(Commentary)

Talk about positive reinforcement! California and Arizona farmers who produce a bunch of different crops have joined with the American Cancer Society to promote better eating.

They have channeled their support through Western Growers, one of the state’s largest organizations of producers. While the organization has been thought of traditionally as representing vegetable growers, it now includes producers of citrus, stone fruits, grapes, nuts, berries, even kiwis, as well as the whole gamut of vegetables.

Lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and the salad vegetables used to be the long suit of Western Growers, but today members of the organization run the gamut.

Some of their products have been tainted in the past by accusations of pesticide residues or sickness-producing bacteria - some of them the result of unfortunate allegations by the pesticide police and the grocery gendarmes.

But who can oppose cancer prevention, especially when it can be the result, in part at least, of healthy eating?  Even with the ‘new thinkers’ constantly poking holes in traditions of all kinds, healthy eating seems to remain as a respected and commendable practice.

It probably doesn’t include as many sit-down, family meals as used to be common, but even the fast-food junkies like to know their food intake includes the good stuff.

So here’s the thing about Western Growers. The organization has for generations carried the reputation of staying very close to its buyers. Several years ago when the group was known as Western Growers and Shippers, California and Arizona growers through the group remained in close touch with terminal market operators who bought and then distributed their products to retail outlets.

More recently the supermarket chains, especially the Walmart’s, the Costco’s, and the Whole Foods outlets have done more direct buying from producers, but Western Growers has remained in close touch with them as well. The association seems to be in a good position to take the pulse of the produce buying public, whatever channel it utilizes.

This makes the alliance recently created with the national cancer watchdog especially vital. It also makes the critics and doubters of fresh fruits and vegetables (some always seem to be lurking in the shadows) on the wrong side of cancer prevention when they attack or question fresh items.

Now that seems to be a strategic move in today’s maelstrom of likes and dislikes of what’s good for you.