recession may have withered wallets, it hasn’t hurt consumers’ resolve on this measure.”
Postharvest Technology Center is offering a 40 percent discount (making it only $4.20!) on “From the Farm to Your Table” through the end of September 2012. And as long as you’re there, our other consumer publication, the poster “Storing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Better Taste” (just $1) would be a lovely addition to your refrigerator!
Please contact us at (530) 754-4326 or email@example.com if you’re interested in ordering multiple copies for a nutrition, health or cooking class or you can purchase them through our online bookstore.
There is a wide schism between the sleek mechanical harvesting machines that briskly traverse California’s fertile croplands versus the field worker with a machete and head-basket, or possibly a donkey laden with woven baskets, that is still most commonly found in many nations.
Produce loss continues to be a significant problem. Worldwide, it is estimated that as much as one-third of the produce grown is never consumed by humans (Kader, 2005). Many logistical challenges contribute to this loss, including: ineffective or absent cooling systems, slow and rough transportation, physical damage from rough handling, and poor sanitation conditions.
In 2010, one of the most popular free titles available on the Postharvest Technology Center’s website was “Small-Scale Postharvest Handling Practices: A Manual for Horticultural Crops.” Written by Lisa Kitinoja and Adel Kader, and currently translated into 10 languages, this title was downloaded by over 22,000 readers last year. While this useful resource is very popular in the United States among small-scale farmers, over 8,000 readers benefitted from the useful content translated into Indonesian, 4,000 from the Vietnamese translation, and over 3,000 from the Arabic translation. Readers learned information about the curing of tuber crops, designing picking poles and catching sacks to gently harvest fruit, and efficient designs for packinghouse layout. (Link to all ten translations are found under the section “Small-Scale Postharvest Practices” at: http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/Pubs/publications.shtml.)
“Many simple practices have successfully been used to reduce losses and maintain produce quality of horticultural crops in various parts of the world for many years,” asserted Lisa Kitinoja of Extension Systems International. “You don’t necessarily need costly handling machinery and high-tech postharvest treatments to be able to deliver quality produce to the marketplace. However, effective management during the postharvest period is key to reaching the desired objective.”
While most California produce shoppers are grateful for the quality and variety available in our markets, it’s nice to know that an effort is being made to improve the produce available to others not quite as fortunate as we.
Photo: Kumasi retail produce market, courtesy of Adel Kader.