The Produce Moms Podcast

Episode 50: Questions for Lori at the 50th Episode Milestone

“We at The Produce Moms are working on being a comprehensive, authentic, and highly engaged resource to empower you in your journey to eat more fruits and vegetables.” – Lori Taylor (31:10-31:23)

For our 50th episode of The Produce Moms’ podcast, we reached out to some of our partners, friends, fans, followers and supporters to gather questions for Lori.

Question #1: Where does your passion for produce come from?

I studied abroad in college and was able to immerse myself in other cultures. One thing that stuck with me is how we’re all the same: we celebrate life with food. Every single occasion that is memorable- food is part of it. It’s a common thread that unites all of us.

Also, from working at the sales desk at Indianapolis Fruits selling fruits and vegetables to grocery stories of all different sizes, formats, and regions of the U.S., I realized that it doesn’t matter where someone lives, everyone wants produce.

Question #2: What was the most rewarding aspect of your work when you first started back at Indy Fruit?

The most rewarding moment was when I said to my bosses, “We should start a blog called The Produce Mom and base it loosely off my life as an industry professional and a mom,” and all of my bosses gave me the green light. They empowered that most vulnerable stage of any startup. I didn’t have the executive knowledge that I have today. Now, when I look back, I realize the graceful way they empowered this journey with their habitual support day after day for so many years. And then, they allowed me the opportunity to buy it and take it to where it is now.

Question # 3: What is the most rewarding thing about what we are doing now at The Produce Moms?

I’ve assembled a team that agrees and understands what it means to work for a mission-driven brand and work for a greater purpose – something that is solving a problem. That problem is that we are the most food-secure nation in the world and yet 90% of our population doesn’t eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. That’s a problem. It’s a health problem. It’s a problem for our farmers. And we know better.

So everything we do has to serve that mission and we as a team are committed to that.

The work that is most important is the work we do with schools. Empowering school employees and administration has been so uplifting. Nothing is better than seeing a kid try a fruit or a vegetable for the first time, or seeing a kid walk down the cafeteria line and be excited about the vegetable offering of the day, which is a recipe that we created at The Produce Moms.

“There are plenty of entities out there that share our mission. Our relationship with the growers and with the supply chain is one of the ways that we are unique. That being said, I think The Produce Moms is poised to be a lifestyle brand.”  -Lori Taylor (17:31-17:50)

Question #4: What do you envision as the future of The Produce Moms and what do you want to accomplish in the future?

I’ve got a lot of big dreams and goals for this business. First of all, the work that we do to empower the supply chain will always remain at the helm of our core purpose and what motivates me as the executive and the founder of The Produce Moms. I want to make sure that we continue to serve as an extension of their internal marketing team, helping them tell their story to consumers, or creating innovative ways for them to connect with schools. That will always be the point of differentiation between The Produce Moms and everyone else. There are plenty of entities out there that share our mission. Our relationship with the growers and with the supply chain is one of the ways that we are unique.

That being said, I think The Produce Moms is poised to be a lifestyle brand. When you think about some of the best brands out there, the brands that move your soul when you see their products on the shelf, those are the brands that have created a lifestyle. They’ve created a movement, something that moves people’s souls. We at The Produce Moms are poised to be that brand for fresh produce. We are something that, in partnership with the growers and supply chain, can get people excited about fruits and vegetables. That’s what I’m working towards every day.

Question # 5: Balancing home and career is a problem for all moms. The Produce Moms has been growing by leaps and bounds, how do you balance it?

I don’t! What I hang onto is a quote that I learned in one of my continuing education courses, “There is no balance. There is only balancing.”

I remind myself of that probably 25 times a day, because by my standards, I’m always failing at something. I have this mental vision of buckets that represent each part of my life. I’ve got 100% and I visualize how I am going to divvy that up each day. Some days I have to put less in some buckets than other days. So be it.

Another thing is being mindful of how much I am present with my kids, as opposed to dwelling on the one day that I’m not.

Question # 6: What do your boys think about you being The Produce Mom and you spreading the message of eating more fruits and vegetables?

I’d say they’re used to it. It’s become part of our family culture. Kids are right there alongside their parents when there’s a family business.

Question # 7: What’s one simple step that anyone could take today to increase their fruit and vegetable intake?

We have a mantra at The Produce Moms,

“Try them all and find your favorite.”

You’re not going to find something new unless you actually taste it. Push yourself to try something that you’ve either never consumed before or you’ve consumed in the past but didn’t like. It’s proven that our taste buds change. You may start to like something that at former stages you didn’t like, so don’t give up trying.

Also, don’t beat yourself up. If you really like to dip your veggies in ranch, then dip your veggies in ranch. Don’t believe someone who tells you that it cancels out the fact that you’re eating veggies. That’s not true.

