Anita Jones-Mueller, M.P.H., president and founder of Healthy Dining, a nutrition-related marketing and consulting firm, interviews Bryan Silbermann, president and CEO of the Produce Marketing Association, about the use of fruits and vegetables in restaurant dishes.
This interview and others can be seen at Healthy Dining’s Restaurant Nutrition News & Insights.
Tell us why we should look for color on our plates.
At this point, it is well known that fruits and vegetables are nutrition powerhouses and are the cornerstone of a healthful diet, offering great benefits to public health. It is the Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA) mission to help more people eat more fruits and vegetables more often. You have probably heard of ‘More Matters.’ More fruits and vegetables on your plate translate to more important nutrients and fiber that you’ll be consuming. And that’s important for overall health and well-being.
I know that Healthy Dining’s dietitians are working with a lot of restaurants that are adding more fruits and vegetables to the plates they are serving their guests. And in such creative ways! What are your insights on that?
Yes, we are in a very exciting time. I think chefs are getting very creative and exploring ways to prepare healthy meals that are full of flavor. Produce is the perfect sensory experience because fruits and vegetables add taste, color and texture to the plate. Plus they give meals flavor and character.
I agree! What do you think has contributed to the growth of produce we are seeing on restaurant plates?
Well, there seems to be a new mindset in the industry. For a long time, produce was viewed as boring or just limited to a side dish. But now, chefs are adding produce in very interesting ways.
I think the attention to world cuisines has created more interest in produce. The global influence has led chefs to experiment more with the cuisines, and many of the cuisines emphasize a wide variety of produce. Also, the advances and increased availability of fresh cut and packaged produce have helped make it easier for more restaurants to incorporate more fruits and vegetables more often. Our partnership with the National Restaurant Association has also helped to increase the amount of produce served in America’s restaurants.
Yes, the National Restaurant Association has been a great partner to Healthy Dining, too. They have a strong commitment to helping educate the restaurant industry on the importance of offering healthier options. Tell us more about your partnership with the National Restaurant Association (NRA).
We have partnered with NRA to double the amount of produce served in restaurants by 2020. It has been a wonderful two-way street. There is a lot of value in having NRA work with us to help the industry understand the need and value in serving more produce. We are thrilled that NRA is helping to tell the world that the industry is listening and understands it has a role to play.
So what are some other trends you are finding?
There is a growing trend that is reinvigorating home cooking. And chefs are leading this through the cooking shows on television and recipes found on the Internet.
In the last few decades, people have lost touch with how to prepare good, healthy food at home. And I think these cooking shows and the increased recipe searches are helping people try new things at home. And people are trying fruits and vegetables at restaurants that they wouldn’t necessarily buy at the grocery store without trying first at a restaurant.
So chefs can be very instrumental in helping people experiment and try new types of produce. We are finding that many restaurants are on the cutting edge of the growing produce trends.
And what do you think about the new Kids LiveWell Program that was developed by the NRA in collaboration with Healthy Dining?
I love it! It has been my life’s passion to get kids eating more fruits and vegetables. And I know that is a major goal of the Kids LiveWell Program. And it is fantastic to hear it is growing so fast.
Contact Anita Jones-Mueller, M.P.H., at email@example.com.