Photo: Kimberly Gomer speaks at the NEPC show breakfast before the expo Aug. 23. (Ashley Nickle)
BOSTON — Kimberly Gomer, director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center, recommends retailers market fruits and vegetables as solutions to common health issues.
Gomer, who spoke Aug. 23 at the New England Produce Council show, explained that at Pritikin people are forced to change their eating habits immediately — including hefty helpings of fruits and vegetables — and that many see reductions in their blood pressure within days, and other measurable health changes soon follow.
“It is amazing how quick the transformation happens,” Gomer said.
She explained that by connecting health benefits to specific produce items, retailers can positively affect public health and increase produce purchases along the way as people realize the quality-of-life attributes fruits and vegetables provide.
Gomer suggested retailers work with dietitians to create content that explains how eating more produce can help people with high cholesterol, diabetes and other conditions.
Gomer gave several examples of how to grab the attention of consumers and direct them to more information. Prompts on a website like “Want to reduce your risk of heart attack? Eat these vegetables” and “Eat this fruit if you have diabetes” allow people to see how fruits and vegetables can help them specifically.
Gomer explained making the information accessible via multiple channels — the website, email blasts, social media platforms and in-store material — is also key.
“Drive this message of health home as much as (you) can,” Gomer said.
Theresa Nolan, president of The Nolan Network and founder of new website Produce Buzz, a platform that encourages people to eat more fruits and vegetables, spoke after Gomer's presentation and challenged industry members to be leaders in increasing consumption.
The New England Produce Council, along with the Eastern Produce Council and the Southeast Produce Council, is asking members to participate in a new event, the N4TEN Challenge.
To participate, people make a small donation and eat 10 servings of produce daily for 30 days, posting to social media about how they are getting more fruits and vegetables into their diets. The funds from the event go to scholarships for people in the industry.