Have you noticed recently that you can’t do much without seeing something related to fruits and vegetables?
Open up your morning paper, and you’re immediately overwhelmed with ads for specific “superfood” fruits or vegetables at your local markets. Flyers are everywhere. Roadside stands are popping up in your community. Open up social media and someone’s posted about a local farmers market they recently visited. According to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service during the week of June 8, there were almost 400,000 ads!
And it makes sense. June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month as well as peak season for produce. USDA says men up to age 50 require 2 ½ cups of vegetables and women require 3 each day. Fruit requirements are 2 cups for both men and woman in the same age group. To learn more about the data, please visit the ChooseMyPlate.gov website.
Considering USDA’s recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, it really shouldn’t be that surprising to see all those ads. What might be more surprising is the American farmer’s role in supporting those recommendations.
Last year, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), farmers harvested more than 2.48 million acres of vegetables and melons resulting in 36 million tons of utilized production. Utilized production is the amount of a crop sold for fresh market and processing, used at home for processing, or held in storage. The value of those veggies and melons was $13.8 billion. California, Arizona, and Florida accounted for 76 percent of the United States’ total vegetable value of utilized production.
The leading non-citrus utilized fruit crop production totaled 18.5 million tons and had a value of $18.6 billion. Grapes, apples, and strawberries are the top three fruits in utilized production.
Now is the best time to run out and get your fresh fruits and veggies. Support your overall health AND your hardworking farmers.