By Micah Cheek
If you haven’t tried sumac before, the flavor can be hard to pin down. The dried and crushed fruit of the sumac plant is described as tart but not sour, and a combination of lemon, tart cherry, and earthy flavors. “We have people that come in saying ‘Oh I just tried this food, it was sour and so good, it was lemony and complicated…’ and we just stand there until they finish and say, ‘Yeah, that was sumac in there,’” says Anne Milneck, Owner of Red Stick Spice Company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sumac is a top seller at Red Stick Spice Company partly because Lebanese and Greek restaurants are popular elements of Baton Rouge’s culinary scene, says Milneck, who has begun seeing more interest in sumac as more Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurants open and customers try to replicate dishes at home.
Traditionally, sumac has been used in a wide variety of Middle Eastern dishes. Salads, roasted meats, bread and rice can all be liberally sprinkled with sumac for an acidic tang. “You can use it with any platter. [It has] a delicious taste, at the same time it’s appealing to the eye,” says Safa Najjar Merheb, author of “The Pure Taste of Lebanon From Safa’s Kitchen.”
A classic pairing is sumac with lamb. The gamey richness of lamb is cut by sumac’s tartness. Milneck notes that the spice will perform the same on any gamey meats, such as duck or venison. Sumac can also be used with flavors that traditionally play nicely with lemon, as reflected in a Turkish fish stew with sumac. The spice can be used as a dry rub on chicken.
Sumac is also a popular addition to mild sides. “I’ve also heard about sumac on more bland vegetables like cauliflower,” says Milneck. “Some people are doing cauliflower rice and then using sumac in there, which is not so off the wall, because sumac is also used on rice pilaf.” Merheb suggests mixing the spice into stuffing for grape leaves, eggplant and squash.
Dukkah, an Egyptian condiment that includes crushed nuts, coriander and cumin, and the spice blend za’atar both depend on sumac. Za’atar is a popular condiment in Arabic cuisine, with wildly varying recipes that all contain sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds. Manakeesh, a traditional Lebanese snack, is made by spreading a paste of za’atar and olive oil onto pita dough before baking.
International Seafood Ventures, one of the largest suppliers of king crab to the U.S. retail market, has formed a strategic alliance with Frequentz Inc. to strengthen its supply chain transparency efforts. The crab industry has been under heightened scrutiny due to the increased reporting of illegally caught seafood entering the U.S. market. The presidential task force assigned to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing has also identified the king crab imports industry as a clear and present offender. While many companies are trying to distance themselves from the negative publicity, International Seafood Ventures is taking the issue on full steam ahead.
“We enlisted the help of Frequentz and their traceability solution to demonstrate without a doubt to our customers that our king crab is legitimately caught,” says Stuart Kozloff, International Seafood Ventures President. “It is important for our customers to know we take a responsible approach to our seafood sourcing, and Frequentz’s traceability solution provides that extra layer of assurance, not only for our king crab, but our whole Asian, Arctic and Aqua Chef Line of products. In today’s market we need to be responsive to our customers’ requests and by enlisting Frequentz’s assistance, we feel we can accomplish the important goal of confirming our sustainability claims to these strategic alliance customers.”
With close to 90 percent of all seafood sold in the U.S. coming from imports, supply chain transparency is the only way to assure consumers that what they are being sold isn’t a wild fish tale. Frequentz’s technology also has applications beyond seafood, as consumer demands are driving supply chains to be more forthcoming. Consumers want to have enough information to make a responsible buying decision, whether that is based on sustainability of the species or some other driving factor. Frequentz assists these industries by offering comprehensive traceability, serialization and information management technologies that promote intelligent analytics and consumer safety.
The wholegrain kamut, farro and Matt 100 percent organic pastas from Pastificio Felicetti embody the terroir of the Felicetti pasta company, located high in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy. The secret to Felicetti pasta’s unique flavor is thanks to the extraordinary raw materials it is made of: prized varieties of durum wheat, crystal clear spring water and air from the Dolomites, which contributes a balance to the grain and water that makes pasta toothsome, firm, and delicious.
The happy egg co. has announced the launch of its organic free-range eggs available in select California retail locations including Costco, Gelson’s and Bristol Farms. The organic line extension complements the happy egg co.’s 12- and six-pack carton offerings currently sold in 6,500 stores nationwide. Expanding its product line to include organic free-range eggs provides the happy egg co., already the gold standard in animal welfare, with an even stronger foothold in the specialty egg market.
