Forward Thinking Toward Summer Fruits and Vegetables

​Keep your New Year's resolution with the half rule - half your plate should consist of fruits and veggies. Plan to visit your local farmer's markets or purchase a share of a CSA farm to have all the fruits and veggies you need. Image courtesy UTIA. 

Many Tennesseans are beginning to look forward to warm temperatures of spring and summer. One facet of summer is fresh produce, and one University of Tennessee Extension specialist says now is the perfect time to plan ahead.

Janie Burney, UT Extension nutrition specialist says, “A large majority of the population makes yearly New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or eat healthier. But few follow through on these goals past the winter months and into the summer. But now, with the motivation and excitement of the New Year, is a great time to plan healthy eating habits for all of 2018 and beyond.”

According to Burney, half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables. The other half of your plate should be grains and protein foods. Choose as many whole grains as you can and eat refined grains and foods with added sugar in moderation. Include lean cuts of meat and eat seafood a couple of times each week. Going meatless on some days is also a healthy option. Dried beans and peas are a good source of protein and fiber. Top off your meals with a glass of low fat milk for calcium and vitamin D.

Although farmer’s markets are an incredible resource for fresh and local, fruits and vegetables, another option to consider is purchasing a share of a farm, through a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm or project. CSA shares can be picked up from convenient locations on a weekly basis, generally from May to October. These fresh fruits and vegetables can help many people stick to the half and half rule. Often, CSA farms have half-shares or payment plans for those with fewer resources. Some CSA shares are already on sale. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture maintains a list of Pick Tennessee CSA operations, including websites and contact information. See

“Sometimes, making the healthy choice happens weeks or months in advance. Choosing to purchase a CSA share, or choosing to visit a farmer’s market every week, can help you accomplish your weight loss or nutritional goals. And those are decisions you can make now,” continues Burney.

For additional resources about local sources of fruits and vegetables, contact your county’s UT Extension family and consumer sciences agent at your local county Extension office. You can also visit the UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences website at  

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Janie Burney, UT Extension, 865-974-7402,