Episode 57: Produce Tips from Kroger Chef Brandon Fortener

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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.

How to get involved with The Produce Moms

The Produce Moms Podcast is live on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify.  If you like what you are hearing on the podcast, reviews, subscriptions & ratings will help us keep this going!  It would mean the world to hear your feedback, and we’d love for you to help us spread the word!

Episode 57: Brandon Fortener

[bctt tweet=”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.” username=”theproducemom”]

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About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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