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The Veggie Tales

By Madi Short

This Happened to Me

Every spring, my family plants a garden together, and we tend to it throughout the
summer. It is just a small garden that is grown at my house. My family has gardened together for
as long as I can remember, and it has been a central bonding activity for my family. Our garden
is enough to provide vegetables for my family to eat during dinner through the harvest months.
My grandparents grow a much larger garden. They are both now retired; my grandfather was a
farmer, and my grandmother was a cafeteria worker, so they understand and value the
importance of nutrition. They grow enough vegetables that will last them all year and still have
some to share with my family. We commonly grow broccoli, potatoes, string beans, and beets.
When these foods are ready, we pick the vegetables and eat them, or we package them to be
canned or frozen and stored to eat later. My family does this because it is healthier to grow our
vegetables than if we were to buy canned goods from the store.


Here’s the Problem

In 2019, the CDC found that only 12.3% of adults in the US met the recommended fruit
recommendations set by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (4). In addition, only 10.0% of
adults met the recommended vegetable intake (4). These statistics are concerning because fruits
and vegetables provide a plethora of vitamins and minerals that are crucial to the health and
development of humans. Those living with low income were least likely to consume the
recommended number of vegetables, with only 6.8% of this demographic meeting the standard intake (4). The availability of fresh vegetables can help increase the vitamins and minerals that
are consumed by the general public (1). Vegetables purchased in stores have been harvested days
or sometimes even weeks before it sees a shelf (1). The time and the way the products are being
shipped (temperature and outside exposure) all affect the nutrient loss the produce is
experiencing (1). With people already scarcely consuming vegetables in general, eating this low-
nutrient produce, major health concerns are posed. With this lack of vitamin-rich vegetables,
people are at a higher risk of developing diseases like scurvy (lack of vitamin C), anemia (lack of
iron), or bleeding disorders (lack of vitamin K) (2). People who regularly consume imported
vegetables found in grocers, or do not consume vegetables at all, can experience a severe
deficiency of all these vitamins and minerals.

Non-Profit Working to Solve the Problem

The Farmers Market Coalition is a non-profit that works with farmer’s markets to
promote the industry and therefore improve the business of farmers and educate consumers (3).
This organization prioritizes advocacy, education, and promotion of locally sold produce. On
their website, one can navigate to find answers to commonly asked questions, an area for
farmer’s market coordinators to collaborate with the organization and other market coordinators,
and advocacy resources (3). The website of this organization has a variety of resources for
farmers, market coordinators, and consumers; allowing them to learn different ways to promote
fresh produce and to understand why it is increasingly beneficial to consume local produce
versus what is sold in local grocery stores. The Farmers Market Coalition has offices all over the
country, so it is accessible to everyone. Diverse locations allow for national coordination and
networking between farmers, markets, and consumers.


What You Can Do

In order to guarantee that you have a regular supply of fruits and vegetables, start an at-
home garden. These gardens do not have to be anything complex; they can consist of planter
boxes placed in a window. Gardyn is a company that makes at-home indoor gardens (5).
Individuals can purchase this kit that comes with a 2 sq. ft. stand that can grow up to 30 different
plants (5). An alternative option is, to buy local produce from farmer’s markets instead of at the
grocery store. Because of the decreased field-to-shelf time, local produce has nutritional benefits
that grocery stores cannot compete with. Support local farmers and consume fresh healthy fruits
and vegetables by visiting some of Winchester’s local farmer markets (some listed below).

Winchester Farmers Markets

Marker-Miller Orchard – 3035 Cedar Creek Grade Winchester, VA 22602
West Oaks Farm Market – 1107 Cedar Creek Grade Winchester, VA 22602
Winchester Farmers Market – 447 Amherst Street, Winchester, VA 22601
Shawnee Springs Market – 1488 Senseny Rd, Winchester, VA 22602
The Homestead Farm at Fruit Hill Orchard – 2502 N Frederick Pike, Winchester, VA 22603

References

  1. The benefits of garden-to-table produce versus supermarket varieties. GardenTech.
    (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2022, from https://www.gardentech.com/blog/gardening-and-
    healthy-living/garden-to-table-goodness-and-nutrition
  2. Ratan-NM. (2020, January 24). How dangerous is a lack of fruit and vegetables? News.
    Retrieved October 2, 2022, from https://www.news-medical.net/health/How-Dangerous-
    is-a-Lack-of-Fruit-and-Vegetables.aspx
  3. Farmers Market Coalition, 21 May 2018, https://farmersmarketcoalition.org/.
  4. “Adults Meeting Fruit and Vegetable Intake Recommendations – United States, 2019.”
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
    6 Jan. 2022,
    https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7101a1.htm?s_cid=mm7101a1_w.
  5. “Gardyn Home Kit 2.0.” Gardyn, 8 Oct. 2022, https://mygardyn.com/product/gardyn-
    home-kit/.

Categories: Home, op ed

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