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International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021

The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021 was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to raise awareness on the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health, as well as in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It will promote diversified, balanced, and healthy diets and lifestyles through fruits and vegetables consumption, reducing losses and waste in fruits and vegetables food systems, and share best practices.

In a message launching the campaign, Secretary-General António Guterres said that despite tremendous benefits of fruits and vegetables, “we do not consume enough of them.”

“Fruits and vegetables are the cornerstone of a healthy and varied diet. They provide the human body with an abundance of nutrients, strengthen immune systems and help lower risks for a number of diseases,” he said.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the health and livelihoods of people across the world, we must come together to ensure that nutritious food, including fruits and vegetables, reaches the most vulnerable, leaving no one behind,” the UN chief added.

Health benefits

Consuming sufficient, or even more than the recommended amounts, of fruit and vegetables has many health and nutrition benefits. Rich in fibres, vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables are crucial for growth and development of children, and help boost immune systems. 

They are also linked to lower risk of depression and anxiety, obesity and non-communicable diseases; promote gut health; and counter micronutrient deficiencies.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people should eat a minimum of 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily, as part of a healthy diet.

Not eating enough

However, due to a number of factors, such as availability, affordability, or lack of knowledge and awareness, many people around the world consume less than that amount.

Against this background, Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) described the International Year as “a unique opportunity to raise global awareness.”

He outlined the challenges in improving production and agrifood chains, and called on countries to use the International Year to improve infrastructure, farming practices thereby supporting small scale farmers. 

Alongside, he also emphasized the importance of fruits and vegetables as a good way for farmers to generate more income.

For more information and resources check the UN pages.

Sustain are encouraging more areas to launch Veg Cities campaigns and get local businesses and organisations making veg pledges. Veg Cities is a feature campaign of Sustainable Food Places and is run in partnership with Peas Please.

Published 5 Jan 2021

Veg Cities: Veg Cities is a feature campaign of the Sustainable Food Cities led by food and farming charity Sustain in partnership with the wider Peas Please initiative led by the Food Foundation, Nourish Scotland, Food Cardiff and WWF.

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