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

The 5 [real] dangers of running in the dark in Florida

 

The 5 dangers of running in Florida in the dark

Personal safety is something every jogger should know. There’s tons of personal protection for joggers out there and articles urging people to be alert at all times. This is not exactly one of those articles.

This article goes out to all the Florida joggers who got together and decided not to talk about the real dangers of running in Florida in the dark. Have you become so used to dealing with these dangers that you didn’t think to warn a girl? Let me take the time to remind you, and enlighten anyone else, about the five most dangerous things I’ve found running in the dark in Florida.

Mosquitoes: Satan’s Flying Monkeys
These evil minions of Hell come into their peak evil between April and October. They are tiny (if you’re lucky), quick, and efficient blood-suckers. Don’t let people lie to you about these tiny pests by saying something like, “If you could run faster than a turtle, they’d leave you alone.” Lies! These pint-sized piranhas travel solo and in swarms because they know they’re capable of attacking you while on the move. Wear bug spray like it’s the sexiest running cologne you’ve ever had the pleasure to sniff. Stuff your bras with marigolds, catnip, and lemon anything to naturally repel mosquitoes and fellow hunky runners. Beware, be prepared.

Living Landmines
Perhaps Floridians don’t find enough pleasure in being surrounded on three sides by water, because there seems to be a need to have man-made ponds on practically every corner. In my apartment complex alone, there are three man-made ponds and one natural pond.

In the light of day, these bodies of water can be serene spots to enjoy with your sweetheart. By night however, these bodies of water are like beacons for a jogger’s stealthiest foes. What are these stealthy foes? Creatures. Little critters of the wetlands that come out at night to sit in the moonlight all over the sidewalks. Frogs, worms, and snakes are nature’s landmines. Jog too fast and you risk stepping on one of these beasties. Jog too slow and you might as well be walking. Should you step on one of the creatures of the night, you will go straight to Jogger Hell. Beware, be prepared.

Recycled Water Lasers
A recycled water sprinkler system sounds like an awesome idea to help with water shortages, right? It’s not. Recycled water turns your morning run into a recreation of the Matrix. Jumping, dodging, and suddenly developing the ability to do the moonwalk away from straying poop lasers are everyday occurrences to sidewalk joggers. Once you’re hit, you will smell like recycled water until you get home and shower. The smell even lingers in the air. If you were lucky enough to miss the actual watering, you can still feel like you were there by the stench it left behind. Yay! Your only hope in surviving these poop-sprays is if your bug spray is strong enough to coat your senses. Beware, be prepared.

Cold-Blooded Dinosaurs: The World’s Oldest Assholes
What’s one of the worst parts of running in the dark in Florida, you might ask? Gators. We’ve all heard horror stories about Florida’s gators. In fact, we’re so famous for gators we named our most beloved college athletic team after them.* When you have so many swamps, ponds, and sunshine you’re bound to attract these cold-blooded dinosaurs. They’re not usually hard to avoid. They tend to be large and hang around bodies of water. It’s  safe to say that if you stay away from their water, they’ll stay away from you.

However, even the world’s oldest assholes need a little love. Mating season, which lasts approximately from mid-April to May, is a dangerous time for running enthusiasts. During this time joggers, drivers, and anyone who likes to step into their own backyard should be wary. These massive A-holes are so desperate for love, and due in part to humans destroying their habitats to build more crap, they tend to pop up just about anywhere. Early mornings and late evenings may be perfect for joggers looking to beat the heat, but the darkness also provides great camouflage for gators snoozing near the sidewalk. Beware, be prepared.

Serenade Of The Sulcatas And Other Noisy Street Neighbors
If you’ve ever been blessed enough to listen to the serenade of a Florida night, you’d know what I’m talking about. Sulcatas, frogs, crickets, and who knows what else are loud as hell. It’s sweet to hear when you’re on your porch with a mug of hot cocoa, but for early morning or late evening runners, this serenade can be deadly.

Most of us like to run with earbuds. Who doesn’t want to listen to their favorite screamer songs at 4AM while jogging along the traffic-free roads? These two special times of the day are also when nature’s serenade turns into a screeching headache. You may be tempted to turn up the tunes in order to catch every scream and righteous lyric, but don’t. I’ll go ahead and repeat that last part, because it’s so damn important. DO NOT LISTEN TO LOUD MUSIC WHILE RUNNING IN THE DARK.

You may feel big and bad in your running shoes, but you are on of the bottom of the food chain out on the road. Cars, critters and creeps are dangerous. How can you hear potential danger if you’re trying to block out nature’s serenade with a loud music? As much as it sucks, don’t tune out the song of the streets. You never know what else you’re tuning out. Beware, be prepared, and be in tune with what’s around you.

 

* “Beloved” is a totally unbiased and accurate statement referring to the University of Florida Gators. Never mind the fact that I too am part of the Gator Nation. It is an unbiased and accurate description. End of story.