5 Tips for Getting Children Excited About Veggies

Though their bodies may be small, it’s no secret that children come with large personalities and big opinions. Those opinions can be especially strong when it comes to vegetables. Some kids can’t get enough, and others can’t get far enough away.

So, how do you help growing children not just eat but also enjoy their vegetables? There’s no secret formula, and at the end of the day, kids will be kids. But, there are things you can do to help children add healthy veggies to their diet, grow an appreciation for where their food comes from, and become more willing to try new foods each day.

(As always, we highly recommend onions.)

Learn Where Vegetables Come From

You can spark a child’s interest in vegetables by exploring how those beautiful veggies got onto their plate in the first place. Though you may have bought your produce at the grocery store, that isn’t where it came from. Here are a few ideas:

  • Visit a local farmer, and tour their fields
  • Take a trip to your nearest farmer’s market and chat with the sellers about how they grow their produce
  • Plant a garden with your children. Eating something you have grown together makes the food more exciting.
  • Don’t have room for a garden? Try growing herbs or a small vegetable plant in a window sill or planter box.

Make New Foods Fun

Children love routines, so trying new things can feel daunting and even a bit scary. Make trying new foods an exciting, fun and low-pressure experience. Consider using a few of these strategies:

  • Each time you go to the store, let your child pick one new vegetable to investigate. Plan several ways to prepare it.
  • Select a “new food of the week” that the whole family tries each day.
  • Conduct fun science experiments with healthy foods along with eating them. 
  • Make a “rainbow meal” using vegetables in every color of the rainbow.
  • Explore which vegetables can be delicious additions to smoothies, jellos, jellies, and more.

Delight Them with Dips

A dip can be a great way to encourage snacking on vegetables. Kids love to dip things in sauces, and the flavors of a dip can hide or mellow out the unfamiliar flavors in a new veggie. But, encourage your child to try a variety of dips and sauces. Ranch addiction is real, especially in young people. Introduce other low fat dressings, homemade vinaigrettes, and fun sauces like melted cheese fondue.

Prepare Things Together

There is more than one way to eat a vegetable. Make it a game to see how many different preparations for a veggie you can come up with, and then cook, roast, grill, puree, and chop together with your children. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Use vegetables to make your own stock for soup.
  • Substitute vegetables like zucchini for noodles in pasta or lasagna dishes.
  • Finely chop vegetables to add to breads and pizza crusts.
  • Blend veggies into a smoothie, or juice them in a juicer.
  • Cook up a vegetable omelette.
  • Get creative with your favorite casserole.
  • Experiment with savory oatmeal.

Include Children in Meal Planning

The most important part of teaching children to love vegetables is letting them choose whether or not they will. Create a safe place for children to like what they like and dislike what they dislike. By making it ok not to like something when they try it, your kids will be more likely to keep on trying. If they try, they are bound to find something they enjoy.

Remember, children’s palates are still developing. Try mild flavors like carrots, tomatoes, and lettuce for younger eaters and slowly work your way up to stronger flavors. Include children in your meal planning, and respect their feedback.

Ready to try onions grown “The Gills Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more

Nature’s Ninja: How Onions Are Nature’s Most Powerful Vegetable

The age old saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” We can’t speak for the apple, but we certainly can put in a good word for the onion. 

An onion a day is the perfect way to add a flavorful and nutritious boost to the foods you eat every day. At Gills Onions, we salute the noble onion as nature’s ninja — a hardy, adaptable, and sustainable product that tastes great, too!

What Onions and Ninjas Have in Common

When the National Onion Association introduced the Nature’s Ninja mascot, it was easy to see why ancient martial arts and one of the world’s most ancient foods go together.

Onions are masters of disguise, built to survive even the harshest of elements. From the outside, an onion can seem unassuming, but it packs a powerful punch ready to defeat disease. The hard outer skin and pungent juices of the onion push back bacteria and bugs. Like a ninja, onions are one of the stealthiest food choices. You can easily “sneak” onions into a variety of meals and in a variety of forms. Sliced, diced, pickled, or pureed, onions are always delicious. 

And don’t forget about onions’ staying power. They are one of the most sustainable food choices, used for everything from electric power to animal feed to cleaning your BBQ grill. But one of the best things about the onion — its most powerful skill — is its ability to promote good physical health. 

