What The Food?

foodindex Bolthouse Farms thinks online photos of fruits and vegetables can be just as alluring as those of sweets and desserts, reports Stephanie Strom in The New York Times (2/20/14). Bolthouse is using an algorithm to track social-media mentions of fruits and vegetables in real time. The results are presented on "an exceptionally playful" website (link) that features beautiful photos and compares the relative mentions of say, pomegranates to pizza.

"We just want folks to understand that beautiful carrots have badge value the same way peanut butter, chocolate pie does," says Bolthouse marketing chief Todd Putman. "We were looking out across the landscape of social media, and someone wondered about how much food p+rn was actually out there and what the balance was, how much of it was fruits and vegetables and how much pies and salty snacks," Todd says. The Bolthouse algorithm quickly provided an unsurprising answer.

Based on an initial sample of some 171 million posts, 72 percent of food mentions "featured less healthy foods, while roughly 28 percent were accompanied by photos and posts of fruits or vegetables." Nancy F. Huehnergarth, a food-policy consultant, thinks Bolthouse can help change this. Noting that food marketers "glamorize … the daily consumption of unhealthy foods and drinks," she suggests that "the same techniques" could help "level the playing field." Or, as Todd says: "Why should the junk food guys have all the fun?"

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