Back from the sun-filled weekend, we pause to consider the news from the world of fruits and vegetables. A Russian contact told me this morning that a major importer has filed for bankruptcy. We’ll try to have more on that later in the week.

As I read the Perishable Pundit this morning, I note that Jim asks the question, “Why not fresh?” in the dialogue about the national promotion board. I’ve raised the “fresh” question before in comments about the Produce for Better Health Foundation, and one comment in the Fresh Talk blog occasioned this response from John Sauve, of the Swardlick Marketing Group. This column was published in the Dec. 15 issue of The Packer:

In defense of eating frozen fruits and vegetables
    John Sauve, Swardlick Marketing Group
    In a recent Fresh Talk ( blog item, National Editor Tom Karst reported on a Mintel forecast that frozen fruits and vegetables are likely to experience a significant increase in consumption over the next few years.

    Good news for the produce industry... and the health of Americans.

    However, to that report Tom added the following comment: "Frozen may have its advantages, but it has one clear disadvantage -- it is a second-rate product compared with fresh. Consumers will always prefer fresh over frozen, no matter how many new ‘innovative freezing technologies' are rolled out. End of discussion."

    End of discussion?

    I hope not, Tom. Unless of course you don't want anyone to offer a slightly different perspective than yours about frozen fruits and veggies being second rate to fresh.

    Frozen is different than fresh, yes, but not second rate. And by the way, the produce industry (including the growers, farmers, processors, suppliers, The Packer, etc.) can't afford to denigrate any form of its magnificent products that consumers need to triple in consumption to reach their recommended daily dose of our beautiful array of colors.

    Fresh, frozen, canned and dried all can and must play a valuable role in the healthy lifestyles and needs of people.
    Now, in support of frozen, I won't say anything that might imply frozen superiority versus fresh -- even relative to the finding that frozen could possibly be more nutritious given the ongoing oxidation of fresh in the produce department (oops, that one slipped out!).

    And I certainly don't want to mention value in these tough economic times (slipped again).

    In whatever healthy form they take, all produce, fruits, veggies, nuts and legumes are in the "good stuff" family. And we all need to consume more. It's a
universal truth.

    The produce industry and the government have the responsibility to figure out how to get consumers to eat more fruits and veggies, for both their own personal health and for the economic health of our country by helping to reduce the escalating cost of medical coverage.

    We've all read those statistics.

    Interestingly, we don't need to look far to find another food group working on a similar issue.

    Our friends in the dairy industry are finally plowing millions into advertising and promotion of the health benefits of milk -- something they overlooked for quite a few years while building awareness with their mustaches.

    They learned the hard way that celebrity-endorsed milk mustaches didn't move much more of their product. Now they have rediscovered and reinvented their health story, promoting milk as a nutrient-rich food that provides a healthy dose of nine essential nutrients.

    Good for them. They're doing a nice job delivering a great health message, and it's going to work.

    As part of the new Fruits & Veggies -- More Matters communication strategy, The Produce for Better Health Foundation is now pushing (as much as they can with their limited budget) that "all forms count" in the quest to help consumers reach their daily fruits and vegetables goal.

    All forms. So why would we even imply that frozen is second rate, in any fashion? This industry has a big job and a big responsibility to move everyone to eat more fruits and veggies, in as many ways and forms as makes sense for them to do so.

    Tom, I know you probably meant for someone to react to your "second rate and end of discussion" commentary. You knew someone would come to the defense of frozen fruit and veggies. I also know that I do not really need to list all the great attributes and benefits of our naturally colored fruits and veggies, in their frozen, protected, convenient and healthy state.

    Rather, I do need to re-emphasize the responsibility and the challenge the produce industry faces to figure out how to get people to buy more and eat more fruits and veggies.

    Fruits and veggies naturally own the healthiest segment of MyPyramid. We're allowing others to take that positioning away from us in the supermarket -- like the pharmacy section, which seems to own the words "Health & Wellness."

    Shouldn't those words be in the produce department?

    Implying anything is second rate about our entire remarkably healthy and colorful product line doesn't help the cause.

    We need Fruits & Veggies -- More Matters in as many cool colors and forms as possible.

    John Sauve is managing partner of the food and nutrition division at the Swardlick Marketing Group, Portland, Maine, which represents clients that promote fresh and frozen produce. E-mail

TK: John makes a strong argument for all forms of fruits and vegetables.. But what I find most revealing is that the fresh produce trade – whether growers, shippers, wholesalers or retailers – don’t find the “all forms count” message the least bit controversial or objectionable. There is no passion for the “fresh” argument; it is a non-starter. I’m not sure why, but perhaps it is because growers, marketers and consumers have vested interests in both fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. I think the inclusion of all forms of fruits and vegetables in the promotion effort not only syncs the effort with the precedence of the Produce for Better Health Foundation but it also maximizes the assessment base for the plan.  I challenge Jim to produce one member of the fresh produce trade who favors a “fresh only” approach.

Other headlines of note

Turning back the clock on your health is as easy as 1-2-3-4 From the story:

Dr. King's study took a look at a pool of 15,708 adult males and females between the ages of 45 to 64. In the first visit only 1344 (8.5 percent) were already practicing all four healthy behaviors.

After the initial visit, 970 individuals adopted the four healthy behaviors over the four-year study. After the four years he found that those who adopted and maintained the healthy lifestyle reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease by 35 percent over those who did not adopt the four healthy behaviors. He found that mortality (death) was also reduced by 40 percent. Both reductions occurred after only four years of Cure for Heart Disease found in tomatoes? Will FDA demand a prescription?following the behaviors.

Tomatoes and heart healh

British scientists say that a new pill made from tomatoes may ward off heart disease and stroke. The naturally occurring antioxidant lycopene is said to responsible for the health benefits that block the body from absorbing “bad” LDL cholesterol. This bad cholesterol is primarily responsible for clogging arteries.

In its natural form, lycopene gives tomatoes their red color, but is also poorly absorbed by the human body. The product Ateronon will be launched today at the meeting of the British Cardiovascular Society. Early studies say that the new supplement “can reduce the oxidation of harmful fats in the body to almost zero within eight weeks,” according to a report by the BBC. Ateronon provides modified lycopene which is readily used by the body. The modified lycopene compound was originally developed by Swiss food giant Nestle

Brazil Sets Regulations for Organic Farming

The Brazilian government said over the weekend that it established regulations for organic products and was creating a producers registry to promote the growing market.

The registry will allow officials to determine how many organic growers are operating in the South American nation and the volume of agricultural products being grown without pesticides, Agriculture Ministry environmental affairs coordinator Rogerio Dias said.

The government has set regulations and will tally output of agricultural commodities, such as fruits, legumes, vegetables, milk, meat and honey, as well as goods like cosmetics and cleaning products, being produced using organic practices