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Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Mother is Always Right

As many of you probably know, my mother is Frieda Caplan. Correction, Frieda Rapoport Caplan. (A few years ago, my mom decided that she wanted to go back to her roots and added a middle name -- her maiden name).

Since I started writing this blog, Mom has been emailing an almost-daily reminder that I should mention that "she is still around." That at 86 years old, she still comes to work every day. Yes, Mom, I am listening to you.

In my adult lifetime, I have found that my mother has an amazing way of being ahead of her time. She seems to have clairvoyance when it comes to issues, new products, relationships, and in this case, important people…

As I travelled from Los Angeles to Berlin last week, I retrieved from my briefcase the reading materials I had hastily thrown in there. American Vegetable Grower Magazine was the first one out. I always start with the editor's page of magazines. I have great respect for editors and I usually gain some insight.

Well, there it was. "Farewell to a Giant." The Editor's Note was announcing the passing of a great man, Norman Borlaug, at the age of 95. Mom has been spreading the word about Borlaug for years. Even though we never met, I feel like I knew Norman Borlaug.

Borlaug revolutionized agriculture in Mexico by developing a wheat variety that helped the country, and ultimately the world to develop and feed the hungry. Borlaug is only one of five people who have received all three of these awards: The Nobel Peace Prize, The Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. (Read the Editors' Note about Borlaug here.)

Mom gave me -- and dozens of her friends -- his biography. "BORLAUG," written by our good friend, Dr. Noel Vietmeyer. Noel befriended Mom (and me) back in the 1970s, and through his work at the National Academy of Sciences and the publication, Lost Crops of the Incas, introduced us to dozens of new produce items. You can thank Noel for being the inspiration for our introduction of Purple Potatoes, Oca, Quinoa, and numerous other "lost crops." Noel just finished the second in a series of three books on Norman Borlaug's life. My mom has "adopted" Noel and continues to buy and share copies of both of these books with her friends.

…So there is Norman Borlaug again in my magazine. I had no idea that there was a single person who revolutionized agriculture like Borlaug did. So, I guess it is no surprise that my mother, Frieda Rapoport Caplan, who many say revolutionized the way American consumers eat fruits and vegetables, is the person spreading the word about the person who really revolutionized modern agriculture.

So, Mom, now everyone knows that you are around and at the office every day! And that you continue to amaze me with your adeptness at being on top of the most important and interesting issues.



  1. Interesting and well-written as alwasy, Karen.

    Keep up the great work!


  2. Wow! Borlaug was an amazing person. Thanks for sharing his story Auntie Karen.

    Your blog is the only one I read, so keep it up.

    Go Grandma Frieda. You're amazing!


  3. What a great story! Frieda is a force of nature, and this is an interesting and touching tribute.


  4. Karen- I so loved reading about my friend and all that she has and continues to do. Lovely coming from a daughter. A real tribute.

    Well done.

  5. Dear Karen:
    From the day I met your mom, so many years ago
    at the Committee of 200, I was as you say, "bowled
    over' by her . Her determination to keep us in touch
    with what matters in the world continues to endear
    her to me and to all those of us who are now
    in the Piper group. When your mom believes in
    something, she shares it.. what a great lady.
    Thanks for the wonderful blog..

    Susie B. Lavenson

  6. HI Karen and Frieda ! I am so loving this blog - well done Karen. And Frieda this has always been one of my favorite pic's of you. We had this framed and hanging in our T&G offices in Auckland. Count me " a fan "


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