Do you know about the Alliance for Food and Farming? AFF is a non-profit that represents both organic and conventional fruit and vegetable farmers, companies that deal with fresh produce, and organizations representing produce farmers. The best part: AFF does its work without the misleading, scary headlines and press releases.
You probably recognize AFF for its Safe Fruits and Veggies website — and, particularly, its pesticide-residue calculator. The calculator lets users find out exactly how much of any produce the user would have to consume in order to encounter dangerous pesticide levels. So, for example, an adult woman could consume 848 apple servings in one day without having any adverse effects from the highest-recorded pesticide residue ever found by the USDA.
So I appreciate AFF as a resource. And a recent blog post got me thinking.
AFF wants to know why fruits and vegetables marketing doesn’t encourage consumption. We know that only one in 10 Americans consume enough produce daily. So there’s a lot of room for improvement. And the message is fairly simple: just eat your fruits and vegetables!
Yet those aren’t the headlines we see splashed across major-media outlets. Rather we’re bombarded with stories about which foods are the dirtiest, the latest places glyphosate has popped up, and what foods are going to kill us instantly unless we stop consuming them. The stories are usually supported by shaky or unverifiable science (or poorly interpreted research). Yet they happen over and over again.
So why doesn’t anyone report on something undeniable: We all need to eat more fruits and vegetables? And this might actually be a really big deal for our health and well-being?
No, I get it. Articles and headlines are chosen for their ability to get clicks and go viral. And strong emotional responses tend to get shared more than the things we all know but don’t want to hear again. But surely our savvy journalists and newsmakers can find a way to make the real stuff sound juicy and sexy, right?
Let me give an example. A study published in Lancet says that one in five deaths could be prevented by simply eating more fruits and vegetables. It’s not necessarily about the “bad” food we’re eating, it’s just that we aren’t getting enough of the good stuff.
It seems like something pretty important that should be covered. But I didn’t see any headlines about it (and I actually look for this stuff!). Maybe it was a headline problem and the news companies didn’t think it would interest people.
So maybe this headline: “Science shows avoiding THIS increases your chances of death by 20 percent!”
Or how about: “One in five people die because of THIS!”
Let’s try: “Your risk of death increases by not doing THIS!”
Come on, it really isn’t hard. If we’re really going to promote clickbait over truth, then this shouldn’t be so hard. We don’t need to print the press release from activist organizations funded by special interests. We don’t need to scare people. We don’t need to induce anxiety.
In a time when many people are confused by so many conflicting healthy-eating messages, it isn’t that hard to correct course.
So here’s a message all of us should hear a lot more often. No spin. No agenda. No labels. No fear. No anxiety. Just the truth.
We need to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Amanda Zaluckyj blogs under the name The Farmer’s Daughter USA. Her goal is to promote farmers and tackle the misinformation swirling around the U.S. food industry.