One of my favorite pieces of nutrition advice is maybe the simplest: eat more fruits and vegetables. You may be rolling your eyes at the “basic” nature of that wisdom, but according to the CDC only 1 in 10 Americans gets the recommended 5 daily servings. No matter what your dietary preferences or needs, upping the fruit and vegetable content of your diet is a guaranteed way to improve health.
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber, all of which are shown to shield us from chronic disease and contribute to the length and quality of life. Bonus! They’re beautiful, delicious, and here in the Bluegrass right now, ultra-fresh and local.
Forget the latest diet fad. This month, keep your nutrition goal simple. During the summer months in Kentucky, there is no shortage of ways to boost fruit and vegetable intake and have fun doing it.
1. Discover new-to-you foods and add more variety
Another favorite piece of nutrition advice? Variety, variety, variety! There is an abundance of local produce to choose from during the growing season and I’m willing to bet there are foods you’ve never tried before (confession: I have never had a fresh artichoke). Why not delight your palate with a new food experience? You may discover a new favorite or find a delicious new preparation technique. Take the opportunity to be adventurous, get creative, and amp up your nutrition in process. Wins all around.
2. Learn the health (and flavor) benefits of eating super-fresh fruits and vegetables
If you don’t love eating vegetables (I know you’re out there and I’m sympathetic), I encourage you to get to know them better by choosing local produce during the time of the year when freshness and flavor are at their peak. This may help you develop an appreciation for new foods because they will simply taste better. And not only does local produce taste better, it is better for you and the planet. Because the time it takes to get from farm to consumer is greatly reduced, fossil fuel use is diminished and nutrition (in the form of precious phyto- and micronutrients) is maintained.
3. Educate yourself and your family about fresh, local food
Local food is one of the best parts of summer, in my opinion. Here at Good Foods, we’re like a farmers market you can visit year-round! In addition to fantastic fresh food, our produce department contains a wealth of knowledge about the farms and farmers your fruits and vegetables come from. If you get the chance, talk to our staff and ask questions. They can tell you what day your strawberries were picked, how to best use a garlic scape, and when to expect the juiciest local peaches. Increasing your knowledge about local food makes you want to put more of it on your plate.
Your Co-op is here to support you in all of the above endeavors. Our produce department is currently brimming with fruits and vegetables from farms just down the road (you may even catch a farmer making a delivery if you’re lucky). Come eat fresh with us!