Due to their importance for human nutrition, food security and health, fruits and vegetables will focus global attention in 2021, in a context of economic crisis accentuated by the impact of COVID-19.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 2021 as the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, with the strong interest of raising awareness about their contribution to improving nutrition, food diversity and health, and their effects on society, the economy and the environment, as well as contributing to sustainable development.
According to reports from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), fruits and vegetables are good sources of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals, as well as beneficial phytochemicals.
This institution and the World Health Organization recommend the consumption by each adult of at least 400 grams of these foods per day to prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, as well as to counteract micronutrient deficiencies .
Essential during Pandemic times
With the COVID-19 Pandemic – they stand out – within the need to transform and rebalance the way food is produced and consumed, that has become even more evident. Up to 50 percent of the fruits and vegetables produced in developing countries are lost along the supply chain, between harvest and consumption. Hence, FAO considers that loss and waste in this sector continues to be a problem with considerable consequences.
In addition, it urges the use of innovative technologies and approaches that help maintain safety and quality, increasing the shelf life of fresh produce and preserving its high nutritional value.
Reducing food loss
Reducing food loss and waste, the UN stresses, improves food security and nutrition, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, reduces pressure on land and water resources, and can increase productivity and economic growth.
In the opinion of specialists, during the health crisis the world is facing due to the Pandemic, the promotion of healthy diets to strengthen people’s immune systems is especially appropriate.