The quick answer: The average American eats one serving of fruit daily. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends four servings. Get the picture?
Small town Gothic
We drove to Utah yesterday, to visit little Midway in time for Swiss Days. I’ll follow with a post on Swiss Days—it fascinates me. The Beautiful Wife, as you’ll recall, is half-Swiss.
Along the way I left the freeway for a small country road. The BW, dozing, was instantly awake. “Where are we going?” she queried. “An adventure,” I responded. We visited a tiny farm town—Levan—that had hardly changed in a century. We drove by fields with the local crops, alfalfa and cattle. There were quaint homes built a century or more ago, and some that were new. Lovely old barns, many filled with hay, decorated the town.
We didn’t know a soul in Levan, but these are friendly people and soon we were seated in a kitchen, visiting with a spry couple in their 90s. Their home—clean, neat, and simple—was an old brick farmhouse, though it had been remodeled several times. A little ways off was an old barn; nearby a much-used pick-up truck, and tractor. The husband had been picking apples from an ancient tree in the yard. Jars of canned applesauce sat on the counter.
These good people had reared their family farming and raising cattle. They had the lean, fit appearance of people who had worked hard for many years. “We raised cattle on our farm,” the man said, “but we’re older and the land is leased out now.” They still kept chickens for I saw eggs and egg cartons in a niche of the kitchen. I wondered if I had found a source for free-range eggs. “Oh,” she noted, “we just raise enough for ourselves and some to give away.” I remembered the farmer’s custom of giving away something from their bounty.
As we visited the wife would step away from time to time to stir a pot on the stove. “Blueberries,” she informed us, “just enough for three cups of jam.” I had noticed a chest freezer nearby. “Well,” the husband reminisced, “we always fattened up a cow to butcher in the fall for our own use. We didn't know what it was to buy meat in a store.”
When our business was done they sent us off with a gracious farewell, but for a long time after I pondered the visit. What would it be like, I wondered, to live so close to the land? To be in one town, one house, one job, your whole life? To have tradition be so much a part of your existence? There was something wholesome and reassuring about the couple we visited. And the apples, applesauce, blueberries, and jam cooking on the stove are the perfect segue to this week’s subject: fruit.
10 Healthiest Fruits
Want to know which are the 10 healthiest fruits? Forget about it. We see those lists, but given the giant amount we don’t know about nutrition, it’s foolish to try and rank fruits by this or that benefit. They’re all healthy and variety is important. I suspect there's a reason for every fruit that exists on our planet.
The tradition of eating an apple a day has actually been confirmed. Recent research has added an orange, and a banana to the daily list. And the small colored berries are intensely full of antioxidants and other phytonutrients.
In fact, the Word of Wisdom simply recommends we eat “fruit in the season.” Now the Industrial Revolution brought a lot of bad stuff, but it also brought us longer seasons for fruit and other foods. You can buy apples, bananas, berries, and some type of orange, about every month of the year. Count it a tender mercy.
As I drove away from Levan, I thought about the bottles of canned applesauce in the kitchen. My parent’s generation canned fruit. My generation bought it canned, but we also were able to buy it fresh more months of the year. The current generation can buy affordable fresh fruit year around. Because sugar inhibits bacterial growth, canned fruit was traditionally sweetened. So, in our home, with the exception of freezer jam, we simply eat seasonal fresh fruit and don't try to preserve it, though I miss the comfort against famine that a cellar of bottled fruit offers. One compensation is to store dried fruits like dates, plums (okay, prunes), raisins, and mangos—this is an ancient practice and dried fruits store well.
The USDA guidance is a good place to start: four daily servings of fruit (shown in the pix above). How are we doing? Americans, on average, eat just one daily fruit serving. Ouch.
That’s the same as vegetables, where the goal is 5 daily servings, so you see the challenge. But fruit is fun to eat, so once you get the idea four servings won’t be hard. Vegetables, on the other hand, are more of a challenge. That’s why we dedicate eight posts to eating vegetables and just this one to fruit.
Last week I was enjoying the most delicious cantaloupe; it tasted so good. And we’re currently in the best season for watermelons, peaches and apricots. The key to eating fruit is to buy it—to have it in the house. If your servings run 3-4 ounces, a week’s worth for two adults, allowing for a little waste, would be about 15 pounds. You can adjust this for your family size. Whatever your goal, just be sure to buy it weekly and if it isn’t getting eaten and it’s going to waste, have a family council on the subject. Children love fruit for a snack.
That’s all I have to say about fruit: Eat a variety of fruits in season, about four servings daily. If you buy it, you’re likely to eat it. It's easy in the summer, but takes a little effort in the winter.
Oh, one other thing. Remember that dessert of orange-flavored Jello and Cool Whip treat your mom used to make? That doesn’t count as a fruit. But as you learn to appreciate fruit, you’ll find it makes a delicious dessert that’s healthful, inexpensive, and easy to prepare. What could be better?
Please comment: How do you get your family to eat fruit instead of sugary snack foods? What are your favorite fruit desserts? Share a recipe.