Food As Medicine Series Introduction

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Hello everyone and welcome back! We are excited to kick off our Food as Medicine mini-series with our Co-Host, Tony Freytag, Executive Vice President of Crunch Pak.

Crunch Pak understands the importance of food as medicine and strives to make healthy choices more accessible to everyone. As a leading producer of pre-packaged fresh fruits and vegetables, they offer a wide range of products that cater to diverse dietary preferences and lifestyles. We are honored to have them as a sponsor of this series.

 In this series we will delve into the Food as Medicine movement, exploring its benefits and practical ways to incorporate this approach into our daily lives.


Episode Transcript

Lori Taylor (00:01.354)
Hello everybody and welcome back. This is the Produce Moms podcast and it’s Laurie Taylor here. And I am so excited because we are kicking off, I think it might actually be our first ever mini series. I know for sure it’s our first ever co-host experience. So I wanna welcome Tony Freytag. He is going to be not only with me in today’s episode as we kick off a whole mini series dedicated to food as medicine.

Lori Taylor (00:29.946)
But Tony is actually going to help me co-host this entire mini series here on the Produce Moms podcast. So Tony, please say hello to everyone and introduce yourself.

Tony Freytag (00:40.378)
Hey, good morning. My name is Tony Frytag and I’ve been in and around the produce business for about 25 or 30 years, which is sort of scary to say. And because of my young age, I was one of the original founders of CrunchPak, sliced apple company, and we started it actually in my kitchen, tested it on my kids.

Tony Freytag (01:04.71)
They’re both fine. They’re both grown. There were no side effects. So you can rest assured that crunchback sliced apples are good for you. But throughout the years, I’ve worked in developing all kinds of projects, all kinds of products. And so it’s really, really exciting to see what is happening now in the food is medicine category. And Lori, I’m so tickled, so excited to be

Tony Freytag (01:32.414)
co-hosting with you and thank you for letting us join. Thank you for letting us be a part of this very important segment or series of segments in the coming weeks.

Lori Taylor (01:44.438)
Well, thank you, Tony. And we’d be remiss not to mention that Crunchpack has actually come in as a sponsor for this. So it’s really wonderful to see a company that at its core is committed to making snack time as healthy as it can be. And making that healthy food so accessible, we don’t need to.

Lori Taylor (02:05.514)
You know, it really, it’s almost one of those like, duh, obvious type of statements, but we do need to restate it, is how important the snacking category is. I mean, we’ve seen it as shopper’s folks, like that footprint in the grocery retail setting of how snacks have just grown and grown, whether you’re talking about the produce department or the entire grocery store. Snacking is certainly, gosh, I mean, Tony, you know this. I mean, it’s more popular.

Tony Freytag (02:34.494)
Very well.

Lori Taylor (02:35.408)
right now than it’s ever been. I mean, the data’s there to support it. And I think also just as we anecdotally think about our lifestyles, it’s like, yeah, we’re constantly eating on the go. We’re constantly looking for those little mini meals to hold us over until we get to our primary meal of the day. So, and from my point of view, gosh, our household crunch pack’s a huge part of it, folks, because it’s like, I want Joe and Mac to eat healthy. I want myself to eat healthy.

Lori Taylor (03:05.328)
have something fresh and healthy ready to go, they’re just grabbing something out of the pantry. So it really is such a win. And when I think about food as medicine and the key players that have helped move that concept forward as it relates to produce, I mean, Crunchpack is kind of the OG here in this space. You’ve been, that is what you are founded upon in a unique way that other players in the fruit and vegetable category might not necessarily.

Lori Taylor (03:35.368)
everyone’s in the healthy eating business in produce but gosh like making snack time and making that it’s such a convenient choice and breaking down the barriers so that when people are eating they are eating the most nutrient-dense foods possible so that is at the core of who CrunchPak is so it’s great to have your support with this. So Tony as we set the tone for what the next several weeks are going to entail for folks here on the Produce Moms podcast as we celebrate food as

Lori Taylor (04:05.188)
Folks, we’re coming at you with at least a month’s worth of great content. I mean, there is no shortage of amazing, yes, no shortage of amazing stories to tell. And this really kind of all, the launch pad for this, so to say, was when Tony and I both attended the Food is Medicine Summit, which recently took place in Chicago, Illinois. Tony was there as a speaker. I attended as a delegate. And there were just so many amazing people. And Tony, my biggest takeaway from that

Tony Freytag (04:10.002)
Exciting, yes.

Lori Taylor (04:35.228)
conference is how many stakeholders this movement touches.

