No news here - Americans are simply not eating their vegetables. Despite over 20 years of health initiatives, government nutrition guidelines, growing farmer's markets, and the ease of accessing frozen vegetables, we are not eating our veggies.
Only 26% of Americans eat three or more servings of vegetables daily. And there has been little progress since the year 2000. Experts feel that just telling people to eat more veggies clearly doesn't work. The NPO group, a market research group, recently released a report that showed that only 23% of meals include a vegetable. That report does not count fries as a vegetable (corn, peas and potatoes really fall in the bread/grain food group), but it does count a piece of lettuce in a burger sandwich. Only 6% of lunch meals are entrée salads. One explanation for vegetable reticence is that accessing and having vegetables does take a bit of work. You want to buy fresh for veggies to taste good and you have to clean them and sometime spend time preparing them - all a bother for many consumers.
If you don't know how to cook vegetables or season them - they can disappoint in the taste area. Many people weren't raised eating vegetables and find that their appearance and taste induce a gag reflex. There are vegetables in easy to microwave or steam packages, veggies in sauces ready to warm - but you have to get people to buy them. Women and older people are the consumers who drive the vegetable market right now. There is also a growing, still small demand for heirloom tomatoes and other uniquely grown vegetables, and consumers in lower socio-economic situations can now buy vegetables with food stamps. Even the First Lady has tried to up the image of the vegetable by starting an organic garden on the White House property. In New York, rooftop gardens are the answer to a city that has little available ground.
Still, doctors feel we have to make healthy choices easy choices and we need to make those easy choices habitual choices. That may mean classes in early childhood on nutrition and hands on garden experiences, so that handling and tasting vegetables is experienced at a very young age. Still some experts feel that in this society, encouraging kids to eat produce will be a hard lesson, since a bag of chips offers instant pleasure.
Published On: January 31, 2010