JUL
23

Unveiling the 'bee's knees' of seasonal produce

BUY LOCAL FARM SIGNS 8.5x11 Didier copy

Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee!

That’s what Sunset Foods does, looking elegant while besting its competition from one department to another. Now, in this produce season where foods’ edibility coincides with bees’ livelihood, Sunset takes a look into which of our seasonal foods need bees similar to how plants need water.

According to a report conducted by the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations (FAO), crop pollination relies heavily on contribution from none other than bees. As a result of that pollination, certain produce improve in quality than if the bees had avoided these foods all together.

Studies have shown that roughly 85 percent of crops grown specifically for humans require bees’ pollination, as that increases quality and yield. And since Sunset Foods’ inception in 1937, the premium grocery store has provided patrons with the best local and bee-friendly produce available, allowing them to lead betters lives in and outside of the kitchen. Throughout July and August, Sunset will offer produce from Didier Farms (older than us by a quarter-century) out in nearby Lake County, as well as produce from esteemed farms in Michigan and Indiana.

Sweet and tangy, Michigan blueberries from Red Barn Farm in South Haven, MI make for great additions to yogurt and salads, or taste just fine on their own. The United States produces more blueberries than any other country, according to FAO. “Bumblebees visit more flowers per minute than other pollinators, and have no difficulty extracting nectar from blueberry flowers with their long tongues,” reads the FAO study.

Sourced locally from Didier Farms as well as from Indiana and Michigan farmlands, cucumbers will start hitting Sunset’s produce aisle this August. Crunchy and cool, there’s a reason these refreshing veggies make you feel as cool as…well, a cucumber! What might come as a surprise, though, is that bees make it possible for cucumbers to exist in the first place.

Other Sunset fruits and veggies that exist thanks in-part to bees include Athena homegrown cantaloupe (Indiana), watermelon (Indiana), peaches (Illinois and Michigan), kale, green, red & savoy cabbage (Indiana and Didier Farms), vine ripe tomatoes and plum tomatoes (Michigan and Chicago), squash, eggplant (Indiana, Michigan and Didier), beets (Indiana and Didier), basil, herbs and veggies (Illinois), kale, mustard, turnip & collard (Michigan), green & yellow zucchini (Indiana, Michigan and Didier).

More seasonal produce available at Sunset Foods in July and August will include green beans (from Ohio, Michigan and Illinois), celery (Michigan), romaine lettuce, green and red leaf (Michigan), pickles (Indiana, Michigan and Didier), celery (Michigan), green peppers (Indiana, Michigan and Didier), romaine: green leaf & red leaf (Michigan).

In all, it’s safe to say that without bees, there would be fewer and fewer delicious produce to grow in the farmlands, land in Sunset stores and eventually, family kitchens. Stay tuned for another blog post on Natural Honey by Allen (run by Lake Forest’s Allen Kracower), which prides itself on being the only local honey that contains zero chemicals. The honey operation has many other unique qualities, including the fact that all of its proceeds go toward recovering cancer patients from the Lake Forest Hospital (more on that later).

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