Tell it to The Packer | Letter to the Editor

Chuck Benbrook
Chief scientist, The Organic Center
Enterprise, Ore.

I agree with Chris Koger’s upbeat assessment of prospects for expanding sales of fresh fruits and vegetables, as described in “Uncle Sam gives a chance to sell more produce” (Page A6, March 15).

Taking full advantage of this window of opportunity, though, will require systemic effort across all levels of government, the food industry, and steady pressure from moms and dads (and grandparents).

Three steps are key.

The produce and food industries must deliver a much more diverse, high-quality and tasty suite of product options, and year round, from snacks and side dishes to desserts (not too sweet) and beverages.

Second, in the next farm bill cycle, Congress needs to shift a significant share — like 25% — of farm program subsidies from corn, soybeans, and indirectly saturated fats in animal products, to healthier fresh, frozen and canned fruit and vegetable products.

Third, unhealthy food that is driving health care costs upward should be taxed more heavily and for the same reason that cigarettes are taxed, an approach that research shows will work to shift consumption patterns.

Patience and perseverance will also be needed since human behavior, and especially dietary patterns, are hard to change.