The Regional Spring Waters Family

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All of their products come from carefully selected sources, use state-of-the-art filtration and quality control processes and are bottled in sanitary conditions.

Arrowhead® Brand 100% Mountain Spring Water

The original source of Arrowhead® Brand 100 percent Mountain Spring Water can be found in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. The natural formation in the shape of an arrowhead on the San Bernardino Mountains points to the water’s legendary origin, an inspiration for each carefully selected mountain spring source we use today. A unique composition of naturally occurring minerals gives Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water a refreshing, crisp taste. Pure goodness only from mountain springs, refreshing the West since 1894.

Deer Park® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water

Deer Park® Brand 100 percent Natural Spring Water was founded in 1873 from a spring surrounded by acres of secluded woodlands. Today, Deer Park® Brand Natural Spring Water is sourced from carefully selected natural springs in several states.

Ozarka® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water

Everything’s bigger in the Lone Star State and natural refreshment from Ozarka® Brand Natural Spring Water is no exception. Sourced from only carefully selected natural springs in Texas, its natural mineral content has provided an unparalleled taste and quality.

Zephyrhills® Brand 100% Natural Florida Spring Water

Since 1964, Zephyrhills® Brand Natural Spring Water has been sourced from Florida’s springs and distributed to fellow Floridians. They continue to source their water from carefully selected natural springs in Florida and distribute it within Florida and to its neighbors.

Learn more, go to the Nestlé Waters Regional Spring Water brand website in your region:

Video description: Learn more about Nestlé Waters.



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What does it mean for hommus to be better? For Cedar’s, it means telling the truth about what they do and being transparent about how they do it. It means using the best, wholesome, non-GMO ingredients. It also means making the food everyone loves without the preservatives and additives that the other guys depend on. Simple recipe. Best ingredients. Honest preparation. Know better hommus.

Looking for a quick and easy summer staple? Check out the Cedar’s recipe below and more recipes like it over at the Chickpea Kitchen!

Hommus Chichken Salad

Hommus Chicken Salad

How do you up the ante with your chicken salad? Simply swap out mayo for hommus! Doing so will pack even more protein and nutrients into your sandwiches and give them a burst of flavor no one will expect.

  • 3 cups Chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 1/4 cup Onion, minced (about 1/4 medium onion)
  • 1/2 cup Bell pepper, diced (about 1/2 bell pepper)
  • 1/2 cup Celery, diced (about 2 stalks)
  • 1 10-oz Cedar’s Artichoke Spinach Hommus
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. Cayenne pepper


  1. Transfer Cedar’s Hommus to a bowl and stir in shredded chicken and onion.
  2. Stir until completely combined. Add in diced bell pepper and celery.
  3. Taste and season with salt, paprika and/or cayenne pepper as needed.

Visit Cedar’s website to learn more about Know Better Hommus and explore their full product offering. You can also follow them on FacebookInstagramPinterest and YouTube.


Superfoods for a Super New Year

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If you look up the definition of a superfood, you’ll likely find something along the lines of “a nutrient-rich food considered especially beneficial for health and well-being.” This definition may sound vague. That’s because it is. There’s no official or regulated definition of a superfood. Even so, there are foods that rise to the top when it comes to the nutrients they offer.

Superfoods can help you get the most nutrition bang per bite. They provide more fiber, vitamins, minerals and/or phytonutrients compared to other foods. Though you may initially think of exotic foods like açai, moringa, maca or goji berries, there are plenty of everyday superfoods in the produce section. Since it’s winter and the start of a brand new year, I thought I’d highlight a few of the season’s hottest superfoods

Bowl of Cauliflower


This cruciferous vegetable has grown in popularity over the past few years. It’s packed with cancer-fighting compounds and is an excellent source of vitamin C. Enjoy cauliflower raw, simply roasted, in a stir-fry or puréed into soup. Jump on the “cauliflower rice” trend with ease by picking up a package of Sprouts Cauliflower Crumbles in the produce section next time you shop.



