Why Americans Still Don’t Eat Fruits And Veggies (A Huffington Post Response)

Why Americans Still Don't Eat Fruits And Vegetables

If you haven’t seen the Huffington Post’s article Eating Enough Fruits And Veggies Isn’t Nearly As Expensive As You Think, then jump over and feel free to read it. It’s actually an interesting and well written piece. (I’d expect nothing less from the HP!) To summarize the article though, the author points out that a new paper from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service found that “the average person eating 2,000 calories a day could satisfy the federal dietary guidelines’ fruit and vegetable recommendations for no more than $2.60 a day (based on 2013 data).”

$2.60 a day! Awesome, right? Facebook readers didn’t seem to think so.

The [American] Public’s View On Affordable Healthy Eating

After reading the article, I scrolled down to see if the rest of the readers were as happy as I was to see researchers opening advocating that eating healthy isn’t just for the elite. I mean, this is what we were all begging for, isn’t it? I was very surprised that almost all the comments I was reading [at the time] were negative. Sure, I knew there’d be some nay-sayers, but almost everyone?

The biggest complaint people seemed to have with the data was that they didn’t see these affordable prices where they live. Commenters quickly took to social media to contradict the paper’s findings by quoting produce prices at their local grocery stores. Readers blamed the price differences on everything from living in the north to white privilege to less advantaged communities living in “food deserts”.

The general public still seems to think that eating healthy is too expensive and unattainable, despite the name of the article or the many other articles, videos, and studies which say differently.

Why The Disconnect?

Everyone has their own reasons why they think healthy living is socially unattainable, but it’s been my observation that there’s three main reasons that everything boils down to – none of which are money driven. The reasons why we’re not eating healthier food choices are that the public has been fed too much contradicting information; their upbringings have shaped who they are; and that they’re stubborn.

Information Overload

If asked, anyone with Internet access could pull up an article that says eating meat and dairy products are good for you, while simultaneously producing an article that says those foods are killing you. (Don’t even get me started on the debate over protein!) The meat and dairy industries have spent billions of dollars on research and marketing to keep people purchasing their products. Just turn on the TV and you’ll see ad after ad for sugary, meaty, creamy foods. Commercials were created for this kind of thing, after all.

And where does that leave the consumer? It’s these contradictions that have left people frustrated and unsure of what to believe. Are fruits and vegetables the key to a long and healthy life or does it lie in protein-rich meats and dairy? It’s easy to become overwhelmed. You are left no choice but to choose which side you’re going to believe and hope you’re right for yourself and your family.

We Are What We’re Taught To Eat

I’ll be the first to admit that my eating habits haven’t changed much from my pre-teen self. My favorite food is still spaghetti, I still don’t like brussels sprouts, and I am a chocolate fiend. Even with the small changes in my diet due to age and new information, I can trace my food habits back to childhood. Even my choice to cut meat and dairy from my diet wasn’t a huge surprise to my family, since I was never fond of them to begin with. (Except the protein, the protein is always a fear for people.)

According to Dr. Michael Miedema, a preventive cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute, and TIME – I’m the norm. Dr. Miedema and his team did a study of 2,500 men and women in 1985 and again in 2005. He’s quoted as saying that “the data highlight how important it is to start healthy eating habits early—not only because they tend to stick around through adulthood, but also because they can actually make a difference in the state of your heart.”

Let me draw attention to that middle part again, in case you missed it. Your childhood eating habits tend to stick around through adulthood. If you think about your own eating habits, how many of you have a favorite family recipe that you still make? People are taught early in life what is healthy to eat, whether at home or at school, and then again what is acceptable to eat based on how they’re raised. It’s the reason why people know an apple is a healthy snack, but grab the same brand of chips their parents bought them as children instead. It’s a learned habit that’s almost entirely environmental and is most certainly going to determine your health for the rest of your life.

I Do What I Want

The third, and probably the strongest, factor as to why people are stuck on thinking fruits and vegetables are beyond their fiscal reach is the fact that we, as a species, are stubborn as hell. If we think we’re right, then we often don’t care how much evidence we’re shown that contradicts us. Think of healthy eating as politics. How many adults, who identify themselves as having similar beliefs as a particular political party, would ever change parties if a study comes out that says the opposing party is proven to be the best for governing society? Not very many.

A lot of people want to blame external factors for the reason why they don’t eat more fruits and vegetables, like money or availability, but their will power is more of a contributing factor than any other excuse.

Grocery stores across the country run sales that make produce just as cheap, if not cheaper, than many of the products down the junk food aisle. Is there a spike in produce and a noticeable decline in junk food those weeks? No. Why are the healthy choices not flying off the shelves? The average person doesn’t want to buy them.

We can blame the prices, blame the research, and blame our zip code for the reasons why we aren’t eating more fruits and vegetables but we are ultimately responsible for ourselves. We’re a resilient and highly adaptable species. If we really wanted to purchase fruits and vegetables over meat and dairy, we would! Critics, background, and job be damned, we would make that happen for ourselves. And in 2016, it’s really disheartening to see that as a society, we haven’t made that choice yet.

