Check-out these “CART”wheels!

The other day as I meandered through the grocery store, I found myself longing for summer fruit season. I couldn’t bring myself to buy grapes at $4.50 a pound or the parched-looking pomegranates and other scraggly offerings – so, I resigned myself to the winter holy trinity of fruit: apples, oranges and bananas. After adding pears, frozen raspberries and a pile of green veggies, I continued my tour into the dairy section.

A father and son went by, their cart was loaded but all I could see was a case of chips, bottles of pop and I think some frozen dinners. I overheard the Dad say something on his phone about there not being any salt and vinegar.  Well, maybe they’re having a party I thought to myself.

Standing in the check-out line I couldn’t help but notice other carts loaded with packaging but very little produce. I realized I was having one of those surreal moments when you can actually see the things you read on your computer screen jump out into real life.

When I first started working with BCAHL in 2006, low levels of fruit and vegetable intake in BC was something that was flagged as a serious risk factor for chronic disease rates. According to data collected by StatsCan, today only half of British Columbians are eating the recommended 5 to 10 servings a day – and this is up from 2001!

That said – there are some pretty neat ideas bouncing around to bring up veggie and fruit eating.  Just today, I was reading a report out of the UK Cabinet Office that points to some promising non-conventional approaches such as an innovative grocery cart design developed in New Mexico

The grocery cart was simply designed to show shoppers how much space in their carts they should fill with produce. A sign and some yellow tape is all it took but in an experiment this visual prompt induced shoppers to buy considerably more fresh produce.

In December I met with Karen Lee from the New York City Health Department.  They have a very cool project to put fresh vegetables and fruits on New York sidewalks with green carts. They also help communities to get healthier foods into their local corner stores through their Adopt-A-Bodega program.

Of course, BCAHL has delivered some great Healthy Eating Initiatives to get people eating their 5 to 10 a day. We’ve still got a long way to go – but luckily there’s lots of great ideas out there.

Rita Koutsodimos
Manager, Communications
January 12, 2011

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