by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Fruits-and-vegetables

May 11 2018

Food for thought: top 20 fruits and vegetables

The Packer worries that millennials are not buying as much produce, even bananas, as older folks.

Maybe they will…?

Mar 19 2018

Another note on the Japanese food scene

While I was in Japan last week, a colleague from Washington State asked if his local apples were on sale in Japanese supermarkets.  I looked.  They were not.

If Washington State apples, organic or not, are exported to Japan, they are invisible in supermarkets.

They certainly are invisible to me.  Japanese food labels are in Japanese, as is information about country of origin.

But I asked.  The apples I saw were grown in Japan.

The only imported fruit I could find were bananas—not labeled as to origin but Japan does not grow them—and blueberries from Mexico.

Imported fruit, it seems, is not available for local consumption because it would compete with fruit produced by local farmers.

Less expensive fruit is imported but used for food service; it is not easily available for home purchase.

This helps explain why the Japanese do not eat much fruit.  It is expensive even in local stores.  The prices I saw looked like those in Manhattan.

And this brings me to the uniquely Japanese use of fruit as a luxury gift item.  These melons (not my photo) cost more than $100 each (the exchange rate is about ¥100 to a dollar).  But  saw melons like these in specialty stores costing much more—$150 and up.

As for strawberries, these gift packs cost $20 each but more elegant packages go much higher.

These are part of a complicated culture of obligatory gifts.  To Westerners like me, the prices are shocking.

The fruit is locally grown, at least.

Jan 18 2018

Durians: a market for durian-flavored products?

I was fascinated to read in FoodNavigator-Asia that the Chinese like durians so much that they have created a demand for durian-flavored food products.  Alibaba, the Amazon of China. offers plenty of durian products, but FoodNavigator mentions cookies, cakes, pie fillings, coffee, and much else.

Durians, shown below, are—to put it mildly—controversial.

People either love them or hate the way they smell and taste.

Singapore has banned them on subways.

Their, how shall I put this, unique odor comes from a variety of sulfur compounds.

For people who love them, they are worth eating for their nutritional benefits (like those of any other fruit).

Durian pizza, anyone?

Aug 31 2017

Q and A: fruit vs juice

Lots of questions come in about all kinds of things.  This one from a reader with the subject line “Fruit juice is so confusing.”

Fruit juice (especially without lots of pulp) gets a bad wrap from the nutritionist community.  The only nutrition based argument I can find has to do with juice containing loads of sugar and water, some vitamins, and little else.  However eating fruit seems to get praise ONLY because it contains fiber.  So would drinking juice and taking a fiber supplement be the nutritional equivalent to eating fruit?

Fruit has sugars but also vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  Nutritionists don’t worry about the sugars in fruit (or shouldn’t) because most people don’t eat much of it at any one time.  We hope that people will eat more fruit, not less.

Juice is another matter.  In small amounts (juice glasses were 6 ounces when I was growing up), juice contains the vitamins and minerals from fruit, but not much of the fiber.  Whole fruit is a better choice.  It’s also a better choice because juice is made from lots of fruit.  If you eat one apple—no problem.  If you drink apple juice, you could easily be consuming the sugars from six apples.

As for supplements, fiber and otherwise: they can never substitute for the full range of nutrients in foods.  You are always better off eating food.

It’s summer.  Enjoy the fruit.


Jul 26 2017

Uh oh: Papayas with Salmonella

First cantaloupe, now papayas.

The CDC has opened up a homepage on Salmonella infections associated with eating Yellow Maradol Papayas.

Here’s the count so far:

  • 47 Cases
  • 12 States
  • 12 Hospitalizations
  • 1 Deaths

Food Safety News has the story.  And provides the label you had best avoid.

As usual, by the time the CDC finds out about outbreaks, cases have slowed down (it takes time to find them).

This one is affecting people in states all over the country.

Papayas grow on trees.  Salmonella are animal bacteria.  Monkeys?  Arboreal sloths?

A more likely explanation is that the fruit came in contact with human waste or dirty hands sometime during collection, transport, or processing.

What to do?

Bacteria are on the rind.  They get on the fruit itself when you cut through it.  You can try scrubbing the outside before you peel the papaya.  The CDC recommends discarding it and cleaning your kitchen carefully.

Better preventive controls?  They are on the books (the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act).

Enforcement?  Not unless Congress appropriates the funds.

Why won’t it?  FDA appropriations go through agricultural appropriations, not health.  Do ag committees care about food safety?

I wish.

Addition:  Food Safety News reports that the distributor of the papayas has started recalling them, but not publicly.

May 15 2017

What fruits and vegetables do Americans eat? More charts from USDA

I love USDA’s charts of food and agriculture statistics because they tell most of the story at a glance.

These are based on USDA’s compilations of foods produced in the U.S. plus imports, less exports, divided by the total population.

The most commonly consumed vegetable?  Potatoes by a long shot (think: French fries).  Next comes tomatoes (pizza).  Variety anyone?

How about fruit?  Oranges, apples, bananas.   Really, can’t we be more adventurous?

Feb 17 2017

Weekend resources: a roundup

Feb 2 2017

USDA’s latest data on food trends

The USDA has just issued a report on trends in per capita food availability from 1970 to 2014.

Here’s my favorite figure:

The inner ring represents calories from those food groups in 1970. The outer ring includes data from 2014.

The bottom line: calories from all food groups increased, fats and oils and the meat group most of all, dairy and fruits and vegetables the least.

The sugar data are also interesting:

Total sugars (blue) peaked at about 1999 in parallel with high fructose corn syrup (orange).  Table sugar, sucrose, has been flat since the 1980s (green).

Eat your veggies!