Few subjects bring about the kind of unanimity of opinion that the desirability of promoting fresh fruits and vegetables to children does in the produce trade. It is a clear win/win: improve the health of America’s children while increasing sales for the trade. The Produce for Better Health Foundation has long run a special site for kids. The United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association works through the United Research and Education Foundation to push its Project Fresh Start, which fights for public policy changes to ensure that children will meet the new Dietary Guidelines for Kids regarding fruit and vegetable consumption.
Private companies are in the game as well. From the beginning of the 5-a-Day program, Dole has been closely aligned and now is preparing to launch its SuperKids program. Sunkist has a variety of children-driven initiatives, including a Healthy Habits for Life Partnership with the people behind Sesame Street, a position as The Official Fresh Snack of Little League Baseball and its Take a Stand program to get kids 7 to 12 years of age to operate lemonade stands for their favorite charities.
The Produce Marketing Association is trying to help by providing a useful list of its member’s web sites that offer special content for kids, their parents or educators. It is a good effort to try and organize disparate content spread all over the web but, beware; the quality of the content on these sites varies considerably.
The produce industry is certainly on the side of the angels here, but efforts to sell more fresh produce to children will have difficulty obtaining the desired health effect if a way isn’t found to get children to eat, not just sweet fruit and potatoes, but vegetables. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that there may be an innate sensitivity to bitterness that affects vegetable acceptance and consumption during childhood.
Bryan Silbermann, President of the Produce Marketing Association and your friendly Pundit had a lively exchange on the subject in an issue of one of the Perishable Pundit’s sister publications, PRODUCE BUSINESS.
We do need to act. The Junior Pundit primo (aka William, segundo is Matthew) channeled strong thoughts on the subject here.