America's Fruit and Vegetable Intake: Who Makes the Grade?

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This must be the season for reports on eating fruit and vegetables (see earlier post). Now, the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance (NFVA), a public-private partnership to promote greater intake of these foods, has issued a "report card." Here's the executive summary (PDF) and the full report card (PDF).

No surprise, but average fruit and vegetable consumption is still way below recommended levels.

    • Only 6 percent of individuals reach the target for vegetables

    • Only 8 percent achieve the target for fruit

    • Although food away from home accounts for a third of calorie intake, it accounts for only 11 percent of fruit and vegetable intake

Here are some of the report card grades (PDF):

    • An "A" goes to the WIC Fruit and Vegetable Vouchers program, which recently broadened the program to allow fruits and vegetables that previously were excluded.

    • A "C" goes to school food and restaurant menus, which are making only slight progress.

    • An "F" goes to the healthy food advertising category, since ads for healthier foods are decreasing.

USA Today has a story on this report, which also identifies the most popular of these foods. In case you were wondering, the top four fruits are apples, bananas, strawberries, and grapes. The top four vegetables, according to this survey, are broccoli, corn, green beans, and carrots (I'm not sure I believe this list).

And finally, New York City reports that its food stamp users received more than $200,000 in fresh produce coupons for farmers markets in 2010. That, at least, sounds like genuine progress.


This post also appears on foodpolitics.com.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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