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At the recent Shopping for Health conference, we talked strawberries, we ate strawberries, we cooked with strawberries, we loved strawberries! And who doesn’t? Your shoppers sure do – many say strawberries are their favorite fruit!

Most likely, your produce aisle is loaded with them. Here are some tips from the California Strawberry Commission to give to your shoppers on how to select the best strawberries, and how to freeze them for later use:

California strawberries are fully ripe at the time they are picked and do not continue to ripen after harvesting. When shopping for fresh strawberries:

Examine clamshell on all sides to make sure there are no signs of mold.

Select strawberries that are shiny with a vibrant red color and fresh green caps.strawberry

Refrigerate in clamshell as soon as possible.

Rinse before removing stem, and right before serving.

To Freeze:

Rinse and pat dry.

Slice stem off at top of berry.

Place uncovered in freezer for at least 12 hours, or overnight.

Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.

Transfer strawberries to a freezer bag.

Frozen strawberries can be stored frozen for several months.

Check back for more strawberry tips, facts and recipes. At Shopping for Health, we can talk about strawberries year –round!

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DSC_0094The fourth annual Shopping for Health conference for retail dietitians and consumer affairs advisors just wrapped up in fabulous Charleston, SC – and what a terrific meeting it was! Representatives from major grocery chains around the country spent several days in this historic and culinary-forward city, learning about consumer shopping trends, new ways to use social media, nutrition updates and new recipe applications for favorite products. Many leading food industry sponsors were also on hand, spending time updating this important group about their products.

If you couldn’t join us, we missed you! But check the Shopping for Health web site weekly for photos, special presentations and other information from the conference. We have it all here and are ready to share with you, and, if you’d like, put you in touch with the researchers and speakers who made the news.

First up:

What’s Changed in Consumer Eating Patterns, since Shopping for Health started? Here are some stats from Darren Seifer of the NPD Group, a long-time food and beverage industry analyst who has spoken twice at Shopping for Health:

  • 30% of adults now claim to be avoiding or cutting down on gluten consumption
  • For the average consumer, just 2% of their days (or about 7 days out of a year) come close to meeting all of the goals of USDA’s My Plate
  • As recently as 2009, Americans were preparing more of their meals at home. But the trend reversed in 2010 and continues to show more food purchased and eaten at restaurants

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social-mediaWhile highlighting some of the best ideas in social media today, several issues come up for supermarket RDs. One is that while every company handles social media differently, RDs and consumer advocates need to play a key role because they bring some of the most important ideas to the table. The other is the increasingly shaky ethical tightrope RDs must walk. Here’s a quick overview:

You Hold the Power – While a few RDs actually guide the entire social media effort for their store chain, most provide input to their marketing or PR department – or work with outside agencies who orchestrate their company’s social media. No two companies set it up the same way, but there is one constant worth keeping in mind: as the RD or consumer advisor in the mix, you bring some of the most powerful messages to connect with your shoppers. They don’t want promotions all the time, and they don’t to hear too much company news either. Families want information and advice they can use. From health and nutrition facts, to recipes, new ideas and serving suggestions, you bring the “content” consumers really want. Make sure your team appreciates what you bring to the table: your ideas will increase engagement, and they will soon thank you!

Disclose any Relationship or Arrangement – As brands and commodity groups more aggressively work to get their products and messages in front of you, take care to disclose any relationships. For example, even if you receive a free product to review, that is considered compensation, so you need to disclose that product was given to you to review. And it must be disclosed in the post or tweet itself, not off on an “about us” page or in a footer somewhere. Likewise, if a company has paid to promote a product at the point of sale, or on your website, you must disclose this arrangement if you then discuss the product in social media.

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I’m excited to share our new website with you!

At Shopping for Health, we know that supermarket dietitians have an insatiable appetite for healthy information. So, our team created an online library that you can access anytime. And we’ve also revamped and expanded our quarterly newsletter. Shopping for Health will continue to bring you seasonal material as you’re planning ahead each quarter and you can visit the new Content Library anytime you need an inspiring idea with information that is RD reviewed and approved, and ready to use. We have a number of great topics out there now, and as the library grows, you can search by keyword or a range of meal, dietary and content categories.

Access remains free for supermarket registered dietitians and consumer affairs advisors. However, both new and past users will need to take a minute to register to receive login credentials for the new library.

Shopping for Health standards for sponsored materials  remain rigorous; every word and image is reviewed by the Shopping for Health RD team. We also take care to deliver text and images appropriately formatted for posts, tweets, newsletter articles and more.

We’ve come a long way since our first Shopping for Health conference in 2011. I see this website as a broader extension of popular Retail Dietitian conferences. You are busy professionals in a demanding, constantly-evolving field. We aim to provide a dependable resource that makes your job a bit easier – and help to fuel your passion for promoting nutrition and healthy life choices.

In this spirit, your feedback and ideas are always welcome. Please contact me anytime, Nancy Piho, founder, Shopping for Health

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the-battery-charlestonThe fourth annual Shopping for Health conference for supermarket RDs will take place April 6 – 9 in one of America’s most fantastic food cities, Charleston, South Carolina!

We know that your shoppers want recipes and tips for getting tasty meals on the table, quickly. So what better backdrop than Charleston, recently named Conde Nast Traveler magazine’s Top U.S. Destination for the third consecutive year, to learn about food trends, network with food industry and other grocery store leaders, and of course, enjoy some of the best food in the American South? Shrimp-and-Grits

Shopping for Health hosts top supermarket RDs from leading chains for this two-and-a-half day meeting. A limited number of food and beverage company and association sponsors make the trip possible, and will be on hand to provide relevant, timely information that you can use in your communications with your shoppers.

If you’re a dietitian or a consumer affairs advisor directly affiliated with a grocery chain and would like more information on how you can receive an invitation to the 2014 Shopping for Health meeting, please contact us! And if you’re a food or beverage brand or association group with a story to tell, be in touch to see if Shopping for Health is the right audience for you.

item0_rendition_slideshowWideHorizontal_charleston-south-carolina-pineapple-fountainHere is what leading supermarket RDs have had to say about past Shopping for Health meetings, held in Napa, CA (2011), South Beach, Miami, FL (2012) and Scottsdale, AZ (2013):

Shopping for Health is my favorite RD event!  It is so carefully planned to not only make it enjoyable for RDs but also informative on a wide variety of “realistic” nutrition topics!

I have been raving about this event to everyone. It was fabulous; one of the best conferences I have attended in a long while. So organized, fun and informative.

Easily the best conference in the industry for dietitians who work with shoppers in grocery stores. Attention to detail, from travel arrangements to “knowing our needs,” is perfect.

I get invited to many meetings and conferences, but Shopping for Health is the only one that I definitely make time and effort to attend.