Onions Are Always a Healthy Choice

Onions are low in sodium, low in calories, and fat free. They contain high amounts of essential nutrients including: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Dietary fiber
  • Folic acid
  • Calcium
  • Iron

Their benefits range from acting as a salve to treating insect stings to being one of the key ingredients in cough syrups. Onions also contain powerful antioxidants that delay oxidative damage in human cells and tissues. These antioxidants also eliminate free radicals in your body and deactivate the harmful effects of chelate metal ions. 

Studies show that onions may reduce the risk of certain diseases including cancer, gastric ulcers, heart disease, cataracts, and osteoporosis. Results from a 2019 Chinese study showed that eating onions could reduce cases of colorectal cancer by 79% when individuals consume 35 pounds of onions (or other allium vegetables like garlic, leeks, and scallions) each year. That may sound like a lot, but currently, the average American consumes about 22 pounds of onions annually. So, there’s not much farther to go. Another study conducted in Puerto Rico found that consuming onions and garlic reduced the risk of breast cancer. 

The University of Wisconsin and University of Wisconsin-Madison are currently researching the use of onions as a blood thinner and platelet inhibitor. Researchers have found that pungent onions spur antiplatelet activities in the body, which could be used to fight conditions caused by platelet aggregation like cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attacks. 

The National Onion Association also reports that the organosulfur compounds responsible for the taste and smell of onions can reduce symptoms from diabetes and prevent inflammation from asthma. Including onion in your diet can even lower your cholesterol

In short, onions are always a healthy choice!

Working Together to Promote Onion Consumption

Onions are nature’s perfect vegetable. At Gills Onions and throughout the onion industry, we truly believe that statement. We’re excited to share more about how onions can elevate your health and your recipes. 

Look for the Nature’s Ninja mascot from the National Onion Association on social media, and spread the good news of good onions to your friends. 

Ready to try onions grown “The Gills Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more. 

What Makes Onions So Flavorful?

Onions. They are the king of the United Federation of Flavor — the mascot that says to cooks and eaters everywhere, “Welcome to flavor city.” They also pack a potent punch if they aren’t processed correctly (and even when they are). 

What gives these vital veggies their signature tastes and smells? And how can you get the best of their flavor? Let’s dive in.

The Secret to Flavor? Science.

Think about an onion. What does it taste like? What does it smell like? Here’s the thing: Whatever you answered, you’re probably right. 

Onions come in hundreds of varieties. They can be sweet or sour, soft or crisp, tangy or dripping with umami. The intensity of an onion’s smell and flavor also depends on its freshness. If you’ve ever picked an onion fresh out of the soil, you may have been surprised to find it didn’t have a smell. So, what is going on? 

Onions have a unique chemistry with molecules that contain a whole lot of sulphuric compounds. Sulphur is responsible for those pesky tears that pop up anytime you chop an onion, but it is also responsible for flavor and odor. The scientific name for this group of compounds is thiosulfinates. 

But here’s the really interesting thing. A fresh, raw onion doesn’t have these molecules. They form after an onion is damaged, like when you chop, slice, or dice. Cutting an onion breaks up cell structure and releases the molecules. Enzymes come into contact with the molecules and create the thiosulfinates and their characteristically strong smell, all in 30 seconds or less.

How intense the smell and flavor of your onion is depends on its variety, or cultivar, and how much sulfur was in the soil. Spring onions harvested in the early spring tend to be more mild, while storage onions harvested in the late summer and early fall tend to be more pungent.

How Does Cooking Affect Onion Flavor?

How you prepare onions will affect the flavor. Since slicing and dicing releases the odor and flavor, the more finely you chop an onion, the more flavorful it will be. On the other hand, a process like boiling an onion will break down the enzymes that spur the chemical reactions creating a less pungent flavor. 

Different levels of heat can control levels of flavor. Heat spurs a range of chemical reactions that all interact with the fundamental make-up of the onion. The longer the cooking time, the more mild and savory an onion becomes. 

Caramelizing or sauteing onions on low or moderate heat causes a reaction between the sugars and the proteins. The onions turn brown, the sugars come free, and the sulphuric compounds react over and over until the pungent flavor is gone and the sweet sugar flavor remains. 

The Gills Onions Promise

At Gills Onions, we are dedicated to creating onions that stay fresh longer and have the best flavor you can find. From the seeds we grow to the soil we grow them in to the way we slice and dice the onions, to the packaging we use to keep them safe until they arrive in your kitchen, flavor is always top of mind. 

We hope you enjoy them.

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more.

Get Ready to Fall in Love with Mirepoix

Our Gills Onions retail products are designed to save you time and work in the kitchen. That’s why we are so excited to announce a new addition to our product line: Mirepoix. 

