Saturday, October 29, 2022

Snackable Autumn Art: with Citrus!

The end of October and beginning of November mark the season for Halloween and the Autumn Harvest, and there is no better fruit to represent this time of the year than citrus!  As we covered in the last blog, the color orange is the trademark hue of the season, and here at Florida Fruit Shippers, the primary citrus harvest crops are the Fallglo Tangerines, which herald the start of the citrus season, Easy-Peel TangerinesSol Zest Tangerines, red and white grapefruitnavel oranges and red navels. They are available to order now, with shipping in early November. These fruits are perfect for both decorating your home for the season and feeding nutritious snacks to your family: all at the same time!

Goblin Up the Treats

As you can see from this picture taken in your faithful blogger's dining room, the cat, pumpkin, and Morty the skeleton are very happy to see lots of tangerines filling the treat bowl as an alternative to all of the sugary sweets.  With Thanksgiving and the December holidays right around the corner, health often takes a back seat to too many non-nutritious temptations and not enough time to practice healthy habits. As we begin to pack away our spooky decorations and transition into the cozy vibes of Thanksgiving, don't be so quick to pack up the idea of a treat bowl; simply replace the fright-themed one with a decorative basket and repurpose it for healthy snacking throughout the season.


Still Life, Good Enough to Eat!

A bowl of fruit is the quintessential representation of a type of art form called "Still Life." Still Life allows us to appreciate the quiet and often surprising beauty of everyday items in our home, usually from nature. The first picture above, a great example of a Still Life photograph, is of our popular Gift Basket, which also serves as a beautiful centerpiece that's perfect for the season (or anytime of year). To create your own Still Life, you can play with the arrangement of the fruit in the basket, trying different patterns and light settings, and photograph or sketch your design. Citrus baskets are meant to be edible art, so by all means eat your subject material after photographing or sketching! After the delicious citrus is enjoyed, you can keep re-filling the basket with seasonal citrus and even orchard fruits such as those found in the Florida Sunshine Box, and make another Still Life creation before once again heartily eating the subject medium. 

These fruits are delicious enough to peel and eat right on the spot, but since we are waxing creative, you might be inspired to try making a "tang-o-pumpkin" by removing the rind from one or more of our Easy-Peel Tangerines and poking a celery "stem" in at the top. This quick and inventive offering also entices kids to eat the fruit more readily, without the extra step of peeling. Another idea, great for kids and adults alike, is to layer cut-up pieces of oranges and grapefruits with vanilla yogurt in a parfait cup, or simply toss some bite-sized pieces of citrus fruit atop a few dollops of yogurt or cottage cheese.

Edible Mandalas

Continuing our journey into the world of snackable citrus art, we can explore another beautiful form that is made for fruit: Mandalas. Mandalas come from many traditions around the world, and some have a spiritual or meditative component associated with their creation and presentation. They are radially symmetrical, meaning that you want to create a balance of form and shape in all directions from a center point. This type of art is perfect for kids; simply provide them with a bunch of tangerines, oranges, grapefruits, and any other items you might find together such as sticks, leaves, age-appropriate ornamental beads, etc., and start creating! In the photo of the fruit mandala above, yours truly used a square pillow cover with a radially symmetrical floral design as a base. You can also use a circular platter or pizza pan, etc. In Tibetan Buddhist traditions, Mandalas are deconstructed right after you make them as a sign of impermanence, so feel free to start eating your fruit as soon as you finish designing. Best of all, you can keep changing the design as often as you wish, especially as the fruit is consumed and replaced. Making mandalas is a grounding mindfulness exercise for kids and adults alike, as close as your kitchen or dining room table and your box of freshly grove-picked fruit from Florida Fruit Shippers.

Happy edible Autumn art-making, from all of us here at FFS!


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Sunday, October 23, 2022

Orange: The Color of Autumn!


Orange: the color of Autumn. How fitting that Autumn is also the season for delicious Florida Fruit Shippers premium oranges, the only fruit (well, besides blueberries) named for its vibrant, healthy, color!

Orange is a unique and welcoming color, the merging of the primary colors red and yellow. However, while all of these colors are considered to be in the "warm" category (versus blues, purples and greens, which are considered "cool,"), orange also elicits feelings of comfort and nourishment.  And, of course, it is also a dominant color associated with the changing of the leaves in Fall. Here in Florida, we don't have much in the way of Fall foliage, but we sure do have a lot of delicious oranges!

Orange and Color Psychology

Most of us would acknowledge that colors can affect our emotions, and many of us have favorite colors that can even change from day to day, depending on our circumstances. Psychologists agree, and in fact a lot of research has shown that colors can help us in times of stress or trauma. If we are feeling blue or depressed, the warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow can invigorate us. Orange is particularly effective, as it combines the bold, expressive energy of red with the lighter, brighter, and friendlier qualities of yellow. The combined effect makes orange a strong influence on us, eliciting feelings of comfort, warmth, security, and even appetite! In fact, orange has been proven to have such an effect on appetite that it is recommended that one should keep healthy orange foods in sight whenever we are tempted to eat cakes, cookies, or other unhealthy offerings, as we will naturally gravitate towards orange-colored foods.

The Color Orange in Autumn

The reason that the color orange is associated with Autumn also has a scientific connection.  The green leaves of trees are loaded with chlorophyll, the pigment compound that enables photosynthesis that makes the food for each tree. Interestingly, green is a soothing color, one shown by color psychologists to diffuse anxiety. This, plus the large amount of oxygen that trees exude, explain why we often feel so restored while spending time in the deep forest. In the Autumn, the shorter days and cooler temperatures signal temperate deciduous trees to stop their food-making process and prepare to go dormant. The same compounds that give color and nutrition to the oranges we love to eat -- carotenoids and flavonoids -- are exposed in these trees when the chlorophyll in their leaves begins to break down in preparation for winter. While leaves can also be red, yellow, and purple, orange tends to be the dominant color of Autumn, enhanced even more by the pumpkins we see for our pies and the oranges we buy for our ciders and snacking.

Orange--and Oranges--to the Rescue 

The warming and comforting effects of the color orange come just in time for the holidays, when tension levels in today's society tend to peak to their highest levels.  In addition to colder weather, sickness, and the mania of the season, our bodies are exposed to higher than usual levels of stimulation and stress.  Furthermore, since we know that orange can induce the appetite and there is an excess of food during the holidays, it's a great time of year to bring oranges into the picture: we will be tempted to snack on them versus the Halloween candy, and their vitamin C and water content will boost immune systems and cellular health. They are also an easy and decorative way to add more of the festive and nourishing orange color to our environs. Heck, you can even use oranges for Halloween decorations...but we'll cover that in detail in our next blog!

Till then, enjoy the season of Orange!


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