Aligning the food system to meet dietary needs: Fruits and vegetables
This paper (PDF) of Feed the Future discusses strategies for increasing the production and consumption of fruits and vegetables as a path to obtaining adequate diets and increased incomes in domestic and transitional economies. It also offers consensus on research gaps that could improve program and implementation effectiveness. Poor diet is the leading cause of disease worldwide, and by 2020 it is projected that nearly 75% of deaths will be due to diet-related causes. This projection will likely impact both higher and lower-income groups, as well as urban and rural populations, including the 64.6% of poor working adults in agriculture. Although often neglected in calorie counts, eating horticultural crops provides critical nutrients for a balanced diet. Diets low in fruits and vegetables contribute significantly to some of the world’s most widespread and debilitating nutrient-related disorders. Farmers growing high-value crops, such as fruits, vegetables, flowers and/or herbs, consistently earn more than those growing other commodities. Horticulture can be an engine for agricultural and economic diversification. As the world sees higher rates of disease, decreased arable land, and possible food shortages, production choices are critical to health and to the social and economic mobility of farmers. Continued and increased investment in horticulture for nutrition and small-scale farmer income is critical. Strategies that governments, non-governmental organizations, and others can employ to increase fruit and vegetable consumption include better production practices, increased agribusiness and entrepreneurial activity, reduction in postharvest losses, and greater awareness and education about the benefits of fruits and vegetables.