Fred Wilkinson, Managing Editor
Fred Wilkinson, Managing Editor

Some items in the produce aisle — though strong enough sellers — don’t win a lot of respect.

Case in point: iceberg lettuce — derided as the polyester of greens, lacking in flavor and vitamins compared to other lettuce and leaf products.

Another item that frequently finds itself profiled as lacking in tastiness is “store-bought tomatoes.”

True confession: I’ve talked trash about them myself at times.

But considering all the new varieties and improved production methods in the tomato category over the years, it’s kind of a bum rap.

Yet established attitudes can be difficult to dispel.

While these days I’m a fan of flavorful tomatoes — whether it’s a brandywine from the backyard or a Campari from the grocery store — truth is, were it not for foodservice-grade pink slicer tomatoes, I might never have acquired a taste for tomatoes.

Tasteless pink tomatoes were my gateway drug.

When I was a kid, tomatoes, well, pretty much scared me. The thought of eating one sickened me.

Fast forward a few years and I became a fan of Burger King’s Whopper — or Slopper, as my witty circle of friends and I dubbed them.

Among the Whopper’s toppings, of course, is a tomato slice, one unlike the juicy, red fruit my mom always seemed to have in her kitchen.

The Whopper’s pale and bland (yet firm) slices got me to overcome my aversion to tomatoes.

Pedestrian (some might says passe) items like those tomatoes and iceberg lettuce may seem like relics of mid-20th century America’s sometimes less-than-stellar culinary tradition, but I’d wager that millions of us consider them comfort food right up there with meatloaf.

Timeless advice

Much has been written over the years about generational differences in the workplace.

The current Millennial Generation (whatever that means) has found itself following in the footsteps of Generation X (this always struck me as a meaningless label) and the Baby Boomer generation and has found itself the subject of articles generalizing about how they will either revolutionize the way we work or are self-involved, socially awkward and will never cut it.

In the latter vein, a recent Forbes article titled “20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don’t Get” takes younger workers to task but offers some workplace and career advice applicable not just to workers of any age but also to managers — not to mention increasingly grizzled editors.

Some key points:


  •  Social Media is not a Career — The author, 34-year-old Jason Nazar, founder of the business document website Docstoc, writes that social media in a business context is merely a new function of marketing, a way to support branding and build awareness but not an end in itself. He also advises to read more books and fewer tweets or texts to foster creativity, thoughtfulness and thinking.

  •  Pick up the Phone — Particularly relevant advice in an industry where working the phones is often to the key to sales, or as the author bluntly states: “Don’t be a pansy, pick up the phone.” It should be your first instinct to talk to an actual person rather than hiding behind e-mail.

  •  A New Job a Year Isn’t a Good Thing ­­— Rather than suggesting you’re ambitious, this can be seen as evidence that a potential employee lacks discipline and doesn’t stay anywhere long enough to cultivate a deep skill set.

  •  People Matter More than Perks — Value a job opportunity for the character and leadership lessons you can pick up from managers and owners, not company massages or other such trendy benefits. In a people-oriented industry where tradition and institutional knowledge can be critical, the author’s advice rings true.

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