Sneaking In The Veggies

Which is a better approach- getting people to understand just how very important getting more veggies into their daily regime is and developing an easy way to do so, or sneaking them into unexpected places?

Maybe it doesn’t matter, so long as the end result is the same- eating more leafy greens!

An interesting article in today’s Times begged this very question in a piece entitled Stealth Vegetables.

You won’t be surprised at the statistics including:

  • People who eat five servings of veggies per day have decreased risk of heart disease, reduction in cholesterol and help to protect against certain cancers.
  • Less than 5% of people under 50 are getting enough veggies in the US.

So what are the manufacturers doing about it?

According to the article, some of the tactics are reasonable and make sense, while others (such as the last one) seems to stretch it a little bit…

  • Making Them Cute …

The food industry’s effort to make vegetables more attractive and less threatening started with baby carrots and moved on to baby greens. But bigger works, too. Bejo Seeds is developing a sweet, 10-pound kohlrabi that is easier to peel and cut into crunchy little snacks.

  • And Convenient …

Vegetable growers are making their produce easier to cook with by doing the prep work themselves: washing, trimming and combining varieties in the same package. The newest entry is bags of thinly shaved brussels sprouts. While the prepped versions can cost twice as much as regular vegetables, there’s less for a shopper to discard. And they are often packed in breathable bags that help extend freshness.

  • And Compelling….

Wegmans Grocers’ 84 stores have farmer meet-and-greets, cooking demonstrations and counters where workers prepare fresh vegetable mixes for stir-fries and other produce-heavy meals that can be made at home. It still sells plenty of junk food, but by promoting vegetables, “hopefully one day we can eliminate the worst of that,” said Nicole Wegman, its senior vice president for perishable merchandising.

  • Ready to Inject

Green Giant’s newest product takes convenience to a new level: Veggie Blend-Ins, introduced this year, are plastic pouches filled with squash, carrots or spinach, each cooked, puréed and ready to be added to other, presumably less-healthful foods.

  • Spiking a Snack

General Mills’ “Brownies With a Boost”: add a spinach Blend-Ins to the family size of its traditional Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies mix. (Really?)

Bottom line- it’s probably a fair statement to say for the most part, we could all use to eat more veggies.   If you and your family are starting from ground zero, the sneak it in approach may indeed be a great way to get started.  Then hopefully over time, you’ll get to the place where you love them so much, you’ll want them to be the centerpiece of every meal…even breakfast.  Seriously.

Whatever you do, though, please don’t pretend that by mixing in a handful of spinach to a Betty Crocker Fudge Brownie mix, that will turn the brownies into a healthy snack. You’d only be fooling yourself and you’re the only one who would then have to pay the consequences!