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

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.

We Love Our New Resealable Film (You Should, Too!)

Innovation is the name of the game at Gills Onions. We’re always looking for new and improved ways to grow our onions, serve our customers, and take care of our planet. That’s why we are so excited to announce our new resealable film for our retail line. 

Now, it may not sound that exciting. You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal about some film?” 

Well, first off all, it’s resealable film. You can’t forget about the resealable part. Second, it’s a very big deal. Here’s why you should be just as excited about the new resealable film on Gills Onions retail product as we are. 

It’s Eco-Friendly

Doing right by the environment and minimizing waste are two of the most important parts of what we do at Gills Onions. We want to leave a big, beautiful, healthy earth behind for future generations. Every element of our business — down to the packaging we use for our products — affects our planet. 

In order for our retail products to stay fresh, they need to breathe. Traditionally, we place a breathable film onto each cup of product with a heat seal. Then, we put a lid on top. When you bring your veggies home, you remove the seal, take out what you need, and put the lid back on. It’s super convenient and stores well. 

But, our new resealable film brings all those benefits plus it reduces the use of plastic by 20%. You don’t need a lid anymore. You can peel back the film to remove the veggies you need and then stick it right back in place, over and over again, without losing freshness. By maintaining the breathability of the resealable film, we are able to keep the longest shelf life in the industry — 18 days. 

Resealable Film Increases Food Safety

When you go to the store and buy your vegetables, you want to know that food you bring home is safe and protected from germs and contaminants. We put forth so much effort to keep our onions and vegetables clean and healthy before they arrive at the store, and we want our customers to be confident when they see the Gills Onions name.

When our resealable film is peeled back for the first time, the seal changes colors. This makes it simple to be sure that your product hasn’t been tampered with or damaged. If the seal is clear, your food is safe. 

It’s Convenient

The retail produce market is growing, especially because of the pandemic period during which so many people found their passion for cooking delicious meals at home. The only thing that makes fresh vegetables better is when they are prepped and ready to go. That means less time spent chopping and dicing and more time enjoying delicious food with the ones you love. 

You’ll find our new resealable film on all our retail products: 

  • 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 Mirepoix – An aromatic mix of onions, carrots, and celery. Add to sauces, braised meats, and marinades. 
  • Diced Pickled Onions — A tasty, tangy addition to salads, burgers, sandwiches, and cooked dishes. 

So, get out there, and take our new resealable film 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.

Regenerative Agriculture: Helping Farmers Fight Climate Change

For almost 40 years, Gills Onions has been passionate about two things: producing the best onions on the market and exploring agriculture practices and technologies that maximize sustainability and preserve our earth for future generations. 

Every great onion starts with dirt. Healthy soil makes healthy onions. That’s why we embrace conscious farming practices that reduce our impact on the environment, pioneering a culture of eco-friendly farming in the industry. Our seed-to-package process takes into account every phase of an onion’s journey from the field to your table. But there is always more to learn about and do for our earth!

Our mission is to change the way our industry approaches farming. What if instead of simply sustaining our planet, we could regenerate it? 

Connecting Soil Health and Climate Change

Regenerative agriculture is the latest advance in conscious farming. The concept is simple: All living things and many industrial practices release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Through photosynthesis, plants pull the carbon dioxide out of the air and use it to grow, releasing clean oxygen in the process. The levels of carbon dioxide in the air are higher than ever before, but under the right conditions, plants could pull that carbon dioxide out of the air and into the soil. This would reverse the effects of climate change and restore the soil’s natural organic carbon content. Regenerative agriculture creates healthier plants, soil, and air all at the same time.

It may sound too good to be true, but the process is absolutely natural. It’s what the earth does by itself every day, but regenerative agriculture asks humans to give our planet a hand. 

Traditional agriculture practices like tilling and plowing, using fertilizers and pesticides, and repeatedly growing the same crops in the same dirt year after year slowly degrade soil and release the soil’s carbon into the air. Around the world, fields have already lost a large percentage of their original carbon content. And, up to a third of all greenhouse gas emissions come from the food industry, with nearly 80% of that number coming from agriculture

As National Geographic explains, “Regenerative farming practices like no-till cultivation, cover crops, and crop rotation keep the carbon in the soil, where it builds over time. In turn, carbon-rich organic matter feeds healthy plants.” 

International groups like The Terraton Initiative are working to help farmers all over the world embrace regenerative farming. The Terraton Initiative’s goal is to capture one trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the air and restore it to the soil through regenerative farming. The idea is that by restoring lost carbon to all 3.6 billion acres of farmland used for growing crops on the planet, about a trillion tons of carbon would be pulled out of the atmosphere — reversing the effects of climate change. 

Regenerative agriculture starts with each individual farmer, and the benefits speak for themselves. Farmers who embrace regenerative methods see carbon levels rise in their soil, creating healthier crops with more nutrients. 

