food crumbscooking, food preparation, recipes, nutrition, food science

Lett-3C in the field

FOOD SAFETY in Produce – How safe is our produce?

We know that meat and dairy products have required government inspections and must meet strict governments guidelines. But what about produce – fruits and vegetables.

Consumers, today, are more aware of food borne illness than ever before and are very concerned.

The produce industry is also concerned and has been at work for years to provide quality products and safe food to consumers. There have been incidents of food borne illness from produce in recent years in the United States. No one is more alarmed about such tragedies than the produce industry. One incident alarms consumers and consequences can be un-repairable for an industry. Persons can become ill and even death. Also many dollars and hours are lost in investigating the problem and confidence in the safety of the particular product is severely damaged. Jobs and sales for the product in the future have been enormously reduced.

Many industry leaders and Health officials say that improper food handling is more dangerous than residues and have actively been working for many years to prevent problems. They have formed Alliances, Associations, Consortiums, Advisory Boards, etc., to find problem areas and to correct the problem and to educate all involved from the growers, to those harvesting, packaging, storing and transporting the food item.   SB in field


Efforts in California, in particular in the past twenty years, have been noteworthy.

Organizations like and including the Western Growers Association, California and Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Association, California Strawberry Commission, California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, etc., have developed guidelines, safety requirements, audits and educational materials to help inform, guide, and monitor the work of everyone in the Supply Chain to prevent food borne illness in produce. These include daily on site records of conditions (cleanliness, temperatures) formal inspections and audits with written and published reports of findings, and educational materials and records of attendance. Things monitored are Water, Wildlife Intrusion, Soil Amendments-fertilizer and other chemicals, worker hygiene and equipment sanitation.

Educational materials are in more than one language, with many pictures and illustrations to inform all workers what they must do. Materials are made large enough – to be noticed, easy to use – such as flip charts and portable, so they can be mounted on the “back of a pick-up truck” and taken to the work site. Workers throughout the supply chain have explained to them, their importance in providing safe food for the health of the consumers and of the continuing of work and income in the industry – how it is important and how it affects their job. Workers are given certifications for attendance at classes.

C on vine

These industries are going above and beyond the required work to assure wholesome and safe produce. To work with and support the Industry, Government mandates have built on work done by growers and buyers and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 (FSMA) was signed into law January 2011. * It aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus of federal regulators from responding to contamination to preventing it. It gives the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new authorities to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested and processed. It gives the FDS several new powers, including mandatory recall.

The law was prompted in Congress after reported incidents of food-borne illnesses during the 2000s. Tainted food has cost the food industry billions of dollars in recalls, lost sales and legal expenses. The bill is similar to the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009.

The FDA has the power to oversee how foods are produced and how they are maintained in food markets. This puts greater emphasis on preventing food-borne illness. The better the system for producing, transporting and preparing foods the safer our food supply will be.

Fourteen percent (14%) of the food supply to the United States is imported from other countries.

The new law significantly enhances FDA’s ability to achieve greater oversight of the millions of food products coming into the United States from other countries each year.

The legislation affects every aspect of the U.S. food system, from farmers to manufactures to importers. It places significant responsibilities on farmers and food processors to prevent contamination.

Basics of the Proposed Produce Rule:

Agriculture Water – Farmers must ensure that water that is likely to contact produce or food-contact surfaces is safe with periodic testing.

Biological Soil Amendments of animal Origin – The proposed rule specifies types of treatment, methods of application and time intervals between application of certain soil amendments, including manure and crop harvest.

Health & Hygiene – Farm personnel must follow hygienic practices including hand washing, not working when sick and maintaining personal cleanliness.

Domesticated and Wild Animals – There must be waiting periods between grazing and crop harvest, farmers must monitor for wildlife intrusion and not harvest produce contaminated by animals.

Training – Training is required for supervisors and farm personnel.   Lett-leaf in field

There is a constant effort – to make it better.

