Today, June 17, 2016 marks the official “Eat Your Vegetables” day across the nation. It aligns well with the fact that the whole month of June is officially “National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month”. Both of these holidays were created to help educate the nation on the importance of fruits and vegetables in our daily diet. With this in mind, we always try to communicate to our busy participants the needs of eating, and feeding their children, the appropriate amount of fruits and vegetables.
Why it’s important:
According to choosemyplate.org, “people who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body”.
The health benefits of eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits are plentiful, but here are a few:
- May reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke
- May protect against certain types of cancers
- May reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes
- May lower blood pressure, may help to decrease bone loss and reduce the risk of developing kidney stones
Why should this matter for children?
Simply put, children are growing! Ensuring they have all the right nutrients aids in their development and growth. Better school performance, improved nutrition, decreased obesity and digestive health are just a few benefits for children that eat their daily recommendation of fruits and vegetables.
Do you have a picky child? Here are a few tips to help them eat more fruits and vegetables:
- Shop with them! Let them pick out the produce
- Let them prepare the dishes, a child who makes a dish is more likely to eat it
- Sneak pureed produce into your child’s favorite foods
- Stock kid-level shelves in the fridge with baggies of cut-up veggies and fruits
Where to buy fresh fruits and vegetables:
Local grocery stores will house all types of produce, with a variety of in season, as well. That being said, sometimes our participants don’t live close to a grocery store that houses fresh produce, or they aren’t affordable.
That is where New Roots, Fresh Stop Markets come in. These markets are bi-weekly fresh food markets that “pop up” at local churches, community centers, and housing authorities. Community members purchase shares of 10-12 seasonal produces in advance and pick them up at the markets closest to them. Families on WIC need only pay $6 for this opportunity! Not on WIC but have limited resources, you pay just $12. The rest of the community is welcome to take part for $25. For Louisville based markets, the contact information is (502)-509-6770.
Other ideas we share with our participants include splitting the cost of produce with a friend or neighbor. A lot of produce come in large enough sizes where a family of two or three can easily split with another family of two or three. Families are also encouraged to join our Café Nights that occur every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We have teamed up with Dare to Care to provide all participants and their children with a healthy, free meal that include a fruit and vegetable.
How to store fresh fruits and vegetables:
Here are a few printable charts that detail how and where to store, how long to keep, and how to clean your produce:
Always talk to your doctor and your child’s doctor before changing diets.