Is There a Veggie Crisis in the U.S.?

September 23, 2015

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company member Shayla-Vie Jenkins gets creative in the kitchen with veggies. Photo by Kyle Froman for Dance Magazine.

Eating a balanced diet is key to getting the nutrients you need to fuel your dancing body. But here’s something you may not have considered: Is there enough healthy food to go around? The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that we eat 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables daily, but according to research released by the group last week, there’s only 1.7 cups per person available.

And as of 2013, nearly half of what’s available is potatoes and tomatoes, and lettuce takes third place. Man—and when I say “man” I mean “dancer”—cannot subsist on potatoes, tomatoes and lettuce alone. Aside from scouting your regular grocery’s produce section, what can you do to make sure you’re getting the variety you need?

  • Head to your local farmers’ market and stock up. Depending on where you live, many seasonal markets are open into October and November. Buy large amounts of produce, eat what you need and freeze the rest. Blanching—boiling and then submerging vegetables in an ice water bath—before freezing them will help lock in the freshness and nutrients for later. I promise you, it only takes a few minutes. And farmers’ markets typically offer the most in-season veggies!

  • Gather a group of friends and go pumpkin picking. Yes, it’s nostalgic (I shamelessly go every year), but pumpkins are packed with goodness, like vitamin A, which helps with eye health; a high ratio of fiber to calories per cup, to keep you feeling full; and more potassium in one cup than a banana.

  • Grow your own veggies. City dwellers, you don’t need to have a green thumb or a backyard to dabble in gardening. Windowsill and fire-escape plots count, too, and are particularly good for beans, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and scallions.

  • And if the kid inside of you still hates broccoli or isn’t keen on certain veggies, kick things up a notch and add spices to create more flavor. Experiment with roasting, grilling and steaming for slight differences in taste, too.

It’s up to you to feed your body what it needs, but it may take a little resourcefulness. Thankfully, dancers are already a creative bunch.