Mirepoix is an aromatic mix of onions, carrots, and celery. Any great chef knows that Mirepoix is the base for hundreds of delicious recipes, and now home chefs like you can reap the benefits, too, without all the prep work. 

How Do I Use Mirepoix?

Mirepoix is one of the most versatile and essential vegetable blends. It’s a third onion, a third celery, and a third carrot. It can be added to or serve as a base for sauces, soups, and marinades. It makes a killer roux. It can accompany braised meats. You can toss it in a slow cooker or pressure cooker for added flavor to just about anything you’re whipping up. Oh, and it’s really tasty in casseroles.

So, why don’t more people use Mirepoix in their everyday cooking? Because it is a pain to prepare. That barrier goes away with our pre-diced, pre-mixed Mirepoix blend. 

Here are a few fun recipes that call for Mirepoix to get your creative juices flowing: 

Less Chopping, More Enjoying

During the pandemic, so many people found their passion for cooking delicious meals at home. The only thing that makes fresh, home cooked food even better is when your vegetables are prepped and ready to go. Spend less time chopping, dicing, and slicing and more time enjoying food with the ones you love. 

Oh, and don’t forget that eliminating the need to chop up all those vegetables also eliminates the chance of knife injuries in your kitchen. Definitely an added bonus.

Find Gills Onions Products in Your Local Store

While you’re grabbing some delicious Mirepoix off the shelf, check out our other fabulous retail products (all now with new resealable film!): 

  • Diced Yellow Onions – Use to spice up any recipe that calls for chopped or diced onions. 
  • Diced Red Onions – Add something extra to soups, chilis, and sauces, or use as a colorful condiment. 
  • Diced Celery and Onions – The perfect blend for potato salads, tuna salads, and holiday stuffings and casseroles. 
  • Diced Pickled Onions — A tasty, tangy addition to salads, burgers, sandwiches, and cooked dishes. 

So, get out there, and take our new Mirepoix (and maybe a few more tasty pre-prepped products from above) for a test drive. We can’t wait to hear what you think!

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more.

Why Does Cutting Onions Make You Cry?

Who hasn’t been brought to tears by onions? We certainly have — but that’s because we love them so darn much. For many other people, it’s because they decided to cut one open. And, for just as many people, the reason why cutting into that sweet, sweet onion sets the waterworks flowing is a mystery. 

Let us solve it for you. 

It’s Not an Emotional Reaction — It’s a Chemical One

Let’s start by reviewing a little onion anatomy. At the end of the day (and at the beginning as well…and really through the entire day, actually) an onion is a bulb. It grows under the ground. You know what else hangs out under the ground? Little critters who love to nibble on bulbs, like voles, moles, and groundhogs, oh my!

So, onions have a defense mechanism to protect them from all those unwanted nibbles. Enter chemical reactions. 

When the skin of an onion breaks, whether from a nibble or your favorite kitchen knife, it begins to release a combination of enzymes and sulfenic acid. When these two compounds come together, they create an extremely irritating gas called propanethial S-oxide. When this gas is released, it evaporates quickly and finds its way to — you guessed it — your eyes. When it hits the water that covers the surface of your eyes, it turns into sulfuric acid.

Now, here’s the thing. Just like the onions have a defense mechanism to keep them safe, so do your eyes. When the nerves in your eyes detect the sulfuric acid, they know they need to flush it out. Cue the tears. 

So, What’s an Onion Lover to Do? 

There are a lot of different ways that people say you can help yourself out in the onions and tears department. How effective these strategies are depends a lot on your own genetics, on the onion you’re cutting, and the universe in general. 

  • Put a barrier between you and that nasty onions gas by slicing onions under clear plastic or glass. 
  • Cut onions under a vent or fan to help disperse the gases away from your eyes. 
  • Freeze the onion before cutting it. 
  • Cut the onion under the water. 
  • Wear goggles. 
  • Cook the onion, then slice it. Cooking deactivates the enzymes.
  • Rinse your eyes after cutting to help flush out the sulfuric acid. 
  • Use a cold compress or even cucumber on your eyes to reduce the irritation after cutting (another vegetable to the rescue!).
  • Try clearing your eyes with some eye drops. 

The only sure fire way to not cry when cutting onions is to not cut them in the first place. 

Let Us Cut Your Onions for You

If you’re still chopping onions, it’s a crying shame! Why not let Gills Onions do the hard work for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a chef whipping up your signature dish or a home cook experimenting with a new recipe. Our sliced and diced, ready-to-use, value-added products save time — and tears — while delivering the best onion flavor there is. 

