New respect for vegetables

August 19, 2011

Beautiful they aren’t, but supermarkets can and should do more to grow vegetable sales.

Are vegetables the Rodney Dangerfields of the supermarket?

Despite the inherent healthfulness of vegetables, even public officials at the highest levels have disrespected them – misspelling potato or saying they don’t eat broccoli. Although Michelle Obama is veggies’ friend in the White House today, and she wants people to eat smarter, the image persists that many veggies are ugly and misshapen compared with other food choices.

Most veggies do look like fruits’ homely cousins – and that perhaps makes them more of an acquired taste than a must-have wow on display. It could also be the reason many consumers shun vegetables, and it is hard to get people to eat more of them.

The Lempert Report knows that in the hands of skilled chefs, vegetables are delicious as well as healthful. So we urge supermarkets to show off the taste appeal of vegetables, and present them more artfully on the plate, in several ways: enlist local cooking talents to demo, run contests via their websites, distribute easy-to-follow recipes, sample at the store with crackers, cheese or other accompaniments they could also sell, invite people to submit ideas that integrate vegetables into dishes with other popular foods.

Since vegetables provide some of the best nutrition per dollar spent in the supermarket today, stores emphasizing this as consumers seek to eat healthier and stretch budgets will also be relevant.