Haven’t heard of this one? Chicories are those bitter winter greens like endive and escarole or purple radicchio. They are a good source of vitamin C and may also help boost heart health. Use endive to scoop and serve a bread-free tuna or chickpea salad. Grill or sauté radicchio for a warm winter salad or toss it into vegetable soup.




Pomegranates are one of the few foods that aren’t always easy to find. That’s not the case in the winter. They thrive in cooler temperatures from October to January. Pomegranates are known for their antioxidants. A beautiful, sweet-tart addition to greens, smoothies and winter fruit salads, pomegranates are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins C and K.

Winter Squash cut in half

Winter Squash

Though pumpkin gets all of the attention in the fall, it’s not the only gourd in the patch. Roast or purée an acorn, delicata, kabocha or butternut squash for some variety. Enjoy the different winter squashes prepared sweet, savory, curried or spicy. With a deep orange to yellow flesh, winter squash is bursting with vitamin A (as beta-carotene), vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Bonus: Roast or dry the seeds and enjoy a protein- and magnesium-rich snack or salad topper.

Cup of Matcha


Though matcha is available anytime you want it, this green gold is a warm and comforting answer to cold temperatures. Regular green tea is a popular healthy brew. Matcha (a green tea powder) takes it to another level. Because you drink or eat the entire leaf, you get more. Chock full of polyphenols, matcha is lauded for its anti-aging properties. Importantly, it may help lower the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Also, if you’re trying to stay focused on your goals this year, sip on this. Matcha is known to boost mental alertness too without the jitters you might get from other caffeinated drinks.

This list is not at all comprehensive. It’s just a sampling of the many superfoods available at this time of year. Put one or all in the rotation for a super new year.

About Marisa Moore

Helping People Eat Better One Morsel at a Time

Marisa Moore is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and owner of Marisa Moore Nutrition. Using a food first, mostly plant-based approach, Marisa helps people eat better one morsel at a time through group classes, writing and developing healthy recipes. She enjoys working as a consultant for small and large businesses including food and nutrition startups and being an ambassador for delicious food and a healthy lifestyle.

A past spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, Marisa is a trusted food and nutrition expert and has appeared in most major media outlets including the Today Show, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and has had regular appearances on CNN.

Marisa is a contributing editor for Food & Nutrition Magazine and U.S. News & World Report blogger. Before launching her consultancy, Marisa worked as an outpatient dietitian, the corporate nutritionist for a national bakery café restaurant and she managed the employee worksite nutrition program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Always ready for new passport stamps, Marisa loves to explore new countries but in her spare time you might find her cooking, dancing salsa or on a walk with her dog Biscuit. Learn more at


8 Eat-Well Habits for 2018

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Sweetened beverage with fruitStart Fresh in the New Year

It’s the start of a new year, and that means tackling new habits to improve your health. When it comes to New Year’s commitments, some of us unsurprisingly make the resolution to slim down or maintain a healthy weight. The simple truth is that the best solution for weight management is often a balanced diet with the right nutritionals.

Fun, easy and doable, we’ve come up with a few ideas that can help kick start a healthy and happy 2018! They may feel small at first but it won’t take long to start noticing their positive impacts.

