Americans couldn’t eat enough vegetables even if they wanted to

Fasting gets you nowhere fast—virtually or otherwise.
Fasting gets you nowhere fast—virtually or otherwise.
Image: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
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Americans don’t eat enough vegetables—this is not news. But even if every American woke up tomorrow determined to get their recommended 2.5-3 cups of vegetables each day, they wouldn’t be able to.

USDA data shows that only 1.65 cups of vegetables were actually available per person in the US in 2013, reports NPR. (That’s calculated by adding domestic vegetable production to imports, and then subtracting exports.) And as NPR pointed out, 1.65 cups is significantly less than the USDA’s nutritional recommendation.

While the shortage of vegetables in the American diet has been known since at least 1970, there were significantly more veggies available for consumption by the USDA definition as little as 15 years ago. But vegetable availability peaked in the US back in 2000, and has been falling ever since.

Even more disheartening: The data also point to Americans’ less than ideal vegetable proclivities. In 2013, almost half the vegetables and legumes for sale in the US were either potatoes or tomatoes. In third place came another typical burger accoutrement: lettuce.

As NPR explained, French fries, pizza and garnishes do not a nutritionally sound diet make. And as the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control said in its most recent report on the paucity of fresh produce in the American diet, French fries don’t count as vegetables anyway.