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Which State Eats the Most Fruits and Vegetables and Where Does Your State Rank?

fruits and vegetables, farmer's markets, nutrition

Eating fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of developing many chronic diseases and can also help with weight management. Although the recommendations for most adults suggest five to nine servings per day, Americans consume on average about 1.1 fruits and 1.6 vegetables on a daily basis.

The CDC has recently released results for the “State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables 2013” which provides information for each state on fruit and vegetable consumption plus environmental and policy indicators that encourage consumption.

Overall, those that live in coastal states (either West Coast or East Coast) generally eat more produce each day over the rest of the nation. Oregon residents consume the most vegetables (1.9 per day) while Vermont, New Hampshire and residents of the District of Columbia eat the most fruits (1.3 per day).

Southern States and the Midwest tend to lag behind. For vegetables, Louisiana and Mississippi have the lowest intake in the South (1.4 servings) while Iowa and North Dakota rank lowest in the Midwest (also 1.4 servings of vegetables per day). Mississippi and Oklahoma rank lowest for fruit intake – 0.9 servings among adults per day.

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What needs to occur to help Americans eat more fruits and vegetables? Policies to make produce more widely available, says the CDC. For example, some states have “food deserts” – areas where healthful foods are not available or affordable. These include convenience stores or corner stores where rural residents shop because it is the only food vendor close to home.

Offering more fruits and vegetables in schools and day-care facilities can encourage healthful eating early in children’s lives. Changing food service regulations in public schools, for example, to offer more fruits and vegetables can increase the percentage of children who meet their daily needs. Farm to school and farm to preschool programs, school garden programs, and purchasing foods from local growers should be encouraged and promoted.

State and National policies should be updated to include more support for fruit and vegetable consumption. For example, giving farmers the ability to accept WIC coupons for their produce could help boost intake especially among the poor.

Of course, there is also a personal responsibility to ensure your family is getting all of the nutrients recommended by national health experts through healthful foods such as fruits and vegetables. But many feel that eating healthy almost always correlates with spending more money. Here are some tips for encouraging fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks without breaking the bank:

• Find local farmers markets and buy produce in season.
• Look for sales and special deals on fruits and vegetables at your local grocery and plan meals around those foods.
• Frozen fruits and vegetables are excellent ways to get produce out of season that would normally cost two to three times as much fresh.
• Canned fruits and vegetables last for a long time in the pantry – but be sure to get low-sodium vegetables and fruits packed in 100% juice (instead of syrup).
• Get a group of friends together to buy in bulk to save money, and then learn how to can or freeze for later use.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables 2013
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – 30 Ways in 30 Days to Stretch Your Fruit and Vegetable Budget