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How to Thank a Farmworker

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Celebrating Farmworker Appreciation Day

When you go to the grocery store and hold a juicy Tomato in your hand, how often do you consider the many hard-working people who helped it get there?

Growing and transporting produce along the supply chain is a labor of love and hard work, and feeding the millions of people in our communities would not be possible without the men and women who keep that chain moving.

While it may not always be on our minds, farmworkers impact our lives every day, picking, packing, and shipping fresh food, keeping grocery stores stocked, and providing access to healthy food for our communities.

So how do we thank the men and women who feed our cities?

A great place to start is by observing Farmworker Appreciation Day, which happens each year on August 6. This day is celebrated to raise awareness for the conspicuous superheroes we call farmworkers, reminding us to be thankful for all they do.

Why Thank A Farmworker?

Farmworkers are the backbone of our food supply chain, as they are responsible for planting, raising, harvesting, and packing our fruits and vegetables. They are also critical in the production of dairy and meat, meaning all the food you eat daily is in some way connected to a farmworker!

When the COVID-19 pandemic paused our lives in 2020, we saw firsthand how farmworkers, with the help of others in the food supply chain, kept our grocery stores stocked.  Through good times and hard times, their tireless work ensures the steady flow of goods from the farm to the market floor. 

With so much of their effort happening behind the scenes, it is important to be thankful and let farmworkers know their hard work is seen and appreciated. 

In early 2020, we created a short video to thank the farmworker heroes at Nature Fresh Farms – watch it now!

How To Thank A Farmworker 

There are many ways to say thank you, and luckily, you can’t go wrong as long as you’re thoughtful and sincere.

Let’s look at some helpful tips to thank our farmworkers for all they do for our lives! 

Say Thank You

This might seem too obvious, but a personal thank you gives a human touch that cannot be replaced. As farmworkers are always hard at work behind the scenes, the simplest and most effective solution might be the most effective. There is no substitute for letting a person know they’re seen and appreciated.

Spread The Word On Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool that can spread the word to others about the importance of farmworkers.

By sharing news, updates, and thank you messages on your social media channels you can digitally shout your support from the rooftops to raise awareness among your friends and family about how much we rely on farmworkers.

Use the #FarmworkerAppreciationDay hashtag on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to add to the global conversation!

Fill Out Our Coloring Sheet 

Kids can learn the value of showing gratitude by completing our Thank a Farmworker coloring sheet. This creative tool allows children to express themselves by coloring in one of our beautiful greenhouses. This handcrafted art can be framed and gifted to farmworkers and also shared on social media ‘using the #FarmworkerAppreciationDay hashtag.

At the bottom of the sheet there is space for your son or daughter to thoughtfully explain why they’re thankful for the hard work of our farmworkers!

Cook For Them 

Food is a language of love and can be used to give thanks year-round. What better way to thank the people responsible for the food on your shelves than preparing a beautiful home cooked meal for them?

Feed the farmworker in your life using the ingredients they work to produce each day to whip up a batch of their favorite meal. Our Recipes page is an amazing place to find ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner using fresh ingredients! 

Support Local Year-Round 

Another amazing way to say thank you is buying the products your local farms produce when they are in season. Whether it’s greenhouse grown Tomatoes at your local grocery store, or corn from a stand on the side of the road, your food always tastes better when it’s fresh and has the fewest food miles associated with it as possible.

By supporting your local economy, you are showing confidence in the work of your local farmworkers and sending a strong message that you want them to continue producing our food for years to come!

Think Of Farmworkers All Year

A farmworker planting in a greenhouse

However you decide to thank the farmworkers in your community, be sure they know that a single day could never repay them for the value they bring.

There are no words or actions that can truly say thank you for the feeling of that first bite of your favorite food, or the relief that comes from quickly eating a Bell Pepper to save yourself from getting hangry. 

These personal moments we have with the food we eat occur multiple times a day and are irreplaceable. This is all made possible by farmworkers and for that we say thank you today and every day! 

The post How to Thank a Farmworker appeared first on Nature Fresh Farms.

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500Foods
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As Demand for Frozen Food Surges, Cold Storage Facilities Must Continue to Prioritize Safety

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Frozen food demand has skyrocketed. Although COVID-19 was a catalyst, there are many reasons why the trend will likely continue going forward. The pandemic forced people to eat at home more, which was largely responsible for the hike in food sales, especially frozen goods. Higher availability and food quality enhancements have also contributed to the spike, prompting suppliers to upgrade and expand cold storage warehouse solutions—whether that means creating extra space or utilizing existing space more effectively.

One of the more important changes, prioritized across the industry, is food preservation and safety. It has always been crucial that frozen food reaches its destination clean, healthy and still frozen — just as it went in. However, preliminary data from the CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network reveals that foodborne illnesses are up 15%. The primary or most common form is Salmonella, but COVID-19 has consumers and food safety professionals thinking more closely about cleanliness and proper sanitation.

It has pushed a tight focus on safety overall, with new innovations looking to enhance sector controls.

Necessity Breeds Creativity

Recent events have played a role in the industry’s continued focus on safety, but so have consumer demands, as more and more people look to frozen meals, foods and items as part of their normal routines.

People love convenience. But as the pandemic hit, and people were forced to isolate and remain home more, and restaurants and stores closed as a safety precaution. What was once about convenience became even more about safety. People still wanted freedom and ease of use, but it wasn’t a necessity nor was it a priority. Safety became even more important, which is why curbside pickup, deliveries and online transactions became so popular.

What does this have to do with frozen foods? Everything. Because of the pandemic, we’ve all had to eat at home more often, which means preparing meals, snacks and other items, with minimal exposure to the outside world or even local grocery stores. Naturally, consumers turned to easily cooked and pre-prepared frozen foods and meals.

