( Photo by The Packer staff )

It’s not news that Americans are woefully behind on their produce consumption. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2018 State Indicator Report on Fruit and Vegetables, just 12.2% of adults meet their recommended daily intake of fruit (1.5-2 cups), and a paltry 9.3% get their recommended servings of vegetables (2-3 cups).


However, it’s even more of an ouch when I realize that, all too often, I fit into that low consumption category.

I like to think of myself as being pretty healthy when it comes to eating habits, but when I actually jot down what I’ve eaten, the day’s produce serving tally can be dismal. 

Pumpkin muffins don’t count as a vegetable serving, do they?

Because I found myself in this slump — and because I’ve been thinking about new, easy ways to use fresh fruits and vegetables thanks to the Millennials Eat video series retail editor Ashley Nickle and I produce — I was intrigued when Ashley mentioned the N4TEN challenge after covering the New England Produce Council’s August show in Boston. 

N4TEN is sponsored by the NEPC and Produce Buzz, an educational platform developed by the James and Theresa Nolan Family Foundation, which supports produce industry members. 

As part of the N4TEN challenge, industry members pledge to eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day for 30 days in October, and make a donation that helps fund scholarships distributed by regional produce groups. 

Participants are also encouraged to post on social media about their 10-a-day efforts.

“We are asking produce industry professionals to lead the way and show people that getting your fruits and veggies is powerful medicine,” the effort’s website states.

“For the N4TEN Challenge, we wanted to encourage participants in it to go for the very best to really see the difference fresh fruits and veggies can make.”

As a produce industry observer, I’m intrigued by the idea of trying to put my mouth where my mind is (so to speak) to get 10 produce servings a day. I’m also interested in collecting a bank of recipe ideas for easy, unfussy meals that don’t take a lot of fancy ingredients or time — traits we millennials especially look for (but ones I suspect all age groups appreciate). 

So I’m going to dip my toes in the pool and try this, too. 

I’ll report back in November and let you know how things went. In the meantime, consider checking out the N4TEN Challenge yourself — and, as always, check The Packer's website each week for new insights from Ashley Nickle and myself on millennials’ produce buying habits and millennial-friendly recipes.

Amelia Freidline is The Packer’s copy chief and designer. E-mail her at [email protected].