IJE2l A VEGETARIAN NEWSLETTER
A Vegetable Crops Extension Publication University of Florida
Vegetarian 03-01 Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
January 2003 Cooperative Extension Service
(Note: Anyone is free to use the information in this newsletter. Whenever possible, please give credit to the authors.
The purpose of trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing information and does not
necessarily constitute a recommendation of the product.)
Vegetarian Archive Vegetarian index
M Print Version
* Grow It Locally, Buy It Locally, Eat It Locally With A Little Help from the Iron Chef
* Collard Variety Trials 2002, NFREC-Quincy, FL
* Slowing Vegetable Metabolism to Extend Quality and Shelf Life
List of Extension Vegetable Crops Specialists
UPCOMING EVENTS CALENDAR
Tri-States Watermelon/Cucurbit Meeting. Washington County Ag. Center. Tuesday, January 14, 2003. Contact Charles Brasher
at 850-482-9620 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Florida Postharvest Horticulture Industry Tour. Statewide. March 10-13, 2003. Contact Steve Sargent at 352-392-1928 or
email@example.com OR Mark Ritenour at 561-201-5548 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Drip Irrigation School. Ft. Pierce-IRREC. March 13, 2003. Contact Betsy Lamb at 772-468-3922 x138 or
Florida Postharvest Horticulture Institute at FACTS (Florida Agricultural Conference & Trade Show). Lakeland. April 29-30,
2003. Contact Steve Sargent at 352-392-1928 or email@example.com
Vegetable Field Day. GCREC-Bradenton. April 10, 2003. Contact Don Maynard at 941-751-7636 x239 or firstname.lastname@example.org
116th Florida State Horticultural Society. Sheraton World Resort Hotel International Drive Orlando, June 8-10, 2003.
GROW IT LOCALLY, BUY IT LOCALLY, EAT IT LOCALLY WITH
A LITTLE HELP FROM THE IRON CHEF
Both consumers and chefs are interested in purchasing locally grown vegetable crops for their freshness and high quality. Consumers
purchase local produce because of freshness, taste and the support of local farmers (Food Processing Center, 2001). The factor most
likely to increase purchases of local produce was increased availability in the area (63%). In this survey of consumers in Nebraska, Iowa,
Wisconsin and Missouri, approximately 70% of respondents reported that it was very or extremely important to them to purchase food
that is locally produced and, in particular, 55% were interested in being able to purchase locally produced food in restaurants. As the
proportion of meals consumed away from home increases, this becomes a larger and larger market for locally produced vegetable crops.
A survey carried out by the Mid-Atlantic Produce Project found that while only 11% of surveyed restaurants and caterers currently
purchased local produce, 89% indicated that they were interested in buying from local growers (Hanson and Rada, 1992). Freshness
and quality were the primary attractions, as well as the possibility of purchasing products difficult to find from other sources.
The Agricultural Marketing Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported a trend in direct marketing
(marketing of a product directly to the end-user) of agricultural products. This is especially true for small farmers, because of their
difficulty in participating in wholesale marketing and their interest in higher returns per unit area (Bills et al., 2000). While much of the
increase in direct marketing is through farmers markets and roadside stands, direct marketing to restaurants can be a profitable
association for both parties. Restaurants and caterers are considered mid-volume markets which combine the advantages of small to
medium production volumes with moderate to high prices (Adam et al., 1999). Local producers may be able to provide chefs with
specialty products that are unavailable through other sources, or work with them to meet specifications of size, type and quality.
Growers working with chefs can also better anticipate consumer trends in food choices.
In a focus group of producers, marketers and marketing facilitators (Bills et al., 2000), at least 75% of respondents suggested that
information and networking and producer marketing skills were problems for producers wanting to participate in direct marketing. Nearly
80% of respondents suggested that networking and contacts were very important sources of information on direct marketing. While
much of the direct marketing literature suggests that growers use other growers as their information source, a direct relationship between
growers and chefs is more likely to provide the specific information necessary to meet production and culinary requirements. Chefs need
to know what products are available in which seasons and growers need to know what specialty products are needed and in what form.
Both groups need to understand the underlying forces that control the other industry. In addition, the groups can work together to
develop marketing/advertising plans to benefit from the consumer desire for local produce.
Within the five-county area around St. Lude County, there are at least 25 small farmers with organic or conventional and greenhouse or
field production of vegetable crops. One of the most common requests received by Cooperative Extension personnel from these small
farmers is assistance with marketing. An initial meeting with the Treasure Coast Chefs' Association indicated that while many of the
members were interesting in buying produce from local growers, only one chef had ever done so. Therefore, a program to promote the
direct marketing of vegetables produced in the Treasure Coast region to regional up-scale restaurants was initiated.