Your Power as a Consumer

Why don’t farmers everywhere immediately embrace regenerative agriculture? The average farmer makes a living based on volume — how much of a product they can produce — and not based on quality or how sustainable their farming is. 

Transitioning to regenerative farming practices has a cost and the risk that yields could drop in the beginning before farmers see results. 

That’s where you, the consumer, comes into play. While groups like The Terraton Initiative incentivize farmers with carbon credits, you can support regenerative farming with your business. By purchasing products produced by farms who employ regenerative agriculture methods, you hold the supply chain accountable and show your support for conscious farming.

How do you know if your food comes from an organization that is dedicated to regenerative farming? 

Start by knowing your local farmer. Find a farm focused on sustainability in your area and look for their products. Then, do your research. Being a responsible consumer means finding out who produces the products you use every day and how they do it.  

Celebrate Earth Month With Gills Onions

We don’t have to sit around and wait for new technology or groundbreaking scientific research to change our earth for the better. We only have to decide to make it happen — and you can start today! Here are a few simple ways you can support a healthy environment:

  • Employ regenerative farming practices in your own garden 
  • Join a local CSA or purchase fresh produce from area farmers at the farmer’s market
  • Become a soil advocate
  • Start a compost pile or bin for food waste
  • Get to know your local farmer, and ask how you can support their efforts
  • Recycle and reuse
  • Buy eco-friendly household products
  • Don’t idle your car
  • Collect rainwater, and use it to water your houseplants 
  • Calculate your personal carbon footprint
  • When possible, walk or ride your bike instead of driving
  • Start your own zero waste challenge
  • Plant a tree

Remember, every step, no matter how small, is one in the right direction — toward a healthier world for all of us.

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

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. 

Lessons Learned from 2020 and Industry Predictions for 2021

When it comes to the year 2020, where do we begin? So much has happened, and so much has changed. An unprecedented world pandemic turned the entire foodservice industry on its head, but it also taught us some valuable lessons. Unexpected trends and adaptations fueled innovations that will carry through into 2021 and beyond. 

So, while we wouldn’t jump at the chance to repeat 2020 anytime soon, we are grateful to be standing strong on the other side, and we’re optimistic for the future. Here’s what we’ve seen over the past year in the food industry and what we expect to see through the rest of 2021.

Discovering the Chef Within

With quarantine measures in place, the average Joes and Janes of the world became acquainted with their kitchens. For too many people, cooking is a lost art — or a skill they never took the time to find in the first place. Being stuck at home opened up an opportunity to explore the amazing world of food by trying new recipes and new foods. Baking bread, pickling, preserving, and canning foods are more popular than they have been in decades.

Luckily for those of us at Gills Onions, the tried and true produce of the world wasn’t forgotten. After all, an onion is a healthy, flavorful, and versatile ingredient. Every time someone purchased produce to cook their next meal, they supported farmers and producers across our nation. Thanks for cooking!

Prioritizing Health and Sustainability 

With or without a pandemic, you always need to eat more veggies. That’s a sentiment that both foodservice and individual consumers took to heart over the last year. Plant-based diets continue to be on the rise with a focus on health boosting trends like CBD products, herbal pharmaceuticals, kombucha drinks, and, of course, plant-based proteins. 

We also saw greater concern for sustainability and a focus on the environment. As a society, we were able to take a step back and really think about how our personal choices affect those around us, our planet included. 

Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Gills Onions, so we are excited for the opportunity to share our mission with even more audiences. In 2021, we anticipate a trend toward more interest in where food comes from and how it is grown. By encouraging widespread use of conscious farming practices, we can all work together for a healthier planet while improving our personal health as well. 

The Evolution of Delivery 

When rising numbers of COVID-19 cases forced foodservice closures and put indoor dining on notice across the world, restaurants and grocery stores had to adapt. The shift from indoor dining to delivery, takeout, drive-thru services, and ghost kitchens allowed our industry to rise from the ashes. Even though many retail food establishments continue to struggle, delivery options have become a viable way to keep doors open. 

Before the pandemic, grocery store pick up and delivery was a trend many expected to take off. We never could have predicted how quickly these services would become essential for many Americans. 

At Gills Onions, we’ve had to adapt to the changing landscape, too. We’re committed to helping our customers as they reopen and providing them with the same great service — and great onions — as we always have. Whether you’re back to indoor dining, keeping it outdoors, or still relying on takeout and delivery, we’ll be there to save you time and money with high quality, value-added produce.

Lingering Lockdown Habits

As we look to the future, we hope that many of the good habits and attitudes developed during lockdown will carry on. Knowing where your food comes from and being conscious about what you eat is so important for physical health and for our environment. While 2020 was a difficult year, it also took us back to our roots and reminded us why food is so wonderful to begin with. 

Here’s to a new normal in 2021!

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