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On Sept. 15 a flash mob of bananas appeared in the middle of Pioneer Court in downtown Chicago. As onlookers curiously watched, over 35 bananas performed a choreographed dance and handed out bananas and discount coupons to the surrounding spectators during the busy lunch hour. The Flash Mob was organized to promote the fifth annual Del Monte Go Bananas! Halloween Costume Giveaway.

Every year, Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc. hosts the Go Bananas! Halloween promotion to encourage healthy eating during the Halloween holiday and promote Del Monte premium bananas as alternatives to traditional Halloween treats. The Go Bananas! promotion gives consumers the chance to win a Del Monte branded banana costume to wear for their Halloween festivities. The contest randomly awards a banana costume to 1,000 Del Monte banana fans who enter online at www.freshhalloween.com. Fans who want to increase their chances of winning can obtain five additional entries by submitting a photo of themselves as a banana using the template provided on the website.

“We are thrilled to bring the Go Bananas Halloween promotion back for its fifth year,” Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing N.A., said in a press release. “Consumers of all ages love dressing up as bananas and it is a great way of promoting healthy Halloween treats. This year, we wanted to create even more excitement around our annual Halloween giveaway and loved the idea of a flash mob of bananas. After all, who wouldn’t stop to watch a bunch of bananas dancing in the middle of town?”

The four-week promotion ends on Sept. 30 in order to guarantee costume delivery in time for Halloween.

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The Canadian Produce Marketing Association announced the launch of the second part of a new series of instructional cooking videos geared at educating consumers on how to select, store and prepare popular vegetables. The video series is part of the CPMA’s Half Your Plate campaign.

Each video features a unique recipe created by Chef Michael Smith and shows the basics of preparing produce. The video series features tomatoes, potatoes, celery, cucumbers, creamer potatoes, butternut squash, brussels sprouts and mushrooms. The final five videos have been launched at www.halfyourplate.ca.  

“I’m passionate about teaching simple cooking methods that can dramatically amp up your food lifestyle. Our Half Your Plate videos prove that healthy cooking is not hard cooking,” said Chef Smith. “Eating lots of fruits and vegetables every day remains one of the single most powerful lifestyle choices you can make!”

The Half Your Plate program is managed by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society, Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Public Health Association. A simple message, Half Your Plate encourages Canadians to make healthier meal choices without measuring, one meal at a time. The interactive Half Your Plate website is a one-stop-shop for recipes, print resources and videos all about fruits and vegetables.

“One of the major barriers to healthy eating is a lack of proper food skills,” said Rick Alcocer, chairman of the CPMA Marketing Committee and senior vice president of fresh sales for Duda Farm Fresh Foods. “An essential step to developing food skills, quick educational videos are the perfect way to give Canadians the confidence to try new meals in the kitchen and live a healthier life.”

Half Your Plate also hosted a Twitter Party Sept. 13 to kick off the series, with Chef Smith and food bloggers of Canada.

BC Fresh, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Highline Mushrooms, the Little Potato Co., Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, Red Sun Farms, the United Potato Growers of Canada and the Canadian Horticultural Council were major sponsors of the video series.

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Just in time for the back-to-school rush, Mann Packing released its latest video in the Inside the Valley series as an ode to the company’s millennial interns.

“The Veggie-Go concept was the brainchild of our millennial interns who were tasked with creating social media content this past summer,” Gina Nucci, director of corporate marketing at Mann’s, said in a press release. “They love this new on-the-go gaming craze and thought the idea of tying in the health benefits of eating more veggies while promoting our brand would be a fun and clever way to share the message.”

The video was a family affair, featuring company interns and employees, and reminds consumers of the convenience of on-the-go veggie-based meals including Mann’s Nourish Bowls and Mann’s Power Blend.

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MONTEREY, CA — Chef Richard Blais, the genius behind restaurants like Atlanta's FLIP Burger Boutique (now with locations in Birmingham Nashville) and San Diego's Juniper & Ivy, first won fame as a "Top Chef" winner and judge, and is now know as the host of the Food Network hit series "Hungry Games."

The Produce News caught up with Blais recently for a discussion about where trends in the industry are going.

Some of the industry's current stalwarts may be on the way out. Blais' advise? Be ready for the return of carrots, beets, Swiss chard and other surprises.

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MONTEREY, CA — Church Bros.' annual party at its private family ranch in the California hills near here has become an annual tradition in the Salinas Valley — and one hot ticket.

Start with the setting: a historic private ranch and hacienda perched in low-hanging clouds atop a hillside. It's classic California cowboy.

Add in the food — from a whole roasted pig to fresh Mexican fare and local artisanal products, with a bar or cold beer always within easy reach.

Want entertainment? Two bands rock the event, and for the brave-hearted there's a mechanical bull sitting ominously beneath a tent.

It's no wonder everybody attending the PMA Foodservice show wants to head for the hills every year.

But the party is a private celebration for family, friends and customers. Try to get an early angle on an invite for 2017.