Produce. Fruits and Vegetables?

12 Jul

Ok. I am really honked off now! This beats all!

I am signed up to receive specials from my local grocer. A weekly flyer lands in my email every Wednesday. I can peruse specials by category and make my grocery list online. The convenience of this sure works for me as a busy working mother. But today, there was a glaring addition to the produce section of the e-flyer.  Right there, sandwiched between cantaloupe and black plums was listed the unthinkable. AN ENERGY DRINK!! Oh no! This cannot be!!  Is that how we categorize produce?

Let’s see.  Dictionary.com defines produce as “agricultural products  collectively, especially vegetables and fruits”.  Hhhmmm. Don’t see “energy drinks” in that definition.  So I took a stroll through the store that sent me the e-flyer.  Nope.  No energy drinks in the produce section.  In fact, the energy drinks were by the soda products.  Interesting.  And to me, appropriate merchandising.

Health and wellness have been core values of mine for as long as I can remember, and I have worked in the field of clinical nutrition for many years.  The local schools that my children attend have always asked me to come visit a couple of times a year and speak to the children about nutrition.  I absolutely love doing this.  I love going into the schools and educating the kids about nutrition basics.  (Do my own kids love it? Um, that might be another story which would include some huffing and eye rolling on their part…).  Last spring, with a son in 8th grade, I was invited to his school to talk to the children.  I asked what topics the teachers wanted me to touch on.  Were there any problems, I asked the teachers, that they saw in the student’s diet that they wanted me to specifically address.  The emphatic answer was energy drinks.

So talk to them I did.  We discussed caffeine and sugar.  Appropriate hydration.  And what “energy” in food really means.  And guess what?  When I asked how these students had gotten their hands on the energy drinks, most of them said “vending machines”.  The kids also admitted to sneaking them when their parents weren’t around.

So.  Here are the game stats folks.  The parents had not picked these items up in the produce section of their local grocer.  In fact, most of the kids had to sneak it.  They did not necessarily want their parents to know that they were imbibing in energy drinks.  And reeling from the negative affects of them.  The children reported a racing heart, mild panic attacks, and a little bit of a “rush” from energy drinks.  Not exactly the epitome of good health that we want to instill in our children.  Or what any parent would want their middle schooler to experience at such a tender age.

For many reasons I am outraged by this grocer putting an energy drink in the produce section of their e-flyer.  I think it gave the appearance of the drink being healthy, like a natural juice.  I do not like the idea of these drinks, or any sugary manufactured drinks in fact, being mainstreamed in ads like this.  I will be the first to admit that I can be hyper sensitive at times to how food is marketed and presented, especially unhealthy food options.  Like I said, good health is important to me.   And teaching our children about it is even more important.  I felt that this ad muddied the waters a bit.  So I vent on my blog.  Hey, be grateful that I didn’t call you today to express my disdain like I did some of my other friends!

I will continue to go into the schools and talk to the students about nutrition.  I will try to stay on my path to wellness.  But most importantly, in the end, I will just go to another grocer!

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