  1. Replace Sweetened Beverages: Would you eat a stack of ten sugar cubes? Drinking sugary sodas is equivalent to eating ten or more cubes of sugar. While our daily intake of added sugar should be 24 grams for women and 32 grams for men, most Americans take in 128 grams per day. Over time, this can lead to an increased risk of diabetes and obesity. Try switching to tea or naturally flavored water for a sweet-tooth fix. If it’s fizz that you’re missing, give seltzer water with lemon a try.
  2. Incorporate Healthy Snacks: Snacking has become a big part of our eating culture, however it’s easy to reach for the unhealthy ones. Look at snacking as a way to fuel your body between meals. While chips and crackers might offer a nice crunch, they are not healthy fuel for the body. Stay satisfied by munching on low calorie and nutrient-dense foods. Need some healthy snacking inspiration? Take a peek at our favorite snacks.
  3. Keep a Food Journal: How often do you stop to think about what you’re putting into your body? Keeping a food journal increases your awareness of how much and what you’re eating. This can help you track calorie intake as well as find out what’s missing in your diet. It doesn’t need to be the traditional pen and paper method either. Smartphone apps are an easy and simple way to track calories and to stay balanced.
  4. Pack a Healthy Lunch: Avoid lunch line temptations with a healthy, balanced lunch that will save you money and unwanted calories. In fact, studies show that going out to lunch can increase your calorie intake up to 30 percent. It’s nice knowing exactly what’s going into your homemade lunch whether it’s using up leftovers or being inspired by these easy lunch recipes. By planning ahead, you can cater your lunch according to the kind of day you’re going to have. If you’re hitting the gym after work, pack a little extra carbs and protein. If you know your day is less active, pack a light salad and fruit.
  5. Start with a Balanced Breakfast: With a title of “the most important meal of the day,” breakfast is not messing around. In fact, skipping breakfast may lead to overindulging later in the day, thwarting any effort to decrease daily calories. Studies show that those who eat breakfast maintain a healthy weight better than those who don’t. Plus, you’ll feel more energized for the busy day ahead by keeping blood sugar levels stabilized with morning meals consisting of high protein and complex carbs.
  6. Meatless Monday: Let vegetables and plant-based proteins take center stage for meals! Heart-healthy and fiber-rich, veggie-classics like legumes and whole grains make Meatless Monday a day to look forward to. The best part is being a flexitarian (not a full-fledge vegetarian) can still make a positive impact when it comes to both your health and the environment.
  7. Keep Your Diet in Balance: A cookie there, a piece of cake here—it’s easy to get out of balance with our food choices. Apps like My Macros, My FitnessPal and Lose It! are great for tracking the ratio of fats and carbs as well as proteins and calories that should be consumed daily. This helps ensure that we don’t go above and beyond our carb and calorie intake, no matter how tempting those cookies might be.
  8. Increase Your Superfoods & Antioxidants: Most of us have heard the great benefits that superfoods have to offer, but may not have found a favorite way to add them to our diets. While the USDA recommends eating two cups of fruits and two and half cups of veggies a day, it can be hard to fit this into your diet. An easy way can be boosting your juice with superfood add-ins that are packed with antioxidants and nutrients.

Source: Science News. (2015, April 22). Citing BMJ.


2018 Food Trends

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Look for continued growth of these popular food products in 2018:

Powdered Peanut Butter

Just add water to this version of peanut butter that has been dehydrated of oil, thereby making it drastically lower in fat and calories.

Packet Foods

Convenience meets health food with packaged portions of products like fruits and yogurt.

Maca Powder

This small turnip-like root from the mountains of Peru is believed to give a burst of energy and is full of beneficial minerals.

Kefir and Low-Sugar Yogurts

These fermented foods contain live active cultures known as probiotics, the good bacteria that can improve digestion, reduce inflammation, enhance immunity and increase absorption of nutrients.

Ancient Grains

So-called “ancient” grains like quinoa, freekeh, millet, faro and einkorn are high in both fiber and mineral content. Create your own blends by mixing them together.


Morning Ritual for a Healthier & Slimmer 2018

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Happy 2018! It’s a brand new year—a perfect time to re-assess your priorities and set your intentions for a healthier and happier year ahead. Did you know that there is a simple and delicious way to tweak your daily routine without having to completely re-invent your lifestyle?

Starting off each morning on a healthier note matters the most. Begin each day with a simple homemade detox drink and a nutritious breakfast within the first hour of waking up. Why a morning detox drink? How you end an all-night fast first thing in the morning is critical for your health and other food decisions you make throughout the day.

