This article was published in the February/March 2006 Wedge newsletter. The following information may be outdated.

Ask Professor Produce

No, of course, it isn't. "Holiday" means you don't have to work. But anyone with a spouse, long-term companion, or sweetheart knows that Valentine's Day is nothing but work. Work, work, work. Hire the mariachis! Choreograph the dance number! Bake the seven-tiered layer cake! Release the pigeons! Steer the blimp carrying... what? Why are you people looking at me like that?

Yes, that's right. The Professor makes a big deal out of Valentine's! In the long haul from New Year's Day and his fresh-squeezed satsumas to his Easter Sunday virgin marys, the Professor needs a festive midwinter excuse to devour fruit - and Valentine's is it.

So, for your edification, fortification, and glorification, here's the Professor's tried and true:

Elixir of Love

  • 1 Nice, bigga bowl
  • 1 package of organic red raspberries
  • 1 pint organic strawberries, halved, de-stemmed
  • 1 pint organic blackberries
  • 1 pint organic blueberries (or any combination of the above)
  • 1 cup (or more) Concorde grape juice or good, dry red wine (Shiraz!)

Put all items in a bowl. Devour. You'll be crooning like Barry White in 5-7 minutes.

Now, availability of these fruits is spotty in February and March, so don't get depressed if you can't find every single ingredient. Even if you just have a bowl of organic strawberries swimming in grape juice, you'll feel the berry love magic, I promise.

Why? Because this recipe is working to make you a healthier, more loveable person at the cellular level. Why again? Because a healthy you is a loveable you, and this is easily the strongest cancer-fighting Elixir of Love you've ever eaten. Even as we speak, researchers are determining that the darker and more colorful your fruit, the more flavonoids and phytochemicals you're receiving. We're also seeing a correlation between the beloved Brix count, that is, fruit sugar content, and antioxidant phytochemicals - so again, we see the ethics of Wedge Produce being proven by sound science: Sweetness + beautiful fruit = LIFE!

What, then, could be better for you than Valentine's Day, where red and sweetness reign? All the traditional Love Fruits - Cherries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Cranberries, Plums, (Not to mention red wine!) - are rich in anthocyanins, a group of antioxidant plant compounds suspected of inhibiting LDL ("bad") cholesterol, preventing blood clotting, and defending cells against dangerous carcinogens. Think I'm just whistling "Dixie"? The USDA recently tested the abilities of the above berry varieties to protect against oxidative damage. In general, blackberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of any fruit, though red raspberries have a unique advantage in ellagic acid. Ellagic acid is an anticarcinogenic/anti-mutagenic compound with anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. So there.

(On a side note, the Professor will take full responsibility for the baby boom that results from the publication of this recipe.)

Now, on a slightly more serious note...

From The Princess Bride: Well, [the dread pirate] Roberts had grown so rich, he wanted to retire. So he took me to his cabin, and told me his secret. "I am not the Dread Pirate Roberts", he said. "My name is Ryan. I inherited the ship from the previous dread pirate Roberts, just as you will inherit it from me. The man I inherited it from was not the real Dread Pirate Roberts either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Roberts has been retired fifteen years and living like a king in Patagonia." ...[Now]I shall retire and hand the name over to someone else.

While I haven't grown rich and don't plan to retire, I've spent ten years as Professor Produce, so I think it's time that I ambled on. But before I pass the Professor Produce cape and mask to another curiously fruit-obsessed individual, I wanted to thank the previous Professor Produce, Edward Brown. I'm not sure who was Professor before he was, but ten years ago, I arrived from a much smaller co-op and was struggling to keep up with a think-tank of produce workers, each of whom could have written a Produce Dept. Training Manual. Edward gave me the Professor Produce column in order to get me up to Wedge-speed by allowing me to research and explain fruits and veggies to our members. I seriously doubt that I would have made it at the Wedge (let alone a decade!) if it weren't for Professor Produce.

I'll still be writing for the Newsletter and the website, of course. But you'll have a new Professor next issue, so spit out your gum, sit up straight, don't sass, and start thinking up some good questions, ok? --Barth Anderson