Eating Fruits and Veggies: Adventure Instead of Drudgery

Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Grid

Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Grid

We're eating fewer fruits and vegetables than we did, not more. Isn't that just so hard to believe? We're not in the ain't-it-awful business here at Savoring Kentucky, nor the statistics business, but three quick points:

  1. The news comes from a report ominously titledMorbidity and Mortality Weekly Report -- reminding us to take our food choices seriously.
  2. The entire country is way behind the national target: 75 percent of us should eat two fruit servings and three vegetable servings every day. Kentucky -- a veritable Eden of vegetable and fruit production -- is waaaay behind.
  3. Both national and state trends indicate people are eating fewer fruits and vegetables, not more.

What to do? I have one little thought. What if you and your eating companions focus on taste and tasting? Instead of thinking of all you have to give up and all the habits you have to change, how about adding in fruits and vegetables in your daily life in a spirit of gratitude, fun, and exploration? In other words, eat your way to being a fruit and veggie connoisseur (or connoisseur household): Which tomato tastes best? Which do we like best at our house, Tuscan or curly kale? How about raw kale salad versus lightly sauteed kale with garlic?

If eating fruits and vegetables becomes a welcome adventure, the numbers of daily servings may take care of itself. With taste and flavor as a focus, here are a few commonsense tactics that won't take all the fun out of eating, I promise:

  1. Right now, still at the peak of harvest season, buy small amounts of lots of different fruits and vegetables. Try, compare,  and taste until you have eaten your own three servings of tomatoes/collards/onions/eggplant/green beans/field peas/cabbage/carrots/okra every day, along with your own two servings of grapes/apples/Asian pears/European pears/watermelon/Crenshaw melon/raspberries/pawpaws/rhubarb.
  2. Offer fruit choices to visitors, and then ask their opinion. Which types or varieties of late summer grapes or melons do they prefer?
  3. Put fruits and vegetables in your lunch bag, experimenting to learn which ones you really, really look forward to eating.
  4. Get your children to help select fruits they want for lunch. Make sure fruits go in every lunch box. After the lunch has disappeared, ask children to rate the fruits in their lunch boxes.
  5. Try out fruits or savory crunchy things for after-school and after-work snacks.
  6. Look at garden websites now and plan with your family what you'll plant next spring, since it is so easy and delightful to eat what grows right outside the door -- and your children are more likely to eat what they help grow, too.
  7. Through the end of November, make regular family outings to our marvelous farmers' markets to choose from among all that is fresh and local. I recommend crunching through some apples or pears right on the spot.
  8. By yourself or with family members, when you plan your meals, choose an array of vegetables first, and then add in the protein and starch. This makes vegetables seem more like REAL food, and helps you arrive at "a new geometry of the plate." Use your own and family taste buds to identify favorite types.
  9. At restaurants, pick out vegetables or side dishes first, and build your meal out from there. Experiment and evaluate your choices so you become expert at choosing exactly what you are going to find delicious.
  10. About drive-through meals - well, just have a talk with yourself about that and see what's what.

Note: Hat tip to NPR's Scott Hensley for the post that set this post in motion.

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The world is coming to visit central Kentucky this year for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. To help our visitors know more about Kentucky's food and food ways, Savoring Kentucky is rolling out 116 Savory Kentucky Bites, one for each of the 100 days before WEG begins, and 16 for the days during WEG, September 25 - October 10. Today's Savory Bite is 86.

116 World EQ Game Postrona