As for the ingredients, nothing supports the body’s cleansing and elimination ability like water! The water and lemon combination helps your body flush out toxins, aids in digestion, supports metabolism and may make your weight loss efforts easier.

Making your own detox drink can be easy and inexpensive. Here are a few recipes to try:

Morning Detox Recipe

Recipe and image by Jennifer Caroff, Natural Chef & Health Coach


  • 1 glass Warm filtered water (12–16 oz.)
  • 2 Tbsp. Sprouts Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 Lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. Organic honey (optional)


  1. Stir well and enjoy!


  • Use a straw so your teeth are not exposed to the acid in lemon and ACV.
  • Drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
  • Within 10–15 minutes of drinking your detox blend, make sure to consume a full, balanced breakfast rich in fiber and yes, free of refined sugar and carbs. You probably have heard of the old adage, “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”. Well, this couldn’t be truer! Skipping any meals, especially breakfast, can actually sabotage weight loss efforts because your metabolism slows down while you sleep and doesn’t rev back up until you eat again.

Try out this surprisingly refreshing winter smoothie as part of a balanced breakfast or ready-to-go pre- or post-workout snack. Using raw ginger and turmeric is the perfect way to aid digestion, as well as zing and boost your immunity during colder winter months.

Turmeric Ginger Mango Immunity SmoothieTurmeric Ginger Mango Immunity Smoothie

Recipe and image by Jennifer Caroff, Natural Chef & Health Coach


  • 1 Ripe banana, peeled
  • 1/2 Mango, flesh ony (use frozen if you do not have fresh)
  • 1 cup Full-fat coconut milk (Full fat is where it’s at! It feeds your brain!)
  • 2 Tbsp. Whole flax seeds
  • 24 leaves Dino kale (remove tough stems)
  • 1 handful Parsley (ok to include stems)
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 Tbsp. Fresh turmeric root, peeled
  • 2 Medjool dates (or any kind you like)
  • 1 1/2–2 cups filtered water, vary amount for desired consistency


  1. Add ingredients to blender and process until smooth.
  2. Pour into a mason jar, grab a pretty straw and enjoy!


  • Store smoothie in an airtight mason jar to keep cool for later use. Will stay fresh in refrigerator 12 days.

About Tigisti Weldeab

Tigisti Weldeab is a healthy living expert, lifestyle strategist and founder of Bella Diva Lifestyle. Through her coaching programs and blogging, she is on a mission to show busy men and women that healthy and beautiful can be simple, fun and delicious. Ms. Weldeab holds an MBA in management and wellness coaching certifications from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram under @Belladivalife.


5 Move-More Habits for 2018

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Lady Jogging

Start Fresh in the New Year

Do you have big goals in mind for 2018? Maybe run the Route 66 Marathon (Oklahoma) … hike through the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest (Georgia) … or trek the Grand Canyon (Arizona). Often these big dreams start with the smallest of healthy habits.

Whatever your goals, we’ve come up with a list of small habits that are a synch to incorporate into your daily routine. They’ll have you moving more and feeling great!

  1. Move More: In addition to exercise, it’s important to move throughout the day. Doing this is easier than it sounds—simply take it one step at a time. By taking a flight of stairs you can burn around 10 calories versus only 1.5 waiting for the elevator. Set reminders to get up and stretch, visit a coworker’s desk rather than sending an email, or park your car far away for a few extra steps.
  2. Take Deep Breaths: Stop and take a long inhale, hold it, then slowly exhale. How do you feel? Did your shoulders drop and your mind become clearer? Deep breathing should be a part of our everyday busy and hectic lives. Taking deep breaths activates your lymphatic system, which can help to fight off colds and flus by strengthening your immune system. Not to mention, doing this is a natural and always accessible stress-relieving activity.
  3. Exercise 10–15 Minutes at a Time: Your busy schedule just lightened up! It’s recommended to exercise 43 minutes each day, but the good news is you don’t have to do it all at once. Walking, stretching and light weight lifting are great ways to break up your 43 minutes of exercise into easy 10–15 minute intervals. This can help support bone health, heart health and weight management.
  4. Get 7–8 Hours of Sleep: It may not seem like much beyond counting sheep but getting your z’s (about seven to eight hours) is super important! While you sleep, your body produces and releases hormones that fight infection, repair cells and build muscle tissue. It also has positive implications for your mental health, as lack of sleep has shown to increase risk of depression. To ensure a good night’s rest, turn off screens before bed, avoid naps and caffeine after three o’clock and stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
  5. Meditation & Yoga: Many of us strive to be thoughtful, in-the-moment people but our constant go-go-go lifestyle makes this difficult. Luckily, all you need is a few minutes to meditate. By taking a breather, you can come back to any situation refreshed and clear headed. Apps like Pause and Headspace can help guide you through some quiet time while simultaneously debunking the notion that being on your phone “takes you away from the present moment.”



