What if I told you there was a magical pill you could take that would help you lose weight, prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, even the common cold? Oh, and it will also make your skin glow.
You don’t need a prescription and your daily dose would just be a couple of dollars a day.
You would take it, wouldn’t you?
So why aren’t you eating your fruits and veggies?
What’s So Great About Fruits and Veggies?
Here are my favorite things about fruits and veggies.
- Vegetables and fruits are the ONLY source of certain nutrients that we need to survive. Vitamin C is just the tip of the iceberg.
- You can eat as much as you like, and you won’t get fat. Go ahead, stuff your face!
- Eating more fruit and veg can, erm, smooth out the other end of the process, preventing or eliminating some serious digestive discomforts.
- Even the USDA (which is heavily influenced by meat lobbyists) recommends that HALF your plate be made up of fruit and veggies
- The more you eat, the more you’ll want. Even if you’re a veggie hater now, eventually your body will start telling you that eating fruits and veggies makes you feel great – and you’ll start to crave them.
- Veggies are more nutritious (and better tasting) the fresher they are, so get yours from the farmer’s market or a CSA for the best benefits.
On Phytonutrients, Antioxidants, Flavonoids, and Polyphenols
These are some fancy words for some little guys we don’t know much about. Studies have barely scraped the surface about what they do.
Some of their powers include preventing a whole range of diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, bone disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes… they also give you superpowers (probably).
Once again, this magical healing elixir is available ONLY in plant foods. To reap the benefits, eat a rainbow each day.
But I Hate Vegetables!!
No, you don’t. You might think you do. But you don’t.
Veggie hate is pure psychology. Maybe you were forced to eat mushy Brussels sprouts at a formative age. Maybe you were taught to think of veggies as the torture before dessert. Maybe you believe meat is man-food and veggies are for sissies.
Whatever it is, the first step admitting you have a problem. The second step is to stop saying “I hate veggies”.
That’s like saying you hate music when you’ve only heard classical and country. There are infinite varieties and so many ways to prepare them, you can always try something new.
Start saying “I am going to figure out which veggies I like”.
Are They Bad For The Environment?
Sadly, vegetables and fruits are a victim of factory farming, much like meat and dairy. More and more, they are grown in monocultures (where a single crop is planted on vast swathes of land). They are also often grown far outside the regions where they do best.
For example, the Florida climate and soil is completely unsuitable for tomatoes; Florida produces one third of the tomatoes grown in the U.S.
Why? Because the system is broken.
Unfortunately, industrial farming methods require excessive amounts of industrial inputs in the form of pesticides and herbicides. Good for the corporations which produce such things, bad for the earth, the waterways, and you.
Monsanto is also picking on some of our favorite foods. Under the moniker Beneforte, they have created a “better for you” head of broccoli, with lots of sciencey sounding “improvements” on the original.
Ironically, their website tells us that “The human body is bombarded by environmental pollutants daily”.
Oh, you mean environmental pollutants like the pesticides that farmers use in excess to grow your crappy patented crops?
Good thing we learned in Should I Eat This? Part 3 that products touting their health benefits are best avoided.
Reduce your impact by:
- Buying organic
- Buying local, from farmer’s markets or CSAs
- Sticking it to the man by growing your own
By far the best thing you can do for the environment (and your body) is to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. This will allow you to eat less meat, dairy, and packaged food.
How To Eat More Veggies and Fruit
For some people, the idea of consuming five a day is like:
What the what?!?
(Liz Lemon would definitely be one of those people.)
Here are a few easy ways to get your five (though it should be more like 10):
You can play hide the veg if you must. Grate zucchini and carrots into pasta sauce, or mash baked cauliflower into your mashed potatoes. Veggies in disguise!
Plan your meals around vegetables, not the meat or grains. For example, I’ll often make a huge salad, and then add a little protein on top.
If you sit at a desk, keep a piece of fruit nearby. There will be some point during the day when you’re hungry or bored and you will eat it.
Instead of buying yet another woody green pepper at the supermarket, get the weirdest vegetable you can find at the farmer’s market. Then go online and find a recipe. It’s a culinary adventure game!
Sign up for a CSA. Someone else picks all your vegetables, and all you have to do is decide what to make.
Obviously, by far the best way to eat more veg is to try my recipes.
Should I Eat This? The Complete Series
- Should I Eat This? A Guide To Food In The 21st Century
All about the series and why I feel compelled to write it.
- Should I Eat This? Part One: Fast Food
Think you know everything there is to know about fast food? This might just surprise you.
- Should I Eat This? Part Two: Junk Food
You know junk food is bad for you, right? You don’t know the whole story.
- Should I Eat This? Part Three: Fake Health Food
Food companies lie to you every day. Here’s how to spot the fakes.
- Should I Eat This? Part 4.0: Meat & The Environment
Meat isn’t just about animal welfare. It’s people welfare, too.
- Should I Eat This? Part 4.1: Meat & Your Health
Pesticides, painkillers, and slime? Can these really be ingredients in meat? And why does meat have ingredients anyway?
- Should I Eat This? Part 5: Fish
What’s in a plate of sushi? And what does the military have to do with fishing?
- Should I Eat This? Part 6: Eggs & Dairy
Cruelty and environmental destruction by the dozen.
Should I Eat This? Part 7: Grains
Finally, something you should totally eat. Possibly.
- Should I Eat This? Part 8: Fruits & Veggies
Not only should you eat these, you should eat more.
- Should I Eat This? Cheat Sheet
The quick and dirty guide to eating clean.
- Should I Eat This? The Flowchart
A decision-making chart for those insoluble food conundrums.