by Kevin Coupe

This seems to be a “Happy Birthday” week at MNB. A few days ago, we recognized the 70th birthday of the great Dorothy Lane Market. And today, I’d like to point out, is the 95th birthday of Dr. Frieda Rapoport Caplan, the founder of Frieda’s Specialty Produce.

Frieda - I don’t think she’ll mind my calling her by her first name, nor revealing that she is an avid reader of MNB, often emailing me with pithy comments about stories I’ve written or stories I’ve missed - is the first woman in the U.S. to own and operate a produce company on the all-male Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market. Her company has been - and continues to be - pioneering in the introduction of more than 200 exotic fruits and vegetables to American consumers over the years, and she has a list of honors and citations too long to recount here.

But I want to mention her birthday not because of what she’s done in the past, but because of her perpetual youthfulness of attitude and outlook. I spend a lot of time around college students, especially during the summer, and in so many ways she is as engaged and curious and full of life as any of them, and more so than a few. She’s a delightful dinner companion, I’m happy to report, having had the opportunity to share a meal with her.

Frieda remains hooked on the business - so much so that apparently she’s going in to work today. “I already have Thursdays off, that’s enough PTO for me,” she says.

Happy 95th Birthday, Frieda. You have been, and continue to be, an Eye-Opener.