Vacation, all I ever wanted!

RoadVacation is my favorite word. I love adventure, new places and activities, and enjoying time with friends and family: The problem is keeping your health goals on track while traveling. I will be driving across the country this summer to help a friend move and I find road trips make for the most challenging way to travel healthfully. Gas stations, convenience stores, fast food… How do you make smart choices with limited options?

For starters, plan ahead. Pack healthful snacks, including fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and plenty of water — enough for the number of days you’re travelling. When you do stop for refreshments or fuel, avoid the candy and chip aisle at the gas station; however, if temptation is too strong, perhaps allow yourself one indulgence each day on the road. If you know the cities you’ll pass through, locating restaurants with mixed options ahead of time may allow more flexibility. Then, aim for adding veggies as a side or an appetizer, splitting meals, or having fruit for dessert. Likewise, staying active may help offset some indiscretions. Many hotels offer exercise facilities, or even better, get out on foot and explore new people and places!

Small changes go a long way on the road, but remember that enjoying yourself is number one. Give yourself a break, relax, and have fun!

Bon Appétit!

Ten Varieties of USA PearsIn July, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that Mexico is now the world’s most obese nation, just edging out the United States. Obesity is a problem around the world; global rates have doubled since 1980 (FAO). This increase in obesity has been attributed to the widespread availability of low-cost, low-nutrient foods that are high in fat, sugar, salt, and calories. The food and health problems that are debilitating America, unfortunately, are also debilitating many other nations.

I recently returned from France and Belgium and my favorite international activity is visiting local groceries, markets, and farms. I love to learn about other cultures’ cuisines. While passing through a Parisian street market selling fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, cheeses, and fresh baked breads, I realized that Europeans shop in a very different manner than Americans. Most whom I observed shopped for a day or two days’ worth of groceries, but no more, at the local farm stand, butcher, and baker. This way of living suggests a healthier lifestyle; fresh food is always served and fewer processed foods make it to the table. So simple! If each of us consumes more fresh foods, especially more fruits and vegetables, we should naturally see a decrease in health problems associated with processed foods. Bon appétit!

Pear Buddies Around the World: Taiwan

Taipei 101Perry and Anjoulina recently accompanied me on a visit to Taipei, Taiwan. In between meetings and market visits, we stopped briefly at a traditional Chinese tea house and had time for a photo op at Taipei 101 – an impressive sight as the world’s third tallest skyscraper.

Even though Taiwan shoppers are more used to the more crunchy Asian pear varieties, it is still an important market for red skinned pears, as red is an auspicious color in Taiwanese culture. The vibrant Starkrimson and maroon Red Anjou are unique, sweet treats in a country full of what we in the U.S. consider to be exotic fruits!

In addition to supermarkets, there are many fruit shops and vendors where fresh fruits are found. We also visited the wholesale market in Taipei, where the owners choose the fruits to sell in their shops. Notice the motor scooter cruising down the aisle in the photo below – a very popular mode of transportation in the city!


Perry & Anjoulina with Taipei 101

Tea House

Standing Out in Russia

Anjoulina Russia

I just returned from a trip to St. Petersburg, in Western Russia.  Russia is a large market for USA Pears – and competes with Brazil every year to be either third or fourth place after Mexico and Canada.  The weather was clear and the city was beautiful, but it was freezing.  More accurately, below freezing.  At one point it reached -13 degrees Fahrenheit.  A bit of a shock for someone like me, who has only known the fairly mild winters of the Pacific Northwest!  But I would consider this to be part of the true Russian experience.

Russia imports pears from all over the world, in addition to the U.S.  So how do USA Pears stand out on the shelves at the grocery store?  One way is through the multiple varieties and colors of USA Pears.  In the Russian Far East, shoppers are more used to the many varieties, while in Western Russia – which is nine time zones away – they are still becoming familiar.  In a sea of green pears in the produce department, pears like the Red Anjou (like Anjoulina above, at the Church on the Spilled Blood) catch attention.  Of course they are delicious to eat fresh, but they also add color and flavor to any recipe!

