Archive For The “Health” Category

New Study Estimates Millions Could Live Longer By Eating More Produce

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ProduceAisles1By Alliance for Food and Farming

A new peer-reviewed study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that by eating more fruits and veggies, an estimated 5.6 and 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide could be prevented.  Further the study concludes:

Fruit and vegetable intakes were associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality. These results support public health recommendations to increase fruit and vegetable intake for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature mortality.

This study is yet another example of the decades of  nutritional research that overwhelmingly show the benefits of all genders and all age groups eating more fruits and veggies for better health and a longer life.  For children, specifically, there are also numerous studies showing the benefits of fruit and veggie consumption on cognitive health too as their young brains develop.

Ironically this study was published at the same time that the Centers for Disease Control released a new report which showed only only one in 10 Americans are eating enough fruits and veggies each day. 

While there are often cited reasons that we aren’t eating enough fruits and veggies, it is becoming quite clear public health initiatives to increase consumption are being undermined by groups who use fear to promote eating only certain types of produce grown in certain ways.  This fear-based messaging used by these groups often disparages the more affordable and accessible produce available to most Americans and may result in low income consumers being less likely to purchase any produce — organically or conventionally grown.

But, at the AFF we believe supporting consumer choice also promotes increased consumption. Whether you prefer organic, conventional or local produce or if you like to shop at warehouse stores, traditional grocery stores, farmers markets or via online home delivery services – these are all good choices.  Just choose what is best for you and your family and be confident knowing that the right choice is always to eat more fruits and veggies.

And, now there is yet another new study that shows the dramatic impact fruits and veggies can have on health and longevity.  Millions can live longer, healthier lives simply by eating more apples or spinach or strawberries or pears or broccoli.  Listen to the science – it supports your choice whenever you eat a fruit or veggie.

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Ensuring Broccoli Sprouts Retain Their Cancer-Fighting Compounds; Chicory is Newest Hot Item

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By ACS / Friedrich Schiller University Jena

brusselRaw broccoli sprouts, a rich source of potential cancer-fighting compounds, have become a popular health food in recent years. But conventional heat treatment used to kill bacteria on produce can reduce levels of the broccoli sprouts’ helpful phytochemicals. Now researchers report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that high-pressure processing could wipe out harmful bacteria while maintaining high concentrations of its health-promoting ingredients.

Research has found broccoli sprouts contain anywhere from 10 to 100 times more glucosinolates than their mature counterparts. Glucosinolates are the main compounds in broccoli and sprouts that are transformed into isothiocyanates when chopped or chewed. Studies suggest isothiocyanates have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity. To help prevent bacterial contamination, the sprouts can be heated, but high temperatures can affect the conversion of glucosinolates to isothiocyanates. So Volker Bohm and colleagues wanted to explore an alternative method for getting rid of broccoli sprouts’ microbial contamination.

The researchers treated sprouts with high pressure, a method that is sometimes used to ensure the safety of seeds, fruits and vegetables while preserving heat-sensitive nutrients. Results showed that processing broccoli sprouts at 400 to 600 megapascals increased the amount of glucosinolates that turned into isothiocyanates. Up to 85 percent of glucosinolates were converted under high-pressure processing, boosting the plants’ potential health-promoting compounds. The rate of conversion for mild heat treatment at 60 degrees Celsius was 69 percent. Isothiocyanate content in boiled samples were undetectable or not quantifiable. Thus, the researchers say high pressure could be a preferred method over heating for processing broccoli sprouts.

Funding was provided by Ohio State University for the research.



By Amiel Stanick, Bon Apetit

A crisp, leafy salad is a miraculous thing: It lends satisfying bulk to a light meal and bright balance to a heavy one. It seems like just yesterday chefs of every stripe were obsessing over alt-Caesars, crunchy piles of Little Gem, and reinvented wedges. But this year it’s definitely a family of hardy, pleasantly bitter, multihued lettuces that are having their moment in the salad spotlight. Some varieties, like escarole and radicchio, feel familiar; others, like boutiquey speckled Castelfranco and finger-spindly Tardivo, look fantastically exotic.

