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Dan "The Produce Man" Avakian


D
an's passion for produce began when he started working at an open-air produce market in 1976. His mentor, Frank Marchi was a 50 year veteran in the business. Dan assumed his work ethic and stayed on until 1985. During that time, he met up with an old high school classmate Jay Michaels who had made a name for himself on Bay Area radio station K-101 in San Francisco. In the summer of 1983 Jay asked Dan to do a show on his radio station KCFM. Dan was excited about taking his massive eclectic record collection to the airwaves, but after pressure from other hosts he ended up mixing his passion for produce with the Rock & Roll music he was playing on his show. Dan would give produce tips in between songs with callers asking questions and making requests. Dan eventually bought a portion of the station and became a partner with Jay. A year later they formed a second station KMOM with the slogan "listen to your mother". The station featured a wide variety of music and other programming with an emphasis on local talent. All along Dan continued working at the produce market.

Since that time Dan worked on several projects for various companies in their produce departments. He worked as a produce manager for Fry's Food Stores in the early 1980's In the late 80's he helped pioneer the produce program for Costco Wholesale in Northern California. He owned his own store Produce Central a popular produce store that grabbed the attention of several bay area newspapers.
He helped establish the Produce Quality Assurance program for SYSCO Food Service at their Bay Area Distribution Center in the early 1990's.

Early in 1998, Dan hooked up with Guido an old friend that was writing a produce column for The Alameda Journal & Contra Costa Times. "Guido came to me & said let's do a radio show. I contacted Jay Michaels to do a demo tape, he liked what he heard so much that he put us on the air the very next week."

Dan & Guido became"The Produce Pair". Guido uses his writing name "Guido the Gardener" and Dan uses the name that folks gave him everywhere he worked "Dan the Produce Man", Its only natural" Avakian said in a recent interview, "folks seemed to come up with this name for me everywhere I've worked, so I had to use it. It stuck". The Produce Pair aired for seven years on over 60 radio stations across America .

While he was flapping his chops on the airwaves, in the early years of the new century Dan helped build the produce program for Webvan.com the failed online grocer, he also managed the operations for the home delivery service Organic Express (Now SPUD!) at their Bay Area D,C. before moving on to do PR for VegiWorks Inc. San Francisco's top purveyor of fresh produce. In May of 2006 Dan found himself right back where he started when he and his business partners purchased the very same market that launched his produce career back in 1976. After remodeling, they re-opened the store as Dan's Fresh Produce.

Dan and his wife Megan run the award winning store with a commitment to locally grown produce first. When lack of local availability runs out they source elsewhere until the local season starts up again. Dan has been a resident of Alameda since he was 10 years old, His family moved here from Vermont in 1970 and have remained here on “the Isle of Style” ever since. Their children have gone through and are still going through the schools here in town and are very committed “Alamedans.” “I love it here,” Dan said in the same interview, “I grew up here, have friends and family here and enjoy my life here on the island. To own a local business in my own home town is very fitting.”

Look for "Dan the Produce Man's" monthly Produce articles "Getting Fresh" at www.beyondwonderful.com.

As for the Produce Pair, well archived shows can be heard on this web site and in the works are new shorter shows that will also air on this site. The program features guests from many areas of the produce industry and the culinary world including chefs, authors, nutritionists & more. "The Show is upbeat, fun & relaxed" says Avakian. " we try not to wag our fingers at you telling you to eat your vegetables. I'm sure your mother did enough of that when you were a kid. We just promote produce and we have a real good time doing it."

Dan can be heard weekday mornings on AM 1220 KDOW with his Fresh Produce Tips and appears occasionally on KTVU TV with Host Rosy Chu.

Look for "Dan the Produce Man's" monthly articles "Getting Fresh" at www.beyondwonderful.com.

Contact Dan by email: Dan@ProducePair.com