ITHACA, N.Y.: How many more apples can a school cafeteria sell if the fruit is displayed in an attractive basket and placed in a well-lit area?
That’s the sort of question researchers from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab are exploring as part of their Smarter Lunchrooms Initiative — an effort to discover and share low-cost changes that can be made in lunchrooms to subtly guide smarter food choices.
Led by Professor Brian Wansink, the researchers observed a 58 percent increase in fresh fruit sales at one Upstate New York school simply by moving the fruit from a stainless steel tray and into a basket lit by an ordinary desk lamp.
Wansink will present these findings and others at the Food for Your Whole Life Health Symposium on June 6-7 at the Grand Hyatt in New York City.
“The best solution is often the simplest one,” Wansink explained. “Rather than penalizing a less healthy food choice, we just made the healthier item much more likely to be noticed and chosen.”
Later in the week, Wansink — along with colleagues David Just and Mitsuru Shimizu — will deliver presentations at a two-day Consumer Camp event on the Cornell University campus on June 10-11.
While Thursday’s proceedings are geared toward school nutrition professionals and require pre-registration, Friday’s sessions are free and open to the public.
“On Friday, we’ll be presenting various studies and sharing strategies people can follow to help combat ‘mindless eating.’ It’s a neat way to wrap up the academic year,” Wansink added.