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Produce

Reshaping the Apple Industry

The 25th Trade Show for Alpine Agriculture (Agrialp) kicks off with something truly special. As a little preview of next year’s leading trade show for the apple industry, the Fiera Bolzano exhibition center is offering the second Interpoma Innovation Camp together with IDM Südtirol Alto Adige. The event will be held November 23, 2017.

The aim of the Innovation Camp is to adapt and integrate startups’ ideas and projects in the best possible way to the territory, with a view to further development. Young entrepreneurs that already have their own products or services on the market will introduce themselves over the course of just one day.

InterpomaInnovationCamp_2016_01After getting to know one another and a general welcome, eight participants first present themselves to the group. Then there are two workshop sessions to elaborate and further develop their own ideas with experts and mentors, followed by a lunch break. In the late afternoon, the startups present their elaborated projects in front of invited representatives of the apple and farming industries. The jury announces the winner and the day ends with an informal get-together.

The main prize is a stand at the upcoming Interpoma on November 15-17, 2018, worth €2,500. This is a unique opportunity to meet around 450 exhibitors and 20,000 visitors from over 70 countries, a sure way to give the new business idea a decisive boost. The winners also have the chance to present themselves in front of the assembled international press at the presentation of Interpoma during Fruit Logistica, held in Berlin on February 7, 2018.

Applications for the Interpoma Innovation Camp are open until Friday, October 13 on the event’s website. Any young entrepreneur who developed an innovative solution, product or service in the field of apple cultivation, marketing, logistics or processing can apply.

The Interpoma Innovation Camp is a unique opportunity for all those who want to take on the challenges in the apple sector.

To find out more about the Interpoma Innovation Camp, visit www.startup-village.org/interpoma/2017 or http://www.fierabolzano.it/interpoma/en/

Straight From The Root Brings Sous Vide into the Spotlight with Ready-to-Eat Vegetables

Straight From The Root is bringing the French style of sous vide cooking to American kitchens with USDA organic, cut and fully cooked vegetables. Unlike most cooking methods which require vegetables to be cooked at high temperatures causing them to lose up to 30 percent of their nutrients, Straight From The Root vegetables are cooked at a much lower temperature to preserve nutrients, taste and texture.

sousvideveggiesStraight From The Root’s sous vide cooking method involves submerging a BPA-free, vacuum-sealed bag of cut, organic vegetables in heated water to cook them completely. The bags are then blanched in an ice bath to stop the cooking process, resulting in tender, flavorful vegetables that are evenly cooked and never mushy.  The bag traps nutrients, vitamins and minerals and also allows the vegetables to stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 45 days after purchase. Even better — you’ll only find one ingredient in all Straight From The Root products: vegetables. Straight From The Root never adds oils, spices, salt, or anything else for that matter. With vegetables that taste this good, there’s no need.

“We aim to create the most convenient, cleanest way to get your vegetables every day,” says Founder and President Paul Lagudi. “We understand that people often shy away from buying, prepping and cooking vegetables, especially on busy weeknights. Great quality, healthy food doesn’t need to be a hassle or a mess. Straight From The Root offers preservative-free and organic produce that can be eaten straight from the bag, warmed over a stove or heated up in a microwave in under a minute.”

After relocating from Australia to Nevada, Lagudi started in the produce industry with a small vegetable company that rapidly grew into the largest supplier of cut vegetables in Las Vegas. On a trip to Europe, Paul was struck by the way European chefs used the sous vide method to make deliciously tender and flavorful meats and fish. Inspired, he teamed up with his daughter, Paulina Lagudi, and together they developed Straight From The Root to innovate the grocery store produce section and offer a better alternative for American consumers.

Straight From The Root’s current product lineup includes Baby Carrots, Red Beets, Sweet Potatoes, Butternut Squash and Honey Gold Potatoes. The product line is available in select Ralphs, Smith’s and Whole Foods stores.

Organic Farm Brings Freshness to the Table

By Lorrie Baumann

Bradley Stroll’s childhood dreams for his future were born with the seeds he bought in his elementary school classrooms for a nickel a packet. He’d buy the seeds every year to start the summertime gardens those seeds were intended to encourage, and with his seeds in the ground, he’d dream that he’d grow up to be a farmer. Life didn’t turn out that way – at least, not at first.

Bradley Stroll_FMF PictureToday, though, he’s up at 4:30 in the morning, every morning of the year, because that’s what it takes to be a successful organic farmer about 90 miles from Manhattan Island in New York. Stroll, his wife, Cathy, and an all-female crew of 11 employees now operate Fresh Meadow Farm, a 56-acre organic farm where they grow vegetables that Stroll sells to New York City gourmet chefs. They also make quiches, artisan pies and desserts and cheesecakes that appear on New York menus. When the growing season is over for the year, there’s equipment to be repaired and plenty of other maintenance to take care of as well as marketing trips to New York to find new customers for next year’s crops. “There’s always work to be done,” he says. “It’s just different work.”

Stroll got where he is today by way of a path that led him through a long career as a chef, including working as the banquet chef for New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Stroll then founded Food Gems, a specialty wholesale bakery that continues through this day, and that calls on the skills he practiced while he cooked and baked for a living from the time he and Cathy graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. When his kids had finished college, he and his wife were ready to add to his cooking life, and eight years ago, they decided to follow the dream he had growing up. “I love growing stuff,” he says. “I always grew stuff in my back yard.” He went looking for a piece of land he could farm.

IMG_0775The 56-acre parcel he found had been lying fallow for years, which meant that no chemicals had been applied to it for enough years to make it possible to obtain organic certification without the usual three-year transition time. “I bought a rundown farm and rebuilt it,” Stroll says. “We started from scratch.”

His most immediate challenge was finding his farming staff to get a crop started. “You have to nurture everyone who works for you,” he says.

Finding customers for those crops and the products they make from them came next. Stroll’s long career as a chef had already taught him that white-tablecloth chefs, accustomed to ordering their vegetables without thinking much about how they were grown or where they were coming from, weren’t always willing to accommodate the realities of New York’s growing season and its hiatus for winter. “Their delivery schedule isn’t your delivery schedule,” Stroll says. His new prospective customers also didn’t appreciate that Stroll’s vegetables had to cost more because the weeds and insects that attacked the plants had been kept under control through human labor rather than with applications of chemicals. “The reason organic costs more is not because it’s snooty,” Stroll says. “It’s because it’s expensive to grow. That’s what makes organic expensive – it’s all hand labor.”

Stroll had to visit those chefs in person to explain those realities to them face to face before he could win their business. “If it wasn’t hard, then everybody would be doing it,” he says. “There’d be no reward.”

After several years of selling to New York chefs, Stroll has the answers they need, which includes assurances that their previous produce suppliers would still be happy to have their business every winter – that if they bought local certified organic produce from him, they wouldn’t be burning the sources they’d still need to depend on when Stroll’s soil is frozen for the winter. Then in the summer, they’d have available an abundance of farm-fresh, locally grown organic produce with which to tantalize their guests’ taste buds. “When the tomatoes come due, it’s all your tomato specials then,” Stroll says. “Some guys are easy. They understand. Some don’t.”

Some of those chefs complain about the feast or famine nature of seasonal crops. Sometimes they ask why Stroll can’t sell them fresh vegetables outside their season, so that they could order eggplants from him in April and jalapenos in June, but that would mean bringing in vegetables from somewhere warmer during New York’s winter months. Stroll doesn’t do that. “If I don’t grow it at Fresh Meadow Farm, I don’t sell it to you,” he says. “Some take it very well. Others don’t.”

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