Produce benefits from snack time in America - The Packer

Produce benefits from snack time in America

07/07/2014 11:08:00 AM
Fred Wilkinson

Fred Wilkinson, managing editorFred Wilkinson, managing editorA generation ago, President Ronald Reagan successfully campaigned for and won re-election on the theme of “Morning in America.”

According to recent article in The Wall Street Journal, however, America has moved on with their day, and it’s now Snack Time in America.

Over the past generation, Americans have increasingly abandoned the traditional three squares a day dining trifecta of breakfast, lunch and dinner and now are now mostly a bunch of serial snackers.

The percentage of Americans who snack at least three times each day grew to 56% by 2010, according to the article, up from roughly 20% in the 1990s and 10% in the late 1970s.

Bye-bye sitting down at the breakfast nook for bacon, eggs, toast and a slice of cantaloupe, hello bagel or a banana in the car on the way to work.

Eating three meals a day is a tradition dating back to ancient Greece, the article says, while snacking has been with us for only the past century or so.

Well-stocked supermarkets packed with thousands of edible SKUs are a miracle of modern life we all take for granted, and the age of food abundance has helped enable new eating patterns.

Coupled with that is the changed nature of family structure and work life in developed economies like the U.S.

It was easier for Mom to make breakfast and dinner every night when women generally stayed home to keep house and raise the kids rather than help support the family by having a full-time job outside the home.

Whether or not snacking is a healthy eating pattern, the consensus among dietitians is that there is no consensus.

The article says there isn’t scientific agreement on whether it is healthier to eat three full meals a day or consume frequent snacks, although snacking can be “risky” because it takes discipline to avoid overeating.

A glaring absence from the Journal piece is — you guessed it — how fruits and vegetables fit in to Americans’ new eating patterns.

Fruit gets a brief mention in an accompanying graphic detailing snack food preferences throughout the day.

The good news is that fruit is the leading choice as a morning snack, with 17% favoring it over dairy products such as yogurt, baked goods, meal-replacement bars or traditional go-to breakfast foods like waffles, pancakes and cereal.

Fruit’s popularity drops to 14% among afternoon snackers, still tied for first place with salty snacks, but it drops to 8% among evening snackers.

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