 


Side note: I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted anything! So many things have changed, yet it feels like no time has passed at all. One of my goals for 2016 is to become more consistent with posting to Fit & Fancy Life, and what better way than to start with an article about affording a  fit and fancy lifestyle? I can’t wait to share more with you! Let me know in the comments what you think about this article and the comments it’s received.

April @ fitandfancylife Signature

Spaghetti O’s for the vegan hearts

 

Food Porn Friday fitandfancylife.com vegan vegetarian recipes

Today’s Food Porn Friday is kicking it primary school style. I’m taking your virtual taste buds down memory lane to the good old days when the most exciting dinner options came from cans. I’m bringing back Spaghetti O’s!

Do you remember those tiny noodle rings in magical red sauce? Did you get the same fist-pumping reaction that I did when my mom broke out the can of Spaghetti O’s instead of orange marinated pork loin again? (Or some other feared dish that everyone in the house hated except the person cooking the monstrosity.) If you answered yes to either of those questions – your childhood clearly rocked.

Spaghetti O’s have always been near and dear to my heart. I have a bit of a tradition with my best friend, who shares the same ageless taste buds as me, that when we do dinner together we check our adult hats at the door. Spaghetti O’s and grilled cheese sandwiches are our favorite go-to dinners.

When we both became vegHeads, one of our biggest regrets was saying good-bye to our Spaghetti O’s and grilled cheese sandwiches. The struggle was real folks. Neither of us cared about ditching meat, but when it came to these two power-players we were mourning. Then I found this amazing recipe by MilkFreeMom.com and Spaghetti O’s were back on the menu!

Dairy-Free-SpaghettieOs

Ready for the really awesome part about this recipe? It’s vegan! It’s also got a short ingredients list, has 8.5 grams of protein per serving, and takes less than 30 minutes to make. Dinner time win-win.

As with most things highlighted on Food Porn Friday, this recipe is adaptable to fit your needs. If you want to try a different type of dairy-free milk, go for it. If you want to boost the already decent vitamin count, add steamed spinach or kale.  If you’re catering to friends and family that still eat dairy, you can always substitutive cow’s milk and Parmesan if they aren’t willing to do the recipe’s original ingredients.  (Or you can just use canned Spaghetti O’s for their servings and keep all the dairy-free Spaghetti O’s to yourself. It’ll be a sacrifice in the name of love and extra leftovers. Try not to look to eager or they might catch on to you.)

You can find the recipe here.

 

Food Porn Friday: Healthy Sweet & Spicy Tacos (vegan)

Food Porn Friday fitandfancylife.com vegan vegetarian recipes

In honor of one of the few days this Spring it’s not predicted to rain, I’m serving up a rainbow meal item! This is an easy recipe for weeknights, large groups, and hungry foodies.

Everything in this recipe can be adjusted. This is one of biggest characteristics I look for in a recipe. I love being able to make more, make less, and change ingredients while keeping the finished product delicious.

You will need a large skillet and a lid for this if you’re making enough for two or more people. If you’re making this for one, or as a side dish, half everything.

Healthy Sweet and Spicy Rainbow Tacos vegan

Healthy Sweet & Spicy Tacos

10 Ears Of Corn (or two drained cans of sweet corn without salt)
5 Bell Peppers (Mix up the colors! I used red, orange, yellow, and green.)
1 Large Yellow Onion
2 Large Tomatoes
2 Heads Of Romaine Lettuce (tortilla shells optional)
2 Tbsps. Cayenne
1-2 Tbsps. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 Tbsps. Ground Black Pepper
1 Tbsp. Taco or Fajita Seasoning (optional)
1 Tsp. Salt (optional) 

  1. First slice the corn off the cobs, cut the peppers into one-inch long strips, and cut the onion into two-inch long strips.
  2. Turn your stove on to medium-high heat. Dump all the vegetables from STEP 1 and half your spices into your pan. If you’re using canned corn, drain the corn before you put it into the skillet. Make sure to mix everything together thoroughly in order to spread the spices around the vegetables. Cover pan and let it sit for about 4 minutes.
  3. While your mixture is heating up, prepare your lettuce and tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks to go on top of your tacos. Wash the lettuce and break off the leaves to use as your shells.
  4. After the 4 minutes are up, check on your rainbow mixture. The veggies should be starting to sweat and creating a sweet sauce at the bottom of your pan. Add the rest of the spices, stir, and recover the pan. Let your mixture sit for about 5 to 7 more minutes, or however long it takes the peppers and onions to become mostly soft.
  5. To make your tacos with the lettuce, scoop the rainbow mixture into the leaves and top with tomatoes. If you’re using this as a side dish, just spoon onto your plate, sans lettuce, and enjoy! (Helpful Hint: Eat them from the bottom of the stem, so you can cup the top of the leaf to prevent spillage.)

So simple, right?! The corn and peppers give the mixture its sweet flavor. When you add the spices it basically turns into a juicy, sweet, and spicy foodgasm in your mouth. Even if you choose to use just the rainbow mixture as a side dish, it creates a great addition to any meal.

(Helpful Hint: If you’re entertaining meat eaters, you can cook ground meat separately to add to their tacos. My boyfriend adds his own ground meat to his tacos. He says it gives his tacos more flavor.)

April @ fitandfancylife Signature