One of the biggest selling points of chicories is their hardiness.  They taste sturdy, they feel sturdy, meaning you can treat them aggressively, says chef Jake Nemmers of Flora Bar in NYC.  They want lots of salt and acid and fat.  They are dying to be seasoned.   Not only does that mean that chicories play nice with more intense salad elements such as salty cheese, nuts, and fruit, but also that they’ll hold up over the course of a long, lazy meal much better than more delicate lettuces.

Deliciousness aside, chicories are also a win visually, an Instagram-age slam dunk.   “They’re just so beautiful,” J.J. Proville, chef of Seattle’s Our Sin.  Whether you’re a chef or a home cook, a chicory salad with all those incredible hues of purple and white and green is going to impress.  It’s a lot more interesting than iceberg.   Proville recommends mixing up different varieties for maximum visual and textural impact.

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New Center for Disease Control Reports Only 1 in 10 Eat Enough Produce

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ProduceAislesby Alliance for Food and Farming

According to a new study issued by the Centers for Disease Control, consumption of fruits and vegetables continues to be stagnant with only one in 10 Americans eating enough on a daily basis.  You may not have heard about the CDC announcement because this is yet another government report that surprisingly received little media coverage.

The CDC report, which broke out groups of Americans by state, income, race and gender, found some subgroups were even less likely to eat enough produce.  Men, young adults and people living in poverty all had especially low rates of fruit and vegetable intake.

“The study confirms years of data demonstrating that Americans do not eat their veggies,”  said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University, in The Guardian. Assuming this result is close to reality, it suggests the need for taking much stronger action to make it easier and cheaper to eat fruits and vegetables.

The very fact that the CDC examines fruit and veggie consumption itself should be an indicator of its vital importance to our health.  But here are some facts to remind everyone why produce is the only food group health experts agree we should eat more of every day for better health and a longer life.

  • 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented each year if only half of all Americans increased their consumption of a fruit or veggie by a single serving every day.
  • Consuming a plant rich diet can lower your risk of premature death by 42%, heart disease by 31% and cancer by 25%.
  • Research shows the benefit of increased consumption on fetal health. One study showed that pregnant women who eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, whole grains and fish can reduce the risk of heart defects in their baby, sometimes by as much as 37%.
  • Numerous studies illustrate the benefits of fruits and veggies on cognitive development.  One recent study found that children who ate more fruits and veggies scored much higher in multiple areas on standardized academic tests.

Unfortunately, as two peer reviewed studies are showing, misinformation carried by activist groups about the safety of the more affordable (cheaper) and accessible (easier) fruits and veggies may be contributing to this trend of stagnating consumption.  In one of the studies, researchers found misleading messaging which inaccurately describes certain fruits and vegetables as having  pesticide residues results in low income shoppers reporting that they would be less likely to purchase any fruits and vegetables, organic or conventional.

In light of the CDC consumption statistics and peer reviewed research showing the potential effect of fear-based messaging, isn’t it time for activist groups to change their strategy from one of disparagement to encouragement? Just think what activists could do if they spent their time and considerable resources, including using their celebrity spokespersons, to encourage consumption instead of disparaging produce that has been proven safe but is also the most affordable and accessible to the majority of Americans.  What a benefit that could be to public health.

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The Silent Generations Influence on Produce Consumption

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AAA7By Category Partners

Idaho Falls, ID —  With a perpetual buzz surrounding how to respond to millennial and Gen Z needs, it seems one of today’s key generations often is overlooked in the retail world of the silents.

Shaped early by the Great Depression and WWII , and today, by smaller households and older age “this generations has a waste not, want not attitude and demand for quality, simplicity and traditional values, are apparent in their behaviors and attitudes toward produce shopping. These insights were revealed in the recent Barriers to Purchase (BTP) study, which surveyed 4,000 produce shoppers nationwide, evenly split among millennial, Generation X, baby boomer and silent generations.

Unlike their younger counterparts, silent are ages 72-89 and aren’t as swayed by the rise of new food trends and technologies and  to a degree price. Yet, they embody strong preferences (arguably more so than millennials) toward the what, where, when, why and how, of produce planning, shopping and eating.

The silent generation is fascinating, as the factors influencing their produce-selection process are truly representative of life stages and experiences  and “perhaps to a greater degree than other generations,”  said Cara Ammon, principal of Beacon Research Solutions, BTP co-administer.  “They were raised to stretch their dollars the furthest, so they want the greatest return on their investments, as it relates to quality and shelf life. They live in smaller households and are averse to waste, therefore leaning toward smaller packages and bulk. And, they want to extend their years, so health and nutrition weigh heavily in their purchasing decisions.”


