One of the best parts about visiting your local farmer's market, grocery store, or produce stand is the array of rainbow colors with all the fresh fruits and vegetables. June 16th, recognized as Fresh Veggies Day, is an opportunity to celebrate and commemorate the nutritional value of fresh vegetables and how they nourish our bodies, minds, and planet.
Although Fresh Veggies Day isn't an official, official holiday, it's important to recognize and appreciate the availability and access to fresh vegetables that we have today. The advent of the railroad in the United States in the 1800s helped farmers ship millions of pounds of food all over the U.S., and the creation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1862 helped ensure that everyone had access to fresh veggies and improved nutrition in the U.S. Today, both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state Departments of Agriculture have implemented programs to make vegetable consumption even more accessible for people of all ages.
We can always count on our schools to provide high-quality, nutritious meals for us during the school year, but did you know that many food assistance programs are also available to children and their families during the summer months? The United States Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is a federally-funded program that provides free meals to children during school vacations, making sure kids receive the same high-quality nutrition in the summer as they do during the school year. Here in Pennsylvania, Governor Shapiro knows how important healthy, nutritious meals are for students year-round, which is why he has requested funding to continue providing universal free breakfast to students for the 2023-24 school year. Since its implementation, the Free School Breakfast Program has served more than 23 million breakfasts to students throughout the Commonwealth and ensures that students start the school day with a healthy, nutritious meal.
How do you plan to celebrate Fresh Veggies Day? A few ideas include:
- Visit a farmer: learn how farmers grow and produce market-ready vegetables.
- Have a lunch or dinner party: plan a lunch or dinner party with lots of fresh, colorful vegetables.
- Share or send a fresh vegetable package: make a pack of fresh, local veggies to share with family or friends.
Fresh Veggies Day is a great time to encourage people to eat more fresh vegetables and educate them on the importance of fresh vegetables, while also creating environmental awareness and sharing the benefits of fresh food for both our diets and the earth. Fresh fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that help us to feel our best and give us energy, but consuming a plant-based diet can also help reduce greenhouse gasses and preserve our natural resources.
There are lots of fresh and seasonal veggies available all year long, but did you know that broccoli is the most popular veggie in 39 states? Here in the U.S., we love our broccoli, so much so that, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American eats four pounds of broccoli a year! Although we don't expect you to buy and eat as much broccoli as you can on Fresh Veggies Day, celebrate the day by buying and trying a new colorful veggie or two from your local market or grocery store!