The process of reporting today is made much easier by Google and, as one unknowing politician once called it, the “Interweb.”

InterWeb is defined : “A sarcastic term for the internet. Often used in the context of parody regarding an inexperience, unskilled, or incoherent user.”

I consider myself a fairly experienced and skilled user of the Web, and so I become frustrated when I couldn’t find a hyperlink to a study that was used as the basis for a blog post which vaguely referred to the need for the U.S. to double production and imports of fruits and vegetables (or language to that effect) to meet U.S. dietary recommendations.

As it turns out, the story was based off the White House report called “Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity in a Generation.” The report was part of the outreach earlier this month by the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaigns. The link is found here.

I had covered the study for The Packer a couple of weeks ago but focused on the issue of whether the government was advocating subsidies for producers and the industry reaction to that.

The report also contained some lofty goals for ramping up fruit and vegetable availability and was more ambitious toward boosting fresh produce consumption than anything we have seen than anything coming out the 202 area code.
Here are some excerpts;

More fruits and vegetables. Currently, children and adolescents consume far lower quantities of fruits and vegetables than recommended in the Dietary Guidelines.On average, children consumed only 64% of the recommended level of fruit and 46% of the recommended level of vegetables in 2003-04.Average fruit consumption should increase to 75% of the recommended level by 2015, 85% by 2020, and 100% by 2030; vegetable consumption should increase to 60% of recommended levels by 2015, 75% by 2020, and 100% by 2030.

One news story about the 124-page report said following the study’s recommendations “could lead to government policies that would encourage a massive shift in acreage toward fruit and vegetable production and perhaps changes to the farm program that would encourage fruit and vegetable consumption and provide less support for traditional field crops such as corn and wheat.”

If it really were that easy; if we could only guide consumer choice by executive order. And the word was spoken by the First Lady– and so let it be.

Also this month, a group called the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation (HWCF) announced
with a straight face a pledge to reduce 1.5 trillion calories by the end of 2015, a decrease HWCF member companies opined they intend to sustain in subsequent years. From the release:

“Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation manufacturing companies will pursue their calorie reduction goal by developing and introducing lower-calorie options, changing recipes where possible to lower the calorie content of current products, or reducing portion sizes of existing single-serve products. These calorie reductions are in comparison with what was available in the marketplace in 2008. “

I don’t understand how this will work. Are calories some evil output for food manufacturers to measure, much like greenhouse gas emissions? One would think that the more calories, produced, the more successful a company would be. But I digress. By the way, are the makers of Butterfinger on board?

Consumers need to be educated about the health consequences of their dietary choices, but we can’t expect government or competing food manufacturers to make the job easy for fruit and vegetable marketers.

The noble fight to square up food consumption with dietary guidelines will not be settled by government white papers or press releases about illusionary changes to manufactured food.

There will always be sweet tarts, Big Gulps and Jolly Ranchers.

Speaking of Jolly Ranchers, did you hear that a third-grader in a small Fort Bend, Ind., school district reportedly received a week-long suspension because of an outlawed Jolly Rancher consumed at lunch?

Fruit and vegetable marketers need to create another “space” for their voice to be heard beyond the perception of a nagging “nanny state” edict.

The battle for the hearts, minds and stomachs of Americans will be best made with a strong industry commitment to generic promotion efforts and making the right choice the attractive choice.