Indeed, of all generations, silents are most turned off by the top overarching barriers to produce purchasing , price, quality, spoiling, variety not available and package size too large.

When it comes to purchase drivers, silents are most influenced by:

–Quality/appearance (including ripe fruit)


–Locally grown (in contrast, least concerned about natural and organic)

–Bulk/smaller package size

–Better vegetable selection


Silents, unsurprisingly, take a traditional approach to mapping their produce shopping, as they are most likely to use circular ads/store flyers; and least likely to use all other planning resources, especiallyfood/recipe websites, social media, blogs and TV. That said, they also are more inclined than other generations to not plan their produce purchases.

Regardless, once they are ready to shop, silents are prone to buying fruits and veggies in a supermarket/grocery store, mass merchandiser or discount grocery store.


Silents tend to stick to traditional meal occasions when eating produce, and particularly dinner for vegetables and an evening snack for fruits. Similarly, they are least likely to eat fruits and vegetables as a morning/afternoon snack or for lunch.

And, don’t expect to find silents in the kitchen longer than necessary, as they are most likely to prepare heat-and-eat meals and avoid cooking; though, they prefer to eat at home more frequently than other generations.

About Category Partners: a nationally recognized resource, among produce companies and retailers, for delivering actionable business/consumer insights, marketing/sales plans and technology/data solutions. Category Partners is grower/shipper owned and headquartered in Idaho Falls, ID, with offices in Denver, Atlanta and Laguna Hills, CA.

About Beacon Research Solutions: a leading consumer research and data analysis firm, who works with clients to deliver need-based insights. Beacon’s methods for identifying and evaluating key business insights, include: consumer surveys; focus groups; syndicated research; category reviews; trade research; in-store testing; loyalty card data analysis and promotion/pricing analysis.

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The Produce Mom Annnounces Rebranding and New Name

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ProduceMomINDIANAPOLIS  — The Produce Mom®, a passionate advocate for the fresh produce industry lead by Lori Taylor, announces a rebrand and name change to The Produce Moms.

What started five years ago, as a blog and consumer brand of the Indianapolis Fruit Company, has evolved into an educational media brand that is owned, authored and lead by Taylor. Under her leadership, The Produce Mom has grown in its aspiration and aims to serve three specific audiences: moms, children and school professionals with inspirational content and action-oriented materials that are ultimately geared to increasing the consumption of fresh produce in America.

“I believe that if we are going to change the way America eats and establish a preference for fresh produce, we have to start at the source and build a community of moms, children and school professionals that want to see positive change. This community of Produce Moms will be comprised of the people that will ultimately lead and shape change in their local homes, schools and communities,D” said Lori Taylor, CEO of The Produce Moms.  “We intend to provide our community of Produce Moms with access to educative content on a regular basis, as we have done for the past two years. In addition, it is my goal to provide tools and turnkey solutions that The Produce Moms’ army can access and use to shape change in their own communities around the country.”

Working as the sole-source provider of a grant awarded to the state of Indiana by the USDA Team Nutrition program, The Produce Mom has led a two-year crusade across the state hosting special events at schools geared to introduce students to fresh produce varieties and encourage foodservice professionals to choose fresh form fruits and vegetables. The grant project continues for the next year and includes the publication of a national digital curriculum and continuing education program for school foodservice professionals in all 50 states. “The work that Lori and her team have conducted in K12 schools over the past two years has been transformational. I’m grateful to be a part of this movement as we’ve witnessed first-hand how children react positively to healthier food choices by making it exciting, available and delicious,” said Chef Todd Fisher, celebrated culinary veteran and spokesperson for Duda Farm Fresh Foods.  “Through public-private partnership between the USDA and Duda Farm Fresh Foods, I had the great opportunity to collaborate with The Produce Moms and educate over 200 school foodservice professionals.”

Earlier this year, school foodservice professionals in the Midwest attended three days of live training, focused on culinary skills training, Smarter Lunchrooms strategies, and recipe development to promote the under-consumed vegetable subcategories. The live training impacted over 1 billion annual school meals, and was only possible through the support of The Produce Moms, Duda and the USDA.

