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Why You Aren’t Eating Your Veggies

Why You Aren’t Eating Your Veggies

By Steve Holt, TakePart

Why don’t Americans eat their vegetables? Too expensive? Not enough of them? Too girly? The answer is all three, if you believe three separate reports, all released this week, which seek to provide some insight into the realities — and myths — of healthy eating.

For sure, one factor that hampers a healthy diet is cost. It’s simply cheaper to fill the shopping cart with things other than fruits and vegetables, as 57 percent of women told ShopSmart Magazine in a much-publicized poll last week. Right? Not necessarily, according to new data from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Specifically, the USDA report suggests that while past studies comparing food energy (or the price per 100 grams divided by the number of calories present) have shown foods higher in saturated fat and sugar cost less than vegetables and fruits, when food groups are compared using the price per unit of weight (after it has been cooked and the seeds, bones, peels, skins and shells taken out) or portion size (price per serving), healthy options are cheaper.

But is this conclusion, brought about by scientists using a different measurement method, merely a shell game? Tufts University professor and food policy expert Parke Wilde comments on his blog that the USDA study doesn’t invalidate the per-calorie measurement of food, and that there are scenarios where each measurement technique are applicable. Still, as Wilde points out, the study has gotten some major media attention already, which may allow some consumers to get past their preconceptions about the cost of healthy food.

Not manly enough?

Some men may avoid color on their plates because they view meat as more “manly” than fruits and vegetables. A study, set for publication in the October issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, found that men are more likely to associate meat with masculinity, a metaphor that may affect how many fruit and vegetables they eat.

“To the strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American male, red meat is a strong, traditional, macho, bicep-flexing, All-American food,” the authors write. “Soy is not. To eat it, they would have to give up a food they saw as strong and powerful like themselves for a food they saw as weak and wimpy.”

A Veggie Scarcity?

But even if you find healthy food gender-appropriate, many Americans may skip the veggies because there’s simply not enough to go around. That is, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which published an infographic contending the U.S. doesn’t produce enough fresh produce for every American to meet his or her recommended diet.

The USDA guidelines, dubbed “MyPlate,” recommend that half our daily food come from fruits and vegetables. Through the four-part graphic, the UCS shows how Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, that farmers could easily grow more, and that doing so would stimulate local economies. It concludes with a recommendation for additional public support for local food systems in the way of a $90 million federal commitment.

The dietary crisis America faces is frightening, for sure, but UCS’s Ashley Elles contends that “the infographic shows that it doesn’t have to be this way.” Justin Tatham of the UCS adds that while some progress has been made on funding healthful foods in this year’s Farm Bill (increased funding for the specialty crop program, farmers markets, organic certification, and the addition of a whole farm revenue in the crop insurance program), the bill is far from perfect.

“While this may seem like good progress,” he says, “one can’t understate enough how much the farm bill disproportionately favors commodity production over healthy food production.”

Related Stories:

The Ultimate Farmers Market Guide

Sustainability: It’s What’s for Dinner

Study Shows Fructose Might Make You Dumber

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Photo Credit: suckamc/flickr

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8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Growing veggies, even in small containers is often helpful, especially when using no toxins/pesticides and are organic. Depending on the climate, people can grow a variety and of course in a cold climate the growing season is much shorter.

Veggies in the stores may be cheaper at times than organic, soy products can be iffy as close to 60 per cent of the world's supply is GMOs. Farmer's markets are often a good place to go if the farmer uses organic methods but not everyone can afford the prices, depending on location!

Most men eat veggies with meat, never met any one who didn't eat some veggies. One has to know how to cook/steam/ them or they turn into tasteless mush. The key is knowing how to prepare them!

2:03PM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

One of our favourite ways to get our veggies is a big greek salad. Cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow and orange peppers, onion, with olives, feta, dill and a splach of olive oil.

1:57PM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

thanks

8:45AM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

why? because people don't like the taste of veggies. Those haters will one day face the problem of overweight and other more serious health troubles, and this will be the moment for them to discover veggies. Grilled zuccini with wostershire, slightly sweet broccoli, crunchy jicama, beautiful vinaigrettes without which i can't survive, and many many other... Or, the haters will continue to hate, but will not stay long with us. They will feed grass and veggies which they didn't allow to feed them while there was still time, however awful it might sound.

8:45AM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

why? because people don't like the taste of veggies. Those haters will one day face the problem of overweight and other more serious health troubles, and this will be the moment for them to discover veggies. Grilled zuccini with wostershire, slightly sweet broccoli, crunchy jicama, beautiful vinaigrettes without which i can't survive, and many many other... Or, the haters will continue to hate, but will not stay long with us. They will feed grass and veggies which they didn't allow to feed them while there was still time, however awful it might sound.

6:58AM PDT on Jun 8, 2012

Why? Because I hate them.

6:57PM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

Growing 'em does help. I really like eating flowers that I grow too. The nurturing, the growth, the caring for the veggies or fruits you grow is so positive, it really helps to give pleasure in harvesting and eating them. The nasturtium start my niece gave me 2 years before her death is like a ritual of communion and makes that salad a greater pleasure. [It was hard to return to eating real food after a year of gulping down chocolate caring for my husband dying at home. He couldn't swallow and it seemed just wrong to eat but when low blood sugar hit, chocolate was fast and doable.] How lucky to be able to taste, swallow and eat! Blessed be.

6:57PM PDT on May 23, 2012

The crock pot full of vegetables and venison is the healthiest food on the planet. Our everyday lunch.

9:59AM PDT on May 23, 2012

La verdura va mangiata ed è buonissima.

2:20PM PDT on May 22, 2012

Thank you

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