Eating more fruits and vegetables has been a priority goal of the nutrition and agriculture community for many years. But unfortunately, it has been hard to get meaningful support in the media, the marketplace and in government programs. Now, in several positive ways, this goal to increase consumption of fruits and veggies is getting a much needed push. For example, the 2007 Farm Bill now being considered in the U.S. Senate includes a provision that will bring fresh fruit and vegetable snacks to schools.
A recent study by The Produce For Better Health foundation shows that 90 percent of consumers do not eat the recommended five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines recommends consuming 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day, but most American consumers eat far less.
To get the variety of needed nutrients every day, including vitamins, minerals, and fiber it is essential to eat your fruits and veggies. Both are naturally low in fat and vegetables also contain starchy forms of carbohydrates, and fruits contain simple forms of energy (fruit sugars) along with water.
Vegetables and fruits offer unique health protections. First the fiber found in these plant foods helps maintain a healthy digestive tract and may lower the risk for hearth disease and some cancers. Also, vegetables and fruits contain the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene, which protect sensitive body tissue.
Now there is good news happening in the food marketplace - A recent announcement by Disney that they have launched a produce marketing company, Disney Gardens, to help parents get their families to eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables. They have just launched a new line of character-themed fruit and vegetable snacks and sides. The fruits and veggies are tested by kids and conveniently packaged.
Disney characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy present the products that are both nutritious and fun. Disney has even established their own food guidelines which place limits on calories, fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium. When I was in government overseeing the school lunch program, we worked with Disney and did infomercials promoting healthy food choices to children. This is a welcome next step where Disney and their loveable characters are marketing good, fresh fruits and vegetables to children. What a great development!!!
There is also good news happening in Congress. Included in the 2007 Farm Bill being considered is the National Fruit and Vegetable Program. It promotes child health and nutrition by spending $225 million annually so that poor children in every state in the country receive a fresh fruit or vegetable snack every day at school. This valuable nutrition program will result in children eating more fruits and vegetables and creates healthier school food environments.
Both of these new developments are examples of the changes going on in the country. What are you doing to encourage your kids - and yourself - to eat more fruits and vegetables? I would love to hear your ideas.
From Ellen's Healthy Table:
A delicious, really easy way to enjoy the best of fall vegetables
Visit FoodFit's Farmer's Market to find out what's in season in your area.
Published On: October 29, 2007