Have you travelled to Italy, France or Spain recently and noticed the abundance of different vegetables available in markets or on menus?

Naturally, European countries with a sunnier climate than ours will have a variety of fruit and vegetables that we don’t have. But there is a rich culture around buying and eating fresh produce and while many Irish consumers focus on seasonality, there is still a lot we can learn from our European pals.

Regionality and seasonality should be a big part of the decision to use a particular fruit or vegetable, and a few times a week, consider vegetables as the main part of the composition of a dish.


Last year, Bord Bia implemented a three-year EU and industry funded campaign called ‘Life is Better with Fruit and Vegetables’ in a bid to encourage millennials (anyone born between 1981 and 1996) to increase their fruit and vegetable intake. Research carried out as part of the campaign uncovered that 56% of Irish millennials said they eat fresh fruit and vegetables because of the health benefits associated with fresh, local produce.

Currently, the average number of actual portions for fruit and vegetables consumed by Irish millennials is 3.2 portions. The government recommends up to seven per day.

Looking at this research across Europe, Ireland is among the lowest consumers of fruit and vegetables. And while it focused on millennials, a similar deficiency in fruit and vegetable consumption can be seen across all generations.

Perhaps by adopting habits held by our European counterparts, we can establish a better relationship with fruit and vegetables.


While Ireland is small in size in comparison to other EU countries, we have a variety of fruit and vegetables that can be mapped across the island. Many are aware that Co Armagh is known for an abundance of apple orchards, Co Wexford is where the country’s best strawberries are grown, and beetroot farming takes root mostly in the south east.

Farmer's market with fruit and veg.

However, regionality often doesn’t factor into a consumer’s purchase. In France or Spain, consumers seek out varieties of potatoes or tomatoes from specific regions.

Read the fruit or vegetable label the next time you’re shopping to make a more informed purchase or to seek out regional suppliers or varieties.


Buying in season is smart for many reasons. As well as supporting local farmers throughout the year, buying seasonal produce means you are getting the best price.

Growing something out of season can cost more and therefore, prices increase. It also means enjoying fruit and vegetables when they are most nutritionally dense and therefore, yours and your family’s health is benefiting; and lastly, it keeps your monthly menu changing and diverse throughout the year.

In many EU countries, there is great support for local farmers markets and it is something that we want to continue growing here in Ireland as they, along with farm shops are a great way to buy seasonal produce.


Unlike in some countries, where lunch involves grabbing a quick sandwich or salad, in France, it is a more substantial meal that is more likely to take one to two hours. This often consists of a salad, bread, a main dish, and a dessert. It is eaten slowly and is a very leisurely affair.

While many are time-poor and a leisurely lunch would be preferable, there are traditions that could be created in order to develop habits to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into our food culture in Ireland. In Germany and Scandinavian countries, it is common to have vegetables at breakfast with cheese and bread. Choosing an omelette is a great way of creating this habit with your family.

See @lifeisbetter.ie on Facebook or Instagram and follow @eoinsheehan to discover the full range of delicious fruit and vegetable recipes, visit fruitnveg.ie

Read more

Opinion: schemes can't save farming - food pricing must change

Grapevine: This Co Dublin farmer has set the standard for Irish viticulture