Americans Need to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

After Nearly 25 Years, It’s time to Advocate for Consumption

News Release From SafeFruitsAndVeggies.com

There is so much good stuff to say about organic and conventional produce, from studies which clearly show the safety of both to decades of research that illustrate the disease-prevention aspects of these nutrient-dense foods.  Plus, farms and farming companies continue to develop innovative, convenient fruits and vegetables, which are helping to increase consumption.

But while we are making some headway, only one in 10 Americans eat enough produce according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Why?  Because barriers to consumption still exist. One of those barriers is safety fears generated by certain groups who inaccurately disparage the more affordable and accessible forms of produce.

Among the longest and biggest offenders comes from an activist group that annually releases its so-called “dirty dozen” list.  Since 1995, this group’s fear-based ‘marketing against’ tactic disparaging the most popular produce items has been used in an attempt to promote purchasing of organic products.

Look, we completely understand advocating for your members when the information is credible and the science is strong.  The AFF advocates on behalf of organic and conventional farmers of fruits and vegetables and the safety of their products every day.  But when you raise unfounded fears based upon unsupportable science about the only food group health experts universally agree we should eat more of, it is time to revisit your approach.  Especially when peer reviewed research is showing this tactic may result in low income consumers stating they are less likely to purchase any produce—organic or conventional—after learning about the “dirty dozen” list.

Put another way, according to these research findings, this activist group may actually be marketing against their own constituents’ organic products by releasing this list.

To summarize, the “dirty dozen” list is scientifically unsupportable, it may negatively impact consumers’ purchasing decisions, and it’s possibly even detrimental to the very products the list authors are trying to promote.   After almost 25 years, it is time to retire this tactic in favor of more creative “marketing for” strategies that encourage consumption and doesn’t scare consumers.

Children Lacking Fruits and Vegetables

Centers For Disease Control Note Only 1 in 10 Children Are Eating Enough Produce

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

A recent study found that over a quarter of young children do not consume a single serving of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. That news is alarming for Teresa Thorne, executive director of the Alliance for Food and Farming in Watsonville.

The CDC releases consumption data every other year. At any age, only one in 10 people is eating enough fruits and vegetables every day.

“When you see a study like this and it talks about toddlers, children, and their lack of consumption, it is disturbing,” Thorne said.

Fruits and vegetables are not a current trend, but that is why it is important to make sure that there is an abundance of affordable and acceptable fruits and vegetables for parents to provide to their children.

“This is alarming because many children develop their eating habits around the age of two, and these habits will carry on into the rest of their lifetime,” Thorne explained.

In the study, the authors did some simple suggestions for parents in terms of helping parents to incorporate fruits and vegetables in the diet.

“The most important thing I thought was interesting is that it can take up to 10 times for a kid to adjust to a food and say, ‘oh yeah, I like that,’ ” Thorne said. “So be persistent again and keep trying.”

For more information, visit SafeFruitsAndVeggies.com.

USDA’s Final WIC and United Fresh’s Response

Today, USDA finalized changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to further improve the nutrition and health of the nation’s low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants and young children.

The changes – which increase access to fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy – are based on the latest nutrition science. Today’s announcement marks the completion of the first comprehensive revisions to the WIC food packages since 1980.                                                                                           

Along with a more than 30 percent increase in the dollar amount for children’s fruits and vegetables purchases, the changes also:

  • expand whole grain options available to participants,
  • provide yogurt as a partial milk substitute for children and women,
  • allow parents of older infants to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables instead of jarred infant food if they choose, and;
  • give states and local WIC agencies more flexibility to meet the nutritional and cultural needs of WIC participants.

Over 8.5 million participants receive WIC benefits each month.  Recent research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified changes to the WIC food packages as a contributing factor in the decline in obesity rates among low-income preschoolers in many States.

 

United Fresh Produce Association President & CEO Tom Stenzel issued this statement Today in response to USDA’s publication of the Final Rule on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): Revisions to the WIC Food Package:

We applaud USDA’s emphasis on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among low-income, nutritionally at-risk pregnant and breastfeeding women, and their infants and young children who participate in the WIC program. The final rule increases the cash-value of the fruit and vegetable vouchers for children to $8 per month; allows WIC mothers to receive a voucher for fresh fruits and vegetables instead of jarred baby foods for their infants; and allows WIC mothers to add cash (split tender) at check out to their fruit and vegetable vouchers to maximize their purchases. All of these provisions will increase fruit and vegetable consumption among WIC mothers and their young children.

Our only disappointment is that we continue to believe that WIC vouchers should include all fresh fruits and vegetables, without added fats, sugar or sodium, including fresh white potatoes.

For more than a decade, United Fresh has been a leading advocate for including fruits and vegetables in the WIC food packages. United played a leadership role in urging USDA and Congress to update WIC food packages to include fruits and vegetables, and has worked with the National WIC Association and advocates to increase the value of the fruit and vegetable vouchers for mothers and children.

The CDC has recently recognized the important role that the WIC Program’s nutrition education and food package changes that added healthy items like fruits and vegetables has played in decreasing childhood obesity by 43 percent among 2-5 year olds.

Founded in 1904, the United Fresh Produce Association serves companies at the forefront of the global fresh and fresh-cut produce industry, including growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers and allied associations.

 United Fresh and its members work year-round to make a difference for the produce industry by driving policies that increase consumption of fresh produce, shaping critical legislative and regulatory action, providing scientific and technical leadership in food safety, quality assurance, nutrition and health, and developing educational programs and business opportunities to assist member companies in growing successful businesses.