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Solving the produce consumption riddle

Experts agree: more fruits and vegetables make for healthier diets.

But in a culture overly fond of salts, fats, and sugar, suppliers and consumers are rejoicing as produce consumption explodes, taking over more of the plate at meals and snacktime.

Shockingly, the Centers for Disease Control says only 1 in 10 American adults eats the daily recommended allowance of fruit and vegetables. But because a diet rich in fresh produce can deter a host of serious health issues, the U.S. Department of Agriculture revised its food standards in 2011 to reflect the “Half Your Plate” ideal.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been easy to get consumers to buy in to this unquestionably beneficial idea.

So the Produce for Better Health Foundation has stepped up its efforts to get the word out.

“We know the intake of fruits and vegetables overall is substantially and chronically below recommendations,” says Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, PBH’s president and CEO.

“But the incorporation of fresh produce into meals and snacks can be simple and easy, as well as affordable, if consumers and intermediaries are armed with effective ideas and strategies to implement.”

Although increasing produce consumption is always the goal, there are differing viewpoints on how to achieve it.

“The industry is approaching fruit and vegetable intake holistically,” says Reinhardt Kapsak.

“The more days per week fruits and vegetables are consumed, the more they are consumed per day. The emotional benefits can be leveraged to help consumers incrementally increase their intake.”

Robert Schueller, cookbook author and director of public relations for Melissa’s/World Variety Produce Inc., in Los Angeles, is hopeful as well, looking forward to when consumers are more attuned to seasonal specialties like chilies in late August, yellow dragon fruit in spring, and green mangos in winter.

Creating awareness and a passion for new offerings can only strengthen overall consumption.

So your parents were right—you really should eat your fruits and vegetables.

For Jacob Shafer, senior marketing and communications specialist at Mann Packing Company Inc. in Salinas, CA, all his efforts stem from this simple yet common sense mantra.

“It’s almost universally accepted that fresh fruits and veggies are an important part of any healthy diet— besides, they taste great!”

This is an excerpt from the most recent Produce Blueprints quarterly journal. Click here to read the full article.


Leonard Pierce is a freelancer with more than 20 years of experience in the food industry.