Since 2000, the U.S. government has been trying to get Americans to eat their fruits and vegetables, but its effort has largely failed.
Despite a decade of public health initiatives, easier to understand dietary guidelines, record growth of farmers markets and the ease of prepackaged products like baby carrots, presliced apples and salad in a bag — and even with First Lady Michelle Obama’s setting an example with a White House garden — Americans still aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables.
This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its updated State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, showing most American adults are eating fruit about 1.1 times a day and vegetables 1.6 times a day, a far cry from its modest goal of getting us to filling half our plate with produce.
Even though research clearly shows diets high in fruits and vegetables helps control and manage a healthy weight, lowers the onset of chronic diseases such as stroke, heart disease, some cancers and type II diabetes, and that fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health, Americans of all ages still prefer bacon to green salad, a trend unchanged since 1988.
The problem is not awareness, according to the CDC report. In 1991, only 8 percent of U.S. adults reported being aware that at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily were recommended for good health. By 2004, that number had jumped to 40 percent, but increased awareness has not translated into changed behavior.
Perhaps more disheartening, the report shows kids are eating fewer fruits and vegetables than adults. Is yet another generation of Americans doomed to grow up nutritionally challenged, fatter and more chronically sick than their parents?
Chef Allison Stevens, a Registered Dietitian and founder of gluten-free meal planning website, PrepDish.com and a personal chef company PrepDishPersonal.com based in Austin, Texas, believes Americans’ veggie aversion has a lot to do with our environment.