The Key to Healthy Living

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables with Dr. Joan Salge Blake

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

“Eat your fruits and vegetables!” is a phrase all too often heard by children as their parents’ attempt to instill healthy living and the importance of a balanced diet from a young age. However, as they mature, it becomes just as important to make sure they stay true to the mantra. Dr. Joan Salge Blake—clinical associate professor at Boston University’s Department of Health Sciences program, registered dietitian, published author, and host of the health and wellness podcast “Spot On!”—is continuing to advocate for this message in an era surrounded by food trends and alternatives.

Joan Salge Blake

“The recommendation is to have a minimum of two-and-a-half cups of vegetables a day and two cups of fruit a day for a combination of four-and-a-half cups … and [people] are not meeting those minimum requirements,” Blake said.

The biggest reason that most miss their opportunity to complete their daily balanced diet is due to their meal group priorities throughout the day. According to Blake, “The issue is that a lot of people wait until nighttime, and if you do that, it’s going to be really hard for you to have two and a half cups of vegetables at dinner … so I think that people just forget that we need to incorporate these throughout the day.”

Aside from vegetables, she stresses the importance of incorporating all five food groups throughout your day. “What we want to do is make sure that the diet is balanced,” Blake explained. “What you don’t want to do is just eat fruits and vegetables all day long, because then you don’t have a balanced diet. Ensuring that you receive protein or calcium from dairy products is key to maintaining a diet that is balanced and proportional.”

For more science-based, useful information about health and wellness, join the already 9,000 listeners of Blake’s podcast “Spot On!”

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.

Bee Sweet Citrus Joins National Campaign to Support Healthy Eating

Bee Sweet Creates Everyday Healthy Eating Habits

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

For the third consecutive year, Bee Sweet Citrus is eager to help kick off the Power Your Lunchbox Promise with Produce for Kids. The Power Your Lunchbox Promise, a national campaign, aims to encourage families and their children to eat healthier lunches, afterschool snacks and everyday dinners.

“Bee Sweet Citrus is very excited to take part in such an amazing, health-oriented campaign,” said Bee Sweet Citrus Director of Communications Monique Bienvenue. “For the past five years, Produce for Kids has done an amazing job of sharing healthy tips and recipes with families and educators. We’re eager to see how our combined efforts can help encourage healthy habits at home and in the classroom.”

The Power Your Lunchbox campaign  ends on September 23rd. Throughout the campaign, families will be encouraged to take an online promise that supports healthy eating at home and at school. For every promise made, sponsors of the Power Your Lunchbox Promise will make a collective $1 donation to Feeding America programs that support families and children.

In addition to the online promotion, Produce for Kids will be marketing register dietitian-approved recipes and nutrition tips on their online and social media platforms. Supporters are encouraged to use the #PowerYourLunchbox hashtag throughout the campaign to help spread awareness on their own social media accounts as well.

“As we celebrate the 5th year of the Power Your Lunchbox Promise, and over 1 million meals donated to Feeding America through the program, we could not have made such an impact without the support of passionate partners like Bee Sweet Citrus,” said Amber Bloom, the digital marketing manager for Produce for Kids. “Together, we’re creating a healthier generation one promise, lunchbox and meal donated at a time.”

Facing Confusion About Food Choices?

Majority of Consumers are Confused About Food

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

A major survey of 1,000 Americans, from 8 to 80, found that consumers are confused about food. California Ag Today recently spoke with Tamika Sims the director of food technology communications for the International Food Information Council, based in Washington. She said consumers are indeed confused about food choices.

“While they trust a registered dietician, or healthcare professional, they often don’t rely on these people for their information. They rely on friends and family. They rely on social media. So, they often receive a lot of conflicting information about what foods they should eat, and or avoid,” Sims said.

“When we asked consumers if they agreed with the statement that they’re confused about the choices they make, we had almost 80% of consumers say that they were confused, and then we asked a question about whether or not they doubt the choices they make when they’re in the store, and over 50% said yes, they do doubt their choices,” Sims noted

Boomers are a bright spot on the survey as the more confident in the choices that they make when they’re making a food and beverage purchase or a choice in a restaurant.

Sims explained what the California ag industry can do to help consumers.

“It’s an interesting time right now, because in the age of social media, consumers to receive a lot of information from even more different places than before,” she said.

“It’s important to be part of the conversation and certainly organizations like IFIC take that to heart, and that’s what we do,” Sims said. “So, we’re part of the conversation in social media, traditional media, as well as outlets where you are looking at people who are the major buyers of food, such as moms, other parents, and then also our younger generations, millennials, and so on. We are part of the conversation in many different ways.”

Vegetables Are the Key to Great Nutrition

How to Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

By Laurie Greene, Editor

In honor of National Eat Your Veggies Day, we spoke with Francene Steinberg, department chair and professor of nutrition at UC Davis, and director of the UC Davis Dietetics Education Program for undergrads. She encouraged the importance of leaning on vegetables for optimum nutrition and health benefits.