Safety is the Priority

It makes sense that more frozen foods being purchased and consumed would shift priorities in the market. In a 2021 report released by Acosta, 14% of respondents say they consume frozen food nearly all the time. About 46% say they consume frozen foods often.

During the pandemic, the share of U.S. core frozen food consumers rose to 39% in 2020, up from 35% in 2018. “Core” consumers are defined as those who either eat frozen food daily or every few days.

What’s more, 42% of households that buy frozen foods did so online, up from 23% in 2018. And online frozen food sales jumped 75% last year, with the top purchases including frozen dinners and entrees, meat, poultry and even seafood.

Instead of restricting eating habits, consumers have turned to frozen foods to spruce up their meals, create new at-home dishes, and so on. It has boosted the demand for all kinds of frozen foods. It also necessitates the need for improved quality and safety. Implementing and maintaining strict controls as to how the food is transported, handled and preserved, can prevent contamination on all fronts.

With that rise in dependence, on frozen foods specifically, it is imperative that supply chain operators are delivering goods in a safe, healthy condition. Allowing foods to thaw during the transport process can introduce more problems than just contamination, especially with COVID remaining a major influence.

Imagine how bad it would be if the world experienced a major foodborne outbreak, right now. Most scenarios can be prevented through smarter food handling and better, data-driven controls.

New methods are being implemented to chill and prepare foods earlier on in the supply process. Many cold chain providers are adopting low-temperature chillers, like a food processing chiller, for example. They can freeze prepared foods quickly to ensure they are safe, disinfected and stored appropriately. From there, it’s just a matter of keeping them cold-locked during transport, storage, delivery, and beyond. That’s precisely where some of the latest innovations come into the picture.

Cold Storage Warehouse Innovations

To keep up with the demand and ensure frozen foods and other goods stay fresh in the cold chain, the industry is seeing rampant innovation, thanks to modern technologies. Think IoT-equipped fleets and storage systems to facilitate faster time to market and better transparency. Or, machine learning and AI-driven tools that help discern bottlenecks, locate faster and more effective solutions, and so on.

At the heart of it all is data, or rather digital content and information. The smarter and more contextually driven operations are, the better efficiency is all around. The following are some of the technologies making this happen:

  • IioT. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) involves connected devices that continually collect, transmit and sometimes process performance and contextual data. In the cold chain, it can be used to track goods, prevent theft or fraud, monitor processes, discover bottlenecks and more.
  • Machine Learning. An offset of artificial intelligence, machine learning and neural networks can be used to ingest and analyze massive swarms of data in ways, and at speeds, that humans never could. What’s more, the technology can empower highly advanced automation systems to take action, respond, or act based on algorithmic rulesets.
  • Electric and autonomous vehicles. Revolutionizing logistics and conventional transport, electric and fully autonomous vehicles will significantly improve fleets with better safety, stop-free trips and more.
  • Smart shelving. Imagine Amazon’s Kivo bots, or something similar, implemented within cold storage warehouses. The entire system is designed to improve inventory management, order picking, and general logistics.
  • Co-bots. Beyond delivery, ground-based drones or advanced robots can be used to transport and move heavy goods, large or bulk orders, and organize the warehouse. When outfitted with the appropriate hardware, they can reach high shelves and storage areas or move through hazardous locations, improving safety for manual workers.

Innovation Brings New Challenges

Of course, there are the general challenges facing the cold storage industry, such as how to keep foods fresh throughout the journey, proper packaging solutions, and maintaining more sanitary conditions, but there are new challenges presented by the adopted technologies.

For example, IIoT devices aren’t typically designed to be exposed to extremely frigid temperatures, which may sometimes affect the measurements and data collected. A malfunctioning device can lead to serious problems, especially when it’s the sole method for maintaining temperatures and ensuring food is properly stored.

Bringing these devices up to a sufficiently resistant level is a challenge, as is keeping them running optimally. Failing to do so could increase food contamination, the spread of foodborne illness, or worse.

Another challenge involves the expansion or development of new cold storage facilities. As warehouses and locations grow to accommodate larger inventories, the cold storage systems must become more sophisticated and powerful. What’s more, even the slightest temperature drop because of a system failure can have sweeping repercussions in such a large facility. A single refrigeration unit going down can drop temperatures across the entire warehouse.

Designing smarter spaces to keep the cold temperatures contained is one solution. Installing the supporting systems is another, which keeps things operational even when a negative scenario plays out. Automation and smart, data-driven technologies can be incredibly helpful in this area.

Finally, the bigger the cold storage solution, the higher the power draw and the more resources needed to keep things running. In turn, it’s necessary to install and implement smart technologies to reduce the carbon footprint. Cutting energy usage wherever possible becomes vital to sustainability. It can call for solutions like smart or timed lighting, smart thermostats for the refrigeration units, or upgraded systems that reduce emissions — think electric fleets and renewable energy platforms.

Backup solutions are even a part of the mix, when power outages can bring an entire operation down in seconds, and expose food to long-term risk.

Frozen Food Demand: A Steady Climb

Things may change, and there are never any guarantees, but right now it looks as though high demand for frozen food will continue, and may even grow steadily. Market conditions are partly responsible, but consumers are now more focused on quality and healthy foods, above eating out or ordering in. As the economy continues to open, people will want to get back out there and explore. But that doesn’t necessarily mean frozen food demand will decline.

Cold chain and cold storage warehouse providers must be prepared for the continued growth, which includes finding new and innovative ways to preserve, package and safely store frozen foods.

The post As Demand for Frozen Food Surges, Cold Storage Facilities Must Continue to Prioritize Safety appeared first on FoodSafetyTech.

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500Foods
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