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Onions are cultivated and consumed globally. Although normally served cooked, they can be eaten raw, pickled, or dried. The onion has a strong, sharp and pungent flavor. It is known as a temperate crop, but the versatility allows it to grow in a wide range of climatic conditions (temperate, tropical and subtropical). Currently, China is the largest onion producer in the world, producing 23,907,509 tons per year.

The benefits of onions extend beyond their texture, versatility, and taste. They are known as a nutrient packed vegetable containing powerful compounds that can decrease your risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Onions also have antibacterial properties and promote digestive health. This leads to improved immune function, maintaining blood sugar levels, soothing inflammation, and treating certain infections.

All this said, onions seem great, but why do they make me cry? When an onion is sliced or diced, the onion’s cells release compounds into the air. When this occurs, an “enzyme” works to alter the amino. This then turns into a form of sulfuric acid which irritates the nerves around the eyes making them tear.

Tip: One way to reduce the amount of chemicals released from the cell walls  when slicing an onion is to use a sharp knife. This does not eliminate the problem, but having a sharp knife means fewer of the cells are broken/ and/or crushed as the knife goes through the onion, thus releasing less of the irritating chemicals.

Where did onions come from?

The Onion is thought to have originated more than 5000 years ago in Central Asia. Its consumption can be traced back to the Bronze Age. It is seen as the most ancient of food sources and a staple in the diet of many early civilizations. It was especially important to Egyptians.

FUN FACT: Ancient Egyptians saw onions as a symbol of eternal life because of their circular layers. Archeologist have even found onions in pharaohs tombs and many ancient Egyptian paintings.

Varieties of Onions

 Yellow (Spanish) Onions:

These are large, sweet, juicy with an ivory flesh surrounded by heavy brown skin. They have a strong sulfur-like smell. Their flavor is mild and slightly sweet. These onions are typically used grilled as toppings on sandwiches and hamburgers or raw in salads.

Sweet Onions:

Sweet Onions have a lighter, less-opaque skin that surrounds a larger, slightly fatter body of the vegetable. They contain extra sugar (hence the name) which make them excellent for caramelizing. Their size is also ideal for making onion rings.

White Onions:

Papery white skin with a milder and sweeter flavor than their yellow counterparts. The mild flavor makes this onion preferred to serve raw in fresh salsas, guacamole and atop nachos.

Red Onions:

Just like in the name these onions are a deep magenta color. They are mild and sweet enough to eat raw. If you chill in ice cold water for 20 minutes before serving or rinse them under cool running water, it will soften the taste even more! These are a popular option raw in salads or as a garnish.



Shallots are smaller, have a purple flesh and brown skin. Containing a pungent garlicky smell and flavor they are aromatic which helps building flavor in sautéed dishes, stock, and sauce.


Green Onions:

These are immature onions that haven’t yet formed a bulb, only partially. The entire plant is usually used, including the tall green shoots, which can also serve as a wonderful garnish. These onions go by many names such as: scallions, spring onions, cebollitas, salad onions and even-shallots.


  Pearl Onions

Like a pearl these onions are very small and can be white, yellow or red. Pearl onions contain a delicate, sweet flavor and are often served as pickled or as a garnish. Additionally, they can be stewed, creamed, roasted or glazed.



Resembling an overgrown scallion, leeks are related to garlic, chives, shallots, and onions. This is evident in their flavor profile making them sweet. Typically, they are used for sauces, soups and pastas.




Dry onions can be stored for several months. Whole onions should be stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place, where they will last for about 4weeks. Onions absorb moisture so it is best to avoid storing beneath the sink or in the refrigerator. Often Partial onions remain after the preparation of a meal, and easily stored for reuse. For longevity wrap in plastic or place in a tightly sealed container. Container can be placed and refrigerated for up to 4 days, spring onions can be refrigerated in water for over a week.

Furthermore, sprouting onions can be eaten after chopping away the green portion.