Francene Steinberg, department chair and professor of nutrition at UC Davis
Francene Steinberg, department chair and professor of nutrition at UC Davis

“A varied diet of fruits and vegetables, along with grains and some protein sources is extremely valuable to give everybody the best energy for them to grow,” Steinberg said. “It really is so important to get the full spectrum of all the nutrients in these foods, particularly the vegetables.”

“In addition to all the required nutrients,” she explained, “we know the required vitamins and minerals—those that we know about and for which we have the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), the “average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%-98%) healthy people.” (Source: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine)

Continuing, Steinberg said, “There are also quite a few other nutrients and compounds in those foods that are good for usthat have biologic effects. Not only just fibers, but also phytochemicals, phytonutrients, they are really part of what helps to promote overall health. It’s not just the vitamins and minerals in a vitamin pill. You really need to eat the whole fruits and vegetables and grains, and so forth, to get the full effects,” noted Steinberg.

There is a new approach to how much produce people should eat on a daily basis. Steinberg noted the importance of eating the rainbow; fruits and vegetables of every color. Previous nutrition campaigns used to stress the importance of consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

“Most people don’t even come near to eating the amount of vegetables they need. Rather than focusing on a specific number, an easier goal is just eat more than you currently do, in terms of vegetables. Eat one more serving each day. Try a new vegetable each week. See if you like them,” said Steinberg.

Eat The Rainbow

In particular, Steinberg recommended red beets which are a wonderful vegetable to add to your eating list. “Beets are delicious. These deeply colored fruits and vegetableswhether they’re red, or green, or orangethat really denotes they have more nutrients in them. There are all these colored compounds that are often bioactive in the body. They really are good for you. You can, as you say, eat the rainbow by choosing these brightly colored fruits and vegetables.” noted Steinberg.

Steinberg encourages consumers to 'eat the rainbow'.
Steinberg encourages consumers to ‘”eat the rainbow.”

By consuming more vegetables, consumers can more avoid many chronic diseases. “I think that certainly most of the chronic diseases we suffer from today stem from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, that sort of thing,” Steinberg commented. “They’re often a combination of overconsumption of overall calories and empty nutrients, and not enough consumption of some of these fruits and vegetables that hold such valuable nutrients for us,” said Steinberg.

“It really is a matter of trying to make your diet as nutrient-rich as possible, and really avoiding those empty calories that seem to provide us lots of extra calories without any added benefit,” she stated. “If folks can cut down on some of the sugary and highly fatty snacks, chips and that sort of thing, and eat a piece of fruit or an extra vegetable serving per day they’re really much better off.”

Steinberg suggested one way to stimulate the desire to eat more vegetables is by making them readily available. “I think sometimes when people buy some of the produce, then they put it away in the refrigerator, it’s not visible. It’s hidden and they go to the cupboard and look and there’s a bag of chips that’s very easy to grab.”

She also recommended ways to make sure produce is not left behind. Consumers can purchase “fruits and vegetables that are already pre-washed and cut up, and put them in a little baggie or bowl on the counter, if they’re not perishable, or just a baggie in the refrigerator. It’s a quick grab and go. You can take it and have it as a quick snack. Things that are appealing to children are small bites that are easily consumed, bright and colorful.”

Steinberg recommended consumers “try to find those fruits and vegetables that are very fresh. Sometimes the ones we find in the grocery stores are not as flavorful as [backyard-grown], from the farmer’s market, or even just knowing which vegetables are in season. At the grocery store, the best things that are in season are usually going to be the freshest and tastiest. ” said Steinberg.

Fresh is not the only way consumers can enjoy the benefits of produce since frozen varieties are easy to come by. “Some of the frozen whole vegetables and fruits are highly nutritious,” said Steinberg. “They’re very affordable and available year round.”

Steinberg also mentioned the availability of low calorie dips such as hummus can easily be found in grocery and convenience stores which encourages more fresh vegetable consumption. In fact, hummus is primarily chickpeas, another great vegetable. “Dipping fresh vegetables in hummus. That’s delicious,” she said.

The Holiday Guide to Staying Healthy

By: Monique Bienvenue; Cal Ag Today Communications Manager 

With cookies, pastries and elaborate meals surrounding you this holiday season, it’s extremely easy to indulge in unhealthy meals. Thanks the American Heart Association, however, there are few ways to indulge in your favorite holiday dishes while staying on track. Here’s how:

Keep an eye out for sodium:

  • Look at the labels! Believe it or not, your favorite breads and canned soup may contain high levels of sodium, so make sure to look at the food labels before making a purchase.
  • Find substitutes: Instead of adding salt to your meal, try using spices and herbs such as rosemary and cloves.
  • Add veggies: Fresh vegetables are sure to add flavor to your meal without having to add salt!

Defeat the turkey:

  • Choose the white meat: White meat has less fat and less calories than dark meat!
  • Remove the skin: Although tasty, the skin contains a large amount of fat
  • Limit the gravy: Gravy can be the culprit when watching your calories, be sure to limit the amount you put on your meal.

Desserts, desserts, desserts:

  • Share the goodness: Instead of indulging in one full serving of cake or pie, split it with a friend or family member. You’ll thank yourself at the end of the day.
  • Sample: Take a bite of a cookie, and eat the corner of piece of cake. The small bites you take will have less fat and calories than one full serving of something else.

