Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, FAND – President of Farmer’s Daughter Consulting
It was an honor and privilege for me to represent the Washington Red Raspberry Commission at the 2023 Berry Health Benefits Symposium, which took place January 31 -February 2 in Tampa Bay, Florida. The bi-annual event brings together berry researchers from around the world as well as berry marketers, health professionals, and the media to discuss current and new research findings in cognition, cardio-metabolic health, gut health, skin health, and berry special topics.
The Symposium was founded with the goal of advancing global knowledge in the field of berries and human health. Understanding berry health benefits is the first piece in increasing berry consumption. Communicating the benefits in ways consumers understand and find motivating is a critical next step.
My presentation on Tuesday, February 1, sponsored by WRRC, focused on issues consumers consider when shopping for and selecting food. Titled “Today’s Food Conversation: What Messages Should We Be Communicating About Berries?” the 45-minute presentation focused on the following issues:
- Shifting consumer views and federal regulations related to the term HEALTHY and how consumers today have broad views about what is “best” for them when it comes to food and lifestyle choices.
- The interpretation of the value of FRESH versus PROCESSED foods, and the importance of communicating the value of minimally processed foods like frozen red raspberries related to improving convenience, access, and affordability, as well as reducing food waste in the home.
- PLANT-BASED and PLANT-FORWARD eating patterns, how consumer desires to eat more fruits and vegetables may not align with actual behaviors, and how anyone in marketing and communication can support messaging that drives greater berry consumption.
- The use of PESTICIDES or crop protection products in agriculture, what consumers worry about (namely, food safety & cancer) and why crop protection products are needed and used across all forms of production to help farmers be financially sustainable considering incredible agricultural challenges, from climate change and regulatory pressure to labor and more.
- The impact of SUSTAINABILITY as a purchase drive in retail, how consumers consider both environmental and social sustainability, and how issues like packaging may have an impact on berry purchasing in retail.
- And finally, the impact STRESS is having on society, especially for younger people, and how berries may play a role in reducing the impact of stress (i.e., inflammation) on the body.
My final slide provided the following advice for the audience related to messages we should be communicating about berries.
- All forms of berries (i.e., fresh, frozen, dried, etc.) provide nutrition and health benefits!
- Minimal processing like freezing offers lifestyle and environmental benefits such as convenience and less chance of food waste.
- Berries of all forms are a wonderful plant-based food to include in plant-forward eating patterns.
- Crop protection products allow farmers to protect precious resources, reduce food waste on the farm, and provide safe, affordable food for the rest of us.
- Sustainable food production is a complex issue; farmers across the U.S. use tools, technology, and research to protect soil, water, and air quality as well as worker safety.
- Need a mental health break? Grab some berries, take a deep breath, and savor the moment.
Amy Myrdal Miller is an award-winning dietitian, farmer’s daughter from North Dakota, public speaker, author, and president of Farmer’s Daughter Consulting, an agriculture, food, and culinary communications firm founded in 2014. During her 25-year career, Amy has worked for Fleishman Hillard, the Rippe Lifestyle Institute, Dole Food Company, the California Walnut Board & Commission, and The Culinary Institute of America. Today, Amy works with a variety of clients across the food system, including seed companies, grower cooperatives, commodity boards, national brands, campus dining operations, and restaurants. She is the co-author of Cooking à la Heart: 500 Easy and Delicious Recipes That Make Every Meal Heart Healthy, a cookbook the features many berry recipes! She and her husband Scott live in Carmichael, California.