Check out this YouTube video on how to store onions for up to 10 months!: Amazing! How We Store Onions 10 Months! 42 Million Pounds Of Onions, Episode 3 Owyhee Produce – YouTube

In conclusion, these nutrient-packed vegetables contain powerful compounds that may decrease your risk of heart disease and certain cancers alongside heightening the flavor of any savory dish. Adding more onions to your diet is an easy way to benefit your overall health. Which are you going to incorporate?


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Lettuce prices along with many other food items are the highest they’ve ever been. Many factors besides inflation come into play: diesel costs, pests, diseases, and the ever-changing climate. Unfortunately, all these reasons cannot be resolved immediately, which leads to the continue in rising costs

Transport, fertilizers, labor and industry concentration all point to a step up in prices, with little relief in sight. But combined they probably explain no more than half of what’s happened. The other half is the climate. Let’s not forget to mention agriculture is facing labor shortages with workers becoming ill with COVID and foreign workers being denied entry for the almost two years.

Climate change is reflected again, by an increase frequency of extreme weather events such as: bushfires and draughts, and extreme floods in California. For three years, Central Valley (California), whom currently accounts for US $1.2 billion in annual lettuce production, has lost more than 80 per cent of its crops.

Lettuce and leafy greens growers have battled Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV), which is a plant pathogenic virus. The influence of the disease begins with the outset of summer, but hot weather late in the season (September) activated INSV damage (see photo below). Currently lettuce prices represent the largest increase since September 1981.


“The challenge with the factors contributing to food inflation is that they are in sequence. We started with the climate, then the pandemic, war and now we’re seeing nations hoarding. All of these factors are making food more expensive,” said Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University and the senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab.



Central Valley, California September 2022


The big challenge for operators, producers and suppliers is that they understand the consumer will only absorb so much of an increase before they simply stay home or do not purchase. To further implicate the situation when market supply issues occur like this; the quality gets lower too. Many restaurants are looking for alternative products such as shredded cabbage as a replacement or removing lettuce from their menus entirely.

Thankfully not all leafy greens are affected by INSV. Consumers, operators, and retailers are getting creative with other kinds of greens that are currently in better supply (i.e. cabbage, hydroponic lettuce, endives, etc.). Charlebois (Dalhousie University) also added the situation is temporary, as other exporters, like Mexico and Arizona are ramping up production now. Prices should drop as more romaine and iceberg lettuce arrive on store shelves in December.



References & Other Articles:

Bowden, O. (2022, May 18). Lettuce, oranges, butter and beef: The cost of grocery staples has surged again and there’s no end in sight. Retrieved November 23, 2022, from

N.L. restaurants forced to pivot as high prices sprout from lettuce shortage | CBC News (2022) CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada. Available at: (Accessed: November 23, 2022).

Prices spike with low Central Valley Lettuce supplies (2022) Available at: (Accessed: November 23, 2022).

Kruger, B. (2022) Lettuce crunch: Spike in prices forces restaurants to ‘pivot’, Global News. Global News. Available at: (Accessed: November 23, 2022).



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Oranges are one of the most versatile fruits. Whether you are juicing, baking or making marmalade, oranges can do it all, yet not all oranges are created equal; each variety carries its own unique flavor and appearance.



Oranges are low calorie and a highly nutritious citrus fruit.

Did you know that one orange provides approximately 92% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C?

Here are just five popular types of oranges to consider and their characteristics while shopping.




1. Navel Oranges

These sweet, slightly bitter oranges are the most common variety. You’ll know a navel orange by visually seeing a mark on the bottom that resembles a belly button. Because of their inviting flavor and lack of seeds, navel oranges are a great pick for snacking on raw. Their sweetness also makes them great for juicing, as long as you’re going to drink it immediately. You can also use the zest in baking. Navel oranges are in season from November to June.



2. Cara Cara Oranges

Also called “red-fleshed” these navel oranges are famous for their low acidity and extra sweet flavor. Which make them the ideal candidate for snacks, raw dishes and juice. They also tend to have minimal seeds. They originally hail from Venezuela, but now they’re grown mostly in California from December to April.