“Our move into the organic market has now given the organic consumer a truly humanely raised egg offering, providing affordable, free-range eggs from Organic hens that have been treated with the highest quality of care,” said David Wagstaff, Chief Operating Officer at the happy egg co. “Our product strategy has always included an organic free-range line extension and we’re currently expanding our footprint of organic and non-organic happy egg farms to satisfy the skyrocketing demand for food that is organic and humanely-produced with transparency through the supply chain.”
Consumer demand for organic foods has grown by double-digits every year since the 1990s, with sales increasing from $3.6 billion in 1997 to over $39 billion in 2014. According to Mintel’s “Report on Organic Food and Beverage Shoppers,” sales of natural, organic and better-for-you products are expected to grow 8.1 percent annually to $226 billion by 2018. The happy egg co. will continue its explosive growth trajectory by expanding production into organic farms.
The happy egg co. provides its hens with organic, non-GMO feed and is the only 100 percent free-range egg brand with an animal welfare program that covers everything from living conditions to feed to expertise of caregivers. Additionally, the happy egg co. is the first commercial egg producer in the U.S. to be designated American Humane Certified™, which requires achieving rigorous animal welfare standards. The happy egg co.’s organic free-range eggs are certified by Quality Assurance International.
The happy egg co. organic free-range 18-pack eggs are currently available at select Bay Area Costco locations. The happy egg co. organic free-range eggs will also be sold in 12-packs at select Gelson’s and Bristol Farms locations across southern California. As the only national free range brand in the market, following the launch of its organic free-range eggs at California retailers, the happy egg co. plans for coast to coast distribution to complement its regular free range eggs.
Seattle Coffee Gear today announced a new retail experience in specialty coffee coming to its flagship store this November. The Washington state-based coffee equipment retailer is not only expanding its selection of specialty coffees, but also offering customers a way to taste before they buy.
A first of its kind, “The Wall” offers 32 specialty coffees ready to sample via pour over or espresso brew method. Freshly roasted and ground on demand from one of 32 grinders, each coffee is given its own story and place in the line up. Customers are encouraged to create their own “tasting flight” by selecting a few to try, brewing them up and sampling right there in the store. Seattle Coffee Gear hopes that this will eliminate some of the mystery of coffee and let customers learn more about their personal tastes as well as the beans themselves.
Seattle Coffee Gear is also excited to expand their selection of specialty coffee to include some of the nation’s leaders in third-wave coffee as well as a few more of their local favorites. New roasters include La Colombe Coffee Roasters, Supersonic Coffee and Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters, among others. This move is in line with Seattle Coffee Gear’s mission to provide freshly roasted coffee. “We work with each roaster and only offer their coffees for a determined number of days post-roast. We believe in transparency; the roast date is clearly listed on each bag and we guarantee their freshness,” states company founder, Victor Gehlen.
In honor of launching “The Wall,” Seattle Coffee Gear will host a grand opening celebration Saturday, November 7, 2015 starting at 10:00 a.m. This will be a day full of free goodies, guest roasters, tastings and, of course, a lot of coffee. Stop in and brew a cup.
The Kroger Co.has withdrawn from sale unrefrigerated caramel apples that have been pierced with dipping sticks due to new scientific evidence that the product, if left unrefrigerated, may be at risk for listeriosis.
No illnesses have been reported in connection with these products. Kroger made its decision out of an abundance of caution after reviewing a study published online by the American Society of Microbiology.
“After reviewing the study, we have decided to voluntarily withdraw unrefrigerated caramel apples from our stores,” said Dr. Payton Pruett, Kroger’s Vice President of Food Safety. “While we believe the potential health risk is minimal, we are acting out of an abundance of caution on behalf of our customers.”
The Kroger family of stores has pulled these products from shelves and distribution centers and has disposed of them.
Dr. Pruett added that the company is open to carrying these products again in the future and will work with suppliers to reduce the risk of bacterial growth.
Kroger is a recognized leader in food safety and a past recipient of the International Association for Food Protection’s prestigious Black Pearl Award for advancing food safety and quality.
In 2003, an annual trend based on existing tradition took the nation’s coffee cups by storm. Over the past 12 years, pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavors have become the new heralds of autumn and the holiday season. Pumpkin Spice Sweet Drops from SweetLeaf® mean anyone can enjoy this fall favorite anytime, adding flavor to food and drinks without adding calories, carbs, or artificial ingredients.
