More fruits and veggies, please!

We live on/in the best place in the world. We have fresh food all year round and plenty of it! And yet many of us run to the big stores to load up on junk food rather than eating fresh, local produce.

Not only is our local food better for you, it is better for the environment, since it wasn’t shipped all over, costing the planet loss in fossil fuels, and it helps us be sustainable, which is the goal of any sensible community — but especially should be the goal of a community as remote as ours.

What would happen to you if the barge didn’t make it next week? Could you make it? This is Fruit and Veggie month! And here on Kauai we should, and can, celebrate it every month!

Fruits and vegetables are nature’s ultimate fast food. No one can argue with me and tell me it is not faster and more affordable to carry a banana, orange or mango with you than it is to go through the drive through, or find a package of whatever in the “convenience” store.

What could be more convenient than a banana? It even comes in its own biodegradable wrapper! So not only does our land provide us with health-giving wonderful food, but we can give back to the land by composting the wrapper! Perfect.

Veggies also make a great snack or meal, and although most might require a little preparation, many can be eaten raw and just washed. Fruits and vegetables are low in fat and filling (most are less than 100 calories per fruit or half cup size serving of veggies).

The nutritional benefits of our local fruits and veggies are that they are full of vitamins, fiber, minerals, antioxidants, clean distilled water, simple and complex carbohydrates, little to no fat (except for avocados, and they have good fat — although a lot of it) and even a little protein.

You can think of our local produce as capturing all the goodness of the soil (the minerals) and all the energy of the sun, and coupling it with all the beauty and richness of the island itself. Your body will love you for energizing it with good food. You will be leaner, more energized and cleaner internally from eating fresh and local produce.

We should be consuming five to seven servings of fruit and veggies every day, but the statistics from the Center for Disease Control indicate that we only consume about 1.7 servings of fruit and veggies daily. Here on Kauai it is easy and cheap to get the full requirement!

How many times do we see people letting the fruit on their trees go to waste while they go and buy non-nutritious prepared “food” from off island at the store? In the old days, people would eat what was in season when it was available and then switch to the next fruit or veggie as it came into season, rather than the way we live now with the availability of “fresh” strawberries from who knows where, every month of the year.

How about sharing the food with each other? If you have plenty of oranges or grapefruit, share with neighbors and friends and then get back some of their mangos or breadfruit. It keeps it home and it keeps us sustainable. Support the local markets — the ones you know are local and real.

Grow your own veggies. It doesn’t take a lot of room or soil, it just takes some work and it is worth it. It is satisfying and better for your body! On my property, I have oranges, breadfruit, lilikoi, papaya, lemons, bananas, lychee and kale, and am always sprouting something. It is very satisfying to know that I can feed myself good, local food no matter what.

Anyone can sprout micro-greens. It just takes some seeds and a bottle. Very nutritious, delicious and easy. Let’s celebrate National Fruit and Veggies month every month and work toward making our little paradise sustainable forever.

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Jane Riley, M.S., B.A., C.P.T., Certified Nutritional Adviser, can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-1451 or www.janerileyfitness.com.

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