Your Prescription...more Fruits and Vegetables! CSAs = Enhanced Access...
Green leaves, red berries, orange pumpkins, yellow corn, brown cows...these living things create my office backdrop. As a RDN working on a farm, this view provides me with much food for thought. It also inspires nutrition education activities that showcase the link between food and nutrition, farm and fork.
Let’s examine the food component since there is no nutrition until food is eaten. First, we must consider agriculture. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2012 Agricultural Census, Massachusetts has 7,755 farms that produce cranberries, fruit and vegetables, dairy, and livestock as top harvest items and ranks sixth in the nation for the number of farms participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). These data demonstrate that edible agriculture is thriving in our state, offering healthful eating opportunities for our clients, patients and customers.
So, how does this agriculture data affect dietary behaviors? Not as significantly as dietitians might desire. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) State Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity 2012 profile reports that only 36.8% of the almost five million adult residents consume two or more of the recommended servings of fruit daily and only 28.1% consume the recommended three or more servings of vegetables. The CDC State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables 2013 suggests an important step to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is enhanced access to quality and affordable produce. However, improved access and ultimately, increased consumption can only occur when leaders (e.g., health professionals, farmers, state policy makers) from the entire food system work together.
CSAs are a great example of how RDNs can work to improve this access. As a registered dietitian who partners with a farmer for nutrition education, Nourse Farm emphasizes greater understanding of food and nutrition—from field to fork. We supplement our food choices regarding production, selection, preparation, and storage of fruits, vegetables, and herbs: recipe exchanges are facilitated; weekly harvest items showcased; food demonstrations conducted; and social media documents it all. As a result, the overall understanding of the farm’s food system has deepened and translated into not only increased fruit and vegetable consumption, but pleasure and enjoyment too. Here's to your health...eat well to be well!