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more.

Preparing a Generation for Sustainable Ag: How to Talk to Your Children

At Gills Onions, so much of what we do and how we do it is because we are thinking about future generations. We employ sustainable farming practices and strive to minimize our impact on the environment. But we realize that some of the most important work for the rising generation is done by parents in their homes. 

Talking to children about where their food and clothing comes from and the importance of sustainable agriculture is essential. When a child appreciates the role of agriculture in their everyday life, they are more conscientious about their own impact on our earth and want to share what they’ve learned with others. That is the basis of true change. 

How do you talk to your children about agriculture and sustainability? How can you help them gain an appreciation and respect for this essential industry? Here are a few ideas. 

Do You Know Where Your Food Comes From?

Behind every piece of food you eat is a farmer. Farmers are also responsible for many of the clothes you wear, the carpets you walk on, the bedding you sleep with, and even the bandages you use when you’re injured. Agriculture keeps us alive, but farmers are one of the most forgotten groups of essential workers in our country. 

Starting a conversation on this important topic is simple. You may try asking your children, “Do you know where your food comes from?” or “We bought this onion at the store, but do you know where it came from before that?” 

Remember that a simple explanation is always best. Allow your children to lead the conversation and ask questions. Be honest and open, and if you don’t know the answer, say, “Let’s learn about it together.”

Fun Ideas for Learning About Agriculture

If you think agriculture is boring, think again! There are so many fun activities you can do with your children to learn more about farming, sustainability, and caring for our earth’s precious resources. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Go to the library and check out books about farming and agriculture. 
  • Look up your child’s favorite fruit or vegetable online and learn about how it grows and how it is harvested and brought from the farm to your table. 
  • Grow your own garden. You can even begin with a single potted plant in your windowsill. Teach children the basics of growing. 
  • Visit a local farm and learn firsthand from a real life farmer. 
  • Spend time on YouTube watching videos on growing and harvest crops (we use some pretty cool heavy machinery). You can even take virtual farm tours.
  • Conduct farming experiments. Expose plants to different nutrients and stimuli and observe how they react. 
  • Join a local farming co-op to try new vegetables directly from local farmers. 
  • Have children help plan family meals and shop for ingredients. 
  • Visit a farmer’s market and talk to the farmers about their goods. 
  • Visit a local pick-your-own fruits and vegetables farm. 

Healthy Habits Start with Food Appreciation

Obesity now affects 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the US. Part of encouraging children to develop a healthy relationship with food is being grateful for the food we eat. As children are exposed to a variety of fresh foods and are excited about trying new fruits and vegetables, they will develop healthy habits and positive associations with what they eat. 

And, as children think about caring and nurturing for the plants and animals that feed us, they will also think about sustainable ways to care for our planet and preserve it for their own children. 
We’re excited to partner with you as you delve into the exciting world of agriculture. Visit our blog for more ideas and information, and start by getting to know our farmers, Steve and David Gill.

The Undeniable Connection Between Soil and Your Health

If there is one thing that the past year has taught us, it is that our health is precious. At Gills Onions, we are dedicated to promoting healthy living. We do that by employing sustainable business processes for a healthy planet, growing vegetables that promote physical health, and using responsible agricultural practices for healthy soil. 

Why do we put so much time and effort into caring for dirt? Because soil health and human health are connected.

How Soil Affects Your Health

Soil can affect our health in many ways. Some are good, and some are bad. Some are clear and direct, while others aren’t as obvious. 

Let’s look at the good first. Soil is the source of elements that are essential for human health. According to the European Journal of Soil Science, “Hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, sulphur, and chlorine make up 99.9% of the atoms in the human body, with all but hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon having soil as their major source.” Does that mean you should go out and eat a handful of dirt? Absolutely not. The nutrients from the dirt are transferred to the plants and animals that are responsible for our diets every day. 

But what happens if the soil isn’t healthy? Some soil, either naturally or through human intervention, can contain imbalanced or even toxic levels of elements or chemical compounds that follow those same pathways of transfer into our diet and into our bodies — all without us even realizing it. 

Microbes: Small but Strong

The soil microbiome is the world’s most hopping community that you’ve never heard about. The topmost layer of the soil where plants put down their roots is humming with interactions between microscopic organisms like viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and algae. This underground exchange is responsible for healthy plants — which are responsible for healthy animals and humans — by, as Agriculture.com describes, “promoting germination, stimulating roots, accelerating growth, and bolstering resistance to disease.” It’s good stuff. 

