Friday, March 4, 2011

'"A New Way to Eat Fruit.'?" Really? But, why?

Ah, television commercials. They really do expose you to new things. Last night, I saw a commercial for Fruit2day and their tag line "A New Way to Eat Fruit." Really? Do we need a new way to eat fruit? Is the old way to eat fruit not working for us? Curiousity got the best of me and, today, the trusty Internet enlightened me.

From the Fruit2day website:

So, now I know. Or, at least, now I know this company's version of why. All of these reasons I will summarize into, "It is just too darn hard to eat real fruit." You might have to peel, slice, chop or even...  bite the fruit to eat it! Wow, such effort required.

The company, by the way, is Hero WhiteWave a joint venture between Hero Group (from Switzerland) and WhiteWave Foods (which is owned by Dean Foods Company who is also the manufacturer of the recently questioned Horizon "Organic" milk and Land O'Lakes butter and Silk Soymilk).

Point #1: This product is produced by a company owned by a publically-traded, for-profit company seeking to maximize shareholder value. 

What is this stuff? According to the label it is juice from concentrate, small pieces of fruit and "natural flavor." There are two servings per bottle and they are sold in a two-pack for the suggested retail price of $3.75. Each serving has 110-120 calories depending on the flavor you choose. It is good? I don't know, I haven't gone to buy any (yet; I may for sake of the blog). If you have tried it, I'd love to hear from you. Personally, juice with chunks sounds a bit gross.

Point #2: The words natural flavor on the label can signify both natural and synthetic additives. Yes, something synthetic can be labeled "natural." I'm not making this up, see the FDA website.

While I wouldn't suggest eating a pineapple while driving to work, I do happen to love a fresh, local peach so juicy that I have to stand over the trash can when I eat it. And, let's face it, spitting cherry pits and watermelon seeds was one of the best things about being a kid. Sticky hands after an orange? You know it was a good orange. Goodness people! I don't want to live in a sterile box. Sometimes getting dirty are the good parts of life.

Point #3: If we remove any and all actual experience from eating, we might as well just pop a few "food" pills each day and get on with it. Eating, real food, is fun. Let's not completely ruin it.

Story warning! This, I do not know, it is simply a suspicion. The people making this product did not create it for the urban poor who don't have adequate access to real fruit. This product was made for the people who can afford to buy it from their suburban grocery stores. They buy this stuff instead of real fruit because the commercial makes us believe it is better. Yes, you too can have your fruit chunks mixed with juice from concentrate in a plastic bottle with natural (aka synthetic) flavor. Yummy.

Downtown Detroit, Michigan is considered a food desert because of the lack of major grocery stores. You cannot get Fruit2day within 5 miles of Detroit zip code 48226. If you're living in this area and want fruit chunks in a bottle, so sorry, you're going to have to walk more than 5 miles. Perhaps this company should donate a bottle, each day, to each child attending school in 48226 so they get something at least close to real fruit in their diet.

Point #4: This isn't a "great, new, save the world idea." This is a business (who wants to make a profit, see point #1). 

Okay, so here's the real deal:

  • People do not get enough fruit in their diet.
  • Helping people eat more fruit is a good thing.
  • Processing fruit into a a plastic bottle is huge waste of resources and energy (packaging, processing, transportation, waste).
  • Fruit does not need to be processed to be eaten. In fact, much of it comes already conveniently packaged from nature (peels, rinds and skins to protect it).
  • The only reason this product exists is because it is (or can be) profitable. 
  • Selling real fruit? Not as profitable. 
Yes, I'm a dreamer. It simply seems to me that if companies with the resources to process something like Fruit2day could, instead, spend their time and effort figuring out a way to help people eat actual, real, whole fruit. Give each child a strawberry plant. Line city blocks with apple trees. Share the joy of peach juice running down your chin.  You must admit, eating real fruit is a better idea. 

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