Wine Pairings

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Red and White Wines and cheeseWant to know what wine would pair nicely with food and nosh for your next special occasion? Check out some of these pairing tips.

White Wines

Chardonnay (Shar-dun-NAY)

Dry. Medium-heavy body. Typically with oak (creamy, buttery, toast) and subtle flavors with aromas of apple, citrus, apricot and tropical fruit.

Pairs well with: Mild Cheese, Salmon, Scallops, Chicken, Baked Ham, Cheesecake

Sauvignon Blanc (So-veen-YOHN-Blahnk)

Dry. Light-medium body. Clean and refreshing with crisp flavors of grapefruit, lemon, passion fruit and melon.

Pairs well with: Oysters, Shrimp, Lobster, Chicken, Key Lime Pie

Pinot Grigio (Pea-no-GREE-gee-oh)

Medium body. Crispy and dry with fruit forward flavors of citrus, green apple and floral notes.

Pairs well with: White Sauces, Grilled Chicken, Lobster, Shrimp, Pork, Apple Tart

Riesling (REESE-ling)

Sweet. Light body. Traditionally sweet (off-dry) with flavors of stone fruit, melon, apple, citrus and notes of minerality.

Pairs well with: Creamy Cheeses, Spicy Dishes, Baked Ham, Grilled Pork, Melon

Moscato (MOS-cahtoh)

Sweet. Light body. Sweet flavors of apricot, peach and honeysuckle.

Pairs well with: Oysters, Shrimp, Spicy Dishes, Peach Cobbler, Sorbet


Light and bubbly.

Pairs well with: Nutty Cheeses, Oysters, Clams, Crab, Spicy Food, Milk Chocolate

Red Wines

Cabernet Sauvignon (ka-behr-NAY soh-vee-YOHN)

Dry. Heavy body. Rich flavors of blackberry, plum, black cherry and notes of earthiness.

Pairs well with: Pungent Cheeses, Grilled Steak, Roasted Lamb, Red Sauces, Dark and Bittersweet Chocolate.

Malbec (mahl-BECK)

Dry. Heavy body. Luscious cherry, black raspberry and plum notes.

Pairs well with: Smoked Turkey, Carne Asada, Pulled Pork, Dark and Bittersweet Chocolate

Zinfandel (ZIN-fan-dell)

Dry. Medium–heavy body. Spicy flavors of ripe berries, pepper and jammy fruit.

Pairs well with: Aged Cheeses, Spare Ribs, Brisket, Leg of Lamb, Pizza, Chili, Beef Stew, Chocolate Cake

Merlot (mer-LOW)

Dry. Medium body. Lush and velvety with flavors of red berries and chocolate.

Pairs well with: Aged Cheeses, Veal, Meatloaf, Hamburgers, Salmon, Red Sauces, Chocolate Mousse

Pinot Noir (PEA-no-Nwar)

Dry. Medium body. Fruity at the core with flavors of strawberry, cherry and plums.

