How much plant food does America eat?

Check out this story from USA Today, below. Go ahead and gloat that if your child is drinking even a pint of green smoothie daily even with NO other fruit and vegetable intake, he is ahead of at least 90.5 percent of American teenagers.

(My guess is that you’re outpacing more like 99% of teens, since kids were self-reporting in this study and counting things like pasteurized fruit juice, which don’t rate next to a raw apple and stalk of celery.) YOUR child is getting nutritional standouts like kale, spinach, and collards in her 7.5 servings in a pint of GS. That’s instead of lightweight French fries, ketchup, and iceberg lettuce that “count” in these studies.

Way to go, GSG parents. Thank you for changing the way America’s children eat. You’re a force for good. You’re up against a LOT of opposition, I know! (Read the comments on this blog over the past two years, for people’s horror stories of how tough it can be to do the right thing when family, friends, and the culture oppose you. Be strong.)

My children’s other parent doesn’t approve of my practice of letting the kids trick or treat and then paying them $20 to dump all the candy. He believes an open-cupboard policy with lots of candy and junk food is part of a happy childhood, and that it’s all good as long as you serve a salad at dinner with your meat-and-potatoes main dish. (Refer to my recent “Oprah” blog entry about how we believe at a very fundamental/emotional level that the way we were raised is the RIGHT way.)

By the way, my kids do have a choice. They always make sure they KNOW they have a choice, but in the end they have always chosen the cash, without exception! Why? Because they know the candy makes them sick and isn’t worth close to $20! (They know this because I explain it every year and remind them what $20 buys.) And I do let them have a couple things before dumping it.

Not only do you parents rock out loud for doing the GS thing, but I know that many of you are doing more than just green smoothies. I’m on record many times saying that the USRDA recommendation of 5 servings of fruits and vegs is woefully inadequate. Setting the bar that low leaves far too much room for eating antibiotic-injected, sickly animal carcasses, processed flour and sugar, and other inferior “food.” The USRDA reqs are the nutritional equivalent of “dumbing down” our education. We should be getting 20+ servings. Those serving sizes are so small–I routinely get 20-27 servings of fruits/vegs daily.

Here’s the link to the story, and the full text below it, in case your link doesn’t work:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-09-29-fruits-veggies-high-school-kids_N.htm?csp=24&RM_Exclude=Juno

Only 14% of adults eat the recommended number of servings of fruit and vegetables a day, says a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 33% of adults meet the recommendation of two or more servings of fruits a day; 27% eat the recommended three or more servings of vegetables.

Washington, D.C., leads the nation in eating fruits and vegetables: 20.1% of adults report they meet both daily recommendations. Mississippi sits at the bottom with 8.8%.

Three of the top states are in New England, and three of the bottom states are in the Southeast. The disparity could be a result of the lack of farmers markets in the Southeast and policies that promote healthful foods in schools and communities, says Heidi Blanck, senior scientist for the CDC.

High school students fare worse than adults: 9.5% report they eat two or more fruits and three or more vegetables a day. About the same number of students (32%) as adults say they meet the fruit recommendation, but only 13% say they eat at least three servings of vegetables a day.

The Healthy People 2010 objective from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services aims to have 75% of the U.S. population meeting the daily fruit recommendations and 50% meeting the daily vegetable recommendations.

“At the current rate, the goal won’t be met,” Blanck says.

To raise the percentage of people meeting the goals, the CDC suggests grocery stores increase their stock of “high-quality” fruits and vegetables and encourages states to form food policy councils that evaluate the access to fresh produce.

It also suggests schools provide more fruits and vegetables in cafeterias and vending machines.

12 thoughts on “How much plant food does America eat?

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  1. I agree with the importance of feeding kids correctly. Besides the theory that adults return to what they eat as a kid – Dr Fuhrman in his book Disease Proof Your Child talks about how what people eat as kids has a bigger impact than what/how they eat later in life (in determining whether they will get various diseases).