At the first joint meeting of chefs and growers, an organic grower from Indian River County and the chef/owner of a Vero Beach
restaurant discussed how they made initial contact and developed a lucrative marketing program that benefits both. This meeting also
led to the creation of a contact list of chefs and growers with products available or desired and preferred methods for contact, to help
ease the initial interaction of chef and grower.
However, the third side of the direct local marketing triangle is the consumer. According to a 2001 Consumer Report on Eating Share
Trends (CREST), 9% of entrees served in restaurants were primarily comprised of vegetables (National Restaurant Association, 2002).
CREST data also showed that vegetarian entrees accounted for 1.5 percent of entrees or main-dish salads. Most of the remaining
entrees included at least one vegetable or small salad. In order to take advantage of this trend while also demonstrating that local
produce is available at restaurants in the area, chefs from three well-known Fort Pierce restaurants participated in a cooking competition
modeled after the popular Iron Chef television program and held at the Saturday morning Downtown Fort Pierce Farmers' Market on
December 14. The Farmers' Market Association assisted with advertising and recruiting an MC and judges, and paid for a video crew to
record the event. The competition was publicized in a newspaper editorial that mentioned producers, chefs, and the long standing
relationship that the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has nurtured in St. Lucie County. The Farmers'
Market also provided local advertising for several weeks in advance of the date. Judges included food writers from the regional
newspapers, local restauranteurs, and an instructor from the Culinary Arts program at Indian River Community College. Approximately
300 people watched the chefs create, in 1 hour, an entr6e plate using vegetables from six small farms in Indian River, St. Lucie and
Okeechobee Counties, as well as locally produced shrimp, sauces and honey. The MC kept up a constant dialogue, interviewing chefs,
judges and audience members, while the chefs worked the judges debated and the participating restaurants handed out their dinner
The event resulted in a variety of anecdotal outcomes. In conversation with Extension personnel, three witnesses to the competition
revealed that they dined at the winner's restaurant that night. Extension personnel have been invited to assist in organizing a rematch to
be held at the local Grapefruit festival, while requests also surfaced from the audience and the Farmers' Market Association to organize
several additional cooking competitions to be held at the Farmers' Market later in the season. These additional opportunities allow us to
reinforce the connection between fresh local produce and up-scale restaurants and to continue to increase the number of chefs on the
contact list. Perhaps the most interesting outcome from this event came from a local chef who was initially invited, but declined to
participate. His question, "When is the local Iron Chef going to defend his title?"
Adam, K., R. Balasubrahmanyam, and H. Born. 1999. Direct Marketing Business
Management Series, Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas.
Bills, N., M. Roth and J. Maestro-Scherer, 2000, Direct marketing today: Challenges
and opportunities. USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Transportation and
Marketing Programs. http://www.ams.usda.gov/directmarketing/DirectMar2.pdf
Food Processing Center. 2001. Attracting consumers with locally grown products,
University of Nebraska, Lincoln. http://www.foodmap.unl.edu/report files/local.htm
Hanson, J.C. and D.J. Rada. 1992. Developing a wholesale marketing strategy for
produce in the mid-Atlantic region. Department of Agricultural and Resource
Economics, University of Maryland, Information Series No. 209201.
National Restaurant Association. 2002. Fresh vegetables flourish in restaurants.
Restaurants USA. http://www.restaurant.orq/rusa/maqArticle.cfm?ArticlelD=787
(Lamb and Ed Skvarch -Vegetarian 03-01)
COLLARD VARIETY TRIALS 2002, NFREC-QUINCY, FL
Collards are a relatively minor crop in north Florida, mainly being produced for local markets. Much of the production is by small or low
income growers. Many of the small or low income growers are using some of the old open-pollinated varieties. This trial was conducted
to compare some of the new hybrid varieties to older open-pollinated varieties.
Two replicated trials were conducted at the NFREC-Quincy on an Orangeburg loamy fine sand soil. Eight varieties were evaluated, 4
hybrids (H) and 4 open-pollinated (OP). Before transplanting Treflan 4 EC at 1.5 pts/a was incorporated. Total fertilizer applied was 120-
80-80 Ibs/a of N-P205-K20. Between row spacing was 3 feet and in-row spacing was 12 inches. Insecticides were applied as need to
control worms. First crop was transplanted on 23 Jan and harvested on 17 April. Second crop was transplanted on 1 Oct and harvested
on 3 Dec. Data collected included yield, average head weight and percentage of off types. Design was a randomized complete block
with 4 replications.