Food safety is important throughout the Supply Chain from farm to consumers.

Lett-Hd in Field










*  Wikipedia – FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.








Asparagus is referenced in Egypt about 3000 BC and is referenced to have been first cultivated about 2500 years ago in Greece. The name is a Greek word meaning stalk or shoot. Greeks and Romans ate it fresh.
The Romans became great lovers of asparagus and grew it in high-walled courtyards. In their conquests, they spread it to the Gauls, Germans, Britains and the rest of the world.
After the Roman empire ended, asparagus received little medieval attention.
By 1469, asparagus was cultivated in French monasteries. It appeared in England in 1538 and in Germany in 1542. Asparagus became available in the New World (United States) around 1850.

The English word “asparagus” derives from the Latin, but the plant was once known in English as sperage from the Medieval Latin sparagus. Also known colloquialy as “aspar grass” and “spar grass”

Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which is high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin A and C and thiamin. Asparagus contains No Fat, No Cholesterol and is low in sodium.

A 5 ounce serving contains about 20 calories, 3 grams carbohydrate and 3 grams of fiber.
It contains 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folacin which is necessary for blood cell formation, growth and prevention of liver disease and is believed to be important in the prevention of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
It is also a rich source of rutin, a compound which strengthens capillary walls and it contains glutathione (GSH), which is believed to be an anticarcinogen and antioxidant.

The amino acid asparagine gets its name from asparagus, as the asparagus plant is relatively rich in this compound.


Due to its short growing season and demand for local produce, asparagus commands a premium price. The season is late April through June.

Asparagus is very popular in Europe and is almost exclusively white. White asparagus is the result of applying a blanching technique while the asparagus shoots are growing. To cultivate white asparagus, the shoots are covered with soil as they grow, i.e., hilling; without exposure to sunlight, no photosynthesis starts, so the shoots remain white in color.

Purple asparagus differs from green or white, having a high sugar and low fiber levels.

China is the world’s largest producer. Following by a large distance is Peru and Germany (61% of German production is white asparagus). In the United States, production is concentrated in California, Michigan and Washington.

To boil asparagus – trim stem ends slightly and cook fresh asparagus for 5-8 minutes in boiling water. It can be eaten raw, although most people prefer some cooking. If ate raw, wash well in warm water to remove any sand. May like to serve cold with a dip.

Asparagus on a Plate



MoMolybdenum is a chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42.  It is found in very small amounts in the body and is an essential element in human nutrition.  However, its precise function and interactions with other chemicals in the body are not well understood.

Humans require very small amounts of Molybdenum and deficiency appears to happen only under the rarest of circumstances, such as in a person fed entirely through the veins for a very long time.  *

Food is the major source of Molybdenum for most people.  Pork, lamb, and beef liver each have approximately 1.5 parts per million of molybdenum.  Other significant dietary sources include green beans, eggs, sunflower seeds, wheat flour, lentils, cucumbers,  legumes such as beans, peas, and lentils;  grains; leafy vegetables; and nuts.

In 2001, the U.S. Food & Nutrition Board established the recommended dietary allowance, RDA) of Molybdenum for most adults at 45 micrograms, with an RDA of 50 micrograms for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

The most important role of molybdenum in living organisms is at the active site in certain enzymes.  In nitrogen fixation in certain bacteria, the nitrogenase enzyme, which is involved in the final step of reducing molecular nitrogen, usually contains Molybdenum in the active site (though replacement of Mo with iron or vanadium).   **

Although Molybdenum forms compounds with various organic molecules, including carbohydrates and amino acids, it is transported throughout the human body as MoO4.  At least 50 Molybdenum-containing enzymes were known in 2002, mostly in bacteria, and their number is increasing each year.  These enzymes include aldehyde oxidase, sulfite oxidase and xanthine oxidase.  In humans the oxidation of xanthine to uric acid, a process or purine catabolism, is catalyzed by xanthine oxidase, a molybdenum-containing enzyme. The activity of xanthine oxidase is directly proportional to the amount of molybdenum in the body.  However an extremely high concentration of molybdenum reverses the trend and can act as an inhibitor in both purine catabolism and other processes.  Molybdenum concentrations also affect protein synthesis, metabolism and growth.

