2021 is the United Nation’s International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, highlighting the importance of fresh produce in contributing to good health and nutrition.
When we think of healthy eating, fruit and vegetables are usually the first food groups that spring to mind, and for good reason. These colourful and nutritional food items are packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre and are super important for our bodies to function, grow and regenerate.
However, most Australians’ don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends consuming at least 400g each day to reap their many health and nutrition benefits. According to a 2017 CSIRO survey, only 24% of women and 15% of men were eating the recommended 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables per day.
Including more fruits and vegetable into our diets is one of the simplest ways we can improve and make positive changes to our overall health. Not only will it increase our nutritional intake, provide more energy and better maintain our bodies, but more fruits and vegetables may help to reduce the growing rates of overweight and obesity and keep lifestyle and chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease at bay.
The UN’s Key Messages for International Year of Fruits and Vegetables
- Harness the goodness – Fruits and vegetables have multiple health benefits, including the strengthening of the immune system, which is essential for combating malnutrition in all its forms and overall prevention of non-communicable diseases.
- Live by it, a diverse diet – Fruits and vegetables should be consumed in adequate amounts daily as part of a diversified and healthy diet.
- Respect food from farm to table – The high perishability of fruits and vegetables needs special attention to maintain their quality and safety through appropriate treatment and handling across the supply chain from production to consumption in order to minimize loss and waste.
- Innovate, cultivate, reduce food loss and waste – Innovation, improved technologies and infrastructure are critical to increasing the efficiency and productivity within fruits and vegetables supply chains to reduce loss and waste.
- Foster sustainability – Sustainable and inclusive value chains can help increase production, help to enhance the availability, safety, affordability and equitable access to fruits and vegetables to foster economic, social, and environmental sustainability.
- Growing prosperity – Cultivating fruits and vegetables can contribute to a better quality of life for family farmers and their communities. It generates income, creates livelihoods, improves food security and nutrition, and enhances resilience through sustainably managed local resources and increased agrobiodiversity.