The work being conducted by The Produce Moms is work that will ultimately benefit the fresh produce industry as a result of increased consumption and demand of the products that are grown and distributed by producers in our industry.  In addition, The Produce Moms provides fresh produce brands with the opportunity to reach consumers in a way that is purposeful and puts fresh fruit and vegetable products at the forefront.  A plethora of fresh produce brands have been partners, supporters and advocates of The Produce Mom since its inception.

The Produce Moms provides Wada Farms with an engaged and evolving resource for on-trend marketing discussions, both with The Produce Moms consumer community, and the other well-respected brands of The Produce Moms and â Family of Partners,” said Kevin Stanger, president of Wada Farms.   “Wada Farms believes in The Produce Moms and has benefitted greatly from our two-year association with the brand.”

For more information about how to join Lori and The Produce Moms visit

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New Studies Show Multiple Health Benefits From Consuming Mangos

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by The National Mango Board

ORLANDO, Fla.– Emerging human studies on mango consumption have found potential health benefits associated with the superfruit including improved blood pressure, blood sugar control, and gut health. The research, conducted by of the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at Texas A&M University and the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Oklahoma State University, was presented during the 2017 Experimental Biology conference in Chicago.

“This emerging research shows promising outcomes on mango’s potential to reduce the risk of metabolic disorders and chronic inflammation,” said Leonardo Ortega, Director of Research at the National Mango Board.

Chuo Fang, Ph.D., from Texas A&M University, investigated the metabolic effects of daily consumption of freshly frozen mango pulp (400g) for six weeks in lean and obese subjects and the relationship between mango metabolites to Body Mass Index (BMI) and circulating biomarkers.

  • Fang, C. Kim, H. Barnes, R. Talcott, S. Mertens-Talcott, SU. Daily Mango (Mangifera Indica L.) Consumption for 42 Days Differentially Modulates Metabolism and Inflammation in Lean and Obese Individuals. The FASEB Journal, April 2017, vol. 31 no. 1 Supplement 431.3.

Researcher Crystal O’Hara, Ph.D., from Oklahoma State University examined the post-prandial response of young, healthy males (18-25 years) following consumption of a typical American high-fat breakfast with or without a mango shake, which included 50g of mango pulp (equivalent to ~250g of fresh mango).

  • O’Hara, C. Babjide, O. Simenson, A. Hermann, J. Payton, M. Smith, B. Lucas, E. The Effects of Acute Freeze-Dried Mango Consumption with a High-Fat Meal on Post-Prandial Responses in Healthy Young Adult Males. The FASEB Journal, April 2017, vol. 31 no. 1 Supplement 166.3.

In a randomized pilot study, researchers from Texas A&M University, led by Hyemee Kim, Ph.D., investigated the potential role of mango consumption in changes of the gut microbiota, bioavailability of galloyl metabolites, and anti-inflammatory activities in lean and obese subjects.

  • Kim, H. Barnes, R. Fang, C. Talcott, S. Mertens-Talcott, SU. Intestinal Microbiota and Host Metabolism Respond Differentially in Lean and Obese Individuals Following Six-Week Consumption of Galloyl Derivatives from Mango (Mangifera Indica L.) Pulp. The FASEB Journal, April 2017, vol. 31 no. 1 Supplement 431.3.

Researchers from Texas A&M University examined the absorption, metabolism, and excretion of gallic acid, galloyl glycosides, and gallotannins in lean and obese individuals that consumed 400g of freshly frozen mango pulp daily for six weeks. The study’s lead researcher, Susanne Mertens-Talcott, Ph.D. suggests that extended mango consumption may offer increased anti-inflammatory benefits compared to sporadic mango consumption and this would need to be confirmed within an extended efficacy study.

  • Mertens-Talcott, SU. Kim, H. Talcott, S. Barnes. R. Adaptation of Galloyl Derivatives Metabolism and Excretion After 42 Days of Mango (Mangifera indica L.) Consumption. The FASEB Journal, April 2017, vol. 31 no. 1 Supplement 646.16

About The National Mango Board

The National Mango Board is an agriculture promotion group, which is supported by assessments from both domestic and imported mangos. The board was designed to drive awareness and consumption of fresh mangos in the U.S. The superfruit mango contains 100 calories, an excellent source of vitamins A and C, a good source of fiber and an amazing source of tropical flavor. Learn more at

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Health Benefits of Potatoes are Cited

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DSCN8805Are Potatoes Good for You?

Potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, and those eaten with the skin are a good source of potassium. Foods that are good sources of potassium and low in sodium, such as potatoes, may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.
All varieties of potatoes are nutritious and, while both the type and amounts of nutrients may vary slightly depending on the variety, the differences are minimal. So minimal in fact, the FDA nutrition label for potatoes represents a composite of varietals.
The FDA-approved Nutrition Facts Label says it all. Potatoes are:
– An excellent source of vitamin C
– A good source of potassium (more than a banana!)
– A good source of vitamin B6
– Fat-, sodium- and cholesterol-free
– Only 110 calories per serving

Potatoes and Potassium

One medium potato with skin provides 620 milligrams or 18% of the recommended daily value (DV) of potassium per serving and is considered one of the best foods with potassium. Skin- on potatoes rank highest for foods with potassium and are among the top 20 most frequently consumed raw vegetables and fruits. Potassium is a mineral that is part of every body cell. It helps regulate fluids and mineral balance in and out of cells and in doing so, helps maintain normal blood pressure. Potassium is also vital for transmitting nerve impulses or signals, and in helping muscles contract.

Potassium is a powerful dietary factor that may help lower blood pressure. Unfortunately, few Americans are getting the recommended 4700 milligrams per day of potassium they need. (Potatoes make it easier!)

Are Potatoes Fattening?

No. A 5.3-ounce potato has only 100 calories and no fat. Experts agree weight gain occurs when an individual consumes more calories than he or she expends.

Are Fries and Chips Healthy?

Staple foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains should be eaten every day, while fried foods and high fat snacks should be viewed as occasional treats. One food, even one meal, does not make or break a healthful diet. Understanding the impact that fried foods, like fries and chips, or high-fat foods like ice cream and cookies, have on your overall eating pattern makes it possible for you to “make room” for them as occasional indulgences.

More information on potatoes can be found at the Potato Goodness website.

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USDA Awards Major Grant In The Fight Against Childhood Obesity

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VegShowWASHINGTON, D.C. – Many parents struggle with their kids’ eating habits and obesity.  What if more kids actually wanted to consume fruits and vegetables?  A New York startup believes it will make that happen.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded Vedge’ Kids, LLC Phase 1 of a 2 Phase $1.1 million grant to conduct research on the effectiveness of its produce-centric TV show and curriculum in the fight against childhood obesity.   Childhood obesity continues to be a serious health concern in the U.S.  Total societal costs are estimated at over 100 billion dollars annually.

The Vedge’ Kids show, which features animated fruits and vegetables as superheroes, aims to inspire and motivate children to eat healthy. The show is unique in that it is entertainment driven not preachy, flat or didactic.

“We’re extremely pleased to have worked with the USDA to reach this milestone,” said Rob Orchanian, President of Vedge’ Kids.  “The individuals at the USDA are dedicated, professional and forward thinking.  Their action confirms our proof of concept and our team’s dedication.  Our goal is to improve the health of all our children by promoting the eating of fruits and veggies.

Our method has been to tear a page from the marketing book of junk food companies.  Eating fruits and veggies is fun, exciting.  They taste great too! We will make sure that little kids and their mommies know that and live that.”

Orchanian went on to say, “The Vedge’ Kids show is the cornerstone of a commercial enterprise. We firmly believe that the shows popular appeal will support a national TV broadcast. We expect this grant will be the 1st of a series of grants and investments that will move us firmly into profitability within the next 2 to 5 years.”

Research will be done in conjunction with the University of Maryland. The University has advised programs offered through Sesame Workshop and PBS.

Vedge’ Kids LLC, headquartered in the greater NYC metropolitan area, is also the publisher of several nutrition-focused children’s books.  More information on the company can be found at

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NatureFresh Farms’ Mobile Greenhouse is Impacting Purchasing Decisions

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NatureFreshby NatureFresh Farms

Leamington, ON – The heat of the summer is settling in across the Midwest though this has not deterred NatureFresh™ Farms’ mobile greenhouse tour from missing a beat. Already nearly 50 events completed since mid-April, consumers continue to flock to #GreenInTheCity events to learn more about how greenhouse vegetables are grown.

