The Produce Moms™ is a community of passionate fresh produce advocates with a mission to inspire everyone, especially children, to eat more fruits and vegetables. The Produce Moms Podcast is designed to educate consumers about fresh produce, introduce them to produce brands, engage the produce industry with consumers in inspiring conversations, and promotes public policy to protect and increase the availability of fresh produce at American schools. For more info, visit www.theproducemoms.com
The Secret To Taking Control Over Your Mental Health With Dr. Drew Ramsey, MD, Psychiatrist, Farmer, Teacher And Author Of Eat To Beat Depression And Anxiety
“The most important message for people to take is that you have an incredible amount of control over your mental health and your brain health.”
Drew Ramsey (3:48-3:57)
Dr. Drew Ramsey, MD, psychiatrist, teacher, TEDx speaker, author of four books, and leading innovator in mental health, is bridging the gap between the food we eat and the way it impacts our happiness. What if the key to improving depression, anxiety, stress and never truly feeling happy was as simple as changing the foods we eat?
According to Dr. Drew, it is. Drew became turned on to the idea that food and our mental health is more related than we think when he was studying at Columbia University to become a psychiatrist. He started to pay attention to his diet, even becoming a low-fat vegetarian at one point (y’know, before it was trendy), while also learning about the health benefits of fish, healthy fats and Omega-3’s. He’s now on a mission teaching others how to use the power of food, specifically foods that are good for your brain, help balance moods, sharpen brain function and improve mental health.
“People have been, you know, debating on whether you should eat meat or not, or whether you should go keto or not. That’s missing the point. The bottom line is you should have an intentional diet that feeds your mental health.” Drew Ramsey (12:03-12:16)
Drew also thinks we’ve been having the wrong arguments when it comes to eating healthy. Instead of debating over eating meat or not, or things like the keto diet, you should eat foods that decrease inflammation (one of the greatest factors in brain health), are healthy for your gut biome, and help decrease signs of ADHD, depression and anxiety. That doesn’t mean getting rid of your favorite pasta or comfort foods, but finding a way to incorporate more leafy greens or Omega-3 fats with that pasta, for example.
Wondering what foods help improve mental health the most? Some might surprise you! Red beans, mussels, clams, oysters, anchovies, leafy greens, rainbow vegetables, fermented foods and dark chocolate. If you’re thinking, “how am I going to get my kids to eat mussels or anchovies!?”, don’t worry. In Drew’s latest book Eat To Beat Depression And Anxiety he has plenty of recipes that share delicious ways to add these foods to your diet, like his kid-friendly salmon burger sliders. If all else fails, there’s dark chocolate, which Drew says can be a part of your daily eating, not just saved for a special treat.
Did you know depression and anxiety affects 58 million people in the United States alone? We also saw a huge increase in depression and anxiety over the pandemic in the past year, which thankfully has opened up our conversation about our mental health epidemic.
Even if you don’t feel you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, eating the right foods now can help decrease the risk of depression later on or dementia. The reason for that is inflammation. Mental health issues and matters that affect the brain stem from inflammation, and one of the major things that regulate inflammation in the body and the brain are eating the right foods. The same goes for your kids. They might not be struggling with signs of ADHD, depression or anxiety now, but as they grow into teenagers or adults they become more at risk.
If your kids are picky eaters, remember their taste palettes develop over time. Let them evolve while still engaging them with brain-friendly foods that they might eventually enjoy. Try having your kids help you chop vegetables in the kitchen, joining one of Dr. Drew’s brain food challenges on Instagram, or celebrating the healthy foods they do enjoy. For example, when Dr. Drew has a picky eater as a patient at his clinic, he doesn’t focus on the fact that they don’t like kale or oysters, but finds a way
When Life Gives You Imperfect Produce, You Make A Healthy Meal That Makes An Impact With Ashley Weingart, Founder And CEO Of Perfectly Imperfect Produce
“What we're all about is rescuing produce that is at risk of going to waste because of imperfections.”
Ashley Weingart (2:53-3:03)
Ashley Weingart never set out to create a business, she just wanted to find a solution to a huge produce waste problem. While working for her husband’s family business Weingart Produce, Ashley would visit farms and witness firsthand the shocking amount of produce that was left in the field.
A perfectly good, healthy and nutritious piece of produce could be left in the field or rejected by buyers because of minor blemishes, being slightly off-sized or off-colored, which didn’t sit well with Ashley. She couldn’t watch perfectly edible produce get thrown out or plowed under when back at home, her community had people going hungry and students who don’t have access to fruits and vegetables.
“Truly every day we wake up with the goal of rescuing more of this food, not only for our customers, but also to get it into the hands of our neighbors in need.” Ashley Weingart (3:47-3:56)
Did you know that more than half of the food that’s produced in our nation goes to waste? A fire was struck and Ashley created a program for Weingart Produce to find a home for more of this produce and get it in the hands of people who don’t have enough of it. What Ashley found, however, was that the average consumer who does have access to regular produce was extremely interested in purchasing “imperfect produce”. But just one year later after starting the program in 2016, Weingart Produce shut down and Ashley had to figure out what to do next. Everyone in the community who saw the impact of what the program did in just one year encouraged her to keep going, which is where Perfectly Imperfect Produce started.
Perfectly Imperfect Produce is a subscription box model that lets consumers choose boxes of produce based on size, organic or conventional, and how much fruits or vegetables they want. At the beginning, boxes were just a mixed bag of all the different items PIP received without any customization available, but the team quickly realized that’s not what consumers wanted. Some boxes fit the needs of consumers who love the surprise element. Getting new produce items they’ve never used before and figuring out what to do with them is exactly what’s been missing! For other consumers, like the busy mom or dad who wants to provide their family with healthy meals, but don’t have time for creativity, boxes like the Salad Bar Box, Soup Box or Smoothie Box are exactly what they need.
You might be wondering why grocery retailers don’t offer more imperfect produce. There’s been an abundant amount of studies that misshapen or minorly-blemished fruits and veggies sold in brick-and-mortar retailers end up creating a larger carbon footprint because they just go to waste. It’s critical that direct to consumer solutions like Perfectly Imperfect Produce are available for the consumers who will gladly enjoy these overlooked pieces of produce.
Even the CDC shows that under 10% of Americans are eating the recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables, even though there’s plenty of supply to go around. Ashley’s company picks up extra produce from a local farm may have, for example, because of an overstock of items they grew for a restaurant that isn’t in business anymore or can’t utilize all of the produce because they are serving a smaller amount of customers. They also pick up items that are too small, too large, blemished, scraped, scarred, discolored and so forth from farms and local wholesalers. On top of selling to average consumers, Perfectly Imperfect Produce makes weekly donations to local Ohio food pantries to serve their mission of reducing food waste through improving healthy food access.
Perfectly Imperfect Produce has just launched a Salad Ba
EP147: Celebrating The Backbone Of America For Farm Workers Awareness Week With Maria Goreti Mireles Gonzalez, Human Resources Coordinator At Andrew & Williamson, Tony Pacheco, Health And Safety Manager At Winset Farms, And Alice Linsmeier, Workforce De
“We realize that they are the ones with the skills. They have been working for a long time, for some of them even decades, and so we just try to create a space for people to shine.”
Alice Linsmeier (16:45-17:02)
The Equitable Food Initiative is on a mission to bring together growers, farmworkers, retailers and consumers to transform agriculture and improve the lives of farm workers. It wouldn’t be a celebration of Farm Workers Awareness Week without sharing the great impact the EFI creates for all individuals in the produce supply chain.
Tony Pacheco, foreign worker and Health and Safety Manager at Winset Farms’ Delta Branch in British Columbia, Canada is their co-chair of EFI and never has a typical day-to-day experience. With about 196 workers from Guatemala and around 150-200 local workers during peak time, every day has a different set of challenges, especially when workers (and EFI reps) speak three separate languages. Whether he’s talking to a Spanish speaking, Punjabi speaking, or English speaking worker, Tony tries to connect with each worker when walking around making sure everyone is working safely. It’s imperative to keep the lines of communication open with these workers to take care of issues, for example, in their housing or with how they are working.
