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It's Easier Than You Think

Mom says, “Eat your fruits and vegetables”, and you’ll get big and strong; doctors tell you that eating plenty of vegetables and fruit can help you reduce the risk of heart disease, control blood pressure, and that they have even been shown to help prevent some types of cancer. Magazines, TV and radio remind us daily that produce is essential for a healthy diet and even the USDA’s latest dietary guidelines call for five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Farmers markets have grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years and Melissa’s Organic Produce can be found in nearly every region of the country. Even organic produce sales grew at a whopping 38% in 2009. So why do the latest statistics on fruit and vegetable consumption show that the average American eats a total of just three servings of fruits and vegetables a day? It could be that many folks feel that preparing fruit or vegetables is too hard or time consuming, or it could be that we think that five to thirteen servings of fruit and vegetables a day is a lot to consume. Well, perhaps if we look at it differently it might make eating the produce we need a little easier. The recommended servings break down to about 2½ to 6½ cups per day. And for a person who needs 2,000 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight and diet, this breaks down to only nine servings, or 4½ cups per day (2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables). If you go and look at a measuring cup, you’ll see that a cup is very little in actual quantity and eating your daily amount won’t seem so daunting.

Another way to look at it is to break it down into how many Melissa’s organic carrots or grapes you need to eat to make a serving. Here are some typical serving sizes for fruit and vegetables:
Image of exotic fruits
Image of fresh vegetables
When you look at it this way, if you had a banana and a cup of OJ with your cereal, a handful of grapes for a morning snack, some sliced organic tomato and onion, and a leaf of lettuce on your turkey and cheese sandwich, an apple or kiwi for an afternoon snack and five broccoli florets and ten baby carrots when you are munching at the appetizer table during the holidays, you will have eaten what you need for the day. If you make even a basic dinner salad with a couple of cups of romaine lettuce, 5 or 6 slices of cucumber and 3 or 4 rings of red pepper, you have your veggies covered for the day. Heck, a vegetable omelet with ½ cup of sliced organic mushrooms, ½ cup of green pepper, and a ½ cup of chopped onions could make up almost half of your daily need. It doesn’t seem so monumental this way does it?

Of course, it would be great if we would eat more than the daily recommendation, but if you are eating little or none now, this is a good place to start. And once you get started, you’ll see that Melissa’s organic produce can be a pretty nice addition to just about any meal or snack routine.

Tips to Help Make Eating Produce Easier
  • Ask your produce person to sample what’s fresh and in season for you. After all, that is usually when produce is at its best flavor and best price. For example, kiwis are really tasty right now as are autumn favorites like organic Fuji apples and pears.
  • Keep fruit out where you can see it. That way you'll be more likely to eat it. Keep it out on the counter or in the front of the fridge. When I’m home in the office, I place 5 or 6 pieces of fruit on the counter that I walk by most during the day and guess what? I eat more fruit this way.
  • Have some already cut up. If your carrots are ready to eat and your orange is already quartered, you will be more apt to choose them for a healthy lunch companion or snack.
  • Every meal, every day. Try filling half your plate with vegetables or fruit at each meal. It may seem odd at first but eating big salads with lots of veggies, or a stir-fry, or fruit salad makes it easier to do every day.
  • Get to know your produce manager. Ask them to help you choose something new from the Melissa’s seasonal lineup of great produce. It’s easy to stick with the same old thing each time you shop, but that is also what could be making your choices so uninspiring for lunch or dinner. It is said that variety is the key to a healthy diet, so your produce manager can help you try some new fruits and vegetables each shopping visit.
  • Make a cooking night for yourself. If you are making dinner anyway, cook up some extra sweet potatoes, they are wonderful cold or warmed for lunch. Make up a batch of coleslaw or a few days worth of lettuce and carrots in a Tupperware bin. If you are feeling adventurous, make a pot of soup with lots of your favorite vegetables to get you through the week.
  • Set a good example. If you do it, you’ll soon see others following suit. After all we all like things to be easy, so the easier we make it to eat healthy, the more we will. I always have apples or seasonal fruit at my radio office in San Francisco and whenever the afternoon lull sets in, I cut slices for the team and the production meeting perks up and goes a little smoother.
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season, filled with lots of wonderful produce!
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