Ag at Large: Growers support health message

Ag at Large: Growers support health message

California and Arizona farmers who produce a bunch of different crops have joined with the American Cancer Society to promote better eating.

(Commentary)

Talk about positive reinforcement! California and Arizona farmers who produce a bunch of different crops have joined with the American Cancer Society to promote better eating.

They have channeled their support through Western Growers, one of the state’s largest organizations of producers. While the organization has been thought of traditionally as representing vegetable growers, it now includes producers of citrus, stone fruits, grapes, nuts, berries, even kiwis, as well as the whole gamut of vegetables.

Lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and the salad vegetables used to be the long suit of Western Growers, but today members of the organization run the gamut.

Some of their products have been tainted in the past by accusations of pesticide residues or sickness-producing bacteria - some of them the result of unfortunate allegations by the pesticide police and the grocery gendarmes.

But who can oppose cancer prevention, especially when it can be the result, in part at least, of healthy eating?  Even with the ‘new thinkers’ constantly poking holes in traditions of all kinds, healthy eating seems to remain as a respected and commendable practice.

It probably doesn’t include as many sit-down, family meals as used to be common, but even the fast-food junkies like to know their food intake includes the good stuff.

So here’s the thing about Western Growers. The organization has for generations carried the reputation of staying very close to its buyers. Several years ago when the group was known as Western Growers and Shippers, California and Arizona growers through the group remained in close touch with terminal market operators who bought and then distributed their products to retail outlets.

More recently the supermarket chains, especially the Walmart’s, the Costco’s, and the Whole Foods outlets have done more direct buying from producers, but Western Growers has remained in close touch with them as well. The association seems to be in a good position to take the pulse of the produce buying public, whatever channel it utilizes.

This makes the alliance recently created with the national cancer watchdog especially vital. It also makes the critics and doubters of fresh fruits and vegetables (some always seem to be lurking in the shadows) on the wrong side of cancer prevention when they attack or question fresh items.

Now that seems to be a strategic move in today’s maelstrom of likes and dislikes of what’s good for you.

Speaking out

This column has been a consistent endorser and promoter of farmers and food producers speaking out forcefully in support of not only their products, but their methods of producing them. Growers of organic foods have probably endorsed such action more than growers who follow traditional farming practices.

But helping prevent cancer and pointing out the contributions to that objective through healthy eating is a job for all food producing industries, and the Western Growers alliance adds real muscle to the effort.

So much negative commentary and expression of opinion is aimed at traditional industries and basic enterprises today. It seems to be difficult for modernists to recognize the benefits of doing things the way they’ve always been done, even though nothing better or different has been developed.

Sometimes you think the unbelievers are simply evangelists of destruction, too small to accept anything they haven’t created anew.

Cancer gets their attention, as does anything connected with its prevention.  It gets everybody’s attention. 

It’s good to know that anybody can get aboard the cancer prevention express. It has to be worth a try.

Grab a bag of carrots, break it open on the way home, chomp on one (or two) before you get there, and enjoy being part of a positive movement toward good health – your own.

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