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USA Today: New ‘Have A Plant’ campaign hopes to get more eating fruits and veggies

Read the full article on USA Today

Move over fruits and veggies, the new recommendation is “Have A Plant.”

After decades of public awareness campaigns and studies touting the health benefits, the Produce for Better Health Foundation released new research Tuesday that shows nine out of 10 Americans still are not eating enough fruits and vegetables each day.

It’s an issue, Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, the foundation’s president and CEO, said she hopes the new “Have A Plant” campaign can change.

“There is a shift from knowledge-based recommendations inclusive of facts and figures to this more emotion, feeling-based message and giving suggestions, actions and ideas,” she said in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY. “This is what Millennials and Gen Z are asking of us. An invitation to consume more versus a command of how many.”

The USDA’s current federal dietary guidelines recommend consumers “make half your plate fruits and vegetables.”

‘The original plant’

The new campaign replaces the foundation’s “Fruits & Veggies More Matters” education program and was created to get to the root cause of why consumers are not eating enough plants, Reinhardt Kapsak said.

Since the campaign targets Millennials and Gen Z, the nonprofit foundation is expanding its social presence and network of influencers and has a new website,, with recipes and ideas.  The organization has more than 300 members from retailers, growers to government agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While the research shows consumers aren’t eating as much fruits and vegetables, Reinhardt Kapsak acknowledged more are moving to a plant-based lifestyle.

“We’re seeing more and more plant-centric menus and new products,” Reinhardt Kapsak said. “The produce industry is essentially raising its sail to take a hold of the trend and say ‘We are the original plant.’”

Some key findings

The foundation did extensive data analysis, including looking at 1.2 million social posts and assessing 100 behavior studies.

  • Fruits and vegetables are used and perceived differently, requiring different “feel-do” strategic and tactical elements.
  • Consumers are motivated by the immediate emotional satisfaction of eating fruits and vegetables and report feeling happier.
  • The emotional connection can be more motivating as a driver than an emphasis on disease risk reduction.
  • Consumers in the college and university are receptive to plant-forward dishes and snacks.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko