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The Data is Out: You and I are Still Not Eating Enough Vegetables! May 13, 2013

By Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau

Eat more vegetables. In fact, eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains! The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) pored over the data and found we’re still eating too many refined grains, fats and sugar. Bummer.


ERS published an update comparing consumers’ at-home food purchases with USDA food spending guidelines for obtaining a diet that meets the dietary guidelines. According to ERS analysis, little improvement in food spending patterns exists between 1998 and 2006, with one exception ─ Americans are buying more whole grains and fewer refined grains.


The analysis and subsequent report is sobering as the Federal Government has been trying since 1980 to provide information and guidelines that would help you and me make better food buying and consumption decisions. In 1980, the Federal Government issued the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a basic guide to healthy eating. The Guidelines have always been heavily promoted and are updated every five years highlighting advances in nutrition. Despite all this, the recent ERS analysis suggests we’re still making poor dietary choices.


Double up on the fresh vegetables you eat. Even then you probably could add more to your weekly dietary intake.

These poor food choices are part of what’s contributing to obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis and other health conditions. The government’s solution? Continue promoting healthy food choices and work to make good food choices easier to identify on store shelves and in restaurants.


Personally, I’m not convinced this is the core solution. I believe in a person’s innate ability to make wise decisions. Today, we have so many choices and we’re spoiled making it easier to make unwise choices about our food. But it’s not because we’re stupid, we just like our sugar … and salt … and tasty fatty foods.


Despite this, we have the resources at hand thanks to the USDA and ERS. It’s time we used them.


My quick reminders for staying healthy:


  1. Do I have my mix of fruits and/or vegetables with this meal?
  2. What’s the fat content of this meal? When buying groceries do I have too many items in my cart with a higher fat content?
  3. Sugar is sweet for a treat but that’s all.
  4. Do I have my blend of whole grains for my weekly food purchases?


These are simplistic reminders but they work. I’ve eliminated much more sugar from my diet and today I’m always adding more vegetables to my meal preparation. To a healthy life!


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