The United Nations is marking 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, spotlighting their vital role in human nutrition and food security, as well as urging efforts to improve sustainable production and reduce waste. 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.” Mr. Guterres also drew attention to the strong links between food systems and sustainable development. He called on all stakeholders to make food systems more inclusive, resilient and sustainable, including through adopting a more holistic approach to production and consumption that benefits human and environmental health.
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. 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.”
The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables 2021 was proclaimed by the General Assembly in December 2019 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.
Source: The UN