Lori Taylor (04:42.522)
And that map, they put it up on stage on I think the last day of the summit. It was just this massive web of who are the movers and shakers in food as medicine. And you would think folks, like, hmm, food as medicine, is it like a convergence of healthcare and the food and beverage industry? I mean, yes, but there’s so much more to that, okay? So, Tony, I don’t know if you wanna share

Lori Taylor (05:12.456)
I mean, especially even just thinking of your panel, all the voices that were represented. But folks, we’re gonna use that concept, like all the different stakeholders, that is what we’ve used to put together this mini series of content for you. So Tony, please share what you’d like on, as it relates to the different stakeholder groups. So, I’m gonna go ahead and start with Tony.

Tony Freytag (05:33.646)
It was, I had no idea what to expect, first off. First off, it was very, very well organized. The number of attendees was, I think, in the range of three to 400, and people were everywhere in such a cross section of science, of medicine, of investment.

Lori Taylor (05:36.939)

Tony Freytag (06:04.466)
of snacking of people that are already in the category and wanting to do better in the medical science to back it up. And the stakeholders from philanthropy, from Rockefeller to Milken to the stakeholders such as the retailers, because that’s the ultimate delivery service. And so there was a number of retailers there. And so it’s…

Lori Taylor (06:21.133)

Lori Taylor (06:25.719)

Tony Freytag (06:32.334)
What is exciting is that in this last year, and Laurie, I know that you’ve been working as food, as medicine, as a category, and as a direction for a number of years, but it seems in the last 12 to 15 months, it’s taken off a life of its own. At all levels, from the retailer to political, to Washington, D.C.

Lori Taylor (06:44.908)

Lori Taylor (06:58.935)

Tony Freytag (07:01.298)
And those that we, people have always talked about nutrition and how important it is. But now you’re seeing it almost in a different category. You’re seeing it as a different realm of excitement. And that to me, having been at this for a few years, is extremely motivating and extremely exciting.

Lori Taylor (07:26.314)
I agree. And I know Tony recently, CrunchPak welcomed some congressional leaders. You had one of Eastern Washington’s congresswomen to your facility for a site visit and also a discussion about the Food is Medicine movement. And Tony has been really involved with our industry’s political action as it relates to everything from child nutrition to fair

Lori Taylor (07:57.348)
and protecting the environment and more. So there’s a lot of reasons why policy’s a big part of the food and beverage industry and certainly agriculture. So, but to Tony’s point, I’ve only been active with political action for about a decade and I’ve never seen anything move this fast from the White House conference on hunger,

Lori Taylor (08:26.374)
nutrition and health was kind of the starting point. And to think that was just Q4 of last year and how far we’ve come and not even an entire calendar year. I mean, I don’t think DC’s ever moved that fast. So, I mean, it’s like amazing. And so we will, Tony is a resource. He’s been heavily involved with the former United Fresh and the United Fresh pack. And then today with the

Lori Taylor (08:55.888)
Association, serving in various board capacities, and even chairing our PAC with the fresh produce industry. So really well-versed on the political side. We will talk about where things stand with the political current state for sure.

Lori Taylor (09:16.79)
We will also talk about, we have medical professionals, we have a world renowned physician that’s coming on, we have, Tony mentioned from the nonprofit sector, we have the Milken Institute coming on, medically tailored meals, which is, gosh, such an industry in itself, and certainly an industry that is very, I would say, adjacent to what CrunchPak’s doing with snacking. These medically tailored meal companies are doing,

Tony Freytag (09:36.094)

Lori Taylor (09:46.884)
key solutions for folks that that are looking for you know ways to heal their body without you know through food. Food is medicine. So it’s going to be a great series and our objective here as we put this together

Lori Taylor (10:04.202)
Tony, myself, everyone at the Produce Moms who’s involved with this show, our objective was we want people to know that food as medicine is here. Like this is, the time is now. Our industry is moving and we’re moving really fast. And it’s so amazing to me how many industries are involved. And Tony, I think that…

Lori Taylor (10:26.246)
Something that I didn’t know when I went to the summit, but it was like my biggest takeaway, was the role of the insurance companies. Like really, it’s the fact that now food is getting, is being reimbursed or paid for by healthcare plans, including Medicaid and Medicare.

Lori Taylor (10:47.458)
That is, they are like, who is the leader, who is the primary catalyst? And it was resounding. Every person we asked that question of at the conference, they all said the private payers, like the insurance companies, that is who is leading the way. And it’s true. I mean, they’ve provided, yeah, market access. So go ahead.

Tony Freytag (11:05.79)
You know, if I can.

Tony Freytag (11:09.486)
No, no, one of the things that I think I’ve learned recently is that because of the proliferation of payers, insurance companies offering this, it was brought up that, for example, if your insurance company, if you’re on your employer’s insurance company, like many of us are, or a general insurance company, if they’re not offering it, ask for it. Because…

Lori Taylor (11:37.43)

Tony Freytag (11:38.574)
they’re needing that input that this is real. The medical industry, the insurance world is ever changing, but it’s changing at such a high rate of speed and at such increasing costs. So, if the insurance companies can recognize the importance of this, that’s monumental. We already know that from a

Lori Taylor (11:53.664)

Tony Freytag (12:08.07)
educational background, doctors are not the best suit as strange as that may sound, but that’s not part of their education. Their education is to heal us, and that is their first and foremost obligation. And so they’re going to go with the best tools that they have at their hands. I think you remember that we’re producing, or there’s a video that’s being produced.

Lori Taylor (12:18.092)

Tony Freytag (12:37.958)
that is talking about how to get more education into the medical educational world about nutrition, nutrition into the educational world.

Lori Taylor (12:47.478)
Right, yeah, they talked about that quite a bit at the conference. Yeah.

Tony Freytag (12:51.598)
Exactly. So again, this isn’t moving one piece at a time. This is very much a proliferation of ideas and concepts and deliverables that are coming about right now.

Lori Taylor (13:07.362)
Definitely. Yes, definitely. And that is one of the things Tony challenged me when we were at the conference. He said, okay, a huge understated.

Lori Taylor (13:19.15)
catalyst here is moms, parents, you know, household, the household level. To Tony’s point folks, there is going to be, we’re gonna treat this mini series also as like a grassroots awareness campaign too. I had no idea that through my healthcare plan I could potentially you know qualify for literally meals ready to be prepared or even ready to eat that are

Tony Freytag (13:48.614)
I didn’t either. Yes.

Lori Taylor (13:49.784)
people just, this is a total game changer in the world of food access as well as you know food is medicine and nutrition access so Tony it’s it’s going to be a great

Lori Taylor (14:03.686)
It’s going to be a great and heartwarming mini-series, probably among some of the most important work we’ve ever done here on the podcast platform. So, thanks for being part of it. It is so exciting. I know, I know. So, I’m so excited. Well, I’m going to let you close out this introductory episode, but I just wanna say I’m really excited about it. I hope that our audience enjoys it as much as we have enjoyed putting it together. Tony and I are underway with all of our interviews

Tony Freytag (14:13.826)
exciting. It’s exciting to be part of it. Thank you.

Lori Taylor (14:34.902)
We’re interviewing guests on a rolling basis here. We’ve already completed one. We have another one in a couple days.

Lori Taylor (14:42.806)
and a couple more thereafter. So we’re gonna have, like I said, it’s at least a month. And as we think about where do we cut it off, I’m having a hard time saying, oh no, you don’t make the cut because there’s so many important stories and stakeholders to talk about. But anyway, I’m really happy that we’re doing this. And I want you all to certainly, if you have any questions, you know, send them our way. We’re still, we’re still in

Lori Taylor (15:12.56)
just email me, lori at, and we’ll get your questions answered during the mini-series. But all right, Tony, with that, you get to sign us off from our intro episode here.

Tony Freytag (15:24.862)
Well, this is the first of what I know even beyond this series, you are going to be the spear holder, the tip of the spear in promoting this and talking about this. So, we’re excited. We’re extremely excited to be part of this first series of what I know will be more to come. Because of the exciting guests and as fast as this is moving.

Tony Freytag (15:50.994)
This isn’t going to be like, oh, next year we’ll talk about this again. No, it’s going to be next month or in the next month or so. So it’s so exciting to be part of it. I consider it a privilege for CrunchPak to be part of it because we’re seeing, we’re going to see a change. We are going to see a change in the way that people eat and how it affects their health. So thank you again for letting us be part of it and for…

Tony Freytag (16:20.366)
our brains to come together to do more things like this.

Lori Taylor (16:22.295)

Lori Taylor (16:24.654)
It’s been a lot of fun. And you know what, Tony, I said you were going to sign us off, but here I am taking the mic one more time. Um, um, I also think it needs to be stated fruits and vegetables win big with food is medicine. I mean, this is like, this movement is so.

Lori Taylor (16:44.502)
positive and centric to produce consumption. So that is certainly heartwarming for us all in the produce industry and everyone who’s part of the Produce Moms community.

Tony Freytag (16:58.682)
It’s such an exciting time and I hope everyone will tune in for more of the episodes and make sure you continue to follow, regardless of the subject, Lori and all the hard work that she’s doing. And so for that, just stay tuned.



About Lori

Lori Taylor is the Founder & CEO of The Produce Moms. For ten years she sold fresh produce to over 300 grocery stores throughout the United States, and today she is fully focused on working with the produce supply chain, media, and government to increase fresh produce access & consumption in the US and around the globe. Connect with Lori on LinkedIn.

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