“Everybody has been empowered by the EFI program. It's really cool to see our meetings because I present them in English and Spanish, and then we have a Punjabi translator. Our meetings are updating in three languages and all of our posters are in three languages.” Tony Pacheco (9:33-9:49)
EFI is a training program that anyone in the produce supply chain can take and be certified by. If you’re like Maria Goreti Mireles Gonzalez, Human Resources Coordinator at Andrew & Williamson, you’re talking to workers about the EFI program from the time they sign on as an employee. Not only that, workers around the farm are always talking about how they’ve grown through EFI, what they’ve learned or asking questions, so everyone is well aware of the impact that’s available to them.
That doesn’t mean workers are eager to go through the training, however. Many workers are shy, don’t like to speak in front of people or think it’s just going to be a boring PowerPoint presentation. Tony Pacheco says, “we have workers that didn't want to be part of it and we encourage them to do it, even though they said they were very shy and they couldn't speak in front of people. After about six months of being on the program the turnaround was just amazing and their confidence level went up.”
Thanks to that confidence boost, some of the workers at Winset Farms have become forklift operators, which many were intimidated by at first because they’re used to working with their hands and don’t have as much of the same technology in Guatemala, where they’re originally from. When workers arrive, they’re introduced to electrical greenhouse cards, scissor lifts, the ability to log into computer systems to keep track of produce inventory, and the workers that went through the EFI course to become representatives are impacted greatly because their competency level is raised higher.
“After the first day [of EFI training], the workers are laughing, people that are really shy are speaking, they're making sure everyone has a space to speak, and they are just supporting each other in bringing forth the best of their skills and gifts to keep each other safe, keep the product safe and keep the environment safe.” Alice Linsmeier (18:21-18:42)
One of the main things EFI tries to do is create community and bring together all of the job functions of the farm, include women, include other languages, shine a light on the indigenous workers that are bilingual indigenous speaking and uplift in the vocabulary discussion. On f
Should We Be Worried About The State Of America’s Fruit And Vegetable Consumption? With Wendy Reinhardt, President And CEO Of The Produce For Better Health Foundation
“Here's the plan: have a plant. It’s your invitation to inspire more health and happiness.”
Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak (38:11-38:19)
Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, President and CEO of the Produce For Better Health Foundation, and return Produce Moms guest (check out episode 16 and episode 52), is serving up some interesting data about our current state of fruit and vegetable consumption.
Every five years the Produce For Better Health Foundation commissions The NPD Group, an American market research company, to do research on America’s fruit and vegetable consumption trends, which includes consumption at home and away from home as a part of the State Of The Plate assessment. State Of the Plate started in 2005, with research going back to the early 2000s, so they’re able to track consumer trends across 20 years.
In the last five years the research has shown a gradual decline in how often someone is consuming a fruit and vegetable. Even with the rise in plant-based or plant-forward lifestyles, why is this? Wendy thinks it’s because this isn’t a habit that’s formed early on and therefore when someone grows into adulthood, they don’t have those healthy habits to keep growing on.
The research is based on volume data (consumption data from the government which is measured in cups) and even though the dietary guidelines for Americans is to make half of your plate fruits and/or vegetables, only one in 10 Americans is meeting that recommendation. This equates to a 10% annual decline in fruit and vegetable consumption by Americans every year.
“These numbers can be a little disheartening when you think, ‘gosh, you know, fruits and vegetables that are being relegated to a side dish, and now they're eroding, maybe even falling off the plate entirely.’” Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak (9:03-9:15)
The good news is we’ve seen an increase in how often fruit is being eaten as a snack and as a side, and before the pandemic, vegetable consumption was up in the food service sector. The downside? Once the pandemic happened, we lost options for veggies in public at restaurants and items like salad bars at school programs. There’s been an overall double digit decline in vegetable consumption with millennials and Gen Zers (who are younger parents) as well as a decline in juice.
