Friday, June 24, 2011


Among all the other problems it has caused (see previous post) this European outbreak of super-toxic E.coli 0104 bacteria decimated consumption of fresh vegetables - extending to fruit as well. You'll recall that cucumbers, and to a lesser extent, tomatoes and lettuce, were main suspects for a while, until sprouts (which are legumes) were found to be the culprit. People simply became afraid to even bite into an apple, let alone munch that unfairly maligned cucumber or tomato. A lot of this summer's crops was plowed under or fed to pigs, goats and other farm animals that like their veggies.

EU ministers of agriculture met earlier this month to discuss a way to compensate farmers and repair the image of fresh produce. One of the several proposals is to have a massive promotional campaign. Many such campaigns already exist, including the one by Freshfel Europe (the European Fresh Produce Association), which has been in existence since 2006 (see logo above).

Some countries also have their own. The “Apples from Germany” campaign had Germany's "apple queens" present baskets of apples to Chancellor Angela Merkel and other government ministers. Other aspects of the campaign were more fun - especially the touring “Apfel-o-Mat.” This was a highly popular photo booth, where anyone could have a funny photo taken with their favorite apple.

I also like the website launched by tomato and cucumber producers in France. It is targeted to children, with quizzes and games (see photo).
City children who have never seen a tomato plant can learn all about tomato production. The campaign also has a newsletter and online videos for adults. Then there are all those other campaigns in other countries to promote kiwi fruit or blueberries from South America or bananas or some other produce.

So if another campaign is launched, will it get demand back to where it was before this outbreak? I have been involved in a few of such campaigns, and well, the results vary.

Anyway, I have noticed that after a food-linked outbreak, people avoid the culprit food for a while, and then gradually go right back to eating it. The chances are that this will happen even before the EU figures out who is going to pay for it and the campaign gets off the ground.

To your good health - and eating those veggies!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have just returned from a week in Paris, and in the restaurants most diners seem to be skipping the salad course and opting for cooked vegetables. This could be a result of the high cost of dining, but I feel it also reflects caution about raw vegetables and legumes.