Soil microbes have a huge impact on the nutritional health of our food, but our diet and the dirt that we come in contact with every day can also affect our own microbiome. That’s right. Human beings host a thriving community of microbes, too. The Atlantic reports that, “The normal microbial make-up of a healthy human, a collection of bacteria, fungi, one-celled archaea, and viruses … weighs about three pounds — the same as our brain.”

We need microbes for healthy food and healthy bodies, but unfortunately, our society has unknowingly destroyed many of the vital microbes in our soil by overusing chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides and by over-tilling. Fortunately, advances in technology allow us to repair the damage through conscious and regenerative farming practices that repair damaged soil and restore healthy microbial communities. 

Caring for You Through Our Soil 

We grow our onions “The Gill Way,” a process that ensures we maintain soil health and promote sustainable agriculture. We know that everything that happens to our soil, happens to our onions — and that means it happens to every person who eats our onions, too. 

We use soil science to understand the composition and microbiology of the soil and how it will interact with plant biology. Our onions and our fields work together to make each other stronger and healthier. Growers boost soil health with a balanced blend of macro- and micronutrients that work together with carbon and organic materials to create an environment that makes microbes happy and aid in water absorption.

Healthy soil helps our onions grow larger, more aggressive root mass. Better roots mean the plants are more productive and better able to fight against harsh weather, insects, and disease. So, our growers can use fewer chemicals. 

You may look out your window and just see dirt, but we see a vital resource. Only 30% of our planet is land, and of that land, only 11% is used in crop production. By caring for our soil, we know we are caring for you, our customers, and that’s just how it should be. 

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more. 

Fighting Food Deserts with Value-Added Produce

The world population is projected to reach 10 billion by 2050. That’s a lot of hungry people to feed. And today, we aren’t succeeding. An estimated 815 million people around the globe are suffering from hunger. In order to feed the world’s growing population, agricultural production will need to increase by 60% over the next 30 years. 

But having food available isn’t enough. We need to be able to get that fresh produce to the people who need it. Currently, about 23.5 million Americans live in food deserts — locations where access to affordable, healthy food is difficult because grocery stores are too far away. Nearly half of those people are also low-income, and scarcity of product drives up the price. 

How do we end food deserts and feed our nation? Value-added products are an essential part of the strategy.

What Is a Food Desert?

Food deserts can sound like an unbelievable thing. How is it possible that in a modern world with so many items at our fingertips, families don’t have access to fresh, healthy foods? It’s a more common problem than you think. For example, 2.3 million people in the US live in rural areas that are more than 10 miles from a grocery store

Urban areas aren’t exempt, either. Grocery chains typically don’t build stores in poor neighborhoods, and lower income households are less likely to own cars. Lack of transportation makes shopping more than a few blocks away nearly impossible, so families make do with what’s easily accessed — corner stores that sell processed items and fast food restaurants.

Without easy access to fresh foods, people are more likely to make unhealthy choices and eat an unbalanced diet. This leads to health problems like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. In Chicago, the death rate from diabetes in a food desert is twice as high as areas with easy access to larger stores with affordable produce.

Value-Added Produce Can Make Real Change

Value-added products are just that — products that add value beyond traditional options. In the world of fresh produce, value-added products are designed to save consumers time, make foods more readily available, and be attractive to retailers with easy store packaging. 

For example, a gas station or corner store may not have the facilities or floor space to stock and sell individual or bulk apples, but pre-sliced apples in individual bags and containers can be a more efficient option. The apples haven’t lost any of their nutritional value by being pre-sliced and packaged, but they are easier for the retailer to sell and easier for buyers to consume. Busy people don’t have to stop to slice and prep their apples. Instead, they grab and go. 

Gills Onions: Experts at Value-Added

At Gills Onions, we are proud to contribute these value-added products to the marketplace:

  • Diced Yellow Onions
  • Diced Red Onions
  • Diced Celery and Onions
  • Diced Mirepoix (a mix of onions, carrots, and celery)
  • Diced Pickled Onions

We pack our retail products in 8 to 10  oz., BPA-free, recyclable clear cups with reusable lids. Our packaging locks in freshness and is easy for retailers to store and display. It’s also easy for buyers to transport to their homes. 

