Help Avoid Cardiovascular Death—Produce is Medicine

Study: Low Produce Consumption Results in Millions of Cardiovascular Deaths

News Release

Over the last two months, the findings of three major peer-reviewed studies have led the lead authors to the exact same conclusion:  We must increase our efforts to promote produce consumption for the benefit of public health.

The most recent study published in Science Daily found that one in seven cardiovascular deaths could be attributed to not eating enough fruit, while one in 12 of these deaths could be attributed to not eating enough vegetables. Put another way, low fruit and veggie consumption resulted in an estimated three million deaths from heart disease.produce

“Fruits and vegetables are a modifiable component of diet that can impact preventable deaths globally,” according to lead author Dr. Victoria Miller, Tufts University, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “Our findings indicate the need for population-based efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption throughout the world.”

Another study recently published found that “prescriptions” for healthy foods could save more than $100 billion in healthcare costs.  The healthy foods included fruits and veggies plus seafood, whole grains and plant oils. And the third found that improving eating and drinking habits could prevent one in five deaths around the world.  “Eating too few fruits and vegetables and too much sodium accounted for half of all deaths and two-thirds of the years of disability attributable to diet,” according to this study.

While these findings about the nutritional benefits of produce are significant and dramatic, the three studies simply support decades of research which found that a plant-rich diet leads to better health and a longer life.

This is why the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) strongly advocates for consumer choice by working to remove misguided safety fears as a barrier to consumption.  Click here to continue reading or to “Like” or share this blog post.

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.

Fear-Based Messaging Reduces Produce Consumption – Both Organic and Conventional

New Study Finds Fear-Based Produce Safety Messaging Negatively Impacts Low Income Consumers’ Produce Consumption

 

New peer reviewed research, “Low-Income Shoppers and Fruit and Vegetables: What Do They Think?” published in Nutrition Today, shows fear-based messaging tactics used by activist groups and some organic marketers that invoke safety concerns about non-organic produce may be having a negative impact on produce consumption—fruits and veggies—among low income consumers, according to the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF).Alliance for Food and Farming logo

Researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) Center for Nutrition Research surveyed low income consumers to learn more about what terms and information about fruits and vegetables may influence their shopping intentions. Among the key findings, misleading messaging which inaccurately describes certain fruits and vegetables as having “higher” pesticide residues results in low income shoppers reporting that they would be unlikely to purchase any fruits and vegetables – organically or non-organically grown.

illinois-institute-of-technology-institute-for-food-safety-and-health“We were surprised to see how informational content that named specific fruits and vegetables as having the highest pesticide residues increased the percentage of shoppers who said they would be unlikely to purchase any type of fruits and vegetables,” says Britt Burton-Freeman, associate professor of food science and nutrition, ITT’s Center for Nutrition Research. “The concern is that depending on the structure of the communication about pesticides and fruits and vegetables, this could turn people away from wanting to purchase any fresh produce.”

“Despite efforts by the health community, consumption of fruits and vegetables is stagnating,” says Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D, R.D. and president, Produce for Better Health Foundation. “This new study shows what we have been concerned about for some time, that safety fears may be another barrier to consumption of these healthy and nutritious foods. The impact of the fear-based messaging on low income consumers is especially troubling since many don’t have access or can’t afford non-Produce for Better Health, produce consumptionorganic produce.”

The findings are also concerning since the safety claims carried predominantly by groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Only Organic about pesticide residues have been repeatedly proven to be scientifically inaccurate. For the last 20 years, EWG annually releases a so-called “dirty dozen” list which urges consumers to eat only organic versions of popular produce items accompanied by misleading and unscientific claims regarding pesticide residue levels. A peer reviewed analysis of EWG’s list entitled, Dietary Exposure to Pesticide Residues from Commodities Alleged to Contain the Highest Contamination Levels and published by AFF showed that substitution of organic forms of produce for non-organic produce did not result in any decrease in risk because residue levels are so minute on these fruits and vegetables, if they are present at all.

“Their tactic clearly isn’t working and it’s actually backfiring since this research shows that consumers may react to their message by deciding not to buy any produce at all – organic or non-organic,” says Teresa Thorne of the AFF. “For the benefit of consumers, especially low income consumers, this study shows it is time for groups like EWG to rethink their strategy for promoting organics and move away from tactics intended to scare consumers from buying the more affordable and accessible produce items,” Thorne says.

john-hopkins-bloomberg-school-of-public-healthThis IIT research compliments the peer reviewed study by John Hopkins University’s Center for a Livable Future, They Just Say Organic Food Is Healthier”: Perceptions of Healthy Food among Supermarket Shoppers in Southwest Baltimore,” published in January 2015 [orig. Dec. 2014] in the journal, Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment. Those researchers conducted interviews with study participants to learn more about the way organic food is understood within consumers’ definitions of healthy food. John Hopkins researchers also focused on low income consumers because “this group is particularly important demographically given the disparate burden of diet-related diseases they carry and the frequency of diet-related messages they receive.”

The study authors also found conflicting health and safety messages, including those about pesticide residues, were having a negative impact on consumers. Among their findings and recommendations: “The issue of organic can swamp or compete with other messages about nutrition, as evidenced by the data presented here. Perceiving that there is an overwhelming amount of sometimes contradictory information about healthy eating could make some consumers defeatist about trying to eat healthily. Given the potential implications of competing messages about healthy eating, it is important that those who want to improve food production techniques and those who want to improve nutrition cooperate to create consistent messaging about healthy eating.”

Dr. Burton-Freeman reached a similar conclusion. “Hearing that the majority of shoppers in this survey trust dietitians/nutritionists, scientists and physicians for health and safety information about fresh fruits and vegetables, this is an important opportunity for these professionals working in low-income populations. It is an opportunity to educate shoppers about organic and conventionally grown produce, particularly about best practices for washing, storing and preparing all fruits and vegetables to maximize their enjoyment and nutritional value and minimize their confusion and safety concerns.”

“Hopefully the peer-reviewed research from IIT and John Hopkins will have an impact on groups like EWG especially since the science clearly shows both organic and non-organic produce is very safe and can be eaten with confidence,” AFF’s Thorne says. “And, decades of nutritional research primarily conducted using non-organic produce shows that a plant rich diet leads to better health and a longer life. So choose either or both organic or non-organic produce, but choose to eat more every day.”


The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 which represents organic and conventional farmers and farms of all sizes.  Alliance contributors are limited to farmers of fruits and vegetables, companies that sell, market or ship fruits and vegetables or organizations that represent produce farmers.  AFF’s mission is to deliver credible information to consumers about the safety of all fruits and vegetables.  AFF does not engage in lobbying nor does it accept any money or support from the pesticide industry.  In the interest of transparency, AFF’s entire 2011 tax return is posted on safefruitsandveggies.com.


See also:

Scared Fat: Are Consumers Being Scared Away from Healthy Foods?

Individuals May Consider Organic an Important Factor When Defining Healthy Food

University College of London: Eating 7 or More Servings Reduces Risk of Premature Death by 42%