What is in this article?:
- Fareway, Hy-Vee Iowa Stores Earn Blue Zones Label
- Blue Zones Communities
Spencer and Cedar Falls are two of four towns chosen by Iowa to be Blue Zones demonstration communities as part of the Healthiest State Initiative
Two Hy-Vee stores in Spencer and Cedar Falls, Iowa, and a Spencer Fareway store are the first supermarkets to be certified by the state’s Blue Zones Project as businesses that promote healthy living and well-being.
“We’re pretty proud of the fact that we’re first in the state of Iowa,” said Spencer Fareway store manager Karl Levisay.
The Blue Zones Project is based on the research and books of Dan Buettner, a National Geographic writer who studied communities around the world that he dubbed Blue Zones where people tend to live longer, healthier lives.
Spencer and Cedar Falls are two of four towns — along with Waterloo and Mason City — chosen by Iowa last May to be Blue Zones demonstration communities as part of the Healthiest State Initiative, a goal set by Gov. Terry Branstad to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016 based on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
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These towns receive assistance from the Blue Zones Project to make the changes necessary to be certified as a Blue Zones Community.
Individual businesses can also participate and become Blue Zones certified. To do so, grocery stores must meet a certain number of criteria across three categories: promoting healthier beverages, improving the store environment and providing education opportunities.
Not surprisingly, the produce departments at the Fareway and Hy-Vee stores played a key role in Blue Zones certification.
“In every one of our [shopping] carts we’ve got a sign, and we have a place in each cart that’s for your Blue Zone fruits and vegetables,” said Levisay.
The Fareway supermarket recalibrated its produce scales so they display servings rather than weight and began conducting taste tests of local produce.
“We sample those so that people can try that and hopefully buy something healthy in our produce department,” Levisay said.
Hy-Vee’s Spencer location also added more fresh cut produce in easy grab-and-go containers and held taste tests of fruits and vegetables, according to Hy-Vee spokesperson Ruth Comer. In Cedar Falls, the store remodeled its produce section with wider aisles to make browsing easier.