The United Nations (UN) declared 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV).1 Even though 2021 is over, it’s still crucial to highlight why fruits and vegetables are so important to us.
What role do fruits and veggies play in our health, our economy, and the future of agriculture? Those are some of the points that the UN wanted to emphasize with their resolution.2 And really, the ideas that they advocate are relevant to everyone and in all food systems.
- The health benefits of fruits and vegetables.
- Agricultural innovation and sustainability.
- Reducing food waste and food loss.
These issues impact all of us, whether you’re a consumer, food producer, or distributor. So what are some of the ways that you can show people why fruits and veggies are so important? And not just for our bodies, but in helping to build strong and sustainable communities.
Let’s keep highlighting fruits and vegetables beyond 2021.
How to Promote the Health Benefits of Fruits and Veggies in Your Community
Most people know that they should be eating fruits and vegetables regularly. But how many of us actually are? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that only 1 in 10 adults are getting the recommended daily amount.3
It’s important to help people understand the benefits of fruits and vegetables on their health. The consequences of not eating enough produce4 can result in serious and costly medical conditions.
Unfortunately, lower-income people have the lowest intake of fruits and vegetables.5 They’re also less likely to be able to afford treatments for chronic conditions.
You can help empower lower-income folks by providing them with the knowledge and the resources to help them get the fruits and veggies they need.
Often it’s a matter of affordability and access to produce that’s the underlying issue. And community organizations are absolutely needed to help with this.
They can give people the chance to access fresh food in unique ways, like with mobile markets. And they’re essential in fighting for food access and bringing these issues to the attention of policy-makers.
Working at the local level and with the very people that need help accessing more fresh produce is such a vital part of this movement.
That’s why it’s so important to highlight the role that fruits and veggies play in our personal and communal health. You can use this information to push for real change in your community.
Supporting the Need for Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
Supporting innovative and unique ideas when it comes to farming will help to ensure the strength of our food systems. It’s been proven time and again that we need to put more emphasis on small-scale farming.6
Small-scale farms provide more crop diversity7 which protects your local plant, animal, and insect species. And they help keep the local economy strong by providing jobs and encouraging people to buy local.
Because of this, small-scale farms are so much better for your community, and an important reason to support them.
Agriculture doesn’t just have to be in rural areas on the family farm either. Nowadays, urban and community farming is on the rise. And with 82% of the American population living in urban areas,8 this is the direction we needed to be headed.
With these new concepts in farming and global food system issues comes the need for innovation. That doesn’t have to mean spending loads of money on some crazy new technology. In a lot of cases, it just means getting creative and experimenting to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Innovative Ideas = Revitalized Neighborhoods
There are soooo many cool ideas and technologies that exist today that we’d need a separate article for that topic alone. (Imagine vertical farming, or transforming old warehouses into lush greenhouses!)
In any case, partnerships come in really handy here. Some non-profits partner with social enterprises and/or policy-makers to help get these initiatives off the ground.
There are some neat ideas out there9 that show us how thinking “outside the box” can revitalize neighborhoods, just like yours.
Generally, with urban and community farming, there’s the idea of a holistic approach to food access. It’s not just about building another grocery store and profiting from that. Instead, these initiatives are supported and run by people who live in the very neighborhoods they serve.
It’s about providing jobs, creating healthier habits, and revitalizing neighborhoods. Now, that’s the kind of innovation we’re talkin’ about.
Why Is Reducing Food Waste So Important in Local Food Systems?
How many people can 133 billion pounds of food feed? A whole lot.
That’s the amount of food waste way back in 2010, just in the US alone.10 Imagine what it is now, or what it was during the pandemic.
With their resolution, the UN wanted to draw attention to this huge problem around the world. It isn’t only about the food that doesn’t end up in our bellies. A big part of the problem with food loss and waste is the amount of effort, energy, and resources that are lost as a result.
Think about how much water and land it takes to grow food that, for whatever reason, we don’t end up eating. Not to mention, the carbon emissions that are released into the atmosphere from growing and transporting this wasted food.
And what about all the food that ends up in landfills? Well, it’s responsible for a lot of the methane emissions that our landfills produce. If it was composted instead, we could reduce our carbon footprint considerably.11 Plus you get bonus points for using that compost in your garden too.
Even something as simple as composting your fruit and vegetable waste plays an important part in supporting your local food system – and the planet.
Using Your Mobile Farmers’ Market to Champion Fruits and Veggies
Using your mobile market is a great tool in helping people see why fruits and veggies are so important to them.
It raises awareness of the benefits they have for our health. Plus, buying from your mobile markets supports the local economy. And it gives you the chance to reduce food waste at the retailer and consumer levels.
Getting healthy food to lower-income households and food deserts ensures more people are getting the nutrients they need. Fresh local produce is chock full of the vitamins and minerals that keep us healthy. And when we’re healthy we’re happier and more productive.
That’s the power of fruits and vegetables right there.
Mobile farmers’ markets play an important part in supporting urban & community farm initiatives. They give these farms another way to sell their produce that keeps it local, affordable, and accessible all at the same time.
How Mobile Markets Can Help Reduce Food Waste in a Big Way
As far as food waste goes, mobile farmers’ markets can reduce it in so many ways. As we mentioned, they keep food supply chains short by giving farmers an efficient way to get produce to customers. Food doesn’t have to travel thousands of miles to get to market.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has its own suggestions.12 One of them is to take the produce that doesn’t look so appealing (but is still good to eat) and give it to food banks. It saves produce from ending up as unnecessary trash and ends up going to people who need it.
Food banks can use the mobile farmers’ markets to put this food to good use. The USDA also supports the idea of diverting food waste to “hunger-relief organizations”.13 Even if a fruit or veggie isn’t perfect-looking, it can still be delicious and full of nutrients.
A mobile farmers’ market is a powerful tool in education and awareness too. You can use it to support all the points that we mention in this article:
- Teaching people why fruits and vegetables are important for their health.
- How they can reduce food waste.
- Increasing awareness of urban and community farming initiatives.
- Using your mobile market to partner with social enterprises.
It’s a great way to build greener communities and healthier neighborhoods.
Mobile Farmers’ Markets: Increasing our Understanding of the Importance of Fruits and Veggies Beyond 2021
Who says we need to stop championing fruits and vegetables just because it’s not 2021 anymore? It’s clear that they play an important part in our lives in so many ways.
If you’re focused on food access, you can use your mobile farmers’ market to bring attention to the issues we talked about here. And to tell people why these topics matter so much, and how they affect them.
You can see how the issues that the UN wanted to bring attention to are all related. When you adopt simple changes in just one area, it can have a positive ripple effect on all the others.
Shouldn’t every year be the year of fruits and vegetables? We sure think so.
Mobile farmers’ markets offer organizations a unique way to effect change in their communities. And it’s a fun and very visible way to do it too.
How do you use your mobile farmers’ market to effect change? If you’re looking for more ways to use your mobile market to its full potential, reach out to us today. We want to help you transform your community one apple at a time.