So who is eating fruits and vegetables then? The one out of ten Americans that eat enough fruits and vegetables are eating them at every single meal and snack occasion. On top of it, the research is showing these parents aren’t as influenced by what their children say (like “mom, I don’t eat green stuff!”). These are also the types of people who are interested in trying new recipes, whereas people who aren’t eating enough fruit and veggies are more dependent on eating them away from their house and aren’t interested in trying new recipes.
How can we improve? Wendy says it’s not just about understanding how healthy and nutritious fruit and vegetables are, it’s about creating an enjoyable, pleasurable experience with them. If someone is enjoying the full experience of what they’re eating, they’re more likely to recreate the same behavior voluntarily. Parents of picky eaters, take note!
Wendy believes we need to leverage the types of emotions that appeal to all levels of consumers in all types of situations to help them create a new, pleasurable behavior, a new experience and therefore a repeatable behavior that becomes automatic. The “know, feel, do” approach is what makes this happen. One way to do this is to focus on complementary pairings. For example, the number one breakfast food people eat fruit with is cold or hot cereal. Only 10% of cereal consumers are eating it with fruit. It’s such a simple, enjoyable, repeatable meal pairing and hits a ton of emotional triggers tha
The Online Farmers Market You Didn’t Know You Were Missing With Nick Carter, Co-Founder And CEO Of Market Wagon
“We're now democratizing local food. Anybody can get this, anybody can shop this way and we can deliver it to the door.”
Nick Carter (14:54-15:01)
Nick Carter, fourth generation farmer, author of “More Than A Mile: What America Needs From Local Food”, and co-founder and CEO of Market Wagon is on a mission to connect “agra” with “culture” so we can bring back the connection we’re missing and fabric that holds us together with food.
Market Wagon is an online “farmers market” connecting food consumers directly with local farmers and artisans. It’s a direct to consumer portal and online community where you can buy specific foods from vetted artisans and farmers in your area. On top of being able to purchase produce, meat, dairy, eggs, prepared foods, baked goods and snack foods from those local to you, you can communicate with them too! Just like when you walk around a farmers market and you chat with vendors at the booths you walk up to, Market Wagon gives you that same opportunity.
“So much socialization takes place around food. So much community is built around food and we lost that and didn't know it and we're trying to restore it.” Nick Carter (10:22-10:35)
Before Market Wagon, Nick created a startup called Husk, which he also calls one of the biggest failures in his repertoire. Although Husk looked successful on the surface by helping local farmers build a community of local suppliers to get into grocery stores, they started to find out the grocery stores weren’t such a fan of this idea. These grocery stores didn’t want to change how they sourced food, they just wanted to have a few, local items they could showcase on a marquee.
Some of our greatest failures lead to our greatest successes, which is why Husk inspired the start of Market Wagon. All it took were 12 customers to order online and come pick up their goods for Nick to know he was on to something. A few months later because of the customer demand, Market Wagon started offering home delivery. Today, the company has 24 locations (soon to be 50) with over 1,000 vendors and tens of thousands of customers.
The whole mission behind Market Wagon is to reconnect “agra” and “culture”. Over the last 20-30 years, we’ve been a period called the industrial food complex. When food was industrialized and turned into a consumer good that is manufactured “somewhere out in the world” that people purchase and eat just for calories, we lost the true meaning of food, which is a fabric that holds us together.
But wait, are all the farmers and artisans on Market Wagon really local? Yes, and Market Wagon ensures this because sellers actually have to appear at the Market Wagon facility with their food or products so Market Wagon can deliver the orders. Not only does a seller have to be local to Market Wagon geographically, but they have to participate in the online communication.
Market Wagon considers someone local to you, the consumer, if you could actually visit their farm or see them at a farmers market and get to know them. If a seller is a part of a giant factory or production, they’re not a fit for Market Wagon. A local artisan selling baked goods where you, the consumer, can get to know the person behind the food online (or in person) is who Market Wagon hosts on their marketplace. Market Wagon has also doubled down on efforts to help support chefs in converting some of their menu items into heat-and-eat prepared meals, or create build-your-own recipe meal kits.
