There was a popular commercial in the 80’s that said, “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen.” Well after several industry mergers they became part of Citigroup, and were subsequently swallowed by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. So no one listens to E. F. Hutton anymore. Actually no one listens to me either – other than perhaps my dog. And she’s growing deaf.
Despite that obvious shortcoming, my marketing gurus thought it would be interesting for me to tell the story of Florida strawberries. The idea appeals to me because the topic is actually quite interesting, and we needed some expanded material for our website. Who better to tell the story than our own strawberry industry?
Strawberries have broad consumer appeal – just do a Google search and you will find all kinds of articles. So I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but I will try to tell why Florida is a bit unique and how we have adapted to our rather challenging growing conditions.
My background is retail produce, and I have over 40 years experience (yes, I’m old) in wholesale distribution and merchandising of fresh fruits, vegetables, and floral products. Produce is a passion – because it’s the most seductive, artistic department in a grocery store. I can tell you how to select a ripe honeydew, how to cook an artichoke, or how to eat a rambutan. I’ve been around the world to production fields on every continent except Antarctica (only because nothing grows there). My life has been produce.
But strawberries are special! So popular, nutritious, convenient, versatile – everyone loves them. Each year at the Plant City Strawberry Festival we create a real strawberry field as part of the exhibition, and we’re inundated with visitor questions. Are they really hand planted? Why are the planting beds elevated? Do they grow from seeds? How are they watered? How can they survive a freeze? Why do you re-plant every year? Although I love talking one-on-one with all these folks, it’s not a very effective way to spread the story. It’s time to apply some technology!
So we’re introducing “Ted’s Talk” to our website. I’ll cover how we plant, grow, pick, cool, and ship. I’ll tell industry history, and I’ll discuss some backside science that you never even realize happens. I’ll try to highlight some of our growers – they’re usually local family farms.
But most of all, I want to tell you why Florida is special – what makes our strawberries taste soooo good. E. F. Hutton may be gone, but when Ted speaks, people will learn about Florida strawberries! And I look forward to telling the story.
I’ll talk with you soon!