Dr. Cynthia Thomson, registered dietician, advocates that people eat whole fruits and vegetables for health and nutrition instead of relying on dietary supplements.
In a six-way partnership, sweet cherry growers from the Pacific Coast and Northwest states are joining forces to develop a health research program that will ultimately lead to communicating cherry health benefits to consumers.
The Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission will guide the cherry group in developing a health research plan identifying research needs and funding sources, and will assist in coordinating research.
Cherry producers attending a joint meeting of the Washington State Fruit Commission, Oregon Sweet Cherry Commission, and California Cherry Advisory Board held in Yakima, Washington, in January, unanimously agreed to pursue a comprehensive health plan as a joint effort. The Washington State Fruit Commission coordinates cherry promotion work of the Northwest Cherry Growers, which represents cherry producers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Montana.
Now is the time to seek health research grants, partnerships, and joint funding from U.S. Department of Agriculture and university scientists, said Dr. Jim McFerson, manager of the Tree Fruit Research Commission. "Specialty crop" is a buzzword in the federal farm bill and Congress, and he believes there is opportunity to develop small grant proposals for research related to health benefits. In recent years, health research has been a major focus of other commodity groups, like the U.S. Apple Association.
The Research Commission has experience in applying political pressure to bring attention to research issues
and in leveraging funds to maximize research dollars, –McFerson said. "That’s what we do."
Since 1969, the Research Commission has collected assessments from Washington tree fruit growers, including cherries, to fund research. For cherries, the research primarily has been related to production issues—pest management, horticultural practices, postharvest quarantine treatments, and such. From 2000 through 2006, the research commission has spent more than $1.75 –million on cherry research.