The Blue Zones Project is a national initiative encouraging small changes in diet, exercise, and habits like smoking. Small changes will ostensibly, according to the Fort Worth Blue Zones‘ website, “contribute huge benefits for all of us.”
The national project has not been without a dump truck’s worth of controversy locally, especially over the choice of Julie Wilson as the program’s spokesperson. Wilson came to the Blue Zones Project hot off her stint as vice president of urban development with Chesapeake Energy. It seems that some people are taking issue with her, um, relevance as the representative of a large-scale health endeavor. On the other hand, if she can sell the safety of fracking to the masses, maybe she can help convince Cowtown that we need to eat a few more veggies.
In grocery stores, the Blue Zone Project helps those of us who are somehow still in doubt over whether to choose the fresh fruit or the Rocky Road ice cream make healthier choices. If you see the blue arrow, you’re directed to food that won’t clog your arteries or jack up your blood sugar. I am not opposed to being reminded that I need to make more sensible eating selections, and I guess I don’t mind if it’s pointed out with bright Blue Zone signage that some items are better bets. I’m just doubtful that a pretty sign is going to make a difference in changing a person’s life choices.
I was in Central Market today for the first time in months, and the HEB offshoot has Blue Zoned itself right down to the checkout process. In addition to Blue Zone signage highlighting healthier items, Central Market has specific Blue Zone checkout lanes where the items lining the sides of the station are Blue Zone friendly. No candy or gum, or last-minute pre-packed chocolate bridge mix from the bulk bins here.
I accidentally landed in a Blue Zone lane and noticed the shelf to my right was lined with bananas, oranges, apples, and packages of kale chips. The cashier said that she hadn’t been getting a lot of comments on the Blue Zone lanes, and really, they don’t contribute to a speedier check-out. But I was thinking that a perhaps unanticipated consequence of Blue Zoning the checkout is a reduction in the demanding whining from children who are just plain tired after being hauled around doing errands with mom (or dad). The lady behind me had two elementary-aged crumb crunchers. I asked her if she had purposely picked this lane because she wanted to reduce their requests for candy or gum.
“I didn’t even notice,” she said. “Besides, they usually get something when we shop.” Sure enough, an orange and a banana rolled their way up the conveyor belt, ahead of the rest of the groceries.