3. Valencia Oranges

Valencia variety has thin skins and a ton of juice. You can also snack on them raw, so long as you keep an eye out for seeds. Despite its Spanish namesake, Valencia oranges were created in the mid-1800s in California; they’re also grown in Florida. Unlike other popular varieties, they’re mostly harvested in the summer from March through July.




4. Blood Oranges

The name originates from the deep red color of their flesh, which is also super juicy, sweet and tart. Their flavor is unique. There are three main types—Moro, Sanguinello and Tarocco—which range from tart to sweet. Blood oranges are most widely available from late fall through winter (about November to March).




5. Clementines

Oranges and tangerines are different varieties of the same species. Tangerines and clementines are classified as mandarins. Tiny, seedless and sweet. Like tangerines, clementines are easy to peel and eat, thanks to their little segments. A clementine is technically a tangor, which is a cross between a willowleaf mandarin orange and a sweet orange—that’s why they have such unique, honey-like sweetness and low acidity. Easy to peel because of their loose skin and minimal pith, which makes them great for snacking on raw, baking with or adding to a salad. Their peak season is November through January.


Citrus fruits begin to come into season in November and continue until June. When shopping, look for oranges and tangerines that feel heavy for their size, this means they have lots of juice. Oranges can range from tart, sour or sweet and succulent, next time you have an orange; try to find the subtle distinctions between them. Can you guess which variety it is without looking?




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If you’ve tasted a perfectly ripened fruit, you can understand why it’s sought after; rich flavor, superior texture, aromas and color can elevate an ordinary meal to a delicious meal.





Acquiring a perfectly ripened fruit can be tough sometimes because, unless you cut it open, it can be difficult to visually see the level of ripeness. Furthermore, ripening fruit at home can be a challenge as some fruit doesn’t ripen once it’s picked.


Without getting too in-depth on the science portion of it all here is the simple fact: fruit ripens with the release of the plant hormone ethylene, which is a gas. Fruit is divided into two basic categories climacteric (ripen off the plant) and non-climacteric (ripen while attached to the tree/vine). Some fruits don’t produce much ethylene, like oranges and lemons; while others such as bananas and avocadoes can ripen in the blink of an eye.


Berries, citrus and grapes are considered non-climacteric (sugars come from the parent plant) while avocadoes, peaches and bananas are considered climacteric (become sweeter once taken off the parent plant). A series of changes happens within a fruit to allow ripening. Depending on the fruit it could be sweetness, acidity, juice, depth of color or rich aromas.




In general, you should look for pieces that are bright in color, slightly firm in texture and mild to strong aroma.

We’ve listed some popular fruits below and how to distinguish ripeness:


A ripe apple should feel solid and firm with tight skin that doesn’t appear wrinkled.



The most reliable way to test for ripeness is, by using the palm of your hand and squeezing slightly. The fruit should feel soft to the touch but not mushy. Another way to distinguish ripeness is buy the color of the fruit. Look for avocadoes that are darker in color, the darker the riper it will be.


This is a tricky one because it all depends on the purpose in which you want to use the banana and your personal preference. The chart below from : explains it best.





Ripe blueberries appear big and deep blue. Unripe ones will be hard and tinged with red or pink. These are sour in flavor and should only be used immediately in recipes that rely on extra sugar.


Both the stem and blossom parts at either end should smell sweet (however if it’s almost a sickly sweet, the fruit is probably overripe). It should also give a bit when pressed gently, it will feel heavier than it looks, and sound hollow when tapped.


Weight is the true key. Heavier = juicier. Neither should have wrinkled or rough skin, but instead, should be firm to the touch. Lemons will be a bright yellow color with no hint of green, and limes will have ripened from a dark green to a lighter, sometimes yellow-green.


Here you are looking for a sweet smell, as vinegary is overripe and no smell is underripe. Leaves will be a healthy green and if squeezed, it will give very slightly.


Keep in mind that ripening is best conducted at room temperature, around 20°C.


We’ve all fallen victim to a mushy banana, rock-hard avocado or tasteless melon. Hopefully now that you know what to look for, you’ll be able to pick perfectly ripe fruit every time and cut down on what you throw away. A true win-win.


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