This year is designated by the United Nations General Assembly as ‘International Year of Fruits and Vegetables (IYFV)’, covering the theme - Fruits and vegetables are your dietary essentials. The HSE Healthy Food for Life Guidelines recommend we eat more vegetables, salad and fruit – up to seven servings a day.
To support and raise awareness of the value of fruits and vegetables, Teagasc Horticulture Development Department will be incorporating this theme into its planned programme of activities throughout 2021.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends eating a variety of fruits and vegetables that are in season. Fresh fruits and vegetables are an important source of fibre and potassium, and reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases.
Prof Paul Cotter, Head of Teagasc Food Biosciences Department said; “plant-based foods and beverages, including fruits and vegetables, are rich sources of dietary polyphenols. Consumption of plant foods is associated with lower risk of chronic diseases including cancer, heart diseases, type two diabetes and other inflammatory diseases. A large number of these biological effects are attributed to phytochemical components of plant foods. Moreover, it has been suggested that many of the beneficial impacts of these secondary metabolites on overall health is mediated through the manipulation of gut bacteria in the colon and their transformation therein by the gut bacteria present”.
Speaking about the horticulture sector, Dermot Callaghan, Head of Horticulture Development Department at Teagasc said; “Irish commercial Horticulture has an output value ranked fourth behind dairy, beef and pig meat. It has a ‘farm gate’ value of €477 million in 2019.
While fruit and vegetable production is an economically important activity, and the health benefits of eating fruit and vegetables are widely reported, and probably undervalued, it would seem logical that we all have a responsibility as consumers to ensure the long-term viability of an industry that puts local, fresh, top quality vegetables on the supermarket shelf."
Many consumers are adopting more plant-based diets and some are growing their own fruit and vegetables, taking to their back garden or community allotment in recent times. Spring is the perfect time to start planting fruits and vegetables.
While Teagasc have a focus on the professional horticulture sector, Teagasc have recently updated relevant information and useful guides available for the home gardener:
Two Teagasc publications ‘A Guide to Vegetable Growing’ and ‘Greenhouse Salad Crops – A Guide for Home Gardeners’ are excellent resources for anyone ‘growing their own’. They are free to download at the following coordinates.
A Guide to Vegetable Growing, 9th Edition https://www.teagasc.ie/crops /horticulture/vegetables/ home-gardeners/
Greenhouse Salad Crops – A Guide for Home Gardeners https://www.teagasc.ie/ crops/horticulture/ vegetables/home-gardeners/
Hard copies of A Guide to Vegetable Growing, 9th Edition are available at the cost of €15 euros/copy including postage. Please contact Therese Dempsey, Teagasc, Oak Park, Carlow on 059 9183422 for details.