Produce should claim its day of the week

08/02/2013 11:17:00 AM
Tom Karst

There are two competing impulses in the world, often wrapped in the same person. We at one time like to indulge our appetites, while in another season we forswear anything that takes us off the straight and narrow path.

In this case, I speak of the desire for decadent or unhealthy food and the urge to cleanse the diet of added sugar and “heart attack in a sack” fast food.

Given the fact that most of all of us struggle with these contrary attractions, I think the produce industry should make it easy for consumers.

I asked the question in The Packer Market this way:

Should the industry put more collective resources/marketing behind the concept of meatless Monday?

What would be the pros and cons of being more aggressive about promoting an exclusively fruit and veggie “day of the week”?

While often perceived as a recent parry from anti-meat forces, it is surprising to note that the origin of “Meatless Monday” was actually during World War I. According to a history of the movement on the website www.meatlessmonday.com, the Food and Drug Administration at the time urged families to reduce consumption of key staples to aid the war effort.

In particular, “Meatless Mondays” and “Wheatless Wednesday” were introduced to encourage Americans to do their part. The administration advertised the effort and created recipes booklets and menus in newspapers and magazines.

In time, more than 13 million families signed a pledge to observe the FDA’s national meatless and wheatless conservation days. The concept was revived in World War II, when federal officials used rationing to help feed war-torn Europe.

In 2003, Meatless Monday was reintroduced by Sid Lerner, former advertising executive turned health advocate, in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for a Livable Future. The public health awareness campaign addressed “the prevalence of preventable illnesses associated with excessive meat consumption,” according to the website.

Campaigns now apply the Monday concept to a range of health behaviors including nutrition, physical activity, tobacco cessation, screenings and overall wellness, according to the website.

Schools have recently been coming on board with the concept, according to a report in the online Education Week journal.


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Kristie Middleton    
Washington, DC  |  August, 02, 2013 at 04:22 PM

Thanks for the great piece about this important issue. With 50 percent of Americans saying they've heard of Meatless Monday and 18 percent saying they're participating, Meatless Monday is a great way to market eating more fruits and vegetables. From Green Giant to Campbell's Soup to Burger King, major companies have used the term to drive meat reducers to their products. If you're interested in marketing ideas, please contact The Humane Society of the U.S. at meatlessmonday@humanesociety.org.

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