Alliance Releases New "Scared Fat" Report - We Should Have Done It Sooner6/19/2012 8:37 AM
Anecdotally, we have always thought that the inflammatory messaging calling into question the safety of fruits and vegetables had to have a negative effect on people’s produce consumption habits. After all, it is just common sense that after you hear something repeatedly in the mainstream and social media that it begins to have an effect.
So, we landed where we always do which is “we need to ask consumers directly” to test this common sense hypothesis. This thinking launched a new consumer research project and corresponding analysis by a scientific panel with expertise in nutrition, consumer behavior and farming and resulted in the new report released today titled “Scared Fat.” And, our hypothesis proved correct – unfortunately. After just ten short minutes of participating in the survey and reading four messages taken directly from the statements of an activist group (Environmental Working Group) fear was increased with some respondents stating they would reduce their consumption as a result. Low income consumers were the most affected by the messaging.
The expert panel who reviewed these new consumer research findings agreed that there is an emerging trend for consumers to react to negative messages about the safety of fruits and vegetables by consuming less of these healthy foods.
This finding underscores why the Alliance developed this website safefruitsandveggies.com in 2010. Consumers need a place to go to find the other side of the story, to learn about the body of science that exists about the safety of organic and conventionally grown fruits and veggies and the health benefits of consuming more of both. Our only regret is that we should have done it sooner. We should not have waited to aggressively challenge activist groups like the EWG on their lack of science-based information, their use of contradictory messaging about the safety of fruits and veggies and their contentions that certain produce items are “dirty.” But we, like many in the produce industry, naively thought that because our products are safe, nutritious and have the glowing endorsement of health experts throughout the world that an activist group’s claims would not be taken seriously.
And, now we know the damage they are actually doing with their publicity fueled mis-information and scary messaging. Ironically, EWG states that their mission “is to use the power of public information to protect public health.” Our new “Scared Fat” report clearly shows that the opposite is true when it comes to the effect their mis-information has on the public and their diets.
Maybe when groups like EWG see the consumer results and “Scared Fat” report they’ll rethink tactics like issuing their annual “Dirty Dozen” list. If they don’t, then they might want to change their mission statement.