There’s a scene in NBC’s “The Office” where Dwight – the comically uptight and irreverent salesman – removes the processed junk-food items from the vending machine and literally hammers in farm-fresh produce.
While it’s a humorous scene, it is not a far cry from what is actually happening in progressive large corporations and governmental agencies around the nation (without the hammering, of course).
Think we’re kidding? Watch the video below:
In his New York Times op-ed titled, “The High Cost of Free Office Snacks,” Ezekiel J. Emanuel takes us behind the scenes to NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg’s office snack bar, which included, to the author’s dismay, offerings of potato chips and a small bag of cookies (though fruit did arrive later). He uses this example to extrapolate that offices across the country must be faring worse – offering free candies and other items that he believes “…can kill you — or at least make you fat and unhealthy.”
While I agree that most offices can improve upon the variety of snacks they offer up to employees, and that increased fruit and nut consumption is a great need in our society, I disagree with Emanuel’s statement that there are not “many healthy packaged foods on the market,” that companies are killing their employees with packaged snack food, and that the answer to improving employee health is to add more yogurt to the snack mix.
When it comes to the availability of healthful snacks, there has never been more variety and more purchases. Nationwide, sales of all natural and organic products within all channels jumped 10 percent to nearly $91 billion last year according to Natural Foods Merchandiser’s 2012 Market Overview Natural Retailers Survey.
While Emanuel does not believe many packaged snacks billed as “healthy” to actually be healthful, he bases this on his belief that saturated fats are inherently bad and that snacks like yogurt, nuts and fruits, which “have the greatest capacity to help people lose weight” are to be preferred.
The fact of the matter is – saturated fat is not to be shunned and is present in the very nuts that he proffers as a solution. It is important to note that foods that are good sources of healthful fats–olive oil, walnuts, salmon, etc.–also contain some saturated fat, so to eliminate saturated fats from our diet completely would not actually be a healthful decision because we’d miss getting the fats we actually need. The Harvard School of Public Health advises that people limit saturated fat found in meats, butter, cream, or ice cream, and other foods with animal fat. Additionally, the recommendation for more yogurts seems silly, at least superficially. Yogurt is also a processed food and tends to be extremely high in sugar and artificial additives if not chosen carefully.
Despite Emanuel’s grim analysis, companies around the world have turned, and are turning, to incorporating healthful snack and drink offerings for their employees by way of healthy vending machines or micro market solutions. Sure, not all of these products are healthy, but that’s not because of a lack of healthier packaged foods in the market, but rather, because the person stocking the product hasn’t been properly trained on what’s healthy and what’s not. Even Chicago’s Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, is doing his part to ensure city vending machines offer more healthful options in 2013.
At HUMAN Healthy Vending, we have the pleasure of working directly with companies all over the nation that are making incredible strides to ensure their employees have healthful packaged snacks, farm-to-vend produce and even healthful hot, frozen meals (made with organic ingredients and without trans fat, artificial colors or high fructose corn syrup). One such company, an advertising agency in Los Angeles, subsidizes its healthy vending machines to ensure that employees don’t opt for a junk-food dollar menu to save cash.
I’d like to take this time to congratulate all of the offices around the world that have made incredible progress in offering healthful snacks and beverages to their employees and to all of the companies that incorporated wellness programs, standing desks, and policies that encourage mindfulness and peace rather than mindlessness and stress. There is also something to be said for companies that understand that holistic health is based on a number of complex issues and an office centered on restriction and deprivation wouldn’t improve health or morale.
My suggestion to companies that care about their employees: incorporate healthy vending and/or healthy snack bars into the mix, focus less on foods for weight-loss purposes and focus, instead, on foods that provide sustained energy to make your employees feel well, and make sure employees get time to move and have a mental break.
If you’re interested in having healthful snack options at your office, please learn more here.
Does your office junk food or healthful options or both? Tell us in the comments section below!
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