Increase Fruit and Vegetable Intake for Health and Happiness!

by Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN President & CEO, The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH)

Fruit and vegetables are well-known dietary all-stars—providing key vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that confer health benefits well beyond our current comprehension.

Dietary guidance consistently recommend filling “half your plate” with fruit and vegetables—including fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice. Still experts have long tracked a consumption shortage. Eating behavior is complicated and intricate. An individual’s food choices are affected by how they were raised, availability and access where they live, and what they can afford. Children, daily responsibilities, and friendly advice as well as knowledge and preferences can further affect food choices. The list goes on.

So, what are common denominators in helping consumers eat more fruit and vegetables and what key messages can food banks and community-based organizations share with individuals they serve? Two complementary approaches have emerged based on decades of Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) consumer and marketplace research:

1) Go beyond what individuals know to harness how they feel; and

2) Help individuals and families with strategies, approaches and support to eat more fruit and vegetables in the context of real life.

Health May Be the “End Game” But Happiness May Be an Immediate Motivator

People eat with their eyes, their heart, and today, with their conscience. Eating has become more about values and lifestyle than a classic definition of health. In fact, over time, we have observed a decline in belief in the health benefits of fruit and vegetables and a focus on eating produce in reaction to an illness versus prevention, particularly among low-income Americans. Emerging research on emotional well-being provides key insights. PBH research indicates that, across all income levels, those who eat fruit and vegetables the most days per week report highest levels of happiness and life satisfaction. Consumers note physical, emotional and social benefits related to consumption, including pride, feeling good in their day-to-day activities, alleviation of physical illness, confidence in their future health, and other emotional and social benefits. The insight: don’t be afraid to talk about joy, happiness and satisfaction with consumers. Harness the power of imagery and emotions to help build long-term produce habits.

Lasting Behaviors Must Check All the Boxes

All consumers, including those with limited economic means, can benefit from choosing a variety of fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice. PBH research, Primary Shopper’s Attitudes and Beliefs Related to Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, spans more than a decade, and shows that when there is more availability and different forms of preparation in the home, higher intake of fruits and vegetables ensues. People need permission to choose a variety of produce to help make increased intake doable in any life situation. The insight: fruit and vegetables can truly check all the boxes. Taste? Check. Affordability? Check. Convenience? Check. Health? Check. Learn more at Fruit & Veggies—More Matters®!

You are Important and We Need Your Involvement

September is Fruits & Veggies—More Matters® Month — and we call on you to be a fruit and vegetable ambassador! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, and share your ideas using #MoreMatters, to help consumers eat more fruit and vegetables.

Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, is the President and CEO of the Produce for Better Health Foundation. At PBH, she guides the Foundation’s efforts to work with more than 500 industry and government partners to advance the overall effort of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption through all produce forms — fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice.