About the Author
Before starting Fruityland, Nydia Kastre worked in the field of diet and nutrition where she served as a wellness advisor, nutritionist, and technical dietician at multiple hospitals and clinics, including WIC, the Women, Infants, and Children's Clinic. At George Washington University, she conducted programs for the Women's Exercise Research Center and earned her degree in Health, Wellness and Fitness from George Mason University.
Throughout these years she felt frustrated that most of the suffering she saw could have been avoided through diet and lifestyle choices. An accumulation of these events kept reinforcing what she already knew: that prevention is more effective than any medicine and that the focus should be on treating the cause instead of the symptoms. This you could say was the very beginning of Fruityland, even though the first book wasn't written until years later.
We all know we should eat our fruits and vegetables, but for some reason the message doesn't seem to stick. More than one-third of adults and almost 17% of youth are obese in the US. There's a lot of talk about nutrition but people are still trying to figure out why this hasn't lead to a healthier population.
Culture plays a huge role in who we are and what we do. There are many things that impact our culture and one of them is advertising. The food industry spends billions of dollars on advertising to children to ensure they become longterm consumers. Our eating habits were not formed overnight, but years ago when we were young and since then those habits have been reinforced throughout our lives. Today, advertising has expanded into more outlets, such as product placement, school endorsements, the internet and government lunch programs.
So... they get you at an early age, but, how did they make it stick? The answer is associative conditioning. The food industry focuses on building an association between food and emotion and most of these foods are unhealthy. Turn on your television and you'll see a small boy bonding with his grandfather over an Oreo cookie. A beautiful woman in a silk robe indulging in rich chocolate because, according to the ad, she deserves to treat herself to the best. Young, attractive friends are laughing with each other while they dig into a big juicy burger. We've been conditioned to association these foods with love, happiness, relationships, and a sense of entitlement. We know these foods are bad for us, but we still eat them.
Inevitably, these emotions are intertwined with life's events such as the holidays and summer bar-b-ques. This explains why people are likely to reach for a bag of popcorn instead of a bowl of grapes when curling up to watch a movie at home. Not that we have anything against popcorn, but with so much focus on salty, sugary and high fat foods, there's not much room left for delicious whole plant-based foods.
Fruityland is an opportunity to change that message. Readers have told us that their kids beg them to buy strawberries and grapes after reading our first two books. At the grocery store and dinner table, they point to different foods and want to know what benefits they have. As you already know, kids love to learn through colorful storytelling and that's exactly what Fruityland does. It equips our young readers to know their stuff and direct them towards the beginning of a long, happy and healthy life.