Last week, I sat down with Dan Vache, who is a long time member of the thinkspace community. Dan works for the United Fresh Produce Association which is a trade organization. Since 1904 they have been representing all parties involved with handling fresh fruits and vegetables – from the grower to the shipper to the distributer. Dan heads up one of two remote office locations, with the headquarters being located in Washington, D.C.
In talking with Dan, I asked him a number of questions about his job at the United Fresh Produce Association.
Q: What is a core value for the United Fresh Produce Association?
A: A core value is protecting consumers, and trying to expand the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for healthy lifestyles.
Because the United Fresh Produce Association is primarily located in Washington, D.C., they deal with a lot of legislative issues. A major campaign that they are currently working on is to put salad bars in every school cafeteria. They recognize that many children don’t get exposed to fresh fruits and vegetables, and exposing them at an earlier age can help overturn current challenges and patterns with health and lifestyle (diabetes, childhood obesity, etc.). The United Fresh Produce Association is a strong advocate for the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and believe that a lot of those health challenges go away when produce is consumed (rather than starchy, processed foods).
Dan concentrates on the supply chain. Basically anything to do with fresh produce once its been planted and harvested (read more about that here). Because of this, he has the opportunity to travel quite a bit. This year he has traveled to Peru and all throughout North America.
Q: What are three things you never leave home without?
A: My laptop, my phone, and my running shoes.
In a few weeks, Dan will travel to Brussels to take part with the International Standards Organization as they redevelop standards for certain aspects of the produce industry. For example, the labels on produce have a code on them so they are easily tracked through the system and retailers can ensure they have the correct pricing (read more about that here).
Q: Is it true that the labels on fruits and vegetables are edible?
A: Yes they are. It’s food contact, so it can’t harm anyone. You can eat those, and its biodegradable.
Q: Speaking of things that are edible, do you have an opinion on the “dirty dozen?”
A: There is a lot of misinformation on that. The group that puts that out, probably in their own mind is well-intentioned, but they are very misleading. They tend to overstate some things and leave out some good factual information. And quite honestly, some folks that read that do not do additional research and its detrimental to themselves because they then consume less fruits and vegetables….and from my standpoint that’s not the right approach to take.
Q: So at the end of the day, it’s probably better to just eat your fruits and vegetables?
A: Yea, exactly.
Thank you Dan, it was a pleasure talking with you! I’m off to go blend a nice green smoothie, filled with fresh kale, mango, banana, and carrot juice (thanks for the inspiration!).