When you’re ready to prepare your meal, there’s no need to wash and chop vegetables. Instead, fresh, healthy food is at your fingertips. We currently serve retail grocers throughout the state of California. As we extend our reach nationwide, we hope to share our best-in-the-industry produce with more and more people, working to eliminate food deserts and bring fresh vegetables to every table.

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 

Are You Ready to Air Fry?

The COVID-19 pandemic created more time spent at home and more time spent in the kitchen. As many families grew tired of their go-to recipes, they began to expand their horizons to new foods and new methods of preparation. The star of the show? Air frying. 

“How to air fry …” was a top Google search in 2020 and continues to be high on the charts into 2021. The term has over 1 million hashtags, and social media can’t get enough of fryer hacks and fryer friendly foods. Air frying is even a clever — and tasty — way to prepare vegetables (like onions!). If you haven’t joined the air frying revolution, here’s what you need to know.

The mechanics of air frying

The first thing you need to know about air fryers is that they don’t actually fry things. Unlike deep fryers that cook food in hot oil, an air fryer cooks food with very hot air. Once you place your food in the frying basket, the machine blows hot air to create a convection cooking effect that browns the food. The crunchy texture is similar to what you would achieve by deep frying.

Cutting the oil out of the process makes it a slightly healthier —and much easier — way to prepare food. 

What can you air fry?

Unlike a deep fryer, you can’t cook foods that you have dipped in a thick liquid batter in an air fryer. Remember, it’s a great way to cook but isn’t really frying. Breaded and dry-seasoned items turn out best after an air frying treatment. Air fryers are also great for reheating previously fried foods. No more soggy microwave-reheated pizza, fries, or chicken tenders. 

Now, let’s talk about vegetables. You can fry virtually any vegetable in an air fryer. Air fried vegetables are warm, crispy, and delicious. Experimenting with spices and seasonings can make eating vegetables fun again. And you know what veggie cooks especially well? Onions!

Onions are a versatile vegetable. In an air fryer, they can be french fried, sautéed, or turned into onion rings. Don’t forget one of the world’s favorite and most beautiful fried onion dishes: the blooming onion

Are you ready to air fry?

So, should you be the next one in line to buy an air fryer? That’s up to you. If you’re interested in experimenting with new ways to prepare your foods, a healthier alternative to traditional deep frying, or just a convenient way to cook your vegetables, an air fryer may be the perfect choice for you. 

Will it air fry? There’s one way to find out. (And remember, with onions, the answer is yes!)

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 

Farmers: The Pandemic’s Unsung Heroes

The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked world economies and impacted every aspect of our lives. The agriculture industry is no exception. And yet, despite unprecedented challenges, we did not — and could not — stop farming. 

At Gills Onions, we recognize and celebrate the sacrifices and contributions of our farmers and our employees. The farmers cultivating onions in the fields, the production team in our processing plants, the truck drivers that transport products, the accountants that make sure the paychecks arrive on time — these too often unsung heroes represent a segment of essential workers that make sure Americans have food to put on the table. 

Why Agriculture Is Essential 

Agriculture is one of the most essential industries in the world. Without it, humans couldn’t survive. And still, we often forget how important agriculture is and how massive an impact the farmers and workers in the agriculture industry have on our daily lives. 

It starts, of course, with the food we eat. Everything you purchase from the grocery store — fruits, vegetables, meat, tofu, spices — is readily available because a farmer gets up every day and does their job. You can take a short drive or walk to the store and get everything you need to make dinner tonight because a trucker transported those foods across thousands of miles to you. It’s so easy to get good food that it’s easy to forget the hard work behind it. 

But agriculture extends far past the foods you eat. Many of the clothes you wear, the carpets and rugs you walk on, the blankets on your bed, and even the bandages you use when you are injured originate with ag.

Agriculture is an essential part of the world economy. About 70% of people rely directly on some form of agriculture for their livelihood, and agriculture is the main source of income for many developing countries. Major exports like spices, sugar, rice, and coffee fuel international trade. 

Long story short, agriculture is about as essential as it gets. 

How COVID-19 Has Affected Ag 

The COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges for farmers all over the world and added to a series of already difficult years. Natural disasters and historically poor planting conditions put farm workers in a tight spot as they started down a global crisis unlike any we have seen this generation. 

With shut downs and closures in the commercial food sector and disruption in distribution and production, the balance of supply and demand became a rollercoaster ride. Some regions experienced short-term, localized shortages while others were left with excess supply and waste.

