Jay Martini, sometime guest blogger for Fresh Talk and longtime tomato market expert, recently sent me an email that joked that The Packer’s recent coverage of high tomato prices was sure to mark the end of the run-up in f.o.b. prices.

He wrote:

“Ohlemeier’s  story about high tomato prices will be the death knell of the market, similar to the Iowa football team being on the cover of Sports Illustrated a couple weeks ago! (And you saw what happened to them!).”

If Doug’s coverage was destined to doom the tomato market, I kiddingly responded that the “jinx” effect may also humble the Romaine market on the heels of Andy Nelson’s front page coverage of the $40 per carton f.o.b.

In all seriousness, of course, it would be mere coincidence if the outlook-oriented coverage in The Packer corresponded with a reversal of fortunes more accurately linked to the unstoppable machinations of supply and demand.

There is no SI jinx or Packer whammy.

The power of the media, however, is derived from its users.

In these days of declining circulations for big city papers, the new media’s influence has never been greater.  Even for the most powerful person in the world, the most incidental Web headline can sting and provoke a retort.

 President Barack Obama sounded a little defensive in recent comments following a Drudge report scoop that described him as “skinny as a rail” and questioned if Obama has experienced dramatic weight loss since taking office.
    
From The Daily Mail:

“Under the headline 'Barack n Bones', the report claimed that the president's exercise regime - including basketball games - is behind the 'dramatic weight loss'. The source quoted by the report insisted that Mr Obama was working 'non-stop' - and that he was not chain-smoking.  However today Mr Obama said that while he is indeed going grey, reports that he is skipping meals and shedding pounds are untrue.”

President Obama’s mantra “I am not skinny” may play better than President Nixon’s “I am not a crook” but still reveals him to be too media sensitive.

So what if California Gov.  Arnold Schwarzenegger once ridiculed Obama’s skinny legs and promised to make him do squats?

 The Daily Mail continues:

“Mr Obama is often pictured playing basketball or returning from the gym with aides, while Mrs Obama's infamous vegetable garden in the grounds of the White House promotes healthy eating on top of exercise.
The First Lady's gym-toned arms have also been the topic of much discussion. “


Mr. and Mrs. President, I’m with you on this one. If healthy living is wrong, you don’t want to be right. It’s enough that right wing commentators pick apart the health care bill, but it quite another when they go after the “infamous” vegetable garden, pick up basketball games and gym-toned arms.

Let them take their ill-aimed potshots. You don’t need to gain weight or to abandon the “infamous” vegetable garden. You just need thicker skin.

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There are now about 330 members of the Linkedin Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group and about 220 for the Google based group of the same name. Both groups are worthwhile and offer some networking and sounding board opportunities.
    
Something new I’m introducing in relation to those groups is a community chat every Wednesday at noon central time. Anybody who is online and sends me their gmail address to will be invited to the community online computer keyboard chat. The chats may last between 30 and 45 minutes each week. It may be a chance for me to pose some industry related questions to the group, or perhaps have a featured guest or Packer writer to interact with. Send me your gmail address to tkarst@thepacker.com and I’ll be sure to send you an invite. Remember noon central on Wednesdays…

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It will soon be time to sit down to another Thanksgiving dinner, and I still haven’t put up any Christmas lights.

For those like me who carry the dread of tasks we should not have put off into the Turkey Day feast, it will at least be good to know that the cost of the Thanksgiving dinner is down 4% this year.

In its annual and widely reported tally of the cost of Thanksgiving dinner, the American Farm Bureau Federation said the total bill for turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberries and more for a family of ten will cost an average of $42.91, $1.70 less than the same time last year. Turkey, milk, whipping cream, rolls, carrots, celery and fresh cranberries also were lower.

While I don’t think apples were in the Farm Bureau market basket for the Thanksgiving meal, it is worth noting that the U.S. average retail price of apples has also come down sharply in recent weeks.

The most recent average retail price data shows that red delicious retail prices dropped from $1.21 per pound in September to $1.13 per pound in October.

While many in the apple industry believed the f.o.b. market was priced too high last year relative to the eventual crop size, it may seem this year’s psychology may be the reverse.

Washington shippers may be wondering if f.o.b. prices are too low, considering strong movement and manageable inventories of fruit on hand. Sounds like the makings of a double reverse whammy Packer story on the apple market.