Episode 57: Produce Tips from Kroger Chef Brandon Fortener - The Produce Moms

The Produce Moms Podcast

Episode 57: Produce Tips from Chef Brandon Fortener

“Get into the kitchen and play. Get the children involved. Have them peel something or taste it when it’s raw. It’s one of those things where we’re all in it together.” Brandon Fortener (31:32-32:06)

Brandon Fortener is the Product Development Chef for the Kroger Company, which is the nation’s largest supermarket retailer. Produce is one of the first things that Kroger’s nine million daily customers see when they walk into the store.

Brandon is also a self-proclaimed Produce Dad and a big fan of The Produce Moms. He cooks a lot at home, which enables him to take all of those wonderful ingredients from Kroger’s produce department and create meals for his family.

“Food is culture. It’s how people celebrate. The more I meet people at Kroger, the more I’m seeing that alive within the Kroger team.  – Lori (8:15-8:24)

3 Must-know Produce Tips from Brandon

Tip # 1: Taste it. As you’re cooking any produce, taste it when it’s still raw, then as it’s cooking, and again right before you serve it, just to see how it changes.

Tip # 2: Keep fresh produce around. If you keep fresh produce in your refrigerator and pantry, they are available and easy to incorporate into your meals. 

Tip # 3: Look at different ways to use produce as it’s going through its cycle. For example, when greens are young and tender, they’re really good raw and tossed with a little lemon juice and olive oil. But when they’re more mature, cook them and additional flavors such as apple cider vinegar, onion, and red pepper flakes.

Tip for Reducing Produce Waste 

Kroger’s Zero Hunger/Zero Waste program is part of Kroger’s commitment to ending hunger in the communities they serve and to eliminating waste across their company.

One of Brandon’s tips for reducing produce waste is to throw the peelings and trimmings into a gallon ziplock bag. When it gets full, dump the bag’s contents into a pot of water and cook into vegetable stock.

“One in eight Americans struggle with hunger, but we’re throwing away 40% of our food.”  – Brandon Fortener (17:35-17:41)

“Wilted to Wonderful” is a series within Kroger’s Zero Hunger/Zero Waste program that provides great recipes to transform produce that’s “on the edge” into delicious dishes.

Tips to Inspire Children to Eat More Produce

Tip 1: Be a good role model. Let your kids see that you’re eating fruits and veggies, which will inspire them to eat fruits and veggies, too.

Tip 2: Make it easy to eat. Buy pre-cut fruits and veggies or cut them up at the beginning of the weak so they’re easy to pull out and eat. For produce that gets brown when cut, such as apple slices, toss with a little bit of lemon juice.

Tip 3: Cut produce into different shapes and sizes. For example, when Lori switched from baby carrots to carrot “chips,” it increased her kids’ consumption of them. Next time, she may want to try carrot sticks. 

Tip 4: Turn vegetables into sauces and purees. Carrots pureed into a sauce, for example, is wonderful. 

Tip 5: Introduce kids at a young age to seasonings and extra flavor. Start with adding extra flavoring to something they already love. If they don’t take to it on the first try, try it again at another time. 

You can find many more tips from Brandon and his team at Kroger.com under the tab “Discover.” There you’ll see information about Zero Hunger/Zero Waste, Wilted to Wonderful videos, thousands of recipes, and many articles loaded with cooking tips.

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Episode 57: Brandon Fortener

This week on #TheProduceMoms #podcast we feature the @kroger Product Development Chef, Brandon Fortener. He shares tips for storing and using produce, reducing produce waste, and inspiring kids to eat more fruits and veggies. Click To Tweet

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Lori Taylor

Author: Lori Taylor

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms, a lifestyle media brand and community of passionate fresh produce advocates with a mission to inspire everyone, especially children, to eat more fruits and vegetables. For ten years Lori sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States. Today, Lori and her team are fully focused on educating consumers about fresh produce, introducing them to produce brands, engaging the produce industry with consumers in inspiring conversations, and promoting public policy to protect and increase the availability of fresh produce at American schools. Her work has been featured on Oprah.com, MarthaStewart.com, Huff Post, Real Simple Magazine, US Kids Magazines, GQ Magazine, Hallmark Channel as well as ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC affiliates throughout the US. Lori is the host of The Produce Moms Podcast, a seasoned Keynote Speaker, a recipient of many produce industry accolades (including Produce Business 40 Under 40, Vance Agribusiness 40 Under 40, and The Packer 25), and is currently writing her first book. Lori resides in Indianapolis, Indiana with her husband Chip, their two sons Joe & Mac, and their Great Dane.

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