For information on how to stay healthy this holiday season, click on the link below.

http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@fc/documents/downloadable/ucm_455757.pdf

UC Davis Report Shows Startling, Accurate Water Crisis Snapshot

The report issued today by the California Department of Food & Agriculture and the University of California, Davis presents an accurate water crisis picture of the reality resulting from federal decisions that will reduce the production of food and fiber, according to California Citrus Mutual.

Unfortunately, this picture is not complete. The report indicates the losses which have been incurred to-date, but does not and cannot begin to predict future impacts as permanent crops continue to be ripped out of production as we enter into the hottest months with zero access to surface water,” says CCM President Joel Nelsen.

“The report is a compilation of what the authors know is happening as a result of April calculations. Since then, the Bureau of Reclamation has challenged the Administration’s focus on obesity prevention, school lunch programs, and other campaigns focused on healthy eating by holding water that could otherwise be used for the production of food and fiber.

As such, growers are being forced to make difficult farming decisions that have and will continue to result in reduced plantings of annual crops and the removal of permanent crops.

“If there is a flaw in the report, it is the assumption that ground water supplies are available to offset surface water loss, which may be true in some production areas but certainly not all.

The authors do fairly acknowledge that the impacts to the Friant service area in particular are not yet calculated into this water crisis report.

“The report demonstrates the costs associated with the inability of the Central Valley to produce a viable crop due to zero or minimal water allocation.

As the actions of the shortsighted agencies manifest themselves into reality, the cost will be borne for years to come until permanent crop plantings are replaced and production is regained. Production, revenue, and jobs are in abeyance for several years to come.”

Image courtesy of TeddyBear[Picnic]/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

California Program Helps Needy Families Buy Fresh Produce at Farmers Markets

Source:  Claire Fleishman

With tight budgets and children to feed, recipients of federal nutrition assistance were rarely seen at farmers markets, where the words “affordable” and “fresh” didn’t often mix. That is changing, thanks to a state program that is in line to get a big boost in federal support.

More and more recipients are stepping up to market managers’ tables, swiping their card from CalFresh (nationally known as SNAP or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), and getting a bonus good for fresh produce.Under the Market Match Program, CalFresh recipients can get $10 a week in bonus scrip for fruits and vegetables for every $10 they spend at farmers markets. Over 30,000 CalFresh participants have used the scrip at 130 markets statewide, creating more than $1 million in additional income for farmers at these markets.

Locally, the bonuses are available at a number of farmers markets, including Altadena, Long Beach and Canoga Park. Federal and state officials are trying to expand the bonuses to other farmers markets to help stem an old problem: low-income recipients using federal nutrition assistance to purchase unhealthful products, particularly high-sugar sodas and junk food.

The matching money comes from the California Market Match Consortium, which was founded five years ago by farmers market operators and community organizations. The consortium is funded by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and a variety of private donors. Recently the Los Angeles County agency First 5 LA, which draws on tobacco tax money to help programs benefitting young children, became a partner.

More funding is on the way. The 2014 Farm Bill allocated $100 million over the next five years for incentive programs. A new California Assembly bill proposes a Market Match Nutrition Incentive Fund of $2.75 million per year for five years, to maximize capture of federal dollars. With these funds, all 854 markets in California could participate. SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, feeds one in seven people in the nation. It dispenses $8 billion in California. But beneficiaries of the program, especially children, also suffer high rates of obesity and diabetes, which have been linked to cheaper, sugary foods.

California has the most cases of diabetics in the nation, and spending in the state to treat the disease in 2012 approached $28 billion, according to American Diabetes Association data. New York City tried to ban the use of SNAP funds for buying high-sugar drinks in 2010. Beverage manufacturers and some civil libertarians objected, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which runs SNAP, vetoed the idea.

In lieu of curbing the supply of junk food — a politically unattractive option — public health advocates are working hard to change the demand by making healthful foods cheaper and more attractive.

Carle Brinkman of the Berkeley-based Ecology Center, which assists farmers markets statewide with implementation of electronic benefit transfer programs, said, “Instead of being punitive, we like to incentivize (healthful) food choices. We can give customers who wouldn’t normally shop at farmers markets a boost, and at the same time, send additional funds to small- and medium-size farmers.”

The question now is: Will the incentives change decades of entrenched habits? Initial signs are positive. In Massachusetts, a USDA Healthy Incentives pilot project followed 55,000 SNAP households for a year; some were credited with 30 cents for every dollar spent on targeted produce. Spending on fruits and vegetables was higher for those receiving incentives at a rate that was both “statistically significant and … nutritionally relevant,” the study concluded.

And a recent survey by the California Consortium found that nearly 3 of 4 Market Match shoppers came specifically for the match. They leave with bags of fresh produce and new ideas from nutrition classes frequently held in conjunction with Market Match.

At one market recently, a rapt audience of about 20 women and children absorbed a “Rethink Your Drink” lesson as a dietitian stirred a frosty pitcher of ice water laced with mint and cucumber slices. Delicious, several women agreed, and even cheaper than soda.