Pairs well with: Creamy Cheeses, Roasted Pork, Smoked Sausage, Salmon, Crème Brûlée

Red Blend

Off-dry. Medium body. Can be different styles but usually have flavors of jam, blackberry and plum.

Pairs well with: Risotto, Lamb Chops, Grilled Steak, Hamburgers, Cherry Pie


Wine and Cheese Pairings

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As with any wine and food pairing, there are a number of considerations, such as texture, acidity, fat and tannin. The wine and cheese possibilities are endless, but to simplify the strategy, we give you nine noteworthy combinations (no pun intended).

1. Smoked Gouda and 7 Deadly Zins

This full-bodied Zinfandel pairs well with sharp and smoky Gouda. Gouda’s mix of salty and sweet, along with its deep nutty character, stands up well to the zin’s bold flavors.

Different types of chesse

2. Chipotle Cheddar and Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava

This fine Spanish sparkling wine has citrus and apple flavors with a clean, crisp finish. It’s a great celebratory wine that tames a zesty cheddar cheese.

3. Monteforte Blue Wedge and Montes Classic Cabernet Sauvignon

This creamy, crumbly cheese pairs well with a medium-bodied red blend. The friendliness of the tannins, combined with its spice and acidity, makes the Montes Classic Cabernet Sauvignon the best choice.

4. Jalapeño Cheddar and Apothic Red Blend or La Crema Chardonnay

“Everything is betta with chedda,” as the saying goes. This flavor-packed cheese pairs especially well with Apothic Red’s captivating blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

5. Carpa Goat Cheese Log and Starborough Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is the wine most often chosen to accompany goat cheese. Why? Because the zippy acidity in the wine matches the tanginess of the cheese. The combination of the two is fresh and invigorating.

6. President Swiss Emmental and La Marca Prosecco

Refreshing effervescence and lively fruit flavors give La Marca Prosecco a cheese-friendly profile. The Italian sparkling wine pairs well with a semi-hard, cow’s milk cheese such as Swiss.

7. Screaming Dutchman Red Wax Gouda and Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling

Riesling is a semi-sweet wine with peach and citrus undertones. Its lightness complements mild Gouda, which is creamy and easy on the palate.

8. Parmesan Reggianito and Bodega Norton Malbec Reserve

Bodega Norton Malbec Reserve characteristic spice and explosive fruit flavors hold their own when paired with Parmesan’s salty personality.

9. Pe’re Brie and Gnarly Head Pinot Noir

In general, softer cheeses go best with light-medium red wines, as the lighter flavors are more in tune with the subdued textures and buttery flavors. Pinot Noir’s robust flavors complement Brie’s buttery texture and mellow flavor.

Wine is not available in Colorado, Oklahoma or Utah. Items may vary by location.


Who Ensures Our Produce Is Up to Par?

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At 8am, the Sprouts produce warehouse in Colton, California, is buzzing. Then again, that’s when we arrived for a tour. It had actually been buzzing since about 4am.

Warehouse staff push forklifts into 18-wheelers weighed down with pallets of fruits and veggies, then pull back to put the produce into their proper storage rooms. Quality Control Clerks move from cooler to cooler inspecting each shipment for freshness, color, size, shape and taste. As they weave through the maze, they dodge a forklift shuffling 800-pound bins of watermelons and a new shipment of mangoes that didn’t make the cut. The mid-morning frenzy assures Sprouts customers will be getting the best produce in town.

Vegetables in a brown basket

It’s a side of the food industry consumers rarely see. They shop at the Sprouts Produce Department with the expectation of “farm-fresh” produce, but they seldom know where the food they buy comes from. They have a vague idea of farms in California. However, they know little about how food gets from field to plate, and the complex logistics on which the system depends.

When fresh products arrive at the warehouse, they are inspected before they enter a world of organized mayhem—filled with the honking and humming of forklifts whirling back and forth, collecting the items. Filling an order is much more than matching the items on a pallet to words on an order form.

