The sky may be gloomy, but citrus fruit–oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, grapefruits, pomelos, buddha’s hand, yuzu, and kumquats–is at its peak, bursting with color and natural sweetness. It’s the perfect time of year to engage employees with citrus!
With their natural immunity-boosting, cold and flu-fighting powers, citrus can liven up your diet right when you need it most to enhance your health. Organizing a citrus tasting in your office is a great way to engage your employees and educate them on the many health benefits of citrus.
Health Benefits of Citrus
The high fiber content of citrus fruit helps to lower cholesterol and improve digestion. They keep us feeling full and satisfied longer than less-fibrous foods, making citrus a great snack for weight loss. Citrus also helps your body absorb iron, an important nutrient for the immune system and red blood cell production. The flavonoids contained in citrus have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The high vitamin C content in citrus (one orange has about 100mg, about 130% of the recommended daily minimum) helps with collagen production, which leads to healthier skin and joints.
How The FruitGuys Engages Employees with Fruit
FruitGuys Key Accounts Manager Betty Hui is someone who needs no convincing about the positive powers of citrus, and other natural foods. Betty started offering on-site fruit tasting to high-volume clients after observing people’s behavior at health fairs and other employer-sponsored events. “People were really interested in learning more about fruit,” she says. “They had so many great questions about everything from seasonality, taste profiles, tropical fruits, and unique fruits. There was a real appetite for learning, and it seemed like a great opportunity.”
Betty first found out about The FruitGuys when the office she worked for provided fruit and later came to work for us as an events manager, then a retention specialist. When she’s not at her day job, Betty and her husband Dick raise lambs, chickens, and all kinds of produce on their Bear Track Farm in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills. As a farmer, Betty has unique insights into how food grows and the journey it takes to get from farm to office break room. “I think people enjoy hearing the whole story, from the growing process to what they’re getting in their weekly box,” she explains.
Recently Betty hosted a series of Lunar New Year citrus tastings. Citrus season is at its peak when the holiday begins in late January or February each year (based on the when the new moon appears). Colorful citrus fruit-filled bowls gave groups of co-workers the opportunity to taste a variety of delicious and distinctive fruits, and to learn about their unique history, significance, and symbolism.
Betty finds group tasting events are a great opportunity for employee engagement. “There’s nothing to compare to the experience of one-on-one, people exchanging stories and questions,” she says. “I think it’s partly because food is such a personal subject, and a passionate one, for many people.”
How to Plan a Citrus Tasting in Your Office
Betty has four tips on how to engage employees with citrus by hosting a fruit tasting event at your workplace:
- Keep it simple. “I tell people, focus on a few fruits that you want to learn about,” Hui says. “You don’t need to get complicated, or take on more than you can explain.” She recommends choosing 3-4 fruits that are in peak season. For example, you might choose from cara cara oranges, blood oranges, pink grapefruit, tangerines, or mandarins and lemons. Mix things up in terms of size, textures, and sour and sweet tastes, to give a better sense of the citrus spectrum.
- Divide and conquer. Involve some colleagues and assign each person to a specific citrus variety, asking them to prepare some background and nutritional info. The FruitGuys has a robust Produce Glossary to get you started, as well as these citrus-specific articles: The Difference Between Navel and Valencia Oranges; The Health Benefits of Citrus; and Why Are Some Oranges Green?
- Plan ahead. Once you’ve got a date in mind for your event, Betty suggests researching which Citrus is in peak season, or local to you. Call your FruitGuys sales rep or customer service to find out what citrus will be in peak season, and to order fruit. You’ll want to give co-workers a few weeks’ notice so you can prepare and to promote the event internally. Build anticipation by sharing some tidbits or fun facts about the different fruits you’ll be presenting as the date gets closer.
- Have fun! A citrus-tasting event is a creative way to break up the office routine, share knowledge with your co-workers, and build on people’s interest in better health and nutrition. It’s also a great way to get to know the people you work with every day.
Citrus varieties are winter fruits that are grown in warmer climates. Most are harvested from November through May, but California’s Valencia orange is called a “summer orange” because its harvest runs from February to October. In the U.S., the biggest citrus growing areas include Florida (oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons); Southern California (oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons, and limes); southwestern Arizona (oranges, grapefruit); southern Texas (grapefruit); and southeastern Louisiana (satsumas). About 60 percent of U.S.-grown citrus comes from Florida, but much of that is made into juice.
A medium orange has only about 60 calories yet provides 116 percent of the Daily Value of vitamin C; 13 percent of dietary fiber; 10 percent folate; 8 percent vitamin B1; 7 percent potassium; 6 percent vitamin A; and 5 percent calcium.
Pick firm oranges without soft spots. An exception is the satsuma mandarin, which tends to have a puffy peel when it’s ready to eat. Ripe oranges may not be totally orange but could have a green tinge to them. Oranges that are grown in colder regions tend to be more orange, while oranges grown in hotter areas send green chlorophyll to their outer skin to protect it from sunburn. This is called “citrus greening.” Green oranges still taste sweet.
Oranges can be stored at room temperature for about two weeks or refrigerated for up to several months.
Organizing a tasting in your office is a creative way to engage your employees with citrus, boost their health, and educate them on this versatile fruit.
Elisabeth Flynn is a freelance writer who lives and works outside Philadelphia. She writes about food, fitness, workplace culture, and personal finance.