Data is presented in Table 1. All 4 hybrid varieties produced significantly higher yields than the OP varieties with the first planting.
'Flash' (H) and 'Top Bunch' (H) also produced larger head weights than the OP varieties. 'Georgia' (OP) produced the highest
percentage of off types and was significantly higher than all other varieties except 'Morris Heading' (OP) and 'Top Bunch'(H). With the
second planting, 'Flash' (H), 'Blue Max' (H) and 'Top Bunch' (H) produced significantly higher yields than all other varieties. In addition,
'Heavi Crop' (H), 'Morris Heading' (OP) and 'Vates' (OP) produced significantly higher yields than 'Champion' (OP). Head weight
followed a similar pattern to yield except 'Georgia' (OP) also produced larger heads than 'Champion' (OP). Percentage of off types did
not differ but 'Georgia' (OP) again had the highest percentage.
'Georgia' is considered to be one of the industry standards, but in these trials, it ranked either last or next to last. One reason that the
small or low income growers are slow to switch over is due to the cost of hybrid varieties, but increase in yield should make up this
difference. Also the hybrids are much more uniform than the OP varieties.
Table 1. Collard Variety Trials 2002, NFREC, Quincy, FL.
23 January 2002 10 October 2002
Yield Head size Off types Yield Head size Off types
Variety Source (25 Ib cratesla) (Ib) (%) (25 Ib cratesla) (Ib) (%)
Flash (H)z Sakata 2585 ay 4.6 a 2.1 b 1271 a 2.2 a 0.0 a
Blue Max (H) Abbott & Cobb 2393 a 4.2 ab 2.1 b 1318 a 2.3 a 2.1 a
Blue Max (H) Abbott & Cobb 2393 a 4.2 ab 2.1 b 1318 a 2.3 a 2.1 a
Top Bunch (H) Sakata 2344 a 4.3 a 6.3 ab 1338 a 2.3 a 0.0 a
Heavi Crop (H) Siegers 2335 a 4.1 ab 2.1 b 1119 b 2.0 b 2.1 a
Morris Heading (OP) Sawan 1995 b 3.7 b 6.3 ab 1099 b 1.9 b 2.1 a
Vates (OP) Sawan 1885 b 3.3 c 2.1 b 1125 b 2.0 b 2.1 a
Champion (OP) Sawan 1823 b 3.2 c 2.1 b 904 c 1.6 c 4.2 a
Georgia (OP) Sawan 1739 b 3.5 c 12.5 a 1027 bc 1.9 b 6.2 a
z H = hybrid, OP = open pollinated.
Y Mean separation by Duncan's Multiple Range Test, 5 % level.
(Olson Vegetarian 03-01)
SLOWING VEGETABLE METABOLISM TO EXTEND QUALITY AND SHELF LIFE
During postharvest handling of fresh vegetables, the goal is to deliver a top-quality product to the consumer. However, consumers are
usually located far from production areas and fresh vegetables are quite perishable. To extend shelf life and quality, postharvest
handling systems must slow the metabolism of these perishable commodities.
Relationship between a commodity's shelf life and its rate of metabolism.
All the different chemical reactions that occur within a commodity are referred to as its metabolism. These reactions both create
important chemical molecules (e.g., sugars or color pigments) and break down molecules to release energy. Respiration represents a key
series of metabolic reactions whereby cells use oxygen to completely break down carbohydrates (e.g., sugars) and produce energy,
carbon dioxide (CO2), water and heat. Respiration supplies the energy for all the other metabolic reactions so its rate directly reflects the
overall metabolic rate of the commodity.
Commodities age both in regards to time (hours, days, months, etc.) and physiologically (how fast metabolic processes are taking place).
The relative shelf life of a commodity is tied more to its physiological age than to its temporal age. Thus, by reducing the metabolism
(respiration) of a commodity, its quality is maintained longer, resulting in extended shelf life and quality retention.
Respiration rates vary depending on the commodity. For example, broccoli respires about 10 times more than tomatoes. The high-
respiring commodities such as asparagus, broccoli, and sweetcorn have correspondingly shorter shelf lives compared with lower-respiring
commodities such as onions and potatoes. Another byproduct of respiration is heat. Thus, higher-respiring commodities produce more
heat that must be removed to prevent commodity warming.
Methods to slow respiration also increase shelf life.
