By D. Milton Stokes, PhD, MPH, RD
Global Health & Nutrition Outreach
(Originally published in Discover Monsanto)
Summer is a great time to get back into a healthy lifestyle. Amid more time spent outdoors, the diverse bounty of in-season fruits and veggies serve as nutritious snacks that can be easily prepared and quickly enjoyed. Last month, I joined the Eating By Example (#EatingByExample) initiative led by the Produce Marketing Association. While I engage with thousands of others online to discuss fruit and vegetable consumption, Monsanto has pledged to encourage greater intake of fresh produce in the workplace.
Here at Monsanto, we are committed to helping provide balanced meals for a growing world population. This means helping farmers around the world grow adequate food in safe and sustainable ways. To do this, we rely on techniques new and old — with vegetables, we continue to make important advances in plant breeding.
How does breeding improve fruit and vegetable consumption? In more ways than one. As a food-lover and parent, I scour the produce aisle for fresh and flavorful fruits and veggies that I know my little ones will like. I want the produce to be kid-friendly, colorful and nutritious — they need to be perfect for my family’s meal plans.
Breeding allows us to innovate — helping farmers grow vegetables with characteristics that consumers want, and helping produce stay fresh between farm and fork. Just like our ancestors, we intentionally focus on developing fruit and vegetable varieties that have the best flavor, appearance and size, so that farmers, parents and picky eaters will enjoy them. Two of my favorite Monsanto breeding innovations include:
Melorange™, a French cantaloupe with juicy, dark-orange flesh that is sweet-tasting and aromatic. With only 50 calories per serving (134 grams), cantaloupes like Melorange™ are an excellent source of vitamins A and C. My family enjoys the melon’s perfect texture and sweet taste — we buy them in a two-pack and my kids finish both within a day.
BellaFina™ bell peppers, which are sweet-tasting, crunchy and an excellent source of Vitamin C. At one-third the size of regular bell peppers, the more convenient serving size of BellaFina™ bell peppers helps encourage vegetables as snacks. It also helps us cut down on food waste, which is a major problem worldwide.
My colleagues and I know that our efforts form just one part of the solution to provide a balanced, nutritious meal; we constantly support and collaborate with a range of other organizations focused on efficiency, enhancing distribution and reducing food waste.
This summer, I hope you’ll not only encourage your loved ones to eat better, but to do so knowing how these fruits and veggies are grown and why innovation is so crucial.