According to Nielsen, “Seventy percent of pumpkin-oriented grocery sales in the U.S. occurred between September and November.” Within the larger pumpkin category, Nielsen’s report also notes the pumpkin spice flavor is the second most popular choice in that spectrum. While some food trends tend to be somewhat random and making them more tenuous, the staying power of pumpkin spice comes from the relation to an existing annual occurrence. Its close tie to the fall holiday season gives pumpkin spice a sense of exclusivity, but also makes it cyclical—returning for a few months every year.
SweetLeaf Pumpkin Spice Sweet Drops, however, are available year-round, offering delicious, comforting flavor to beverages like coffee and tea, foods like oatmeal and yogurt, and an endless variety of recipes. SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia Pumpkin Spice Sweet Drops™ are made with organic stevia leaf extract. Just a few drops add sweet taste and the fall flavor consumers crave to recipes without adding calories, carbohydrates, or artificial ingredients.
Suggested retail price is $15.44.
Boulder Organic Foods launches its Boulder Organic line of garden-fresh soups, made with the finest certified organic, gluten-free and non-GMO verified ingredients, in the refrigerated deli section at more than 850 Target stores nationwide.
Four soup varieties, sold in 16-ounce tubs with a suggested retail price of $4.49, are now available: Butternut Squash with Sage, Roasted Tomato Basil, Red Lentil Dahl and Garden Minestrone. Two additional flavors, Chicken Quinoa & Kale and Chicken Vegetable Chili, will be added later this month.
“We believe everyone should have access to delicious, organic foods, and our entry into Target brings Boulder Organic soups to more people than ever before,” said Boulder Organic Foods CEO Greg Powers. “Target shoppers care about eating well, and our small-batch soups are a tasty addition to Target’s extensive selection of high-quality foods.”
Boulder Organic soup is found in the grab-and-go and deli refrigerators of natural and conventional grocers nationally. The company offers varieties for all types of diets, including gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and dairy-free.
Teamsters are calling for Safeway to keep good jobs in Maryland, after the company unexpectedly issued a notice that it plans to start closing its Upper Marlboro and Landover, Maryland, grocery distribution facilities 19 days before Christmas, resulting in the layoff of more than 700 workers.
The warehouse workers, members of Teamsters Locals 730 and 639, based in Washington, D.C., received a 60-day layoff notice from C&S Wholesale Grocers, which operates the Safeway-owned facilities. Safeway intends to close the operation, with plans to send many of the jobs to Pennsylvania.
In a letter to Robert Miller, the CEO of Albertsons Companies, Inc., which recently acquired Safeway, Teamsters General PresidentJim Hoffa called on the company to enact a moratorium on the closure.
“I believe there are options that have not yet been explored,” Hoffa said. “I am asking you to enact a 180-day moratorium on the closure while your staff, Maryland and Prince George’s County public officials and Teamsters-appointed experts meet to discuss alternatives, with the goal of saving good Maryland jobs.”
“Workers here have spent decades working night shifts, weekends and holidays to make Safeway a profitable company. We will do whatever it takes to save these jobs,” said Thomas Ratliff, President of Local 639.
Safeway built the $91 million state-of-the-art Upper Marlboro distribution center in 1998, after receiving $2 million from Maryland taxpayers. Safeway has also received more than $7 million in concessions from these distribution center employees over the past 15 years in order to defray costs.
The Teamsters Union announced today that it has reached a tentative agreement with grocery companies Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons that if passed, will cover more than 8,000 members across Southern California. The drivers, warehouse, dairy and manufacturing workers at the three companies will vote on the tentative agreement from October 16-18.
The union and company reached a tentative agreement following three months of negotiations, avoiding a possible strike. The union overwhelmingly voted for strike authorization two weeks ago after the contract expired on September 19.
“It was a challenging negotiation process, but we were able to hash an agreement that will help raise work standards and compensation for all of our members at Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons,” said Rick Middleton, Teamsters Western Region International Vice President and chief negotiator. “We will review the details of the agreement with our members and recommend they vote for passage.”
“On behalf of the L.A. Labor Movement, we stand with all workers impacted by the contract between Teamsters and the three grocery companies. We hope for an agreement that includes better wages, hours, and working conditions,” said Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.