But farmers kept farming. Ag workers kept working. And everyone benefited from their sacrifices. With coronavirus still looming large, no one can predict what adaptations will be necessary in the months to come, but we know our industry will do what it takes to weather the storm. 

Thank You, Agriculture Heroes

At Gills Onions, our employees are the heart of our company. That’s why the health and safety of our employees is our top priority, now more than ever before. 

We are doing everything we can to take care of our employees so that we can continue to provide the best value-add onion products in the nation. We’re providing our workforce with personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential supplies while increasing social distancing. Every employee is entitled to get treatment and testing for COVID-19 without any risk of losing employment, and we provide up to 80 hours of compensation for COVID-related absences. 

What can you do to help? Start by supporting local ag. Consider joining a community farm co-op, visiting the farmer’s market, and shopping local whenever possible. Get take-out from the restaurants in your neighborhood. When you see an ag worker, say thank you. 

And, the next time you eat an onion, think of all of us here at Gills Onions. We’ll be thinking of you. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 

What is Keto, and Is It Right for You?

Here at Gills Onions, we know the importance of maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle. For us, onions are a superfood and make a great addition to any diet plan.

One diet that has been growing in popularity over the past few years is the ketogenic diet. While several food groups are restricted or off-limits with this diet plan, onions are definitely on the table. Let’s take a quick look at the ketogenic lifestyle, what it entails, and its various pros and cons. 

BEFORE MAKING CHANGES TO YOUR DIET, PLEASE CONSULT A DOCTOR AND/OR A REGISTERED DIETICIAN

Origin: What is Keto?

The ketogenic diet first originated in the early 20th century as a way to help children suffering from epilepsy. Today, the ketogenic diet, Keto for short, has exploded as one of the most popular ways to lose weight. Practicing Keto involves limiting carbs to five percent of your caloric intake and increasing fat to seventy-five percent and protein to twenty percent. This combination, when followed for an extended period of time, triggers ketosis in the body. 

Benefits

By entering a state of ketosis, your body will begin to burn fat, rather than carbohydrates, which can lead to weight loss. People who follow Keto report feeling less hungry in comparison to other restrictive diets, because fat typically takes longer to break down.

Drawbacks

Keto is not a “quick fix” diet by any means. In order to see sustained weight loss, it can take weeks for your body to actually enter ketosis. People following this plan must then continue to adhere to the strict 75/20/5 ratios of fat, protein, and carbs. By limiting so many foods, participants often experience burnout after a while. 

Following this diet for long periods of time can also result in a variety of health issues including nutrient deficiencies, constipation, kidney problems, and the development of eating disorders. 

Should You Consider Keto?

The ketogenic lifestyle is not for everyone. Some people have success losing weight with this diet long term, while others report gaining any lost weight back after stopping Keto. You should consult your doctor before trying Keto, especially if you have any underlying health issues or pre-existing conditions. 

Is It Sustainable?

For most, Keto is not a sustainable diet long-term. However, the practice of monitoring your carbohydrate intake can be a helpful tool in regulating glucose levels over time. 

Tips for Dining At a Restaurant or While Travelling 

If you decide to try Keto, sticking to a restrictive diet can be tricky when you’re at a restaurant or on the go. Some common tricks and tips include:

  • Customize your side dishes at a restaurant to include only low-carb vegetables like onions, mushrooms, and broccoli
  • Request a cheese and nut platter when on airplanes to curb your hunger
  • Substitute dessert for unsweetened coffee or tea with heavy cream
  • Bring a variety of your favorite nuts to snack on during road trips or hotel stays

What Area of the Grocery Store to Shop In

Stick to the external aisles in the grocery store when following a Keto diet. You’ll notice you can find almost everything you need in fresh produce, meats, and dairy products, but be sure to take a special trip down the nuts/seeds and oils aisles.

Common Food Alternatives

  • Cauliflower rice and pizza crust 
  • Zucchini noodles
  • Sugar-free tomato sauce
  • Bell pepper halves or avocado halves as sandwich “buns”

Recipes

Baked Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

  • Beat 1 to 2 eggs
  • Blend almonds and spices in a food processor to create a “flour” 
  • Cover cauliflower pieces with egg and “flour” and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes
  • Mix baked cauliflower with prepared buffalo sauce until coated
  • Enjoy with blue cheese or ranch dressing, and a side of sliced carrots and celery

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bombs

  • Combine a block of cream cheese, 1½ cups unsweetened peanut butter, 1 cup coconut flour, ¼ cup Keto brown sugar substitute, and a dash of vanilla extract and salt in a bowl
  • Form the mixture into balls and freeze for one hour
  • Melt Keto-friendly dark chocolate with coconut oil, drizzle over formed balls, then freeze for another 10 minutes
  • Devour!