Molybdenum enzymes in plants and animals catalyze the oxidation and sometimes reduction of certain small molecules, as part of the regulation of nitrogen, sulfur, and carbon cycles.  The human body contains about 0.07 mg of molybdenum per kilogram of weight.  It occurs in higher concentrations in the liver and kidneys and in lower concentrations in the vertebrae.  Molybdenum is also present in human tooth enamel and may help prevent its decay.

In humans, four enzymes depend on Molybdenum:  sulfite oxidase, xanthine oxidoreductase, alsehyde oxidase, and mitochondrial amidoxime reductase.  People severely deficient in molybdenum have poorly functioning sulfite oxidase and may be prone to toxic reactions to sulfites in foods.

A congenital molybdenum cofactor deficiency disease, seen in infants, results in interference with the ability of the body to use molybdenum in enzymes.  It causes high level of sulfite and urate, and neurological damage.   The cause is the inability of the body to synthesize the molybdenum cofactor, a heterocyclic molecule that binds molybdenum at the active site in all known human enzymes that use molybdenum.

A high level of molybdenum can interfere with the body’s uptake of copper, producing copper deficiency.  Molybdenum prevents plasma proteins from binding to copper, and it also increases the amount of copper that is excreted in urine.  Ruminants that consume high amounts of molybdenum develop symptoms including diarrhea, stunted growth, anemia and achromotrichia (loss of hair pigment).  These symptoms can be alleviated by the administration of more copper into the system, both in dietary form and by injection.  The condition, as an effective copper deficiency, can be aggravated by excess sulfur.

The average daily intake of molybdenum, in humans, varies between 0.12 and 0.24 mg, depending on the molybdenum content of the food.  Acute toxicity has not been seen in humans, and the toxicity depends strongly on the chemical state.

In animals Molybdenum deficiency has not been seen naturally.   Overdoses are very rare. Large amounts of Molybdenum can produce symptoms of copper deficiency in cattle and taking too much supplemental Molybdenum could produce the same symptoms in humans. Symptoms of too much Molybdenum include tiredness, dizziness, rashes, low white blood cell counts and anemia.  High Molybdenum levels are linked to gout.

Supplements can be purchased.  A typical dosage is 75 micrograms daily.

Most such supplements have not been tested to learn if they interact with medicines, foods, or other herbs and supplements.  Deficiencies are very rare in humans and most practitioners do not recommend supplements.

Molybdenum is used to treat rare inherited metabolic diseases, such as Wilson’s disease, where the body cannot process copper.  Proponents claim it can  help in cancer prevention, but much more research is needed. Others say it is involved in many important biological processes, possibly including development of the nervous system, waste processing in the kidneys and energy production in cells and some also claim it prevents anemia, gout, and dental cavities.  Again much more research must be done.




*….., American Cancer Society

**    Molybdenum – Wikipedi, the free encyclopedia,

***  Molybdenum –







I think today I’ll simply sort through my recipes and pull out a few for Spring meals.  Hope you like them.



1  smoked ham half, (about 6 #)

3  cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs

2  tablespoons dried sage leaves

1  tablespoon dried rosemary leaves

1/3 cup  spicy brown mustard

4  tablespoons margarine, melted

Place ham on rack in roasting pan. Bake @ 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Mix bread crumbs, herbs mustard, and margarine in bowl until crumbs are evenly moistened.  Spread remaining mustard on ham. Pat crumb mixture on ham.

Bake to 160 degrees, about 1 ½ hours.



1  21-ounce can cherry pie filling

2  tablespoons brandy

Bake ham according to directions.  Thirty minutes before ham is done, spoon pie filling over ham.  Continue baking.  Just before serving, heat brandy and pour over ham and light!




