Why More Matters Now Than Ever Before
By Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN
President and CEO
Produce for Better Health Foundation
September is Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Month, and there is a great deal to celebrate. One decade ago, the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) launched the Fruits and Veggies – More Matters campaign. With our extensive website and social media footprint, we continue to partner with the produce industry, reaching consumers with recipes, research and encouragement to include more fruits and veggies – in all forms (fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% fruit juice) – at every eating occasion.
PBH has an extensive track record in conducting and aggregating research and data regarding consumer attitudes, beliefs and behaviors on many facets related to all forms of fruits and vegetables; new 2017 consumer research provides additional insights. What if there were clues from this research as to how, as a food and health community, we could help consumers eat more fruits and vegetables overall?
The good news is we are seeing progress and positive, forward-looking trends in fruit and vegetable consumption among consumers under age 40. However, those consumer groups traditionally most interested in health and who eat the most fruit and vegetables overall, including those ages 50 years and above, are trending downward in their consumption over time. As September is also Healthy Aging Month, this is the perfect time to encourage older adults to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables. Convenience and lack of produce preparation knowledge are among key barriers to consumption.
Fruits and vegetables – in all forms – are critical to closing the produce consumption gap. Canned fruits and vegetables, including dried beans, offer convenience, easy preparation and value due to their long shelf life. In addition, many canned items often have simple, tasty recipes right on the label in addition to the nutrient contents.
Consider these five facts in promoting canned fruits and vegetables to bridge the consumption gap – especially during the winter months as some fresh produce favorites may not be in season.
1. Canned fruits and vegetables can help Americans – old and young – meet nutrient needs.
Canned options contain important nutrients, including essential vitamins and minerals as well as fiber for a healthy diet.
2. Canned fruits and vegetables offer comparable nutrition to fresh and frozen.
Research shows that canned fruits and vegetables offer comparable nutrients – and at times, at a lower cost. Additional research demonstrates that recipes prepared with canned ingredients rated favorable as well.
3. Canned fruits and vegetables can be enjoyed even for those watching their sodium intake.
Canned food contributes less than 1% of the sodium in consumers’ diets. In addition, there are more no-salt added, low- and reduced-sodium options on grocery store shelves than ever before. Finally, a quick drain and rinse can further and significantly reduce sodium.
4. Canned fruits and vegetables are minimally processed.
After being harvested, cleaned, peeled, chopped and trimmed, as necessary, foods are cooked in the can to lock in nutrients and flavor.
5. Steel cans are among the safest forms of food packaging.
Steel cans are strong, tamper resistant and feature an airtight seal to help guard against food-borne illness and contamination. In addition, steel cans are most recycled food containers.
For more than 25 years, PBH has partnered with the produce industry and health professionals to help carry the “More Matters” message to consumers. For the industry, this includes Fruits & Veggies—More Matters messaging and logos on packaging and/or in produce marketing. For health professionals, this includes offering a variety of educational resources and recipes on www.morematters.org. Since launching the Fruits & Veggies—More Matters campaign, we’ve seen an incredible increase in media and social media impressions, website traffic, industry, government and health professional support. The 2016 year ended with nearly 50 billion media impressions, 16-fold higher annual impressions than just 5 years ago! We are so proud to stand with all of you, having reached so many. Still, we must do more to close the consumption gap. Together, we can help more consumers achieve their health goals by eating and drinking more fruits and vegetables.
For more from Wendy and the Produce for Better Health Foundation on all forms of fruits and vegetables, visit their website www.morematters.org.