Eating fruits and vegetables comes with undeniable health benefits.
Dietary guidelines suggest 2½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruit per day for adults. How does your intake measure up? Before you answer, note that humans have an uncanny ability for self-deception. Statistics show only 10% of adults meet this dietary mark. Coincidentally, cardiovascular disease kills more Americans than any other chronic disease; and fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with reduced risk.
Second guessing your intake? Challenge yourself to complete a fruit and vegetable log. Record what and how much you eat using a pre-made log from the Extension Office (www.laplataextension.org), a free app or plain old pen and paper. Measuring your produce helps ensure accurate logging. As evidence of our self-deception skills, most incorrectly guess portion sizes, too.
Pretend momentarily you’re one of the 90% not eating enough fruits and vegetables but wish to change that. Fortunately, now is an excellent time of year to support that change. Produce is reaching peak production. High supply lends to lower cost and greater availability.
Take advantage of what’s available locally. Visit a farmers market, road stand or community garden. If you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits, are you familiar with Double Up Foods Bucks? This benefit allows you to double your purchasing power, up to $20, on fruits and vegetables at participating markets.
In La Plata County, participating markets include the farmers markets in Durango and Bayfield and Farmers Fresh Market in Ignacio. Bring your SNAP benefits card and ask the manager for details.
Please, share this information with those who aren’t biting at the chance to receive healthful food. To find out if you qualify for SNAP benefits, visit www.benefits.gov/benefit/361.
Which of the following tips would help increase your fruit and vegetable intake?
Buy in season. Lowest cost and best flavor.Shop before delivery day. Slightly older, but quality produce is often sold at grocery stores for reduced prices. Learn how to safely can, freeze, ferment or dehydrate food. For more information, call the Extension Office at 382-6461. A canning class will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Ignacio Community Library, 470 Goddard Ave. Register in advance.Grow your own. Need pointers? Pick some up at a community garden such as Ohana Kuleana (thegardenprojectswcolorado.org/ohana_kuleana). Train to become a Master Gardener through the Extension Office.Choose simplest form. Pre-cut produce costs more. However, if you’re more likely to eat it, it may be worth the cost.Ask convenience stores near you to carry produce. Food deserts exist in La Plata County. These are areas where people live more than 1 mile from a market selling nutritious food. Least expensive produce list. Fruit: watermelon, bananas, cantaloupe, apples, applesauce and raisins. Vegetables: pinto beans, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, romaine, cucumber and green beans.Fresh, frozen or canned. All are nutritious.Make it visible, on the kitchen counter or eye level shelf in the fridge.Start with one meal/snack to focus on including two servings of fruits or vegetables. Nicole Clark is the family and consumer science agent for the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6465.Nicole Clark