Would You Eat More Veggies if They Looked Like Junk Food?

baby carrotsIt's snack o'clock ... time to head over to the vending machine to get your munch on. You wander over expecting to choose from potato chips, candy bars, and soda when you see something new: a shiny, bright orange contraption selling little bags of baby carrots for 50 cents each. The side of the machine screams, "Baby Carrots. Eat 'em like junk food."

Healthy snacks in transparent disguises? What is this, a science fiction story written by Michelle Obama?

Nope, this scenario, bright shiny machine and all, is for real -- sort of (it's still in R&D). But make no mistake: It could be the future of snacking. If food marketers can con otherwise sensible people into buying and eating junk, can't they do the opposite and lure us into eating more of the healthy stuff?

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It's an idea I would love to see catch on -- and it looks like it's going to happen someday, starting with those baby carrot vending machines. When Bolthouse Farms tried out the machines in a few U.S. cities last year, the cute little carrots practically flew out of their slots and into people's hands. In fact, they emptied out faster than Bolthouse could refill them.

So I can haz carrot machines now? No, not yet. Bolthouse is doing more testing first. But I can imagine other possibilities in the meantime -- snack packs of edamame, sugar snap peas, grapes, and berries, all at the beck and call of my 50 cents. Sweet, crunchy vitamin vittles made just as cheaply and easily as Doritos ... yes, we can call them slut veggies! Bring it on.

But is there a point where marketing healthy food in new and clever ways could go overboard? Right now a so-called "super-broccoli" is being sold in the U.K. Did I mention it's Brand New?! With more cancer-fighting glucoraphanin?! (Sounds like laundry detergent to me.) Of course, broccoli and other green, crunchy vegetables already have glucoraphanin, but this variety has MORE, and you know how much we all love the word MORE.

So yeah, this one seems a little silly and redundant. We already think of broccoli as healthy food. Doubtful that advertising a newly engineered broccoli as "super" (aka super-healthy) is going to make people who hate broccoli or don't buy produce in the first place more likely to try it. Unless the idea is that super-broccoli is magic. Oh yeah, folks like magic food. Just ask the pomegranate people.

Would you buy veggies from a vending machine?


Image via scardey_kat/Flickr

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