New Zealand’s 5+ A Day Charitable Trust has joined the global call for a World Fruit and Vegetable Day, to be celebrated this Friday 14thOctober. The day aims to officially recognise the initiative to raise awareness of the vital role fruit and vegetables play in the lives of every person on the planet.
The proposal builds on the momentum created during last year’s International Year of Fruit and Vegetables, a United Nations global event that brought together experts from around the world, including many from Aotearoa, to discuss the ways in which the production and consumption of fresh produce could be improved to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
5+ A Day Trustee and Principal Scientist and Team Leader at Plant & Food Research, Dr Carolyn Lister says the mooted annual day of recognition of the importance of fruit and vegetables comes at a critical time for world health.
“While we’re learning to live with the ramifications of a global pandemic and the increasing signs of climate change, communities everywhere need to re-evaluate the ways in which we nourish our people,” she says.
“The theme of the 2022 World Food Day is ‘leave no one behind’, this speaks to issues such as food security and, even though Aotearoa is perceived as a wealthy nation, we’re leaving part of our population behind every day when there are Kiwis going without their 5+ A Day,” she says.
“Sustainability initiatives imbedded in a World Fruit and Vegetable Day will spark the kind of innovations and public events that create awareness and provide solutions to issues such as food security, indigenous crops and food waste reduction,” says Dr Lister.
“Fresh produce statistics provided by 18 countries around the globe in 2020 showed that the citizens of Chile and Italy were the only two nations that ate the recommended five or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day for optimal health,” she says.
“While organisations and initiatives such as the 5+ A Day Charitable Trust and Fruit and Vegetables in Schools actively work to increase consumption across all age groups and demographics, we know that the critical health benefits of good nutrition begin from an early age,” says Dr Lister.
“Our hope is that international leaders embrace the proposal to formally acknowledge our vital horticulture industry from seed to table. We want World Fruit and Vegetable Day to be an important part of the calendar every year and we want to ensure every Kiwi has access to their 5+ A Day for all 365 days of that year,’ says Dr Lister.