Apply that same concept with your children, and know that any time you serve a fruit or vegetable, you are doing a great job. Both of my children have a definite favorite, and sometimes that’s the only vegetable they will eat for an entire week. That’s okay. Yes, introduce new things as often as you can – we want to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables in volume and variety – but if you have a stubborn kid who only likes one thing, that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just serve their favorite and know you’re doing a great job, and they’re doing a great job by eating it.

Question # 8: What do you see as some of the biggest obstacles to increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables?

We are creatures of habit. Most households rotate the same menus over and over again. The big learning curve for many in consuming fruits and vegetables is how to select, how to store, and how to serve it. I think that is where education has to come in.

Question #9: With all the new formats and trends to the retail profile these days such as grocery apps, shopping online, home delivery, and meal kits, what solutions are being found in the produce department to improve selection and delivery in these formats?

It is certainly a data and insight-driven world. Your grocer is really just as much of a tech company as they are a food retailer, leveraging consumer insights as well as broader data to help identify what people actually want.

As an industry, we want fruits and vegetables to be an easy choice. Consumer data tells us that more than 70% of society says they want to eat more fruits and vegetables, but only about 10% actually eat the recommended amount on a daily basis. I think we’re going to see the produce industry innovate to make fruits and vegetables an easier choice.

We’re also going to see things evolve like ready-to-eat choices. Grocers will come up with strategies to compete with entities like DoorDash and Uber Eats which are new disruptors for the food retailer. The way that food service is competing with food retail is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

Question # 10: If you could snap your fingers and magically change one big thing affecting the produce industry, what would it be?

Propaganda, no question. Pseudoscience and propaganda have absolutely plagued not just the fresh produce sector, but all of food and agriculture. One thing that motivates me every single day are people that are misinforming society.

All produce is good for you. Period. No questions asked. If you are shopping in the produce department, be very proud of that. If you’re eating fruits and vegetables, you’re putting more nutrition in your body than from any other food item available in that grocery store.

I would also shake the media and tell them to quit spreading this nonsense. Call me the next time you want someone to report on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen. Call someone who is actually a fact-based resource and that uses third-party auditing and research to educate the general population.

Question # 11: Did you like veggies as a kid?

I liked them on my tacos! On taco night, I was always the one loading up my taco with every single topping my mom put out.

I was born in 1981 and remember when strawberries were something only available during the summer time. Retail and food access today is nothing like it was when I was growing up. That’s how quickly the food supply chain in America has changed.

One thing my parents did very well, was to always serve a vegetable at every meal, usually a green vegetable. Now we’re more educated and there’s more variety so we can promote the rainbow.

Question # 12: “If veggies were people, which one would you pick to be your best friend?”

I’m a down-to-earth traditional person. I wouldn’t pick anyone too flashy or super trendy, so I’ll pick something that’s tried and true and that everyone would want on their veggie plate. So I’ll say celery.

Question # 13: We’ve all heard and seen pictures of the newest member of the Taylor family who is only a couple years old, “the produce pup,” Duke. What is Duke’s favorite fruit or veggie?

Duke is a massive Great Dane whose Instagram handle is #theproducepup. He looks just like Marmaduke and weighs about 180 pounds, but is the sweetest thing you’ll ever meet. Duke was raised on fruits and veggies. Sweet potatoes are probably his all-time favorite.

When Duke was in the rapid growth stage as a puppy, we were going through a 40-pound bag of dog food every week. So I did some research (we’ve got great content on The Produce Moms website about fruits and vegetables that are safe for dogs). I started putting foods like sweet potatoes, watermelon, and blueberries into his food bowl because it was a lot more cost effective and I knew he was getting the nutritious foods that he needed to grow.

“The work we do to empower the supply chain will always remain at the helm of our core purpose and is what motivates me as the executive and the founder of The Produce Moms.” -Lori Taylor (16:24-16:38)

Question #14: This has been a fun 50th episode. What is one final word you’d like to say at this milestone?

Every single day of my life I’m inspired by the people we work with at The Produce Moms. I have great pride in knowing that we are doing work that helps feed the world and that helps people close that gap on the consumption discrepancies in the United States as it relates to fresh produce.

I’m motivated every day by messages from our fans and followers that say things like, “I served your recipe for my friend’s bridal shower and here’s a photo of it; everyone loved it.” There’s nothing better than seeing what you work hard to produce being put into people’s lives.

The Produce Moms wouldn’t be what it is today without you! Thank you for taking the time to read, listen, and contribute to this community of Produce Moms. Don’t forget, there is a produce mom in all of us. Here’s to 50 more episodes!

How to get involved with The Produce Moms

The Produce Moms Podcast is live on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify.  If you like what you are hearing on the podcast, reviews, subscriptions & ratings will help us keep this going!  It would mean the world to hear your feedback, and we’d love for you to help us spread the word!

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