Photo by Iñigo De la Maza on Unsplash

A few months back, I read an article about how to be healthier that suggested you should eat 30 different plants (fruits and veg) a week. It’s not just about the vitamins you get from the food itself, but also about encouraging a healthy gut biome. “Holy moly,” I said. “I reckon 30 in a week would be tough.” Rodd was hyperbolic in his skepticism. “I don’t think there are 30 different plants in the world!” he joked.

I kept seeing this advice over and over though, along with shocking stats like this one from a recent Guardian article:

Of the 6,000 plant species humans have eaten over time, the world now mostly grows and consumes only nine, of which just three – rice, wheat and maize – provide about 50% of all calories humans consume. Add potato, barley, palm oil, soy and sugar to the mix, and you have 75% of all the calories.

Well, this simply wouldn’t do. I made a New Year’s Resolution to start tracking the variety of plants I eat each week, and I began jotting them down in a Note on my phone. I set a few rules: the item has to be relatively unprocessed (no counting cocoa beans in a chocolate bar!), and there needs to be a decent mouthful of it (no tiny amounts of spices). To my surprise, getting 30 a week wasn’t as hard as I feared.

A few things have helped. We’ve begun getting a box delivered from Box Fresh each week, which includes a wide variety of fruit and veg. So far we’ve been happy with the quality, though it does mean you have to plan your meals and eat at home so you get through it all. I’ve also been making a point of going into the office a couple days each week, and there’s always fruit there for a healthy snack. Overall we’ve been a lot more aware about getting variety, and I’ve consciously chosen options (like salad for lunch) that maximise my chance of getting new items for my weekly tally.

Fruit and Veg appI’ve also moved on from the simple Note for tracking, and I’ve built myself a pretty spiffy app that uses a Google Form to collect data in a spreadsheet. That sheet automatically keeps track of the overall variety and the breakdown per week. It also creates the chart you see above, which should continue to update throughout the year as I add more items.

So far this year I’ve eaten 79 different plants, and here’s a peek at the ones I’ve eaten most frequently:

Plants I’ve eaten every week this year: Cabbage, Coffee, Lettuce, Rice, Tomatoes. (I’ve lumped all lettuce into one category, but I’ve actually had several different varieties in there.)

Plants I’ve had nearly every week this year: Avocado, Capsicum, Carrot, Coriander, Cucumber, Potatoes, Red onion

Let me know if you’re interested in setting up something similar for yourself! I’d be happy to share my Sheet with you so you can set up your own tracking form.