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Canada’s under-utilized health resource

There’s a pharmacy in your back field.

April 23, 2008  ByMarg Land


There’s a pharmacy in your back field.  Or at least
that’s how it appears based on the steady stream of press releases that
cross my desk.

There’s a pharmacy in your back field.  Or at least that’s how it appears based on the steady stream of press releases that cross my desk. According to the latest research, cherries can help lower blood-sugar levels in people with diabetes, blueberries show promise in helping to lower cholesterol, apples contain a compound which can help protect brain cells from Alzheimers, cranberries can help boost “good” cholesterol, and strong-flavoured onions can help inhibit the growth of liver and colon cancer cells. Even that ghoulishly grinning orange staple of Halloween and Thanksgiving, the pumpkin, can be helpful – new Canadian research shows that pumpkins can clean up soil contaminated with DDT and other pollutants.

For years, parents throughout the world have been telling their children that fruit and vegetables are good for them. And the plaintive response was usually “Why?” Now the scientific answer has been provided.

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But what does this mean for Canadian growers?

Basically, a marketing goldmine has been uncovered. During the past few years, industry analysts have been reminding growers and associations there’s a movement within the public to start looking at food as more than mere nourishment. Consumers are looking at food to help protect them from illness and/or possibly to cure what ails them, becoming their own form of pharmacist, doling out their daily dose of cholesterol, cancer and diabetes protection.

And some growers are acting on this. At a recent conference and trade show in Michigan, King Orchards (www.mi-cherries.com), a family-owned and -operated fruit farm in the heart of Michigan’s cherry-growing region, which actively grows more than 100 acres of tart cherries, were busy marketing its cherry concentrate to other farm marketers.

John and Betsy King, Jim and Rose King and the two couples’ children have put together a glossy brochure touting the scientifcally-backed benefits of cherries for battling arthritis and gout and for boosting melatonin levels. This brochure is used as a marketing tool for both consumers and others interested in selling their product.

The day may come when Canadian fruit and vegetable growers will actually become producers of more than just food – they will become the providers of health benefits to their customers.

Of course, that’s what my mother has been telling me for years.


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