Tommy Wilkins Touts Produce-Powered Change through Viva Challenge
MISSION, TX - If I could bottle Tommy Wilkins for retailers to showcase in the produce department like the Herbal Essence days of old, I absolutely would. A bona fide Texas experience of a person, Grow Farms' Director of Sales and Business Development loves this industry and what we stand for. Thanks to Texas International Produce Association’s (TIPA) Viva Fresh Clean Eating Challenge (CEC), Tommy has taken a unique and essential step in advocating for it.
“In November, I embarked on the TIPA Clean Eating Challenge. Watching trade news, it seemed more peers my age were having major health issues. For myself, I was tipping the scales at 260 pounds-plus and on three medications for a high-stress, overweight, poor diet-type lifestyle,” Tommy shares with me.
As you may have read in previous coverage, he was among a few in our industry to take on this challenge, and if there is anything I learned from speaking with him, it is that there is nothing like selling something you believe in.
“We are all in the business of selling produce, so increasing consumption helps on our business side. Beyond that, though, I have weaned off massive medications just by eating what we are all promoting,” Tommy emphasizes. “I am a living testament to what we do and what our product is capable of.”
If we are going to boost consumption, we have to start from within. Stories like Tommy’s and those following TIPA’s Clean Eating Challenge could and should be the catalyst for our industry practicing what it preaches.
“With the growing popularity of the plant-based diet trend, produce has the opportunity to take center stage. During the Viva Fresh keynote luncheon on May 1, we plan to show how the industry can use this information to boost produce consumption,” shares Heidi McIntyre, Managing Partner at Full Tilt Marketing. “It’s inspiring to witness first-hand Tommy’s and the other participants’ personal journey. They are providing a real, authentic account of how a clean diet with more fruits and vegetables can have a huge, positive impact on their overall health and wellness.”
And if you know Tommy, you know he is good at spreading the word, helping to set a strong example for others to follow.
“You and all the CEC folks are not only impacting your own lives but thousands that are being touched by your stories. The ripple effect from this journey you all are on will be felt by many long into the future. God Bless you all and enjoy that journey,” Craig Slate, President and CEO of SunFed, told Tommy and the team helping him with this transition.
Tommy points out that the core of this goes back to the Viva Fresh vision initiated by Jimmy Bassetti, President of J&D Produce: Consumers who eat what our industry grows will discover that the medicine is in the soil.
Today, Tommy is under 230 pounds and losing in a healthy, produce-powered way.
“This started as a diet and became a lifestyle,” Tommy says. “It takes a village to pull this off with a hard-headed old man. ‘Thank you’ isn’t enough, but boy is Viva going to have living proof of its message!”
The best way to trigger change is to start with the person in the mirror, their friends, and their co-workers. If we want to see fresh produce take up more real estate on the plate, we have to walk the walk. Thank you, to Tommy, the challengers, and the Viva Fresh team for leading this charge!