Can one of the great spiritual teachers illuminate the right attitude that fresh produce marketers should have with processed fruit and vegetable marketers?

I think so, since Jesus took a balanced approach to the question. In Mark 9:40, he is quoted “Whoever is not against us is for us.”  In Matthew 12:30, Jesus seemingly embraces  the opposite  tack: “He who is not with me is against me.”

When it comes to the halo of fresh produce, some consumer food companies have tried to steal the sunshine of whole produce. The issue is a topic right now on, as the FDA has been taking comments on the agency’s "Comprehensive, Multi-Year Nutrition Innovation Strategy.”

The comment period closed Nov. 12, but there is pushback from the nutrition community on deceptive advertising on food that touts fruits and veggies where hardly any are present.

From the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics said this in a comment:

Labels thus provide actionable information at the point of decision, connecting dietary choices to health. Yet products across the marketplace attempt “permission” marketing, in which a health halo is intentionally created to make food and beverages appear more healthful than they are. Specifically, consumers should not be misled that processed foods touting images of fruits and vegetables are actually adequate dietary substitutes for fresh fruits and vegetables. For this reason, it is critical that the FDA’s initiative should seek to correct misleading or inaccurate labeling claims and should not enable unhealthy foods to unfairly compete with fresh fruits and vegetables, which occupy too little space in Americans’ diets.

As the FDA fleshes out the details of its Nutrition Innovation Strategy, the agency should consider the extent to which its labeling policies and new strategies encourage the promotion of products that are substantively better than an unhealthful substitute but remain suboptimal in its nutrient density or other relevant characteristics. In addition, the FDA should ascertain whether labeling initiatives may drive consumers not only towards more healthful products labeled as such and away from less healthful products, but also unintentionally away from optimally healthful whole foods such that lack labels, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. For these reasons, we believe that the FDA should focus on the following initiatives as part of the Nutrition Innovation Strategy:

  • If defined with rigorous scientific substantiation and in a manner readily and accurately understood by the vast majority of consumers, the FDA should strengthen the definition of “healthy” and review a full range of options for front-of-package  nutrition labeling programs;
  •  The FDA should improve labeling of whole grains to enhance transparency and clarity for consumers and encourage healthful reformulation of graincontaining foods;
  • The FDA should have flexibility in prioritizing applications for health claims with rigorous scientific substantiation that have broad health benefits; 
  • The FDA should support health and enhance transparency by addressing deceptive labeling;
  • The FDA should modernize and improve standards of identity and ingredient lists and continue its efforts on sodium reduction; and 
  • The FDA should continue and even redouble its critical work on nutrition education.

TK: Fruits and vegetables in processed form aren’t the enemy, but highly processed foods with only a hint of fruits or veggies (think of strawberry toaster pastries, for example) are. True disciples need to follow the path of fresh produce. He who is  stealing our halo is against us.