Family Traditions – Eating Healthy Fruits and Vegetables
Parents have a life long impact on the eating habits of the family. Having grown up the daughter of a former farmer, meal time included generous helpings of fruits and vegetables…most of which were recognizable. Whole artichokes, rutabaga, turnips and eggplant are just some of the vegetables that most of my friends had never tried, except at our dinner table. During peach season we couldn’t make the ninety minute trip home from my grandparent’s home without stopping by the peach orchard for sweet white peaches. The smell in the car was so strong with their succulent aroma that we had to eat a juicy, messy, delicious peach in the car! Pink grapefruit and a glass of fresh orange juice were common morning treats. As a result of such an upbringing, my children love most fruits and vegetables. They were taught to try foods, even ones they didn’t like, at least once a year, because tastes change over time.
Selecting just the right fresh fruits and vegetables is the key to having a good eating experience. Here are some tips on some of my favorites:
Picking Healthy Eggplant
Selecting Bok Choy
September is Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Month
The perfect time to pledge to eat more fruits & vegetables.
Just remember two things, fill half your plate with fruits & vegetables at every eating occasion (including snacks) AND in all forms, fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice, count toward your daily intake.
Fruits & Veggies – More Matters is a national call to action designed to encourage Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables for their better health. The USDA’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends various numbers of servings of fruits and vegetables depending on an individual’s calorie needs – ranging from 4 to 13 servings, or 2 to 6.5 cups, per day, yet research indicates that over 90 percent of Americans do not meet their recommended amount. Fruits & Veggies – More Matters is there to help all Americans increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables and to make the healthy choice also an easy choice.
Fruits and Vegetables – State Indicator Report – 2013
The State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, 2013 provides information for each state on fruit and vegetable consumption, and environmental and policy indicators of support for consumption. The report, which can be used to inform decision makers,shows that fruit and vegetable consumption is higher in some states than others, but overall consumption of fruits and vegetables in the United States is low.
Adults in the United States consume fruit about 1.1 times per day and vegetables about 1.6 times per day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 recommends that Americans eat more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. The MyPlate food guidance system emphasizes the need to “focus on fruits” and “vary your veggies” as building blocks for a healthy diet (www. choosemyplate.gov).
Many states are attempting to increase fruit and vegetable consumption by improving access and establishing policies that make it easier to get fruits and vegetables in communities, schools, and child care. For example, 28 states now have a farm to school/preschool policy. Twenty-seven states have created state-level food policy councils–coalitions of private and public partners working together to improve access to healthy food. Read full report.
What is Organic?
Organic is the most heavily regulated and closely monitored system in the U.S.
Unlike other eco-labels, the organic label is backed by a set of rigorous federal production and processing standards. These standards require that products bearing the USDA organic label be grown and processed without the use of toxic and synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, genetic engineering, antibiotics, synthetic growth hormones, artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sewage sludge and irradiation.
Developed through a transparent process involving the National Organic Program, the National Organic Standards Board (a citizen advisory group), industry representatives and the public, these standards provide traceability from the farm to the consumer, ensuring that you and your family can have confidence in the organic products you buy.
As the gold standard of eco-labels, organic: it’s worth it.
What’s the difference between organic and natural? Isn’t “natural food” just as safe and healthy as organic food? Unfortunately, natural does not mean organic and comes with no guarantees. “Natural foods” are often assumed to be foods that are minimally processed and do not contain any hormones, antibiotics or artificial flavors. In the United States, however, neither the FDA nor the USDA has rules or regulations for products labeled “natural.” As a result, food manufacturers often place a “natural” label on foods containing heavily processed ingredients.
What about organic? Organic is the most heavily regulated food system. Only organic guarantees no toxic synthetic pesticides, toxic synthetic herbicides, or chemical NPK fertilizers are used in production, and no antibiotics or growth hormones are given to animals. Organic producers and processors also are subject to rigorous announced – and unannounced – certification inspections by third-party inspectors to ensure that they are producing and processing organic products in a manner you and your family can trust.