If you build it…

This may sound worse than it is, but I’ve been sorting through stacks of paper and apparently 2016 had some interesting nutrition findings. And I’d like to take this Minute to share two articles.

The first was published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. A short pilot study and then a longer trial attempted to see if grocery shoppers can be influenced to buy produce. Researchers included control grocery stores and they matched demographics and poverty levels in the study.

The variable was green arrows stuck to the perimeter of the grocery floor pointing the way to the produce section. Arrows had healthy messages like, “follow the green arrow for health”.

Did you guess? Shoppers DID buy more produce but did NOT increase their total food budget. A win-win.

We know groceries can lure us to high margin, low nutrition items but this is remarkable. The shortcoming of the studies was its short duration. More research needs to be done to see if this is short- or long-term change. I’ve advocated this approach at a local food bank but haven’t been taken up on the idea.

Our second study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (yes, 2016) showed location matters in the school cafeteria. Salad bars within the regular lunch line had significantly greater use than salad bars located in a different area. I know you think, of course! Convenience matters to everyone.

I loved that these were low/no cost ways to encourage healthier eating. You can arrange your kitchen/fridge/cupboards similarly. Make the healthy choice the easy choice to be well,


PS Who knows what happened in 2017 – stay tuned!!

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Supply and demand?

Grocery stores and markets look different today compared to three months ago. Or even two months ago! In a past Minute we highlighted the example of toilet paper.  The supply was constant; but Americans shifted the demand. Consequently, we saw bare shelves.

While the TP and paper towel aisle looks better stocked now, we must buy much bigger quantities. It obviously made economic sense for manufacturers to sell bigger packages.

But what’s going on in the rest of the store? In the news we see milk being discarded, crops being plowed under and young animals being “depopulated, culled or euthanized” – whatever the term, this waste is disheartening to say the least. Food banks are stretched. It isn’t logical. We do have supply and we do have demand.

Prior to the pandemic and its lockdown sequela, 50 percent of our meals were eaten from restaurants; today, it’s a fraction. You wonder why the farmer/rancher can’t just shift supply over to retail outlets; but, the supply chain system was so efficient and finely tuned that the food industry calculated and produced and supplied the precise amount to meet the demand.

But instead of eating our chicken nuggets at a restaurant we want real chicken at home and the system wasn’t prepared. Instead of a factory crafting powdered cheese for snack foods, we wanted real cheese at the store. Plants were not tooled to make the shift. Requirements for packaging and labeling was just the beginning of the challenge. Food processors are savvy and innovative and will figure out this challenge but it will take a bit of time.

While it’s yet to be seen if our food buying will change again post-pandemic, we’d be wise to remember that “processed” food from a nutritional standpoint is not our best friend.

So, let’s have a bit of patience now, plan ahead to minimize our waste at home and remember minimally processed food is important to be well,


PS From Minute readers, people ARE keeping to their healthy habits by using a shopping service and NOT adding snack items. Another commenter suggested that few outside commitments (lessons and sports) allowed time to plan and fix real meals. OK, and some smarty lost weight during these weeks!!!



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