It’s certainly not shocking to hear that Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. In fact, with our country’s political climate as polarized as it is, a love of unhealthy eating might be the only thing we all truly have in common. But what might surprise you is just how bad things are.
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their report on “Adults Meeting Fruit and Vegetable Intake Recommendations” based on data collected in 2013. The report could have just been called “Adults NOT Meeting Recommendation.” Out of 373,580 people surveyed across all 50 states just 13.1 percent ate the suggested amount of fruits, and even sadder, just 8.9 percent of people actually finished their vegetables. With numbers like that, you’d think the US was some sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland with different clans crisscrossing America’s breadbasket in a hunt for the last remaining ear of corn.
Interestingly, the CDC also broke the numbers down by state, and though some states are clearly ahead of others, no single state is really any sort of fruit and veggie haven. Californians are leading the pack with 17.7 percent of respondents meeting the guidelines. New York came in second at 15.5 percent. But neither of those numbers are much to write home about. Tennessee was the most fruit averse state: Just 7.5 percent of Tennesseans were gobbling down the recommended 1.5 - 2 cups per day.
When it comes to veggies, California is also at the head of the pack, but again, they achieved it with a rather modest number: just 13 percent. Meanwhile, Mississippi struggled the most to meet the suggested 2 - 3 cups of veggies we’re supposed to eat per day; only 5.5 percent of people in the southern state are getting that kind of intake.
So what’s the solution? The CDC suggests starting better habits early on in life. “Improving fruit and vegetable consumption for adults might start with improving intake during childhood,” they wrote. “During 2007–2010, 60percent of children consumed fewer cup equivalents of fruit than recommended, and 93 percent consumed fewer vegetables than recommended.”