( Courtesy Texas International Produce Association )

The Texas International Produce Association is seeking participants for the send annual Clean Eating Challenge, set to start on Oct 1.

The four participants of the first challenge were set to discuss challenges and successes from the program at the Viva Fresh Expo this spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation. Those participants — Tommy Wilkins of Grow Farms Texas, Michelle Cortez of Mr. Lucky, Jed Murray of Mo Produce/Tenaza Organics and Ed Bertaud of IFCO — lost more than 160 pounds collectively and participated in an online event to discuss the program.

The program is again scheduled to culminate during Viva Fresh next spring, according to a news release.

There’s a new feature of the program this year: as a featured contestant as the original challenge participants were, with regular online updates and the “reveal” at a keynote session in March, or as a regular contestant.

Featured contestants will receive a FitBit to track their progress. Spots are limited, so potential participants are encouraged to register. For more information, see vivacleaneating.com/

“As leaders in the produce industry, we need to be at the forefront of health and wellness in order to set an example for the consumers we are trying to reach every day,” Dante Galeazzi, president and CEO of Texas International Produce Association, said in the release. “As new health fads come and go, fruits and vegetables are the foundation on which we should focus every journey to better health.”

Bertaud, Cortez and Wilkins plan to serve as mentors for new participants, along with James Bassetti III of Little Bear Produce and TJ Flowers of Lone Star Citrus Growers.

“The changes I learned to make during my time as a participant were truly life changing,” Cortez, the Clean Eating Challenge committee chairwoman, said in the release. “I want to help others find the same success I have found which will allow them to live their best lives and reduce their health complications.”

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