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CPMA Corner - Produce Ambassadors: How Produce Meets the Plate

There seems to be no shortage of nutritional advice these days, with many “experts” dispensing their wisdom. But Registered Dietitians (RD) are a trustworthy source of sound advice. These health professionals specialize in the area of nutrition and play a key role in shaping consumers choices and behaviors. Whether they work in a retail store, clinical practice, or institutional setting, Dietitians encounter many of the same questions about healthy eating on a budget or meal preparation with a busy schedule. They also provide their clients with tools and information, such as the Half Your Plate message, to make the healthy eating choice the easy choice.

Half Your Plate helps find easy, budget-friendly ways to fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies at every meal.

For the past four years, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) has partnered with Dietitians across Canada to provide continuing education opportunities as part of our annual Convention and Trade Show. This peer-to-peer learning provides Dietitians the opportunity to explore the produce industry in depth. Education sessions have focused on topics such as understanding pesticide use, what GMOs are, and how produce can fit into any budget.

Carol Harrison, Registered Dietitian, TorontoCarol Harrison, Registered Dietitian, Toronto
“As a Dietitian, I know we have our work cut out for us with only 1 in 10 Canadians eating enough vegetables and fruit. I champion the Half Your Plate message because people instantly get it. The Food Guide approach using numbers of servings and sizes of servings is just too much information. Knowing how much to eat is part of the solution, but just as important is knowing how to put that advice into practice. Our Dietitian Day at CPMA 2018 in Vancouver aimed to do just that with practical takeaways such as simple meal ideas to get more veggies at breakfast and how to share facts (not fear) about agricultural practices like pesticides and GMOs. I think we need to remember folks primarily choose foods based on taste. Winning people over with tasty, simple ideas is key.”

Melanie Byland, Registered Dietitian, VancouverHalf Your Plate helps find easy, budget-friendly ways to fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies at every mealMelanie Byland, Registered Dietitian, Vancouver
“I have learned from my time as a Dietitian in retail that most consumers know the importance of fruit and vegetables for health promotion and chronic disease prevention. But, they often have many questions on topics like pesticides, genetic modification, organics, and the safety of their food. Registered Dietitians are the leaders in nutrition education and the most qualified professionals to address these questions, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to educate RDs in Vancouver on these important areas so we can continue to address these questions with an evidence-based approach.”

While they are experts in nutrition, Dietitians may not have had the opportunity to explore the produce supply chain. Providing them this education allows them to better understand the issues that the industry faces to provide healthy and safe produce for Canadians.

As they explore the trade show floor each year and speak to exhibitors, our Dietitian partners gain knowledge of growing methods, varietals, and other topics facing the industry. This knowledge allows them to better communicate with their clients in their day-to-day practice.

Laurie Barker, Registered Dietitian, HalifaxLaurie Barker, Registered Dietitian, Halifax
“The Half Your Plate message is one that I talk about in my practice every day. It is so practical and easy for my clients to remember and implement. The health benefits of making this change on your plate are profound, and I love the fact that I am hearing more and more health professionals and organizations promoting this message.”

There are many benefits to having these credible health professionals participate in our industry event. Perhaps the most important is the chance to witness firsthand the passion and pride of an industry that grows, ships, and sells the healthiest and most flavorful foods available. Understanding and experiencing the path of our produce, the faces and families behind the product, and the story of our industry further enriches the eating experience and the possibilities of fruits and vegetables. Dietitians are not just an amazing resource for our supply chain and the retail and foodservice partnerships that help us thrive; they truly are some of our greatest ambassadors to the consumer.

Contributing Author

President, Canadian Produce Marketing Association