January 24 General Meeting featured Al Bernardi, vegetable broker

   Al Bernardi gave an entertaining and informative presentation on how to choose, use and store fruits and vegetable.  Along with his presentation, he also gave us recipe cards and all the fruits and vegetables he used in his demonstration.  Click here to see photos of Mr. Bernardi.


  Notes from Al Bernardi’s presentation  (by Jill Rouw)

Put your plastic wrap in the freezer or refrigerator.  It won’t stick to itself, but it will stick to whatever you are wrapping.

Microwave citrus to get more juice out of it, but be sure to slice it open in a bowl.

To ripen fruit, place in a paper bag along with an apple.

Clean mushrooms thoroughly under running water with your fingers.

Hang bananas downward from their stems for even ripening.

Olive oil on steamed vegetables is healthier and has fewer calories than butter.

To store lettuce, wash, blot dry and put in a Ziploc bag with a damp paper towel.

Never store tomatoes in the refrigerator and never let them get close to lettuce in storage, as they will cause brown wilt on the lettuce.

Nutrients are more easily assimilated through food than through vitamin tablets.

Organic foods are grown with manure and have lots of bacteria on them, so wash them thoroughly.

Chain store produce is at least five days old at least when you buy it.  The buyers also mix the #1 grade produce with the #3 grade produce to increase profit.  Shop carefully.

Don’t buy too much at a time as you’ll just wind up throwing it out.  Shop several times a week for fresh produce.

FDA sample-tests all foods and will reject those with pesticide contamination.  Rarely do farmers add more chemicals than necessary as it’s expensive, and they could have their entire crop rejected if they did.

Don’t wash produce with soap as it will damage the skin and contribute to early rot.  Use plain, clean water.

Make sure cutting boards and knives are clean and not contaminated from slicing meat products.

Frozen foods are usually fresher than ‘fresh’ foods as they are flash frozen within hours of harvest.

Take produce out of the plastic bag as soon as possible or it will start to ‘sweat’ and decay.

There is no absolute way to tell if a watermelon is ripe.  You’re buying a ‘pig in a poke’, so the cut ones are your best value.  There are new ‘mini melons’ on the market that are perfect for small families.

Cantaloupe: look for good, even ‘netting’, no soil stains and stem end should have some ‘give’ to it.  If the seeds rattle inside when shaken, do not buy it.

Eighteen to 20 people are involved in getting produce from the fields to your table.  All have to make a profit, so that is why produce is so expensive.

Microwave acorn squash for a bit to make it easier to cut.

Spaghetti squash:  remove seeds before baking and use as a spaghetti substitute.

Make sure cucumbers are all green and have no yellow on them.  Long ones wrapped in cellophane are not bitter.

For yellow neck, crookneck or zucchini squash the smaller ones are a better choice.

Buy sweet potatoes or yams on sale, clean and wrap in plastic wrap.  Store at room temperature, and they will keep a long time.

Grapes are ripe if they pull off the stem easily.

Berries: Turn over the box and shake the whole package.  If the bottom layer does not lift off, do not buy as the fruit is damaged.

Baby carrots are sweeter than whole carrots.  Make sure it is labeled baby carrots as some packers use stem ends from large carrots and market them as small carrots.

Broccoli already stemmed is a better buy than the whole stalk even though it costs more.

Green peppers are immature peppers and the red, orange and yellow are mature.  There is no taste difference between the red, orange or yellow peppers.

Put butter in the water when boiling sweet corn, not after it is cooked.  Packaged corn is just as good as the ones still wrapped in leaves.

Tomatoes on the vine are a high-priced farce as there is not enough moisture in the vines to keep the produce fresh.

Slice mangos in half (with the skin still on) and dice the flesh down to the skin.  Invert the skin and cut off the fruit chunks.  No mess!

Avocado – slice in half with the skin on.  Jab pit with a knife and pop out.  Cut (with skin intact) into chunks and invert the skin to cut out off the fleshy chunks.  No mess!

Store potatoes in a wire basket over your washer and dryer as the humidity will be good for them.

Soak garlic in olive oil for three to four minutes and then cook over medium heat and it will not burn.

Always remember: The spiritualist says  smell the roses; a realist says to eat your veggies!


Jan. 15th Board Meeting Highlights

    There was discussion regarding the March general meeting date, but no date was set due to venue and speaker uncertainty.


     Jill Rouw brought an article featuring Celiac Disease published in the February issue of The Reader's Digest.


      Due to clarification of IRS regulations governing 501C organizations, Jeannine Faidley assured us we do not have to spend down our reserves.


     Georgina Rubal was introduced as the President-elect.  New member but long-time activist Cleo Anderson (recently moved from Montana) will take Georgina's place on the board.  Cleo also volunteered to serve as a phone liaison for web contacts.


       Colleen Beaman reported on the Walk preparations, and Evelyn Cohen volunteered to help write and manage press releases.



Nov. 22nd Board Meeting Highlights

    Dues are payable each July 1st, and only paid-up members will receive the newsletter or food buffet 'grazing rights' at the general meetings.  If members have genuine hardship in paying, then the annual dues of $10 will be waived.


     Non-members are welcome at the Roundtable and General Meetings for two meetings, and then the board feels that they should become a member.


     The next edition of the newsletter will be mailed out by Jan. 10.


     The January 17 Board Meeting will be devoted exclusively to the Celiac Walk.  Anyone and everyone connected to the Celiac Walk is welcome.


     Board President Jeannine Faidley will select the nominating committee for next year's board instead of calling each member to ask for nominees.


     Chapter 15 will buy memberships in other CSA support groups in order to get on their mailing list for newsletters and other information.


       There was discussion in regard to Chapter 15 paying $1,000 toward sending one delegate to the National CSA Conference.


For an online, no graphics, copy of the Celiac Digest, New Year 2004, click here.


For an online, no graphics, copy of the Celiac Digest, Fall 2003, click here.


If you would prefer to receive subsequent issues of the Celiac Digest via email, send your request to and we'll take your name off the snail-mail list.


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