When I eat radishes, I don't think about lycopene.
When I eat green vegetables, I don't think about isothiocyanate.
When I eat oranges, I don't think about cryptoxanthin.
My point is this:
Why do we as a culture try to persuade people to eat better by focusing on one of two extremes? On the one hand, we toss around this crazy scientific terminology that's so inscrutable to the average person that it's basically meaningless. I pulled the lutein, isothiocyanate, and cryptoxanthin examples from a chart that a popular magazine sourced from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The chart is useful enough, I guess, but I don't believe most people make food choices this way.
On the other hand, we insult the intelligence of the American eater with hyperbolic headlines claiming that eating more produce will instantly make us younger, happier, sexier, and skinnier.
Two extremes: one that's overly detailed, another that strains credulity.
I propose a different conversation entirely, one that promotes the same idea (produce is good), but with a more moderate tone and a more meaningful approach.
Produce didn't used to need advertising the way newfangled, packaged foodstuffs did. People just knew intuitively it was good for them. But now, to compete, we push its nutrient composition to the fore, as though this were its primary selling point in our diets, as though these features had magical powers. To me, this direction is actually a step back, as it confuses the straightforward but boring reality that fruits and vegetables are simply good for us. That's the nugget. That's the sound bite.
But it's not newsworthy.
So it doesn't sell.
I wait eagerly for the day when bizarre diet books don't dominate bookstore shelves, when headlines like Fiber Your Way to a Younger You! stop screaming from the newsstands, and when we can once again focus on the pure joys of good food.
When our commercials, our magazines, our celebrities, and our very culture openly acknowledge this:
Some Food is Quite Obviously Good for Us, and Some Food is Quite Obviously Bad for Us But We Choose to Eat It Anyway.
It's a long, clunky, non-newsy headline.
And to me, it's the only one that approaches the truth.