LGMA Hosts Tour Group of “Influencers”

Written by April Ward

The LGMA hosts a lot of tours throughout the year. Normally, the tour groups are made up of government officials, retail/foodservice food safety personnel or produce buyers. A few weeks back the LGMA was pleased to host a group comprised almost entirely of registered dietitians and professional communicators who share a common goal with the leafy greens community – they want people to eat more fruits and vegetables.

The LGMA is currently working on a new effort which partners lettuce farmers with registered dietitians and consumer advocates to help spread the word about all that leafy greens farmers are doing to produce safe food. The cornerstone of this effort is a new website that will serve as a hub of evidenced-based information about one of the safest, healthiest foods we can feed our families – lettuce.

The website will house videos, infographics and a variety of facts and figures to help tell the story of the leafy greens community and our commitment to producing safe food. We are creating this site because we know that when lettuce is involved in a foodborne illness outbreak or recall, there are questions and concerns that can create fear about eating this normally healthy food. We plan to help answer these questions by providing information about how we grow lettuce, all we are doing to prevent foodborne illness and why lettuce truly is one of the best foods we can eat.

LGMA auditor gives demonstration to group in lettuce field
Food safety audit demonstration by CDFA

Behind the new website is an Advisory Panel – a team of people committed to ensuring the site provides accurate, credible information backed by facts. The Advisory Panel members include registered dietitians, nutrition experts, farmers and advocates for consumer health and safety. Judging from the reaction of panel members who participated in last month’s tour of leafy greens farms, they couldn’t be more enthusiastic about their new role.

Most of those who attended the tour had never seen leafy greens farming before and all were impressed with the skilled work crews and with the meticulous and calculated harvesting methods. Participants said they were unaware of the LGMA’s requirement for 100 percent compliance with food safety practices and that “surprise” audits were conducted. One participant applauded farmers who invite government officials into their fields saying she “wouldn’t feel that comfortable with someone stopping by unannounced to audit my house.”

All felt that when it comes to communicating about lettuce safety, it’s important to focus on the positive aspect of what farmers are doing to make their leafy greens safe. While everyone takes the issue of food safety seriously, these expert communicators know how to make dry topics interesting and engaging.

Screengrab of instagram story taken by tour participant in the lettuce fields
Cara Harbstreet posted to her instagram account during the tour asking her followers if they had questions

Many members of our Advisory panel are active on social media and already reach a significant audience of their peers, associates and consumers. They are eager to share information about leafy greens safety with other influencers who communicate about food and nutrition on their own social media platforms. The LGMA plans to capitalize on this large and growing network of registered dietitians who regularly share information designed to encourage Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables. We are also working closely with the Produce for Better Health Foundation, an organization focused on encouraging consumers to eat more plants. This group understands all too well that fruit and vegetable consumption will never increase if people are afraid to eat produce.

Providing first-hand information about leafy greens production are the farmer and industry members of the Advisory Panel who will share real stories about what they do on their farms to make sure they are producing safe food for their own families and others.

We are very excited about this project and can’t wait to introduce the new website and our Advisory Panel. You’ll be hearing much more about all of it soon.

group picture of tour participants
Left to Right: Greg Komar, Kathleen Chrismer, Marilyn Dolan, Cara Harbstreet, Jessica Foust, Scott Horsfall, Jonathan Valadez, Leah McGrath, Neva Cochran and Katie Toulouse
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