Meet Ms. Frieda
Yes, boys and girls there really is a Ms. Frieda. She is also affectionately known as Grandma Frieda by her family, friends and colleagues. Frieda is the Founder of Frieda’s Specialty Produce. Although since I have come to know Frieda, my favorite moniker for her is, California’s Wonder Woman.
My friendship with Ms. Frieda came about serendipitously as I was researching spaghetti squash on the internet. Thank goodness for the internet because up pops a picture of Frieda standing, hands on her hips, wearing her signature color, purple; in front of cases and cases of baby pineapples from South Africa and kiwi and horned melons from New Zealand.
The article, written by David Karp was titled, “Kiwi Queen” Frieda Caplan turns 90! Thus, my introduction to Frieda began. I eagerly read through the article about how she sought out fruits and vegetables that 50 years ago were unfamiliar to us, (speaking of people my age). Produce choices today include; kiwi, jicama, sugar snap peas, brown mushrooms, champagne grapes, seedless watermelon and the list goes on . Produce that at one time were considered exotic, are today as common as apples, oranges and bananas. And in our grocery stores, on our tables and in our lunchboxes today because Frieda traveled her own path.
I continued to read and learned she graduated from UCLA with a degree in political science in 1945, her marriage to Alfred Caplan and when pregnancy followed four years later her desire to find a job that would give her flexibility to take a leave to care for her child, I was hooked.
I subsequently emailed Ms. Frieda to ask if I could include her as a character in my first children’s book. She graciously gave me permission and through our emails shared that she too had a story about spaghetti squash. We soon set a time to chat and on January 4, 2018 I heard her tale of how spaghetti squash found a place as one of Ms. Frieda’s specialty produce.