The food as medicine movement

by Amber Gray | October 18, 2019

You know the saying, if only there were a magic pill for (fill in the blank). It could be weight loss, a cure to the common cold, lowering your risk of heart disease, the possibilities are endless. While there may not be a magic pill, a new movement is on the rise: Food as Medicine. As Hippocrates put it, “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.”foodmed

The basic idea behind Food as Medicine is that what we eat has an effect on our overall health. Research shows that our dietary habits can influence our risk for disease. Certain foods may trigger chronic health conditions, while other foods can help lower risks.

According to a study by AI tech firm, Spoon Guru, 40 percent of Americans are worried that an unhealthy diet will lead to them developing a serious illness. Less than 30 percent believe grocery retailers are doing enough to help promote healthy eating. Better labeling on shelves and packaging, promotion, sampling events and recipes in-store, and healthier snacks at checkout can all help to improve the visibility of healthier options.

Dietary changes alone are not a cure-all for all chronic conditions, but eating a diet full of whole foods, especially fruits and vegetables, has a positive impact on our overall health. As the fresh produce industry, this is a movement we should all be on board for. How can your brand embrace the Food as Medicine movement?

Highlight Your Products Unique Health Benefits
We all know fruits and vegetables are good for us, but how, specifically, are they beneficial? It’s one thing to list all the vitamins and key nutrients in your product, but consumers need more information than that. Most consumers know vitamin C helps boost our immune system, but beyond that most probably can’t tell you how all those nutrients really benefit them — that’s where you step in.

Tomato and watermelon brands should talk up lycopene and how this antioxidant protects against cell damage. Magnesium-rich foods like spinach and almonds should talk about its importance in bone and heart health, among other things.

Does your product or commodity help fight inflammation, reduce the risk of heart disease or help control insulin levels for diabetics? Make sure to communicate that to consumers in a way they can understand.

Partner with Credible Influencers
In today’s world of Instagram influencers and fad diets, it can be hard to know where to turn to for reliable and trustworthy information. There is a lot of misinformation circulating on the internet. We see this even in our own industry with things like the Dirty Dozen list or conversations around GMOs, pesticides and packaging.

Partnering with a credible source, like registered dietitians, doctors or reputable organizations, to serve as a spokesperson for your brand or commodity is a great place to start. Always double check that certifications and credentials are up-to-date and maintained.

This spokesperson can provide content, like recipes or blog posts, for your website, speak on your behalf to consumers on social media and in videos, or offer facts for packaging and signage.

Food Rx
At Produce for Kids, we announced our new Food Rx series centered around the Food as Medicine movement. Partnering with Jessica DeLuise, a physician assistant and culinary medicine specialist, we’re focusing on the important role food plays in overall health, plus sharing kid-friendly recipes and highlighting how those items can contribute to overall health.

Recently, Jessica has tackled topics like probiotic-rich foods, how to avoid added sugars and use fresh fruit as your sweetener, and how nutrients in onion may help fight cancer.

As more consumers are looking to fight inflammation, control diabetes or decrease their risk of heart disease with what they put on their plate, the produce industry is poised to lead the Food as Medicine charge.

(Amber Gray is the marketing manager for Produce for Kids)

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