Seasonal variation in fruit and vegetable consumption has been documented in a limited number of previous investigations and is important for the design of epidemiologic investigations and in the evaluation of intervention programs.
This study investigates fruit and vegetable consumption behaviors among Hispanic farmworkers and non-farmworkers in a rural agricultural community.
A larger study recruited 101 farmworker families and 100 non-farmworker families from the Yakima Valley in Washington State between December 2004 and October 2005. All families were Hispanic. An in-person administered questionnaire collected information on consumption of locally-grown fruits and vegetables and sources of obtaining fruits and vegetables. Data on dietary intake asked whether or not the respondent had consumed a given fruit or vegetable in the past month. Data were collected longitudinally coinciding with three agricultural seasons: thinning (June–July); harvest (September–October); and, non-spray (December–January).
Statistical analyses performed
Generalized estimating equations were used to test for statistical significance between proportions of the population who consumed a given fruit or vegetable across agricultural seasons. Multivariable logistic regression was performed and corresponding odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals are reported.
The proportion of respondents who ate apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots, peppers, corn, and cucumbers was highest in the fall harvest season, whereas the proportions of those who ate cherries and asparagus were highest in the summer thinning season. Compared to non-farmworkers, a higher proportion of farmworkers reported having eaten peaches, apricots, cherries, green beans, carrots, peppers, corn, pumpkin, squash, and onions, in the past month.
Epidemiologic investigations and public health interventions that examine the consumption of fruits and vegetables ought to consider the seasonal variation in consumption patterns, especially in agricultural communities.