Chicken   -  1 medium-sized fryer, cut into serving sized pieces or use boneless chicken


1 cup        -    plain yogurt

¼ cup       -    soy sauce

1 teaspoon -   ground ginger

1 clove     -     garlic (chopped fine)

3 tablespoons – honey

Arrange chicken parts in baking dish, skin side up, and set aside.

Put yogurt in bowl and stir in soy sauce, ginger & garlic,

Spread the sauce evenly over the chicken.

Put chicken in cold oven for 1 hour.

After 1 hour remove from oven and remove a ½ cup of pan juices.

Stir honey into the removed juice and re-coat the chicken.

Bake for an additional 30 minutes or until crispy & golden.

(Serve with rice and a steamed green vegetable.  If desired, thicken the sweetened pan gravy and put over the rice.)




Heat a large skillet over medium heat.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt evenly in bottom of skillet.

Add chops and cook on both sides, 2-4 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Serve with rice, mint jelly, etc.




1 ¼ pounds    broccoli ( 1 large bunch)

1 tablespoon  fresh lime juice

½ teaspoon    toasted sesame oil

Coarse salt

Wash and clean broccoli and cut into lengthwise pieces

In a pot fitted with a steamer basket, bring 1 inch of water to a boil.  Add broccoli pieces.  Cover and steam until tender, about 5 minutes.  (No steamer basket, then bring to boil in a sauce pan and cook until tender.

Meanwhile whisk together lime juice and sesame oil, season with salt.

Add broccoli to the dressing.  Toss lightly to coat, Serve immediately




Coarse salt and ground pepper

1 pound         green beans, stem ends trimmed

4 teaspoons    olive oil

2 garlic           cloves, minced

2 teaspoons    lemon, grated

1 tablespoon   fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons  fresh parsley, chopped

Cook green beans in boiling, salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain

Heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-low heat.

Add garlic.  Cook until starting to soften, about 2 minutes.  Return beans to pot.

Add lemon and juice and the two remaining teaspoons of oil and parsley.

Season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Serve.



spinach-plateSPINACH and WALNUT SAUTE

2 cloves          garlic, sliced

¼ cup             walnuts, chopped

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 pkg (10 oz)   fresh spinach, stems removed

2 tablespoons  balsamic or red wine vinegar

1 oz (¼ cup)    Parmesan Cheese, shredded

In skillet saute garlic and walnuts in oil for 2-3 minutes.

Add spinach and vinegar and saute 2 minutes.

To serve, spoon spinach onto serving platter, top with cheese.  (Makes 4 servings.)




1 medium        carrot

1 tablespoon    fresh ginger, finely grated, peeled

3 tablespoons   rice vinegar

1 tablespoon     soy sauce

1 tablespoon     water

3 tablespoons    vegetable oil

1 head                romaine lettuce

Peel and thinly slice carrot to equal ½ cup.

Place carrot in blender with the peeled, finely grated fresh ginger, the rice vinegar, soy sauce, and water.  Blend on high until carrot is pureed.

With the blender running, add the 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a steady stream, blending until incorporated.

Cut the lettuce into bit-size pieces.

Divide lettuce among four serving plates and drizzle with dressing  Serve immediately  (Serves four.)





1 pint             strawberries, hulled and halved

½ pint            blueberries

1                    banana, sliced

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 teaspoons    orange-flavor liqueur (optional)

Toss together all ingredients





2 quarts         fresh strawberries

2 ounces        Grand Marnier

16 ounces      port wine

¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons    sugar

3 cups           heavy whipping cream

Wash, hull and cut strawberries in halves.

Mix Grand Marnier, port wine and ¼ cup sugar in large bowl.

Add strawberries.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Whip cream with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar until soft peaks form. (Reserve 1 cup of whipped cream and refrigerate until time too use as garnish.)

