Make a healthy choice by filling half your plate with fruit and vegetables

Chef Michael Smith with MLA Terry Lake cooking up some kale, cumin curry soup. Recipe here. Photo courtesy @ChefMichaelSmth twitter page.

Health Minister Terry Lake and Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick joined Half Your Plate ambassador chef Michael Smith in a cooking demonstration to remind British Columbians how important it is to make healthy food choices by simply filling half your plate with fruit and vegetables.

"The Half Your Plate message is a simple and straightforward way to focus on adding more fruit and vegetables to our meals - it makes it easy to know how much we need to stay healthy and help prevent chronic disease," said Lake. "B.C. has a number of programs that help people make the healthy choice the easy choice at home, at the grocery store and in their communities."

February is Heart Month and making healthy choices like eating more fruit and vegetables, as well as increasing physical activity, stopping smoking and reducing stress can lessen the chance of chronic diseases including heart disease and stroke.

"Choosing fresh and local B.C. fruits and vegetables can be a great recipe for a healthy plate, a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy economy," said Letnick. "Serving B.C. produce on 'half your plate' offers great-tasting options that are good for you, and good for the farmers and food supply security in our communities."

"British Columbia grows a variety of field and greenhouse vegetables, making it easy for British Columbians to fill half their plates with nutritious and delicious choices," said Ron Lemaire, president of the Canadian Produce Marketing Association. "The Half Your Plate website provides healthy eating tips, easy and quick recipes and links to resources such as local dietitians and ideas for healthy eating on a budget."

Eating fruit and vegetables is essential for good health. It is also a goal the province is tracking under BC's Guiding Framework for Public Health. The Province is working to increase the proportion of people who eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day. B.C. has a number of community-based programs to support families including the Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon program, Food Skills for Families, and the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program.

The B.C. government is promoting the simple Half Your Plate message to British Columbians through Healthy Families BC. This online resource helps educate British Columbians through practical tools and information to help people live healthier lifestyles.

In 2016, the Province, through the Provincial Health Services Authority, provided a grant of $230,000 to the Canadian Produce Marketing Association to help increase fruit and vegetable consumption among British Columbians. Together, these organizations will pursue opportunities to engage the public in their homes, at the grocery store and online with tips, tools and incentives that help make it easier for them to fill half their plate with fruit and vegetables.

The Half Your Plate campaign encourages Canadians to eat more fruit and vegetables through simple and practical ways to add a variety of produce to every meal and snack. Half Your Plate was developed by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association in partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Public Health Association. Based in Ottawa, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association is a not-for-profit organization that represents a diverse membership made of up of every segment of the produce industry.

Visit Healthy Families BC for tips and tools to support your health and wellness: www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/

To learn more about Half Your Plate and watch instructional cooking videos from Chef Michael Smith, visit: www.halfyourplate.ca/

To learn how to build a healthy meal with Health Canada's Eat Well Plate, visit:
http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eating-nutrition/healthy-eating-saine-alimentation/tips-conseils/interactive-tools-outils-interactifs/eat-well-bien-manger-eng.php

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