Many factors influence how fast metabolic processes occur within commodities. Among the most important factors are temperature and
oxygen (02) / CO2 concentrations. Furthermore, any type of physical abuse (e.g., from drops, punctures, and abrasions) or stress (e.g.,
dehydration, pathogen attack, etc.) will also cause respiration to rise quickly and shelf life to be shortened.
Temperature management: Proper temperature management is the most effective way to slow metabolism and prolong shelf life of
perishable horticultural commodities (Fig. 1). As a general rule-of-thumb, for every 180F (100C) increase in temperature, respiration
increases 2 to 3 fold with a corresponding decrease in shelf life. For example, sweet peppers will respire about 3 times faster and have
only about a third of the shelf life when held at 680F compared to holding at 500F. Use of temperature to reduce respiration also applies
to how fast the commodity is cooled after harvest; for some commodities, an hour at 900F can equal a week at 320F. Other benefits of
rapid cooling and maintaining these temperatures throughout the postharvest life of a commodity include slowing the growth of decay
pathogens and reducing water loss.
5 oNever expose tissue to temperatures below freezing because
freezing kills the tissue. In addition, some commodities such as
tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc. are chilling sensitive and are
4. injured by exposure to low but non-freezing temperatures. For
maximum quality and shelf life, always store commodities
at the lowest temperature that does not result in chilling or
Oxygen and carbon dioxide concentrations: Oxygen and CO2
are key gasses involved in respiration and other metabolic
processes within commodities. In general, reducing 02 levels
and/or increasing CO2 levels around a commodity (called modified
or controlled atmospheres) reduces its rate of respiration. Each
commodity has its own level of tolerance to changes in 02 and
CO, levels before injury occurs and these levels change
depending on factors such as cultivar, preharvest growing
conditions, and postharvest treatments. Because plant tissues
Fig. 1 Effect of temperature on the quality of broccoli after consume 02 and give off 02, simply sealing a commodity in an
just 48 h of storage at either room temperature (750F) airtight container will begin to lower the 02 and raise the CO2
or in the refrigerator (40F). levels within the container. Modified or controlled atmospheres
are commonly used for different commodities with systems
ranging from large, specially designed apple and sweet onion
storage facilities, to sealed packages of fresh-cut salad mixes. Even protective packaging (wraps) and commercially applied waxes can
generate modified atmospheres around and within commodities that may or may not be intentional. Though modified or controlled
atmospheres can be an effective means of reducing respiration and increasing shelf life, they are not a replacement for good
temperature management and they must be managed to prevent 02 or CO2 levels from reaching levels that cause injury.
Other gasses can also influence commodity respiration rates. For example, ethylene is a natural, gaseous, plant hormone. Exposure to
ethylene hastens ripening, increases the respiration rate and shortens the shelf life of fresh horticultural commodities. Many commercial
procedures work to either add (e.g., to promote ripening) or exclude ethylene from the environment.
Recommended storage and shipping temperatures and 02 and/or CO2 levels for specific crops can be found through various sources
and online such as at the UC Davis "Postharvest Product Facts" website (http://postharvest.ucdavis.edu/Producefacts/index.shtml) and
in the University of Florida EDIS publication, "Handling, Cooling and Sanitation Techniques for Maintaining Postharvest Quality"
(http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/CV115). Drawing on experts throughout the world, the USDA is revising their much-anticipated Agriculture
Handbook Number 66 entitled, "The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stocks." A draft version of the
handbook can be accessed on-line at http://www.ba.ars.usda.gov/hb66/.
(Ritenour, Sargent and Brecht Vegetarian 03-01)
Extension Vegetable Crops Specialists
Daniel J. Cantliffe Ronald W. Rice
Professor and Chairman Assistant Professor. nutrition
John Duval Steven A. Sargent
Assistant Professor, strawberry Professor, postharvest
Chad Hutchinson Eric Simonne
Assistant Professor, vegetable production Assistant Professor, vegetable nutrition
Elizabeth M. Lamb William M. Stall
Assistant Ptofessot. ptoducdion Ptofessot and editor. weed control
Yuncong Li James M. Stephens (telitecl)
Assistant Ptofessot. soils Ptofessot. vegetable gardening
Donald N. Maynard Charles S. Vavrina
Ptofessot. varieties Ptofessot. Itansplants
Stephen M. Olson James M. White
Ptofessot. small fatms Associate Ptofessot. organic farming
Mark A. Ritenour
Assistant Ptofessot. posthaivest
University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Horticultural Sciences Department
Florida Cooperative Extension Service
North Florida Research and Education Center Suwannee Valley
Gulf Coast Research and Education Center Dover
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