  2. Similar to the research that most of the damage you’ll do to your skin (from the sun) is done by age 20. Logic bears out that the most important nutritional years are when our brain and organs are growing and developing. We are also developing our tastes at that time. Some other research shows that tastes begin in the womb–children crave what their mothers ate a lot of while pregnant.

    This is just part of why I think it’s dangerous to buy in too much to the very American, very new trend in parenting that kids should be allowed to just eat whatever they want in the name of “freedom” and choice. Those are good principles, but freedom is all things is gradual. (Otherwise why did God even make parents who, in the case of humans, rear children for 18+ years.)

  3. I’m a green smoothie newbie, but I have been drinking them every single day since I got my blendtec about 1 month ago. I have a 2 and 3 year old and I am pregnant. My girls hesitated at first, but then I read of of your posts about tricking your child that you were drinking “ice cream”. I didn’t tell my girls it was ice cream, but I kept going on and on about how good it was, and saying “Mmmmm, this is SO good”. There eyes got big and they eventually wanted to taste. Their first reaction was kindof a weird look and then to try and agree with me, I swear they faked an “Mmmmm”, but with my persuading, they kept drinking till it was gone. Now every morning, I call them into the kitchen and make a big to do as I yell “girls – it’s smoothie time”… they race into the kitchen, exclaiming “yay! ‘moothies” (as my 2 year old calls it) Now, I get true “Mmmm’s” and I feel pretty darn good about it! 🙂 I wouldn’t be doing this without you. Thank you!

  4. I love that you do the “candy dump” also. My husband grew up with parents who bought their candy off of them also, and he too said that they never once chose the candy! I guess green in any form is a powerful force 🙂

  5. That is so awesome that you pay your kids to dump their candy. I would totally have taken $20 instead of my candy when I was a kid. Especially if my mom had said what kind of problems eating lots of candy can cause.

    I haven’t decided yet what we are going to do for Halloween. Here the ward does a trunk or treat the night before Halloween and then they have trick or treating as well! It is like- geez! How much candy do these kids need?

    I’d rather do at home traditions myself. And I don’t want to pass out candy anymore. (We didn’t this year- we turned off our lights and pretended we weren’t home.) Even my husband was all about it, a surprise for me.

  6. You mentioned that your children’s other parent thinks they should eat… whatever. Besides having 3 of my own, I am also a step parent of 6. I have 3 of them who come to our home every other weekend for visits. They are used to running to their cupboard at home and grabbing pre-made food – chips, cookies, sugar cereals, soda and snacks of all sorts whenever they please. They believe I am way too strict because for breakfast, we have oatmeal, or granola, a lot of the times and they look at any cereal boxes I ‘do’ buy with strange looks…. Sometimes I buy some special junk just for them… Their dad wants a happy medium between their 2 homes, but he doesn’t shop for the food, so I, buy what I want in my home. I don’t want my young girls who live at home 100% of the time to be influenced by the ‘junk’ that comes with a ‘happy meduim’. Blending families means that having control in your own home is much harder, but my step kids have gotten used to a lot and eat a larger variety of things than they used to, so they are coming around a bit. I cringe a bit though, everytime they have to go to the dentist and we have to pay their bills even though we can’t control all the sugar they consume! Ahhhh!

  7. Wow, it really is surprising (but probably shouldn’t be) to see those percentages.

    I love your method for Halloween. Nice thinking.

    My kids have been brought up on very limited sweets and whole grains. One has stayed with it and far exceeded my suggestions, the other eats white bread and has a real sweet tooth. Oh well…

  8. Shanna, the whole “stepparenting” thing is an issue I’ve been learning about the past year. I am not a stepparent but hope to be one. So that will open my horizons and give me SO much more to learn — and then write about! Thanks for the insights. Write a book about your stepparenting experience and I’ll buy it. 🙂

  9. My three children have out grown halloween, but we used to give all their candy to the “Candy Fairy”. We let them keep 5 or 10 favorites and put all the rest outside the bedroom door when they went to sleep. Then the candy fairy would take all the candy to children that didn’t get any and replace it with a toy. The children never complained.

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