March 24, 2007

We know where's the beef. How about where's the fruits and vegetables?

Research clearly shows that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help control blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, cut the incidence of diabetes and lower the odds of developing some types of cancer. And people who eat more fruit and vegetables are less likely to be overweight or obese.

So why don't restaurants offer more choices with fruits and vegetables? I never enjoyed vegetables growing up, because my mom heated up only canned vegetables. But my Italian wife now fixes the best tasting, good-for-you types of vegetables on the planet. In trips to Europe you always find beautiful antipasto vegetables, gorgeous side dishes and, of course, elegant entrées of eggplant, spinach, broccoli rabe, artichokes, and tomatoes.

Soon a new national campaign will kickoff to help Americans boost their intake of these foods. Called "Fruits & Veggies - More Matters," the $3.5 million campaign is a partnership between the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

the public is not consuming the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables, as several new studies show. "No segment of the population is meeting that (five to nine servings) intake," says William Dietz, director of the CDC's Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity.

The most recent surveys find that "only 11 percent of the population is eating what they are supposed to be eating," notes PBH President Elizabeth Pivonka. "Close to 90 percent are not."

Do you think having this campaign will RightSize America? Not with 30-40 percent of the meals eaten outside the home, and the choices of fruits and vegetables so sparse.

Take that $3.5 million and help restaurants get those items on the menu. Otherwise, you might as well shove it down the garbage disposal.

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