“The mobile greenhouse has not only been a conversation starter but a difference maker in how we connect with our customers”, said Ray Wowryk, Director of Business Development.

The mobile Greenhouse Education Center (GEC) is a 38’ custom-built unit that is an exact snapshot of how NatureFresh™ Farms grows its vegetables in state of the art high tech greenhouses in Leamington, ON & Delta, OH. Equipped with fruit bearing plants and complimented by a live Bumblebee Eco-System, the GEC serves as an education resource to inform consumers about how greenhouse vegetables are grown.

“We care about the future of fresh and all that it entails; we need to collectively increase fresh produce consumption. NatureFresh™ can help do that with the GEC and by getting front and center with consumers, we share our story to help inform them of the value of greenhouse vegetables. Knowing who grows what you buy is important, understanding how its grown is just as important if not more”, commented Wowryk.

Supporting the GEC this summer are 5 college students who serve as NatureFresh™ Brand Ambassadors at each event. The team is responsible for event day operations and interacting with retail partners to ensure their customers have the best possible experience. With varied backgrounds ranging from agri-business to environmental science to marketing to biology, the team provides unique perspectives of the value of greenhouse grown vegetables.

“We are able to immediately impact consumers purchasing decisions at store level with the knowledge we share about how we grow greenhouse vegetables”, said Cole Burkholder, GEC Team Member & 3rd year Environmental Science Major from Ohio State University. Agriculture is nothing new to Burkholder whose family operates a farming operation of more than 500 acres of row crops in central Ohio. “The look on people’s faces when we explain the greenhouse growing process and they see the live plants with real fruit, it’s priceless, you kind of see that ‘a-ha’ moment in their eyes. We’ve even had customers show us their shopping carts when leaving to show us the tomatoes or bell peppers they have purchased because of our conversation. It’s a pretty good feeling!” commented Burkholder.

Now in it’s 3rd year, the #GreenInTheCity Tour has completed more than 200 events to date across eastern North America connecting with consumers at retail stores, summer camps, schools, and community fairs.  The 2017 tour will continue on through early November wrapping up at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto, ON November 12th.

To learn more about NatureFresh™ Farms and the #GreenInTheCity Tour, visit

About NatureFresh Farms

NatureFresh Farms™ has grown to become one of the largest independent, vertically integrated greenhouse vegetable growers in North America. Growing in Leamington, ON and Delta, OH, NatureFresh™ Farms prides itself on exceptional flavor & quality. Family owned NatureFresh Farms™ ships Non-GMO greenhouse grown produce year-round to key retailers throughout North America.

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Why Tomatoes Got Bland – And How To Make Them Sweet Again

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DSCN0580+1by Michael Price, Science

The U.K. journalist Miles Kington quipped that knowledge is knowing tomatoes ares a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put one in a fruit salad.  It wasn’t always this way.  Decades of commercial growing have altered the tomato’s genetic makeup, turning it from a once-sweet fruit into today’s relatively tasteless sandwich topper. Now, a new study has uncovered which flavor-enhancing genes have been lost, giving growers a “roadmap” to breed tastiness back into their tomatoes.

“This is great work, which I believe could only be done by very few groups on Earth,” says Changbin Chen, a horticultural scientist at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, who wasn’t involved with the study. “This is doable for commercial growers who supply the fresh tomato market.”

Tomatoes are among the highest-value crops in the world. In the United States—the world’s second largest tomato grower behind China—they account for more than a billion dollars in sales annually. Nutritionally, they are important sources of vitamins A and C. But the large, plump, ruddy tomatoes available year-round in grocery stores taste much different than the small, multihued, berry-sized fruits that evolved more than 50 million years ago near Antarctica and were first domesticated in Central and South America some 2500 years ago. The fruits spread throughout the world following Spanish colonization in the 16th century. Over the next 400 years or so, hundreds of regional cultivars of tomatoes emerged, but they mostly stayed small, sweet, and flavorful.

Then, commercial agriculture exploded after World War II, and tomato crops were bred for higher yields, disease resistance, redder color, and firmness, explains Harry Klee, a horticultural scientist at the University of Florida in Gainesville and one of the study’s authors. These traits helped growers sell their crops for more money, but growers neglected genes responsible for taste, Klee says, and many of these were lost or tamped down over thousands of generations.


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