Four and a half cups a day. Nine servings. Veggies and fruits. For almost all of us, that’s a tough habit to form. That’s a lot of fresh food.
But if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, and it’s July, it’s a great time to get to work on this habit. Please promise yourself one trip to your local open air market this week. Ask around, find out where the markets are, where the farmers in your area show their stuff.
Then take a big tote bag — one you won’t mind staining with raspberry juice or peach nectar — stuff your pockets with a little of the local currency, wear comfortable shoes, a hat to shade your eyes, and go.
Give yourself lots of time at the market. Walk the whole length of it once without buying, just looking, smelling, and tasting when you’re offered tastes. Take in the smell and heft of vine ripened tomatoes, imagine searing those greens in a cloud of garlic. What could you do with those tiny eggplants? And six colors of peppers?
Remember kohlrabi? It’s back in season. The strawberries are done, but the raspberries and cherries are up, and the blueberries around the corner.
Wouldn’t that bundle of radishes look great in your kitchen? Have you ever had an organically grown carrot? If not, give yourself that chance. You may never go back.
What’s good on the grill? Those tomatoes, the peppers, fennel, sweet onions, summer squashes, new potatoes. And peaches. Mist any of these with a little olive oil, and throw them on a seasoned or non-stick grill. Wonderful.
What’s good raw? All of that other stuff, and those delicate berries, the baby greens, that big head of bibb lettuce, those melons, the crazy cukes.
Oh, we eat this food because it’s wonderful. But also we need to boost to 9 servings a day because it’s a good way to help ward off heart disease and many kinds of cancer, to keep our blood pressure and cholesterol in check, to keep our pipes working properly, to guard our vision and hearing.
And for those of us trying to keep our weight in check, filling up on fruit and veggies helps a lot to keep our calories per day down where we want them.
The strife and politics in the food and nutrition sciences all quiet down at this one point of agreement — we all need to eat a lot more veggies and fresh fruit.
Okay, now think through your next few days’ meals. Can you substitute a couple of vegetables for the bread, the pasta, the rice, the dumplings, the potatoes? Can you serve three veggies at a single dinner? Bet you can, and love it. Cut the steak in half, and fill the grill with veggies instead? You can do that.
Think along those lines, then it’s time to buy enough veggies to challenge your palette and your habits for the next three days.
Then find the next market. Or note the roadside stands on your regular route. Start asking people where they get their corn and tomatoes. Look for the co-op farms in your area. The salad bars open all night. The restaurants that attend to their veggies. Find convenient ways to fill your life and your diet with fresh stuff. You deserve it.