For instance, to the untrained eye a shipment of 17,000 oval mangoes appears the same shade of half-green half-red so common to fruit just off the vine. But under the critical eye of Sprouts’ Quality Control Team, those same mangoes have pinhead-size black spotting caused by hot water treatment.

“Do they taste great? Sure,” says Sprouts’ Assistant Quality Control Manager Jeff Provost. “But customers buy produce with their eyes. It has to be aesthetically proper. It has to have curb appeal.”

Back on the truck they go. An entire load has been rejected and will be sold to some other retailer that isn’t quite so particular.

The clerks are also checking to make sure the quantity and size of the product match up with what was ordered. They uphold a strict process for traceability, which means the product’s weight, country of origin, freshness, and condition are recorded and entered into the database. Each pallet is then given a “license plate number” sticker, thus enabling the end-user to look up the origin and history of the product in a database.

The pace is fast, as the warehouse staff processes about 50–60 truckloads and moves about 1,000 pallets a day. If the product is accepted, the truck drivers get to hop back in their empty trucks and head home. If it doesn’t make the cut, the drivers pull away with heavily laden trucks and have to find someone else to buy their produce.

“I don’t want to sell anything to one of our customers that I would not serve to my own family,” says Provost.

Provost is second in charge at the Castle & Cooke Cold Storage Distribution Center, the gigantic third-party facility that helps Sprouts operate its supply chains more efficiently.

From Farm to Fork

Sprouts’ quest for the best combination of quality and value begins long before the produce arrives in the warehouse. Our team of experienced buyers seeks out premium products from trusted growers. With storage and distribution centers in Arizona, California and Texas, Sprouts is then able to bring that level of quality home to customers in quantities that guarantee the most competitive prices.

With about 80 years of combined experience in the produce industry, the four-member California Sprouts Quality Control Team knows the life cycles of produce and understands the critical nature of temperature in that process.

From the time a piece of fruit or a vegetable is harvested, a biological clock begins. It’s a clock that can be manipulated, and even slowed to a crawl, but only if the proper storage principles are maintained.

All produce has a ripening timetable that continues after it is disconnected from its nutritional lifeline. Most are picked so the ripening timing will coincide with the arrival at the shopper’s home. Others, like tomatoes on the vine, will continue ripening.

Did you know?

When picking tomatoes on the vine, look for the yellow glow on the fuzzy stem—that means they’re fresh. If you rub the stem with your fingers, you’ll feel the sap and smell a very potent aroma. The vine gives the fruit good flavor and nourishment, so keep tomatoes on your kitchen counter until they are naturally falling off the stem. At that point, you’ll know they’ve gotten all of the flavor and nutrients possible.

Climate control is critical because improper temperatures can shorten the shelf life of fruits and vegetables by days.

Visit the warehouse any time and you’ll see employees in winter overalls, beanies and fingerless gloves. Inside the warehouse, the temperatures are carefully maintained to slow the ripening process and curb (natural) ethylene gas production rates that lead to quick deterioration.

The grapes, lettuce and avocados are stored in a 34°F room with wet floors and high-humidity fans. The hearty vegetables and tropical fruits (i.e. potatoes, onions, coconuts, pineapples and mangoes) are kept in a 55°F cooler. Produce such as berries, cherries and cantaloupes lay in a 34°F room without humidity. Too much cold can be just as damaging as not enough, so tolerances are tight and constantly monitored to maintain the optimum temperature.

“We also have a daily quality check, at which point the staff creates an ‘ideal pick path.’ That means someone goes through and makes sure items nearing expiration dates are picked first,” says Quality Control Manager Neil Cullen. “They also ensure organic produce is separated from the non-organic produce to maintain the integrity, as mandated by the National Organic Program.”

“It sounds like a simple concept, but there’s organization and thoroughness involved.”