The Sweet Science of Skiing

As a proud supporter of Olympian cross country skier Torin Koos, we’re pleased to be able to share this great article. He’s just embarked on another year of competition, already bringing in second and eighth-place finishes at the USSA SuperTour in West Yellowstone. Best of luck in 2012, Torin!

The Sweet Science of Skiing
By Torin Koos

Riding the cable car up, up, up high into the high Austrian air to the Dachstein Glacier for the first time, I get the feeling Garrison Keillor echoes on his News from Lake Wobegon when he says “All the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” Packed six tight into the tiny aluminum tin, you can’t help but look around and think all the young women around you are strong and good-looking and above average. Here, though, this isn’t some Lake Wobegon effect – our universal, natural tendency to overestimate one’s capabilities. Rather on that first ride up to the Dachstein Glacier, you know this is the big leagues. For good reason. Standing shoulder to shoulder to Axel Teichmann, Timmy Tschanke, or Justyna Kowalczyk, one gets the very real sense they are no longer skiing in the sandlot.

As a sometime writer, mornings begin with my mind wondering off to write stories about the people I meet. One morning it’s about the fifteen-year-old Finnish girl with her father and the improbably tall Thomas Algaard. It’s then when it hits me: the three of us – all of us, really – are writing our own unique chapters to the same book on our love affair with skiing.  That same morning, the clouds and the setting and the sunrise are just perfect. Fortunately, I have my Canon G9 camera tucked away in the backpack with the change of clothes, Bartlett pear and thermos full of chalky chocolate flavored recovery drink. I snap the picture and send it off to the world.

When I get back to the hotel just over two hours later, former American World Cupper Dan Simoneau (World Cup Best: 2nd; 7th 1983 World Cup Overall) has left a message. Simoneau’s terse prose reads like poetry. “Great photo, Torin. I’m jealous that you are skiing on snow that has so many drops of gold medal sweat. Rub it well. Throw some over your shoulder. Burn some to the Gods. But most importantly, melt it with hard work, focus, and determination. I believe.” Reading these words the first time sends a shiver down my spine. I know what Dan says is true.

I’ve been to the area many times before, though only in the heart of winter. The Ramsau trails wind through valley, canyon and race loops from the 1999 World Championships for a total of 180 kilometers. I could easily work for the town’s media department: I wouldn’t trade one day of skiing Ramsau for anywhere else.

And yet somehow, coming to Ramsau in October is even more special. Maybe it’s because for most, October is the toughest time of the training year. You are still putting in big hours. You are a little sick of the dryland. There really isn’t any good or consistent skiing yet. As a racer you have the itch – and a little bit of anxious anticipation – to get on with the season, and visit with those friends for whom you only seem to meet up with along the trails.

Getting into Ramsau, I flew to Munich then took the train to a tiny town in Germany where I meet up with Swiss National Teamers Mauro Gruber, Eligious Tambornino, and Martin Jaeger, sprint specialists all. Over the next two weeks, I will meet up with the Swiss athletes from time to time, though rarely for the same on-snow workout. This can be chalked up to the sweet science of cross-country ski training.  The Swiss athlete’s are in specific race sharpening training for the race season’s start, coming in two week’s time. The Swiss athletes also don’t believe in doing anything except low intensity long distance training on the glacier, due to its altitude 2700M (8,370ft). Instead, they distance ski in the mornings on Dachstein, then do intensity or strength or speed in the valley below. What they miss out on in real-snow feel they feel they make up in spades with the faster movements of speedy Marwe rollerskis with the low resistance zero wheels.

For Ramsau, I’m joining up with a Norwegian team comprised from the seven small towns that border the hills around Lillehammer. These Norwegians from Team Sjusjoen are more distance-oriented and believe in getting on-snow twice a day. Unlike the Swiss or the Germans, they believe in the trade-off of doing controlled threshold intensity at this high altitude. Most days I ski with the young up-and-comer Simen Sveen. You haven’t heard of him before, but you will soon enough. As a twenty-two year old in med school, Simen was 3rd in the Norwegian Cup Series and 4th at the Norwegian National 50 kilometer.

Simen’s motivation is the kind you rarely see. The young up and comer has just tasted success. He can only see himself getting better and achieving more in the ski tracks. The longer someone can keep this feeling burning bright inside their emotional engine can say more than technique or tactics or V02 max test scores. Right now, all are headed up, up, up for Mr. Simen. It is a wordless spectacle in itself. Like all extreme but perishable actions, watching skier find their inspiration, excites the writer. It also burnishes his instinct to bear witness.