“You can follow your favorite farmers and then you can receive updates from them. We're building a community because that connection is what food is all about.” Nick Carter (9:19-9:28)
Even though 44 million people currently have access to Market Wagon, the goal is to be available from coast to coast over the next fe
Your Favorite Fair Trade Certified™ NatureSweet Tomatoes Just Got Sweeter With Lori Castillo, Vice President Of Marketing At NatureSweet And Jesse Appleman, Head Of Fresh Goods Department At Fair Trade USA
“At NatureSweet, our commitment is really to transform the lives of agricultural workers in North America, no matter what.”
Lori Castillo (3:02-3:11)
NatureSweet’s ability to transform the lives of their agricultural workers across North America just got stronger now that they’re partnered with Fair Trade USA! Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit organization in Oakland, California and the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in the North American market.
You’ve probably seen the Fair Trade label on your favorite produce items at the grocery store, but what does it actually mean? First, it means that the farm or factory that produced that product (Fair Trade certifies flowers, seafood and is best known for their work in textiles) is being regularly inspected against the Fair Trade standards. These standards are extensive and cover social practices, economic practices and environmental practices at the farm level.
Secondly, for every product that is sold with a Fair Trade label on it, a portion of that product’s price goes back directly to the workers on that product’s farm into a special fund just for them. No one else has access to it but the workers, who then decide how the money is used through democratic voting. The workers invest the money into projects that address the greatest needs of their communities, like access to medical and dental services, transportation for children to get to school, or making clean running water available.
It’s empowering for the farm workers to make this decision since they understand their communities’ needs best, and in turn, they can work with the Fair Trade organization to prioritize the projects and turn them into a reality.
“There's nothing more important than initiatives like this that are transforming the lives of those who work in the agricultural industry and that is exactly what Fair Trade is all about.” Lori Taylor (19:03-19:17)
If you’re concerned about the markup on Fair Trade products’ prices, don’t be. There’s a small premium put on the price of goods at the point of sale that’s merely fractions of a penny. You pay that premium at checkout, but the total cost could be, for example a few pennies per pound. That might not sound like much, but those fractions of pennies add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars and even millions of dollars.
The Fair Trade organization empowers farm workers, yes, but also ensures the economic, social and environmental practices on a farm are met at a very high standard. Things like safe and responsible working conditions, ensuring workers live in safe housing, get adequate rest and meal breaks, and that they’re paid sick and maternity leave are all examples of what these standards include.
Another important focus of Fair Trade is that there’s transparency with workers when they are being hired. Unfortunately there are plenty of times when workers don’t understand their rights under the law, how their pay is calculated, what benefits they are entitled to and what procedures are in place to gain access to those. Fair Trade eliminates that and wants to make the experience for a farm worker just as excellent as it might be for a high up executive in a corporation.
Do the products from Fair Trade farms actually differ from others? Anyone understands that if they feel safe, respected, empowered and dignified at their workplace, they’re going to be invested in the quality of their work and put in an extra level of attention to what it is they’re doing. Plus, knowing that Fair Trade also benefits a worker’s family and community increases their overall wellbeing and livelihood. You might not visibly see a difference, but you can enjoy Fair Trade products knowing the people behind it have been treated humanely, with care, respect and the highest standard of working
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Finally! A voice for produce people to educate consumers and retailers alike!
Lori and The Produce Moms are EXACTLY what the produce world needs. The Produce Moms podcast, website, and social media platforms are the extension of the growers and brands - they educate consumers and retailers alike with facts, tips, recipes, posts, interviews, and so much more. This podcast has something for everyone!
Changing the way kids think about produce!
Lori Taylor and The Produce Moms are changing the way kids think about produce and healthy eating. Thanks to the community Lori has created, parents, kids and produce lovers alike can access exciting recipes, colorful images, fun facts, and interactive ideas for ways to eat fruits and vegetables. The Produce Moms Podcast is a great resource for produce industry interviews, insight and inspiration. I can’t recommend it enough!
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Lori never ceases to amaze me and her podcast is just one more thing that she has mastered. If you want to keep a pulse on fresh produce, agriculture or health issues impacting children — subscribe to this podcast. Kudos Lori and Produce Mom team!