Drain strawberries and discard the liquid.  Fold drained berries into remaining whipped cream. Divide between 6 chilled dessert dishes.  Top each portion with the reserved whipped cream – (can put into a pastry bag and with a star tip decorate each dish).




Pie dough (your favorite recipe, enough for a double 9-inch crust, or purchase prepared crusts.

Pie½ cup            brown sugar

¼ cup            granulated sugar

Pinch of         salt

½ teaspoon    ground ginger

¼ teaspoon    ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons    cornstarch

6                       pears, peeled, cored & sliced

1 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon   fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon   butter, cut in pieces

1                        egg

1 tablespoon   heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Roll half of the pie dough on a lightly floured surface to fit a 9-inch pie plate.  Drape the dough into the pie plate, leaving about an inch overhang.

Combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cornstarch in a bowl and Reserve.

Arrange the pear slices in the pie shell and sprinkle with the reserved dry ingredients.

Drizzle with orange and lemon juice.

Dot with small pieces of butter.

Roll out the remaining pie dough to form the top crust.  Moisten the rim of the bottom crust with water. Cover with the top crust, trimming any large amount of excess.

Press the two crusts together lightly and roll the edges under toward the center with your fingers.  Crimp the edge decoratively.

Beat egg and cream together.

Glaze top crust lightly with a pastry brush. Cut six 2-inch slits evenly around the top for steam to escape and to test pears for doness.

Bake pie in  center of oven for 1 ¼ hours.  Cover edges with aluminium foil if the crust becomes too brown.  Cool on a wire rack.  Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

To serve cut into 6 or 8 pieces.




At dinner a couple evenings ago, after finishing a turkey dinner my husband selected a fresh fruit salad for dessert.  We seldom eat   dessert so I was surprised when the waiter offered the fresh fruit salad among his featured desserts.  My husband is a mild diabetic, so this was a good choice.  I then began thinking about how prevalent is this?  I have heard and read a lot about restaurants beginning to offer more “healthy” foods and I did some reading and have found that the restaurant industry has been very busy trying to offer what customers say they want on the menu.

I read in a recent survey, done by the restaurant industry, that more than 70 percent of adults said they were trying to eat more healthfully now at restaurants. Thus, the restaurant industry has been actively responding to consumers’ interest in healthful offerings and nutrition information.**  Restaurants are offering items that incorporate more produce, lean protein and whole grains, while limiting sodium and trans-fat.  Patrons are now looking for nutritional variety as well as delicious food when they dine out.  They want more information to help them make smart choices. They may want to know an item’s calorie count, require special meals for specific dietary needs and try to add more produce to their diets.  Additional interests that customers have been asking for include more emphasis on children’s nutrition and children’s menus and gluten-free cuisine.  Other popular trends include local sourcing, whole grains, fruit/vegetable side dishes for kids, lower-sodium food, lower-calorie items and smaller (or half) portions for a lower price.**

The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has been working with the restaurant industry, food manufacturers and suppliers, policymakers, nutritionists and consumers to help restaurants cater to these consumer demands. Much of what is done on nutrition is spearheaded by the NRA Board of Directors’ Food & Healthy Living Committee.

To help provide nutrition information to diners, the Association advocated for legislation that will soon provide consumers with nutrition information in more than 250,000 chain restaurants all across the country.  For standard menu items, the law provides a national standard to make it easier for chain restaurants to provide consistent information about menu items for their guests. In the past decade, many states and municipalities sought to establish menu labeling regulations, so the NRA worked with Congress to pass a federal standard. The NRA then sought a law that set consistent guidelines about how restaurants should present nutrition information to consumers.  The law enacted in 2010 applies to restaurant chains with 20 or more locations that operate under the same brand.  Those operations must display calories on menus, menu boards and drive-thru signs.  They must also provide additional information through websites, brochures or other manners.  It also protects restaurant companies that operate in several states from having to produce separate menus to comply with varying state and local laws.