It’s not altogether different than sliding down the window on the cable car, sticking your head out into the cold alpine air and breathing in the oxygen, the sights, and the opportunities that lie ahead for you.  If you have the chance to ski the Dachstein, take it. Your love affair with skiing will only go stronger. Just remember that in this little corner of the world all the women really are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.

On the Road Again

I’ve taken a few road trips this summer, and eating in the car can be a slippery slope. Sitting for long periods of time, especially if driving alone, makes me want to snack to keep busy. The key for me to staying on target is to busy my mind to avoid the temptation to graze. I get bored listening to music for hours; during my last trip, I listened to a book and practiced Spanish with drive-time lessons on disc. This really helped curb my desire to snack!  As far as food is concerned, I plan ahead and try to stop somewhere pleasant to enjoy my lunch, which also limits snacking in the car.

I always pack a cooler with snackable veggies, fruit, and healthful meals – sandwiches are easy, and I almost always travel with bananas and pears to layer with peanut butter. Likewise, nuts in the shell are a good option since they are nutritious and keep my hands busy (not while driving, of course!). The hardest part for me is the insidious gas station fare: There is rarely anything healthful to eat at convenience stores. I limit my choices to low calorie beverages, nuts, and any fruit available, but allow myself one treat per day, e.g. chips or candy. Even better than this, stopping at roadside farm stands in the summer months is my favorite treat on trips! For your next long drive, why not take the time to stop and enjoy the lunch you prepared, and pack fresh fruit and veggies to fill you up between meals?

A Grand Adventure

Summer is here and for many of us that means hitting the road to adventure. Last weekend I hiked through the beautiful Grand Canyon, no small feat for my first long hike of the summer. Noshing on fresh fruit, nuts, and trail mix from a precipice above the Colorado River was the pinnacle of enjoyment and accomplishment – what a sense of wonder. And thank goodness I brought extra water and snacks for the grueling hike back up the canyon!

Whether your summer travel plans include hiking, sun and sand, or 18 holes, staying fueled and hydrated are keys to health, safety, and enjoyment under the sun. Before heading outside, especially on a hot, sunny day, make sure to drink plenty of water and eat a light, balanced meal that includes carbohydrates, fruit or vegetables, protein, and some healthy fats. Some good choices include cereal, trail mix, a salad or a sandwich. Pack some snacks or meals to take with you, especially if you are going to be active or out for more than 3 hours. Fresh fruit, nuts, cheese, granola bars, or sandwiches are quick, easy sources of nourishment. Likewise, pack plenty of water – more than you think you will need! During hot summer months, drink 4-6 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes while active and consider a sports drink if you are going to be active for more than an hour. Then, take time to rest, hydrate, fuel, and enjoy! A little preparation keeps you safe to fully enjoy your summer adventures.

Growing Regions: Medford

With the holiday season quickly approaching, it’s time to take a look at the fourth of our growing regions, which is well known for producing the world’s favorite Christmas pear – the Comice. Welcome to Medford, Oregon!

Medford is home to Harry and David headquarters, the company that sells the gift basket favorite, in addition to lots of up-and-coming Oregon wineries. The small Southern Oregon city is also in the neighborhood of Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States!

Visit the Medford area for stunning natural views, award-winning golf courses, and wet and wild adventure on the Rogue River. Click here to learn more!

Little Pear in the Big Apple

Anjoulina in NYC

While Epicurious Entertained NYC, Anjoulina found a little time for sightseeing in Manhattan.

Just in case it’s not obvious, Anjoulina is a Red Anjou pear – recently harvested and fresh at the grocery stores now!  Red Anjou pears are sweet and juicy, and add gorgeous color to any recipe – from salads and desserts to main courses.  Be sure to Check the Neck for Ripeness to get the best eating experience!

And speaking of Epicurious – don’t forget to enter our recipe contest!  Visit the contest site to learn all about USA Pears and submit your culinary masterpiece for a chance to win a spa getaway for two to Oregon wine country!