Eating Local: An Overview of Mediterranean Produce
Including fruits and vegetables at every meal comes naturally in the Mediterranean lifestyle, and soon enough, it’ll be second nature for you, too! One reason the people of Mediterranean countries eat so much fruit and vegetables is that they eat food grown in their own backyards, and many varieties of fruits and vegetables flourish in the Mediterranean climate.
Eating foods — especially produce — grown as close to home as possible maximizes the nutrition you get out of them. Why? Because nutrient concentration begins to decrease after harvesting. The more time that passes between harvest and consumption, the fewer nutrients there are. During transportation, when foods are handled or processed, the nutrients (and taste) decline. Choosing local, in-season produce provides the best nutrition, the best taste, and the best cost, too.
Countries of the Mediterranean like Italy, Greece, and Spain enjoy at home and export their most popular fruit and vegetables, which include
Fruits: Apricots, avocado, cherries, citrus, figs, olives, peaches, pomegranates
Vegetables: Artichokes, eggplants, onions, sweet potatoes, zucchini
Remember that how you eat your fruits and veggies is just as important as how many servings of them you get daily. In American diets, fruits and veggies are often part of dishes with refined sugars or served breaded and fried. In the Mediterranean, on the other hand, vegetables can be eaten raw for breakfast, and fresh fruit is often the basis for dessert.
Even if you’re already eating plenty of fruits and veggies, following the Mediterranean diet will help you change the way you eat them for the better.