Any produce that does not pass the daily quality check, but is still fit for human consumption, gets set aside for charity. Sprouts partners with Second Harvest Food Bank, an agency that feeds 400,000 people a week in the Los Angeles area, according to Cullen. Second Harvest picks up excess or damaged fresh produce that would otherwise go to waste and distributes it to those in need. Whether it’s the fruit that is cut in half for quality checks, or a box of produce that has a few too many bumps and bruises, it’s perfectly edible, just not sellable. The organization also collects produce scraps for livestock. Sprouts receives tax benefits for its donations, but the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from doing the right thing is far more valuable.

Monitoring Quality

To evaluate fruit, the Quality Control Managers use five very valuable tools: Their senses. They look for bruising, listen for hollow sounds, feel for firmness, smell for sweetness and taste for deliciousness.

But when they need a sixth sense to tell how sweet a piece of fruit really is, they use a refractometer. A refractometer measures the brix (or percentage of soluble solids, or sugar) of the fruit, primarily citrus, apples, grapes, melons, stone fruits and strawberries. To measure the brix, our Quality Control gurus will cut a piece of fruit and then squeeze some juice from the fruit onto the open refractometer. They will then close it, and look into the eyepiece (kind of like a kaleidoscope) to see what degree of sugar is measured.

When they want an exact measurement to tell how firm or ripe a piece of fruit really is, they use a penetrometer. To use this tool, they scrape off a small piece of skin on each side of the fruit to expose the flesh. Then, they puncture the fruit and take the reading. Though the USDA has not yet created pressure requirements for every item, there is a chart that dictates acceptable readings for harvest, shipment and consumption.

We Don’t Dictate What You Eat

Walking through the produce warehouse is an eye-opening—and sinus-opening—experience. The vibrant red, green, and orange hues pop out from the large stacks of boxes. The smells of aromatic ginger root, basil, and Meyer lemons intrigue your inner foodie.

The wide assortment, however, is what truly sets Sprouts apart. “We don’t dictate what people should eat and what offerings they can have,” Cullen says.

A more gourmet shopper can find specialty items such as elephant garlic, which bakes nicely and turns to butter. At the same time, a run-of-the-mill shopper can stock up on old-school boiler onions, which are anything but gourmet. Same thing goes for potatoes: Sprouts sells “why-fix-what-ain’t-broke” red potatoes alongside time-honored white potatoes and new-fangled purple potatoes (which live up to their regal color nutritionally too).

In the case of tomatoes, Sprouts carries 12–15 varieties, from slicing tomatoes to heirloom tomatoes to Campari tomatoes to baby super sweet tomatoes. The Cherub tomatoes are one of the highest volume products in our stores. “We negotiate better pricing than a lot of our competitors, and pass that saving onto the shopper,” Cullen says.

The Best the World Has to Offer

The premise of our business is, and has always been, value to the customer. Our Produce Buyers source the best-quality produce at the best price available, whether it is conventional or organic, domestic or international.

Our “farmers market” reputation comes from our long-term relationships with local growers and vendors, coupled with our ability to sell fresh produce at great prices. Thanks to our international partners, fruits and veggies that were once strictly seasonal are now available year-round.

For example, early in the spring, Sprouts opts for imported grapes. “Domestic grapes at that time of year would taste like battery acid,” Cullen jokes. “But now, well into the summer, the California grapes are at their peak.”

Buying from international vendors also means we can bring in unique items such as Brazilian-grown strawberry papayas and Chilean kiwifruit in the summer.

In today’s marketplace, food safety verification and confidence are critical, especially for those imported items. Shoppers can look for Primus Labs third-party certification clearly labeled on imported produce cartons, which guarantee the highest standards of quality and sanitation.

“Our shoppers know that any imported produce with Primus Labs certification comes from a state-of-the-art facility that exceeds the sanitary standards of most domestic facilities,” Cullen says. “Hair nets, shoe booties, lab coats, and even foot baths are required to ensure a germ-free facility.”

We go to great lengths to guarantee that the quality is there every step of the way, even when we’re sourcing our products from around the corner or around the globe. We are proud of the processes, safeguards and quality-control protocols we have in place.