Let's take a look at the Rainbow Salad Poster, one of the most popular nutrition education materials we've got. Sure, it was tough to prepare in the kitchen, but the real work happened in the grocery store, then later in the studio. Man, was that photo ever hard to shoot!
Wait. Let's back up a moment.
The idea for this poster came from a food service director in California. She needed a bright and fresh salad bar sign to help encourage her students to eat more than just lettuce and cucumbers when they picked up their vegetables for the day.
When I first heard about her idea, I knew that creating a bright rainbow of all the wonderful vegetables in a typical salad bar would be a great way to promote healthful and varied eating. But how best to present that rainbow?
Initially, I thought a 9-foot-long plank would be the perfect backdrop for my photo. That would offer more than enough room for a myriad of different vegetables, and the rustic background might make the colors pop even further.
Sadly, my giant plank was proving almost impossible to procure. However, in one of my many trips to my favorite kitchen stores, I found a glass plank that was almost 3 feet long. Jackpot! The clear glass was perfect for the veggies I had in mind.
As I started to shop for the vegetables that I would feature in the poster, I realized that it would be a travesty to leave fruit out of the mix. After all, fruit adds a great pop of color, flavor, and nutrients to a wide variety of salads. Why leave it out now?
As I shopped, I looked for high-quality produce in a range of bright colors. I had to go to a whole bunch of different stores to find the ingredients I wanted, and then of course I had to use them right away so that they wouldn't get too old!
When it came time to shoot the photo in the studio, I washed, chopped, and arranged my fruits and vegetables into a rainbow. I misted the whole thing with fat-free Italian dressing to help all the ingredients look super fresh and shiny.
Of course, I couldn't shoot the whole thing at once. Each color group needed to be captured separately so that it would clearly maintain its aspect ratio. So, approximately 1 billion pictures later, I had my raw material and some seriously high hopes for the finished product.
Can't you just tell I was waiting to be taken down a peg?
When I went to put the photos together, my stitching software completely and totally failed. I had to stitch the photos together by hand in Photoshop, creating a final graphic file that took up a whole gigabyte of storage space. Luckily, our infographic artist was able to create a great frame for the photo. Our poster was finally taking shape!
I put the poster in the store and was totally floored by the response. People loved it! That humble poster became a banner, a little poster, a big poster, a salad bar sign, a health calendar, and even a bookmark. The image is one of our very most popular images and we've gotten great feedback on its appeal and effectiveness. I personally recommend using it for a wellness fair. It can be fun to have people guess how many fruits and vegetables are in the rainbow salad!
Why Eat from the Rainbow?
MyPlate asserts that people should fill half their plates with fruits and vegetables at each meal. That’s a tall order, but if you start adding a salad to each meal and snack on fruits and vegetables instead of chips and crackers, you will be well on your way to a healthful diet!
Variety is key too. It would be rather boring to only eat broccoli at every meal, every day. Your clients can mix things up by choosing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. MyPlate makes things easier by dividing vegetables into distinct subgroups. If your clients have at least one vegetable from each group every day, they'll have begun crafting a varied diet!
- Dark green
- Red and orange
- Beans and peas
Eating by color helps people get a variety of different nutrients in their diets. Each color group offers a wonderful mix of vitamins that are essential to good health, and the flavors can't be beat! Let's break it down, shall we?
There are tons of fabulous red fruits and vegetables out there. Load up on kidney beans, red bell peppers, tomatoes, red plums, watermelon, strawberries, and more!
Of course, you can't go wrong with orange and yellow! What could be better than butternut squash, pineapple, chickpeas, and of course, oranges?
White vegetables have tons of nutrients too! Stock up on jicama, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, etc.
Going green is easy with a ton of healthful green fruits and vegetables. Try spinach, kale, chard, zucchini, broccoli, snap peas, kiwi, and honeydew melon.
Don’t forget about blue and purple vegetables! Purple potatoes are amazing, as are blueberries and eggplant.
By Judy Doherty, PC II and Founder of Food and Health Communications, Inc
Looking for more great nutrition education resources? Here is a list of all our rainbow salad products! You can also check out these bestsellers!