In addition to more healthy menu items, nutrition information and legislation, the industry has been busy in several successful programs. They have received much praise for their Our Kids Live Well program. Kid’s Live Well is a voluntary national program to encourage restaurants to offer healthful children’s menu items. The NRA launched the program in 2011.  Participating restaurants offer items that meet strict nutrition criteria based on USDA and the Institute of Medicine’s scientific recommendations. The NRA works with a nutrition-analysis company to help restaurants identify, analyze and promote their healthful kids’ meals.  A free geo-coded app connects parents to restaurants that offer healthful children’s items. The NRA and Kids Live-Well restaurants connect with plugged in parents through Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Social  media has become an important platform to promote what restaurants are doing to enhance healthful offerings for kids.  NRA also works with ‘Partnership for a Healthier America’.  The group engages private sector business to help curb childhood obesity.  Several restaurant chains have their children’s menus.

Every five years USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services publish new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The NRA represents the restaurant industry and participates in the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.  The NRA has been soliciting input from restaurant companies and will present information about restaurants’ role in the food supply system and diet as well as the restaurant industry’s advances in reducing sodium and nutrients of concern and providing more fresh produce, whole grains, and other healthful options.  To help, the NRA is offering educational programs. NRA helps restaurants to have the materials needed to train staff on food allergies, information on how to incorporate whole grains and fresh produce into menus and how to find suppliers that offer gluten-free or low sodium products.  FF-Cust

The NRA’s ServSafe program is another leading resource for food safety and responsible alcohol service training and certification.  This year a new course is being launched to help restaurants serve the 15 million Americans with food allergies with ServSafe Allergens.  At restaurant shows, more exhibitors are displaying gluten, dairy and allergen-free items as well as low-sodium, low-sugar, vegetarian and locally sourced food and tips to incorporate more fresh produce into menus.

The restaurant industry has a long standing partnership with the Produce Marketing Association. They work closely to increase fresh produce in restaurant and foodservice meals and examine barriers to and opportunities for greater produce use.

Future challenges the industry says are to educate restaurant members about compliance and educate consumers about balancing the calories they consume, while considering concerns about food allergies and saturated fat and sugar in the diet. Some restaurants publicly promote this work while others make healthful changes to recipes without drawing too much (attention).

NRA also says one of their biggest observation’s this past year has been the growing awareness by consumers about what is on their plates.  Consumers want to know where the food comes from, under what conditions is it produced, and the social and environmental impact of food production.

Getting the word out about their efforts, restaurants and the restaurant industry use the internet and social media. Many restaurants provide nutrition information on their websites or on a mobile format. From barbeque restaurants, to ice cream parlors, to steak houses, many are participating and you will see their effort.

Many restaurants post nutrition information online and about 25% of adults say they have looked at that information according to NRA research.  However relating to reality, although research says that 50% of consumers seek healthy options at restaurants, less than half of them actually purchase the healthy options – they order instead the thick burger versus the salad.* With continued interest, the numbers may do better.

Also relating to reality, the Industry says three challenges, of equal or greater importance, for the next 3-5 years are:

1 – availability of quality real estate.

2. – overcoming external pressures on cash flow (for example) government regulations.

3. – having a strong enough middle class economy to support the growth of the industry.


In conclusion I would like to say thank-you to the restaurants for their time, efforts and money to provide more healthful choices for consumers.  Personel in restaurant work are already very busy and work very hard and to add this extra work to their schedules is appreciated. We know that changing recipes and menus is not easy and is expensive.  Again, we, as customers, say thank-you.

In addition, I would like to note that I hope that restaurant menus do not become too “healthy” as many of us like to dine at a restaurant to enjoy a favorite, although not necessarily low calorie or low fat entrée or a favorite “high-calorie” dessert.  Also don’t forget to offer some large portions for those who need large portions for a day of hard physical work.”


For now, Happy and Healthful Dining!     rest-table-outside






**   National Restaurant Association, On the Menu: Restaurant Nutrition Initiatives 2013 Report