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Fruit and Veggie Fun Facts of the Month


Text Box:  	Bananas
Fact Sheet 	 

Where did they come from?

Bananas originated in the Malaysian jungles of Southeast Asia. Some researchers believe that bananas were the earth's first fruit and in some countries bananas were considered the principal food. Early travelers and settlers carried roots of banana plants as they migrated to the Middle East and Africa. Spanish explorers brought bananas on their journeys and introduced the fruit to the New World. However, it was not until the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition when the bananas were officially introduced to the American public. Since the late 1800’s bananas have been imported from other countries into the United States.

Where do they grow?

Bananas grow in tropical areas throughout the world. Bananas are not commercially grown in the United States, but imported from countries in Central and South America including Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, and Nicaragua. Costa Rica and Ecuador are the largest exporters of bananas. Bananas are available all year long throughout the United States.

How do they grow?

Most people think bananas grow on trees but they actually grow on herb plants. Banana plants are a member of the lily family and are the largest herb plants in the world! Bananas grow best in tropical conditions since they require warm weather, rich soil and plenty of water. Bananas are formed inside a large bud, which grows upward from the root of the plant. As the bud grows, its petals open to a bunch of bananas called a “hand” which contains about 20 “fingers”. Bananas are harvested when green and ripen while in the supermarket or after they are purchased.

Are they healthy?

Provide good source of fiber, vitamin C and B6

Supply high amounts of potassium which helps muscles work

Contain no fat, cholesterol or sodium and are low in calories

How do you pick a good one?

Choose bananas that are firm and free of bruises

Avoid those with brown spots or ones that seem soft

Select ripe ones that have yellow peels speckled with brown dots



Text Box: -269-FUN FACTS!


Did you know...

© Did you know bananas are the most popular fresh fruit in the United States?

© Did you know bananas received a new name each time a different group of people discovered them?

(Some of these included “banna”, “ghana” and even “funana”! The people of Africa are credited for giving the banana its permanent English name.)

© Did you know bananas are the fruit choice of many athletes?

(The reason --- they have both a high amount of carbohydrates as well as potassium! Potassium is a mineral that helps the muscles work.)

© Did you know you can store ripe bananas in the refrigerator; the peel turns brown but the fruit inside will still be good?

© Did you know there is a banana primarily used for cooking?

(It is called a “plantain”. It is used like a potato in many tropical lands.)

© Did you know there are several different varieties of bananas?

(These include “finger bananas”, “red bananas” and “plantains”. The popular yellow banana, “Cavendish” is the one we commonly see in grocery stores.)

© Did you know that an average person eats 33 pounds of bananas each year?

© Did you know bananas have been produced for over 1 million years?

© Did you know more than 96% of American households purchase bananas at least once a month?

© Did you know that Dole packs single bananas in a special way specifically for school food service?

(There are 150 single packed bananas in a case. These are always consistent in size, quantity, and quality and are pre-washed and pre-trimmed; ready to serve from the carton!)


Text Box:  	Spinach
Fact Sheet	 

Text Box: -271-Where did it come from?

Spinach is thought to be of Persian origin. It was first brought to Europe in the ninth century when Persian Arabs, who gave the plant its name, introduced it to Spain. It was also grown in Italy as a Lenten food and was planted in the fall and picked in February, just in time for Lent, when meat cannot be consumed. Since the early 19th century, spinach has become a versatile and commonly used vegetable in the United States.

Where does it grow?

Spinach is grown throughout the country including Alaska, California, Connecticut, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. California is responsible for over one half of the production of spinach in the United States. Texas is the next largest producer of spinach, yielding one third of the total crop production. New Jersey has significant acreage of spinach grown throughout the state.

How does it grow?

Spinach is a green, leafy plant that grows close to the ground. The stems of the leaves grow straight up from the ground in clusters. Spinach is composed of a taproot, which is a type of root that grows downwards into the soil, with branching roots toward the surface of the soil. Leaves usually grow 6 to 8 inches long. Spinach is considered a hardy cool season crop, which can be grown almost anywhere within the United States, but grows best in 50º- 60°F temperatures. It is available to purchase year-round. Its best seasons are in the fall and spring because it grows good in cool, damp weather.

Is it healthy?

$ Provides good source of iron, fiber, folic acid, magnesium and manganese

$ Contains iron (To improve iron absorption in spinach, eat vitamin C rich foods such as orange juice, citrus fruits or tomatoes with your spinach

$ Provides high amount of vitamin A and good amounts of vitamins C and K $ Contains more protein than most other vegetables

$ Supplies the phytochemical (pronounce “fight-o-chemical”) lutein (pronounce “loo-teen”) which keeps your eyes healthy

How do you pick good ones?

$ Select green and crisp leaves with a fresh, sweet fragrance $ Choose leaves with a springy texture

$ Avoid leaves that are limp, damaged or spotted 

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Did you know...

© Did you know there are three different varieties of spinach?

(Flat or Smooth Leaf that has smooth leaves; Savoy that has curly leaves; Semi-Savoy which has slightly curly leaves.)

© Did you know that spinach is good for you?

© Did you know you can find spinach in your local supermarket in the following forms --- fresh, canned or frozen?

© Did you know spinach contains phytochemicals (pronounce “fight-o-chemicals”), which helps protect the plant from insects and helps protect your health too?

© Did you know eating and preparing spinach is simple because it can be eaten raw or cooked?

© Did you know raw spinach provides 3 grams of protein per 3 cup serving?

© Did you know spinach can contain a lot of grainy dirt particles and, therefore, should be washed thoroughly and gently to avoid tearing the leaves?

© Did you know slightly damp spinach can be steamed or microwaved without adding any additional water?

Remember ...

Eat more fruits and vegetables everyday!