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The Daily Need

Which colors should you eat? Here’s a guide

You’ve heard of eating locally or seasonally – but what about eating by color?

Bringing attention to the importance of healthy eating habits, New York City-based artist Tattfoo Tan’s Nature Matching System represents 88 common fruits and vegetables by their colors. A visual mash-up of nutrition and design – did you know, for instance, that okra corresponds to the Pantone Matching System code of 378U? – the system has been displayed as a large-scale public art mural in various New York City locales, including beneath the Manhattan Bridge and at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

NMS—Nature Matching System disposable paper placemat. Photo:

Eating a diet that varies in color is a crucial part of eating right, according to the American Dietetic Association, which touted March’s National Nutrition Month with the slogan “Eat Right With Color.” For maximum benefit, eat a diet high in phytonutrients, which give some vegetables their vivid colors as well as nutritional value.

On his website, Tan writes, “The shades of color displayed at farmers’ markets are more than skin deep, reflecting the inner potential of every fruit and vegetable; intense colors might even be called nature’s nutrition labels.”

But as color for color’s sake isn’t a foolproof solution. (Take Cheetos, for instance. High in color, but not so much on the nutritional front.) Tan agrees: “Sadly, marketers of junk food apply the same technique used by nature to pollinate seed to their nutrition-deprived product. Color is a device that can do good or be deceptive and ensure the pollination of unhealthy eating habits.”

Get the Nature Matching System screensaver or view the placemat to see how eating your fruits and vegetables isn’t just good for your health, but also easy on the eyes.

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