If you decide to try out the ketogenic diet, be sure to include plenty of Gills Onions in your meals. Onions are packed with nutrients, are low carb, and add delicious flavor.

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department

Need a New Year’s Resolution? Try These Wellness Challenges

As the new year rolls around, it’s in our nature to assess what we’ve accomplished and make goals for the future. For many, including our staff here at Gills, that means making resolutions around healthy diet and exercise. 

If you’re looking for a reset button this January, you might want to try out Whole30 or the 75 Hard challenge. Both allow for plenty of onion-filled recipes, which we love.

BEFORE MAKING CHANGES TO YOUR DIET, PLEASE CONSULT A DOCTOR AND/OR A REGISTERED DIETICIAN

Origin

Whole30 was introduced in 2009 by sports nutritionists Melissa and Dallas Hartwig to decrease inflammation. Similar to the Paleo diet, Whole30 is low carb and low sugar, and eliminates dairy, alcohol, legumes, and processed additives. Participants follow these strict guidelines for 30 days straight and then slowly reintroduce off-limits foods one by one. 

75 Hard was created in 2019 by podcaster Andy Frisella as a way to get in shape and challenge himself. As lockdowns and quarantine became the norm in 2020, this trend went viral on TikTok. The 75 Hard challenge is less about diet, and more about “building mental toughness.” For 75 days, participants follow any diet of their choosing (no alcohol), drink a gallon of water a day, workout twice a day, take a progress picture, and read 10 pages of nonfiction per day.

Benefits

Giving a diet or wellness challenge a specified period of time often makes participants feel empowered to work toward their goals. 

Participants of Whole30 report feeling more energized, losing weight, and discovering food sensitivities. 

People who try 75 Hard benefit from more regular exercise, hydration, and building positive habits. 

Drawbacks

Because Whole30 is so restrictive, it can lead to disordered eating behaviors like bingeing and certain nutrient deficiencies over time. 

With 75 Hard, a huge emphasis is placed on physical appearance, which can be mentally harmful and lead to unhealthy behaviors like under-eating and over exercising.

Should You Consider a Wellness Challenge?

If you’re someone who loves the thrill of pushing yourself to see results, these challenges could be right for you. 

Is It Sustainable?

Because both of these challenges are for specific time frames, neither one is sustainable long-term. However, the goal for Whole30 and 75 Hard participants is to develop lifelong habits like regular exercise, eating more fruits and vegetables (like onions!), and practicing self-care.

Tips for Dining At a Restaurant or While Travelling

Whole30: If you plan on eating out during a Whole30 challenge, find food items that fit the program like lean protein, leafy greens, potatoes, and seafood. Keep Whole30-friendly snacks like mixed nuts on-hand just in case.

75 Hard: While travelling on 75 Hard, the most important thing to keep in mind is making time for your 90 minutes of exercise. You may need to wake up early or stay up a little later in order to stay on track.

What Area of the Grocery Store to Shop In

During Whole30 you’ll want to avoid the center-aisles of the grocery store (alcohol, sweets, grains, etc.) as much as possible. Stick to the outside aisles for staples like fresh produce, meat, and eggs. 

Common Food Alternatives

It’s important to get creative on Whole30 to avoid early burnout. Here are a few suggestions to try in place of off-limit foods.

  • Almond milk instead of regular milk
  • Nutritional yeast instead of cheese
  • Potatoes instead of rice
  • Poke instead of sushi

Recipes

Sweet Potato Hash

This dish works great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Start by peeling, cubing, and baking 1 or 2 sweet potatoes at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Next, scramble some eggs in a skillet and add fresh vegetables like peppers and diced onions. Combine your scramble with the sweet potatoes in a bowl and top with avocado, sesame seeds, and a little hot sauce.

Almond Butter Berry Smoothie

Since dessert choices are limited on Whole30, try a smoothie to satisfy your sweet tooth. All you need are frozen berries, your non-dairy/non-soy milk of choice, and a tablespoon or two of almond butter. Throw in some spinach or chia seeds too for added nutritional value.

If you decide to try Whole30 or the 75 Hard challenge, remember to eat plenty of nutrient-dense foods like onions to keep your body healthy and happy. And don’t get too hard on yourself if you don’t make it the full 30 or 75 days. You’re a winner in our book just for trying!

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department