Snack Feature - Fear No Fruit: Tim York's 7 Reasons Why You and Your Employees Should Watch This Film...
Released on March 11 of this year, the Frieda Caplan documentary Fear No Fruit has not only rocked the industry, but also raised consumer awareness of how far produce has come because of the mother of specialty produce, Frieda Caplan. In AndNowUKnow’s sister publication The Snack Magazine, Tim York, President of Markon, took the time to share exactly why this film is a must-see for anyone in the produce industry.
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Fear No Fruit (The Frieda Caplan Documentary): 7 Reasons Why You & Your Employees Should Watch This Film
Frieda Caplan is the produce industry’s female version of Steve Jobs: visionary, industry-changing, and pioneering. Her life is a lesson in not allowing the status quo calculate how you fit in. Frieda’s leadership was a calculation of how she was going to change the status quo, so that it fit her.
I worked with Frieda back in the 70’s and there wasn’t anyone doing specialties like she was. She created The Hot Sheet, which came in the mail every week and was a guide to pricing and availability of specialty items. Her packaging and stickers taught us how to use items like spaghetti squash and sunchokes.
Frieda’s life is a lesson in perseverance and chutzpah, and I admire her tremendously. The lessons of industry pioneers like Frieda must not be lost for the next generation of leaders, and that is why this film is a must-see.
-Tim York, President of Markon
Fear No Fruit chronicles Frieda Caplan’s rise from being the first woman entrepreneur on the Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market in the 1960s, to transforming American cuisine by introducing over 200 exotic fruits and vegetables to U.S. supermarkets. Still an inspiration at 91-years of age, Frieda’s daughters Karen Caplan and Jackie Caplan Wiggins along with granddaughter Alex Jackson, carry on the business legacy.
Available on VOD platforms: iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Xbox Video, Vudu and Vimeo on Demand.
Distributed by FilmBuff
1) The importance of learning your roots…
Did you know that back in the 1960s, there were only about 60 fresh items in the average produce department? Specialty produce wasn’t even a thing then. Today, there are more than 600 fresh items on average. Frieda was a trailblazer on this front- she and her company helped introduce more than 200 items to the marketplace over the years. You can get an idea when you watch the long list of items roll past right before the end credits.
2) Never see obstacles…
Learn that roadblocks can be opportunities
Back in the day, one of Frieda’s clients had a problem with sunchokes. They were being confused with ginger root. So what did she do? A pioneering act. Frieda put the sunchokes in a package, and added a recipe and a note for the consumer. This seems so simple and obvious, but back then, the produce industry didn’t have much in the way of packaging for produce.
3) Specialty produce…
It has been a growing game, especially with the pioneering efforts of Frieda. Not only has specialty produce been incorporated into many foodservice menus and culinary creations, but they have also helped to dictate trends and inspire new cuisine.
4) This isn’t just a job…
To survive in this industry and to truly thrive, both professionally and personally, you need to be honest with yourself right off the bat. Is this a job or is this your passion? For Frieda, this is her passion, this is her life, this is her hobby, and, luckily, this just happens to be her profession.
5) Food industry issues – Past, present, and future...
I don’t think you need stats to know that, for a long time, this has been a male-dominated industry. The role of women in commerce was a challenge early on and still proves to be a topic of conversation today. But that isn’t all that this film addresses. The California drought, childhood obesity, food safety, evolving shopping habits and consumer palates, and the role of the family, are always top of mind.
6) Never judge a fruit by its cover...
The Chinese Gooseberry was brown, fuzzy, and ugly. Nobody even knew what this fruit was in the early 1960s. Frieda took a chance and bought the whole crop. After all, 90 years had passed since Americans had met their last new fruit -- the banana -- in 1870. So when Frieda introduced Chinese Gooseberries (aka Kiwifruit) in 1962, people told her she was crazy, but that didn’t stop her. It took her four months to sell the first 240 cases of kiwifruit in 1962. Fast forward to 2013, where more than 62 million pounds of Kiwifruit were sold in the United States.
7) Learn that the produce industry is a family industry...
Get to know the Caplan family and how two sisters can work so well together. Add to that mix a cool millennial granddaughter who now works for the company and a proud grandma, Frieda, and you’ve got a recipe for family business success – Frieda’s Inc.!
COMMENTS ON THE FILM & FRIEDA'S INFLUENCE:
“She is a great role model for women and men… She could talk me into stocking product that I never would have thought of stocking. She would include in the boxes recipe pads and information sheets, things that no one else was doing. In the old days, you had one or two different carrots. Today, you may see 15 to 18 different carrots. We used to have two to three different kinds of tomatoes. If you look [now] you may have 18-20 different kinds of tomatoes in one department.”
-Dick Spezzano, President, Spezzano Consulting, Inc.
“She’s had a major impact on a lot of students that have gone through [Cal Poly]. She’s had a lot of impact on the agricultural community of California because of her ability to take new products and new unique items to market. It’s helped farmers who otherwise might not have been able to be in existence today… realize their dream.”
- Rick Antle, Tanimura & Antle, Cal Poly SLO Alum
“My late mother always said my greatest strength was due to my optimistic and positive view of things. She passed on her guiding principles and today I wish to share them with you. Never badmouth others. Always listen to the whole story. Be a voice in your community. With my mom in mind, the most important lesson I can leave you with today is to be politically active. Vote. Speak up. Whether it’s about gun control, fracking, the Dream Act, or GMOs, don’t sit silently by. Be a part of the action and help make the world a better place.
- Frieda Caplan (as she accepted her honorary doctorate from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, 2014)